Entrepreneur

How to Make your Video More Interesting



Mike ThreeSixty: Are You Doing It Consistently?



Mike ThreeSixty: Body Language is the Key to Video Success



How-to Make a How-to Video

My first suggestion for 2012 is to make a “how-to” video and post it on your blog or website. This would be especially important if you have a service business such as landscaping, home repair, decor and design, etc. The number one reason for doing this is that adding video to your website is always a good thing. As we have discussed in your page longer and create more interest.

I could go on with the benefits of video, but instead I’d like to show you a very simple ‘how-to’ video that I created with a client of mine, Glenwood Weber.



Creating this video with Glenwood took us 30 minutes. Now he has video content to put on his website, and visitors can immediately see what an expert he is and how personable he is; and they’ll want to work with him.

Ten Things I Learned From the 30-Day Blog Challenge

On July 18, one month ago, I committed to the “30-day Blog Challenge” with my friends and colleagues, and members of my new Mastermind Group, Crystal Washington, Bambi McCullough, Danielle Forget, Cecilia Rose and Karen McCullough.  Since then, and it has been exactly 30 days, I have actually learned a few things.  That’s what I find so incredible.  In just one short month, this one challenge has taught me remarkable things.

1.  That I can commit to something rather difficult and fulfill my commitment!  I am proud to say that I have logged in 30 entries in 30 days.

2.  That I enjoy writing.  I’ve always known this.  In college, I minored in English Writing.  Creative Writing was one of my favorite courses at Boston University, followed by Script Writing, and then followed by Journalism.  So why have I not been writing all these years?  Instead of wondering why, I am happy I rediscovered it. The main fact is that I had to push through the difficult part to get to the enjoyable part.

3.  The first part was difficult.  As was the middle part and the end part.  But after each entry, I felt an amazing little feeling of accomplishment….and that little feeling lasts a long time.  It really helps to get me through the day.  No matter what happens each day, I can look back and think, “Well, at least I wrote in my Blog today!”

4.  The process of blogging with a group of people, and then Tweeting about each other’s blog posts, creates miracles in the Social Network.  Since I started blogging, results.

5.  The act of blogging has gotten me into online networking.  Every morning, after I blog, I spend a good hour on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin…saying hello to new friends and followers, spreading news and reading news.  This has really kept me connected to the world and to my colleagues, peers and friends.  In the process of doing all this, I have been strengthening my personal brand.

6.  Blogging means Learning.  In order to blog every morning, I need to do a little research.  That never hurts anybody!

7.  I have gotten to know my blogging buddies even better.  What a pleasure it has been to read Crystal Washington’s blog every day.  She is truly a miracle in my life today, and I am so grateful to have met her.  Of course, I am always interested in what Karen McCullough has to say…we are basically connected at the hip.  And I have enjoyed getting to know Bambi, Danielle and Cecilia in a different way, as well.  They each contribute to my day, each and every day.  That is such a blessing.

8.  I have connected with people I never dreamed of “meeting”.  Just by writing a post about Apple and how the Apple brand can help each of us as we form our own brands, I had the chance to “connect” with Steve Chazin.  And when I blogged about Klout, I got to “meet” Brian Ambrozy.  This was great, but on Twitter some of my Social Media and Professional Speaking idols started to follow me:  Connie Podesta, Mari Smith, Ed Primeau, Trey Pennington, Gina Schreck, Loretta LaRoche…just to name a few.

9.  I have been inspired many times.  Great ideas have come to me from blogging every morning.  Creativity just flows now.

10.  I am excited to keep on keeping’ on.  Blogging has rejuvenated my entrepreneurial spirit.  And that is worth gold.

What’s Your Score, Baby?

If you have a high Klout (score), people will notice you. When they notice you, they’ll talk about you. When they talk about you, people walk in. Therefore, seeking out ways to genuinely increase your Klout …score is a valid social media strategy.  Brian Ambrozy

I just started using Klout about two months ago, and while I’m not sure how strong my score is or how effective my internet presence is, I know that Klout has helped me with one thing. More on that one thing later. (By the way, at this moment, my score is 50.) Oh, and the other thing about Klout is that it is the word Clout spelled with a ‘K’, so you know it’s clever.

Klout is an online services that takes your Facebook and Twitter (and now LinkedIn) accounts and measures the strength and size of your reach.  They do this by calculating 35 different variables and distill the data to come up with three measurements: True Reach, Amplification Probability and Network Influence.

I’m not a social media genius, so I have no idea what those mean, but I am guessing a few things. True Reach, I would venture to say, means how many people you actually interact with…not just how many followers or fans you have.  I’m hearing a lot about social media gaming, or manipulating the networks to work to your advantage without actually doing the real networking. There are so many companies (not individuals) that have joined the scene, and many of them have several different accounts…and some even sell these accounts to people who want to “get 10,000 followers”. Well, from what I understand, Klout manages to see which of these followers are actually real followers who actively engage with you. (I’m starting to feel like we’re in the movie Minority Report.)

Amplification Probability also sounds fairly self-explanatory. I’m guessing it is a measurement of how many times your message gets reposted or retweeted. How likely is your message or conversation to be spread around? This is also a way to separate the internet robots from the real people.

And Network Influence? I am going to take a stab at this and say it has to do with how influential your actual friends or followers are. Do you have followers who have other real followers and who engage regularly, or are your followers simple “voyeurs”, as YouTube likes to call it’s non-members.

What is nice about Klout is that it gives you a fairly realistic measurement of your online engagement and presence.  The one thing I really like about Klout (and the reason I am spending any time writing about it) is that it helps me to feel as if I’m actually getting somewhere with my social networking.  If you are like me, every morning you wake up and turn on Facebook and Twitter.  You check your messages, see how many followers you have, and start doing the deal.  It feels kind of like Groundhog Day.  Until there was Klout, I always felt like I was typing and clicking in the dark. Now I am developing a strategy, of sorts.  I know that according to Klout I need to engage…so I make a valiant attempt to do that with my friends and followers.  I also actively seek new people to follow, and I try to stay in my lane.  I can even use Klout to engage with my Twitter followers because Klout lets me give people K+ awards (letting people know they influence me in a certain category or field).

If you are like me, and just starting to find your way in the social networking realm, give Klout a try.  It might really prove to be a big help.

If You’ve Got an iPhone, You’re All Set

If you have an Apple iPhone 3GS or 4, then you basically have all you need to do many of the things it would have taken a team of people to do just a few short years ago.

I like to look at things from the viewpoint of an entrepreneur, a professional speaker, an author, even an artist, when discussing things like this. Because we have such limited budgets, sometimes we need to be creative in the way that we do things. Do you need a quick head shot or candid photo of yourself? Have a friend use your iPhone to snap your portrait. Do you need to shoot some professional looking video? Use your iPhone. If you need to distribute your material, use the Youtube app on your iPhone. To stay in touch with your followers, there’s your Twitter app (or for the more experienced Tweeter, there is Tweetdeck or Hootsuite), there’s your Facebook app, and there are countless other social media apps.

As for running your business, there are so many amazing uses for your iPhone. You can tackle the accounting, the billing, inventory, shipping…almost anything you can name, all by using an iPhone app. Check out this article for some amazing examples.

If you don’t trust me on this, take a look at some of these success stories. One of the best examples of using your iPhone for glamorous head shots is from photographer was blown away.

The iPhone Fashion Shoot – Lee Morris Shoots With The 3GS Fstoppers from FStoppers on Vimeo.

Soon after that, I began looking at the camera in my iPhone in a whole new way. Camera phones are no longer limited to soft focused, grainy looking, low resolution photos. With the iPhone’s new technology you can take high resolution photos in the HDR mode that can capture details in even low lighting. Add an app or two, and you can even set your phone to capture a photo with a timer!

As for the video function in your iPhone, again, there are many ways in which you can capture professional quality footage.  First, just start filming with your iPhone to get the hang of it.  Then, when you’re ready, you can set the iPhone up on a tripod or even have a friend film you while holding the phone on a steadycam device. With a few lighting considerations, you can capture some amazing shots.  Do you find this hard to believe?  Well, there are even national independent film contests with the only requirement being to use your iPhone instead of a professional video camera.

The iPhone has only been in existence since 2007, and has increased in functionality each year.  Imaging the things we’ll be able to accomplish with a hand-held device a few short years from now.  Technology is truly amazing, and it makes running your own business just that much more exciting.

Video is Sticky

I learned a little about website stickiness recently.  What makes a website sticky (or even more sticky) is the measurement of how long a user stays on the site or how many times the user returns to the site.  Also, how many pages the user visits while on the site.  Stickiness leads to increases in overall traffic to your site, increased brand awareness and conversions.  All good things. What makes a site sticky?  Let’s find out.

Of course, I’m a big advocate of video, especially video on websites.  I was reading some stuff on my Google Reader this morning, and an article came along which confirms what I’ve been saying for years now.  Video keeps people on your site longer.  Why?  Because it’s dynamic, it breaks down the third wall, it gives your business more personality, it creates transparency, it entertains, it educates, it can put a face to your business and staff, and many other reasons I haven’t yet thought of today.  Other tricks they say can keep people on your website longer include podcasts, user polls, widgets and RSS.  But video was listed as number one.

Why is video number one?  The most important thing I can think of is that video can be memorable. More so than any other part of your website, video has the capability of capturing the users imagination and embedding itself in their mind.  Video can provide compelling content, as it uses both sight and sound to attract its viewer.  And studies show that people will spend more time watching a video than reading.  Keep all this in mind when you are thinking up ways to make your website (and your business) more memorable.

What’s So Funny? Using Humor in Advertising

A little humor goes a long way. Sometimes.

Since the dawn of advertising, humor has played an integral part in humanizing products and brands. Laughter helps us to remember things with a smile. Think about someone you know who recently made you laugh, and you’ll probably smile just as you are remembering them. You may have the kind of product or business that could really benefit from the application and use of humor. If you do, give it a try. But also keep in mind certain “rules and regulations.” This stuff also applies to social media marketing. As a caveat, before we begin looking at humor, there are definitely certain products and services that don’t take well to funny. One such industry that comes to me right away is healthcare. I don’t think people find healthcare very funny, so really think hard before you use humor in the advertising of healthcare, medicine, donor support, etc. I guess that kind of goes without saying. But I said it, anyway. Oh, and politics. I bet there’s nothing really funny about politics, especially today.
Usually when what you are trying to sell or promote is risky, costly, or sensitive, then humor probably is not the best route.

I think one of the most important rules or laws with humor in advertising is that everybody gets it. When you really have to explain where the humor is, well, then it’s not really funny. Test it out on some folks. Sometimes what makes you laugh in your head is only funny to you. Also, be very aware of who your target market is. An older, more mature audience will not find humor in the same things that a Gen Y audience might find funny. Usually.

Don’t use humor just for it’s own sake. You may have a great, hilarious idea, but if it doesn’t relate to your business or product, then don’t use it in your marketing efforts. People will find this self-indulgent, and it may backfire on you. Also, and this should go without saying, don’t be insensitive. Humor at the expense of others will probably do more harm than good. Take a peek at this Tweet by Kenneth Cole shortly around the time of the riots in Egypt. The Tweet was taken down immediately.

KC-backfire

Another thing about humor: it has a short shelf life. If you are going to run your media again and again, you better make sure the humor has staying power. There are some jokes that are really funny when you hear them for the first time, but are annoying when you hear them again…over and over again. However, there is a magical formula for some funny bits that don’t seem to lose their luster. Like this plumbing company vehicle. I’ve seen this a million times, but it always makes me laugh.

funny-truck

I think with the advent of YouTube, humor in advertising has found a new niche. Lower production costs and higher turnover rate make YouTube a great place to experiment with humor. Humor helps to level the playing field between large, big-budget advertising and smaller, yet more clever campaigns. Catch these low-tech spots for Otter. Just another reason I love YouTube (and funny stuff). Give us some feedback. Do you use humor in your online marketing and advertising? Are you willing to try it? Do you use it without even realizing it?



Book Cover Design as Part of Your Personal Brand

If you are a speaker, or any kind of small business owner where your company brand is associated with your name and image, then self-publishing a book is an excellent way to really assert your brand. (Companies like CreateSpace and LuLu make this process a little easier than you would think.)

The most obvious way is that you can strengthen your area of expertise, and the perception that you are an expert, a book will give you opportunities to research and dive deeper into your subject matter. It will ground your brand in a point of view. I think this is particularly useful if you happen to be a public speaker. Perhaps you speak on the topic of “Leadership.” By writing a book on how to become a strong leader, you quickly will establish the perception (or fact?) that you are an expert on this topic, and the angle you write from will convey your point of view. Maybe you have a unique and radical way that you look at leadership. Or, maybe you have a pretty traditional way to look at it, but that way was how you became a success, and you just want to relate your success story and study the process.

The second way is to associate yourself with other authors and experts. The single most effective way to do this is to write a book, and then to have others give glowing testimonials of your work. It is a common practice, and not that hard to accomplish. Testimonials sell more books than any other information on the back cover.

Those two points seem pretty clear. The third point, and the one I feel more qualified to comment on, is the most visual element: the book cover. This is the most instant way to relay to your reader, or potential reader, your personal or business brand. If you understand your customer, and you understand the market for your book, then you are in a good place to start. Then, of course, is the difficult task of branding your title. This is just as important as the visual design. Both of these steps are prerequisites before you begin working on the cover art. It is important to get support in this area, perhaps from a branding expert or a group of trusted colleagues. Really take your time with this step, because it will be your foundation. The book title and cover will need to be a stand-alone brand as well as align with your own brand.

From there, ideas will spring forth. Use a competent graphic designer to help you brainstorm, and keep in mind things like color, fonts and typography, clean visual balance, simplicity, and photography or illustration. These are the elements that go into good book cover design. I’ve designed a few covers in my branding career, and the way I like to start is by going to a bookstore and immersing myself in the section of the store that relates to the project I’m working on. Whether it be Self-Improvement, Business, Women Studies, Health and Fitness…keep to your subject matter. Narrow down your area for inspiration. I bring my notebook and take notes. What is the current trend in cover design? What colors seem to really pop out, or what colors are closely associated with your topic?

7-women-cover

I worked on the cover design for The Seven Women Project. There were many decisions that went into the design of the cover, but the most important elements were the bracelet image and the font. We made a conscious, group decision to have the bracelet be a representation of the Seven Women (with seven beads), because it was feminine and simple. Then we played with the idea of an illustration and gave that a try. The idea to photograph the bracelet stemmed from a marketing idea : if we found a bracelet we could sell, then we could use that as part of merchandising and marketing the book. The font we chose was reminiscent of fashion magazine typography, and that was another important marketing angle for us.

As for Lori Siegel’s book pictured above, it was important for us to show Lori and make her the main focus. She was the expert, and she was also launching her speaking career. People needed to see her face. Portrait photography became a very important element, as did the color palate.

It takes 15 hours, on average, to design a book cover. The cost of a professionally designed cover ranges from $500 to upwards of $4,000. By working on some of the elements and issues presented here, you can really shave some money off that higher-end fee.