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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.