Marketing, Strategy and Storytelling

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English: Quill pen

English: Quill pen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s so easy to get bogged down in what we have to do every day that we can lose sight of the story we’re telling. I’m not talking about your social media strategy or your marketing strategy. Hopefully you’ve put that marketing plan in action and things are buzzing along. I’m talking about the thread that ties it all together.  I’m talking about the story you’re telling about your organization through your marketing.

 

Everything from your logo, to your letter head, to the voice you use when you tweet are part of the story you tell about your organization. When was the last time you sat back and looked at the story your telling? Does the story coming from your Twitter feed match the story being told by your website? Does it match the story being told by your brochures?

 

Everything doesn’t have to match perfectly, but they should seem like they’re being told by the same people. The stories should have the feeling of organization. Your stories should propel the messages from your marketing plan. They should help the audience feel like they know the organization no matter where they see it.

 

Take a moment for an objective look at the stories you’re telling. Make the most of the stories and you’ll be making the most of each of your outreach opportunities.

 

 

 

Blue Collar Labor Day

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gautier steel mill

gautier steel mill (Photo credit: macwagen)

I come from a long line of steel mill workers, assemblers, miners and other manners of true blue collars. Generation after generation working their way through the ranks at the unions. A few became “White Hats” (supervisors) along the way. These were men and women who worked hard their whole lives. Most of them didn’t finish high school — they dropped out help support their families. They were and are tough. I cannot be prouder to continue their legacy.

Labor Day has become about the end of summer. About parties, and pools and picnics. It used to be a little more about the men and women whose blood and sweat literary built the United States. The people who died in dangerous jobs to create a better world. To remember and honor those who fought for safer work environments and to establish the laws we take for granted today.

This Labor Day I want to thank the people out there doing the tough jobs I couldn’t do. Thank you to the people fighting for workplace safety and equality and making sure the laws are followed. Thank you to anyone whoever put in a hard days work on the production line, or down in the pit, and thought that what you did didn’t matter. . .

You see, it did matter. Because if it weren’t for my mom and dad, and my aunts and uncles, and my grandmothers grandfathers, and my great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers who worked those same lines I wouldn’t have been able to go to college. I wouldn’t have been able to learn video production or to tell stories the way I do.

Thank you to everyone who helped build the United States of America figuratively and literally.

Being Yourself and Your Brand

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I think that most of us trying to create a brand can become so focused on the image we’re trying to project that it become easy to lose focus on the person behind it. It’s pretty easy to find social media ninjas and marketing experts who are making a big effort to prove just how different they are, unfortunately most of them are going about it in similar fashions. Not that I’m knocking anyone, it’s just what happens.

Someone has a great new idea and then people adapt the idea, then people adapt that idea, and then someone adapts that idea…and suddenly the idea isn’t so great or new any more. It happened with slap bracelets in school back in the day. It happens with clever marketing ideas and internet memes today.

The sad part is that when people try to be part of what they think people want to see they tend to forget to be themselves. It’s like when you find yourself working at a big company with a distinct corporate culture, eventually most people start to dress, behave and generally conform to the corporate culture. It’s what’s expected if you want to get ahead. The same thing is happening online – people want to be one of the cool kids and style themselves after the gurus and ninjas that they think will help them make money, win contracts, get followers (or all the above) and the leave out the part that makes them unique.

Sometimes the best thing we have going for us is that we’re one of a kind, especially in a world where there are a thousand people who are online promoting themselves for doing the same thing. It’s what’s unique about us that sets us apart. That’s something to embrace, not hide!

It’s what I’m going to try to do a bit better. I realize, my loyal little band of readers, have expanded past the days when there were ones of you reading on a regular basis. I know you’re reading. You’re still not commenting but I do know you’re reading. But I do solemnly swear that I will try to remember to be uniquely me in the things I do.

5 Tips for DIY Videos for Your Business

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While looking up some websites for business in our new neighborhood, I stumbled upon some more DIY videos that left a lot to be desired. A. LOT. So I thought I would share a few things I noticed that could make be huge improvements. (In the interest of a good neighbor I’m not going to actually post the bad videos. They tried, they really did, and it’s not nice to make fun of people like that.)Video Camera

  1. Keep It Short and Sweet (or the 1st KISS): Attention spans get shorter and shorter. You love your product/store/event, but even you aren’t going to sit through almost six minutes of what is basically a silent film. Pick a purpose or specific topic for and shoot for the video about 30 seconds long. You can create several videos released over time to help you build your audience and create interest in your business.
  2. Keep It Simple, Stupid (2nd KISS): Keep the topics of the video simple. Think food, people, products, location, fun, history…comparing the philosophical debate between Vulcan and Romulus in a 30 second video for a used book store may be a difficult concept for some people to understand. Video of lots of happy people reading big piles of books, better yet buying big piles of books, is easy to understand. Easy to understand usually goes over better with the audience.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid to Go Slow: People have a tendency to quickly pan across shelves and speed through tilts up and down displays. Sometimes it’s because they don’t want it to look boring. Sometimes people don’t know better or think about it. When you move the camera quickly multiple things happen. First, you could make someone sick. Seriously, it can make people motion sick. Second, it looks unprofessional because the quick movement usually also includes bobbing and bouncing camera work as well. Slow even camera work allows the viewer to actually see what you’re trying to show them, get interested in it, and makes them more likely to want to see it in person.
  4. Don’t Be Afraid to Zoom In or Shoot Close-Ups: Wide shots are great for showing viewers what a place looks like, but if you want them to really like something, if you want them to fall in love with a product, then zoom in on it. Show a close-up of a yummy treat your store sells or the detailed bead-work of a one-of-a-kind necklace will draw your audience in and show them the quality of what you sell.
  5. Make the Audience Fall In Love: Pay attention to the little things like the lighting and the sound. Make sure when you shoot the video that the sun isn’t so bright, or it’s so dark, that you can’t see anything. Make sure that there aren’t any strange/annoying sounds in the background. Make sure that there aren’t any songs or signs in the background that could get you in copyright trouble.
  6. BONUS TIP – Have Fun and Be Creative! Have fun with it and get creative, your audience will have fun too. Even if your business is a Victorian Tea Room, there’s no need for your video to be stuffy or boring.

I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions. What tips do you have?

Going Viral – It’s Not As Easy as Catching a Cold

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Over the last couple of years I’ve seen and heard a lot of people talking about wanting to “go viral” – you know having their video or marketing plan take off and get millions of hits, likes or retweets almost over night. I’ve seen people ask how to get their videos to go viral. I’ve seen people post ads looking for someone who can take their company’s marketing plan and make it go viral. I’ve also seen people try to explain, some of them very eloquently, that it’s not that easy. Here’s my take on it.

Looking through a microscope

Looking for the answers to “viral” content.

Going viral is a lot harder than it looks. It’s not like a cold virus where you know what the cause is and the things you can do to avoid it (or catch it if you’re into that). A virus can spread quickly through an office or a home, so can viral content. The difference is the virus likes everyone, viral  content is dependent on people liking it.

Yes, you can do some research and find similarities between things that go viral, and develop an equation for “viral” but it can’t take into account that certain spark. That something that makes people connect with the content. Viral content is like that person who just has something about them that draws people to them – you can’t put your finger on what it is, you just know it’s there.

Most viral content has something new or fresh about it. It often has an emotional aspect that people can connect with. Or it could be something funny (this is probably the most difficult to define or copy because the harder most people try to be funny the less they are). What goes viral today may not work on any other day, which is why I think some videos are posted for months or even years before it suddenly strikes a chord with people. Viral content depends on the moods, likes, dislikes, wants, needs, loves, hates, strengths, weaknesses and more of millions of people lining up exactly right.

I know there are people out there who are willing to sell you the secret to going viral. They make all kinds of promises. They offer workshops, seminars and emailed advice for an amazing low price.  But if you read the fine print, they don’t guarantee anything. They know there are too many intangibles to viral content to make you a guarantee you’ll go viral. Sure they might have some great ideas, but that doesn’t translate to viral content. It’s just like anything else, if they’re making you promises about viral content that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

So how do you go viral? Honestly, I don’t know. I think you develop content that appeals to you and your audience. Work on your message. Make it fun and interesting or the people you’re trying to communicate with. If you’re lucky you’ll find that magical something that catches hold of people like a new virus sweep the world.

When I Grow Up….

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I want to be when I grow-up. Again. I realize that I’m a full-blown adult (though at times I still don’t know how that happened). And I know that I have a family, a job, and a whole life that I need to live on a daily basis. But still, I wonder. Someone poised the question to me a while back during the Mega Millions fever that gripped the nation. If you could do anything, be anything, what do you want to be when you grow up? The honest answer is, I don’t know. Yes, there are things I would change. No, I wouldn’t walk away from the life I have now. I have a family and friends and nothing will ever change their importance in my eyes. It’s the other stuff…you know…the job you have, the kind of work you do. What if you were 10 years old again and the sky was limit. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Child with dream bubble

What did you dream of being when you were a child?

I think I would do much of the same things I’m doing now, just differently. I’ve always wanted my own production company, but if I had the option to do anything with it I would gear it towards non-profits and small business needing storytelling help and advice. I’d work with them on getting their on-line presence planned out and put in place. And, perhaps, most importantly to them, I would do it at an extremely reasonable cost. After all, if I didn’t have to work every day and was doing what I love to do, I wouldn’t be as worried about all the grown-up concerns that come with needing a job.If I could do anything, I would use my talents and experience to help good people with great potential reach their goals.

What about you? If you could do or be anything, what would you do when you grow up?

5 Reasons to Catch Pinterest Fever!

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Red Pinterest logo

Just in case you’re one of the last few people who hasn’t heard of Pinterest yet, you just may want to check it out. It’s been described as everything from “On-line crack for women” to on-line inspirations boards. I’ve spent a bit of time there, and some time reading about what people are saying. While I’m reluctant to jump on the bandwagon of the latest-greatest-everyone-is-doing-it trend, I have to agree that this could really change things for both social media and marketing. Oh yea, and it’s fun too.

So here are 5 reasons why I think you should be on Pinterest:

  1. It’s visual! I am a visual person. I like to have pictures or videos showing me things, and I’m not alone. People in general are becoming more visual which makes Pinterest the perfect social media tool because it’s all about the pictures. There’s are place for descriptions, but there’s rarely much information attached. The images take center stage and are like candy for the visual person.
  2. Instant gratification! There are always more things to see. Hit the button for more pins and you get MORE PINS!
  3. It opens your mind! Even if you never really thought about your sense of style before, you will now. You’ll quickly find yourself gravitating to some things and not others. You’ll see a lamp that you just have to buy right beside a dress you wouldn’t be caught dead in. And it is all awesome. I’ve found myself looking at things I thought I liked differently because I’m seeing them beside something I never thought of before. It can be a challenge and exciting at the same time. Word of advice: Don’t judge other people’s tastes, just enjoy the ride.
  4. Crowd sourcing your marketing! There are some organizations doing great things on Pinterest, and a lot of them are colleges and universities. The easiest way is to set up an account for your organization and create some boards. Add & pin just a few of your own images to start with, then search for what other people are pinning about you and add them to your boards. Other people are searching for and pinning the pictures, so it’s like they’re doing the hard work for you.
  5. Make it make sense to you! There’s so much information out there and it’s constantly coming at us while we’re left trying to make sense of it all. Most social media gives you one view, maybe two, and that’s how you see everything. At Pinterest, you can make different boards and pin whatever you want to them. They don’t have to make sense to anyone but you. Tell your visuals story the way you want and in a way that works for you.

There are some concerns with the privacy and copyright permissions at Pinterest, and they have made some changes to policies recently. Do a little Google digging to get different opinions on the subject.

Have you tried out Pinterest? What are your thoughts?