That’s My Card!

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Did you ever have something happen – a coincidence that is so unlikely that it seems to be a sign that you’re on the right track with whatever it is that you’ve been doing? Today I had an experience just like that.

I was on a monthly mastermind call with some women I had met at a workshop two years ago. I was telling them the story about how I was recently at a friend’s birthday party and another friend was reading everybody’s “Angel Cards.”

“These cards are intended to give you guidance,” she explained as all the members of the birthday party picked out their cards. I was sure mine would be something to do with abundance, business growth or something along those lines but instead I got “Play”.

As I was explaining that while I had initially been disappointed by the “Play” card, it actually was the perfect card for me, Michelle asked if we remembered the words of encouragement we had written on blank cards at the workshop. After we wrote them they were randomly distributed amongst the attendees.

I had forgotten all about those cards, but Michelle had actually pinned hers right above her desk. She told our group, “I look at my card every day. I love it so much and it’s really a message that’s perfect for me. I’ve shown it to so many people who have told me they were jealous they didn’t get this card.”

“What does the card look like?” I asked. “I can’t find mine.”

Michelle snapped a picture and texted it to me. I couldn’t believe it.

“Oh, my God. You got my card!”

Of the hundreds of people at the workshop somehow Michelle had picked the card I wrote and she had just shared what an influence this card had had on her. That was incredible enough, but then I re-read the message and one word particularly stood out to me: the word PLAY.

Here is the message I inadvertently wrote to Michelle, which just goes to show, you never know how you’re going to positively affect someone, or who you’re going to help (hint: it could even be yourself):

I love you for your beauty, kindness and killer sense of humor. Your wit, wisdom and courage is a shining beacon to everyone who crosses your path. I know you’re right on the cusp of creating the company you’ve always dreamed of. 

P.S. Remember to go out and PLAY!

 

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: A Three-Step Formula for Turning Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released early 2018. To find out more about how you can use video as a smart tool to grow your business visit our website.

Smart Growth: Fewer Clients Can Lead to Profits

Have you ever fired a client? If you’re new to business you might think that this would be a crazy thing to do, but ask some more seasoned business owners and almost everyone has a story about how they had to cut a high-maintenance client loose.

The other day I was talking with some fellow business owners and one of the group shared that she had done exactly that. This woman had done some real soul-searching, which resulted in her restructuring her business and letting 30% of the clients go. At first those of us in the conversation were all kind of surprised by this woman’s audacity in firing all of those clients, but then she reminded us of the 80/20 rule. In her case, 80% of her profits were coming from 20% of her clients, so letting the less profitable ones go actually significantly increased her profitability – that all important bottom line.

And here is the part of the story that is really interesting. When this person fired all of those clients her business revenue – her top line numbers – took a nosedive. Some of the clients she was releasing were really very large accounts. But despite the temporary reduction in revenues what she found was that, at the end of the day, her profitability was up more than 50%!

“I think one of the hardest parts about this restructuring,” she shared, “had to do with my own ego. Everyone likes to say that they have a company of a certain size or X-million-dollars in revenue, but if you’re not all that profitable then it really doesn’t matter.”

Another friend of mine ended up letting her largest client – Walmart – go, after experiencing years of intense pricing pressure and many “logistical hoops” from the behemoth organization.

I know that making that decision wasn’t easy for this friend, but although her overall volume is down, she too has experienced increased profitability and – also importantly – she also seems a lot less stressed these days, too.

When considering the smartest way to grow your business, there really is a lot more to look at than just sales volume. It’s about not only knowing your numbers but also about knowing which of those numbers really matter the most to get you to the fastest -and smartest- growth.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: A Three-Step Formula for Turning Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released early 2018. To find out more about how you can use video as a smart tool to grow your business visit our website.

Why Use Video Marketing for Your Small Business?

Welcome to our first guest blog, written by Nicole Standish of Charm Digital Media. Enjoy this article and let us know what you learned in the comments below!

Videos are some of the most effective marketing tools today. Customers find them attractive, relatable, and relevant. They are highly effective at capturing and retaining the client’s attention. Small Businesses especially can benefit from the value and engagement that video provides.

So, how can this form of marketing be useful to your small business?

Boosting Conversion Rates and Sales

Using a targeted video content strategy, you will not struggle to boost your conversion rates and sales. Therefore, be ready to make serious money and become wildly popular. A landing page that contains a video is capable of increasing conversions by as much as 80 percent.

Amazing ROIs

Videos offer amazing returns on investment (ROI). They guarantee the best results based on what you spend. They are a worthy investment when done correctly. All it takes is a bit of planning, a great video marketing team, and a smartphone to begin seeing your conversions soar.

Research shows that businesses publish on average 18 videos per month according to this HubSpot Infographic. That is close to 1 video per work day. Do not, however, place too much emphasis on producing perfect videos. Instead, focus on the content and solving problems for your target audience.

Building Trust with Clients

Videos are perfect for building trust with your customers. Most times, clients find it easier to relate with brands that produce videos. Trust is the foundation of any business relationship, especially if you are a small business that is just getting acquainted with your buyers. To do this,  Use video to highlight your team, show your community involvement, outline your mission and vision as a company, and show off your well-earned testimonials. 

Search Engines Love Videos

Google – and all the other major search engines – love videos. They reward marketers who use videos to pass messages across. Visitors on your site tend to spend more time browsing through your pages while engaged in one of your videos, improving your reach and validating your relevance to search engines. 

The likelihood of showing on the first results page increases 53 times when you feature videos.

Popular with Mobile Phone Users

Mobile users love videos. Today, there is a 233% increase in mobile video views. Businesses can take advantage of this trend and reach people on their mobile devices, while they are at work or at leisure. Video is the easiest content to consume on a smartphone or smaller device.

Tip: Include text in your video as many viewers watch with the sound off.

Videos are Ideal for Explanations

You have a higher and better chance of reaching out to your customers with a message they understand when using videos to explain your product, service or process.Explainer videos are popular with more than 98% of all video viewers, meaning they value the effort that you are taking to produce the videos and provide the answers they are looking for.

There are many ways to create an entertaining explainer video. If your subject is difficult to explain and low on the likeability scale, you can easily narrate or animate your videos to add more emotion or pizzaz. Use emotion, drama or humor to draw in your audience and keep them engaged.

Popular with Lazy Buyers

Today, your business will engage with many lazy buyers. Such buyers are a difficult lot to market to without videos. They are not interested in your long-form content, they want to know quickly and easily how your product or service can solve their problems. Video allows them to listen or watch while they are multi-tasking. Additionally, video gives them a deeper glimpse into your businesses without needing to visit your about us page, removing another click in their buyers’ journey.

Vidoe Marketing For Small Businesses = Conversions & ROI

If you have small businesses or any business for that matter, video can work for you. Using a mix of written and video content, you will surely attract more customers and do so in the way they feel the most comfortable engaging with your brand. There really isn’t a down-side to video marketing. Video marketing is affordable, easy to produce and has outstanding ROI. 

Nicole Standish is the President of Charm Digital Media.  As a digital media consultant, Nicole helps businesses attract and convert online business.  Nicole evaluates existing digital resources and strategies; develops campaigns to reach targeted audiences, and optimizes marketing channels to reach and exceed sales goals. Follow Charm Digital Media on Facebook at Charm Digital Media and Twitter at @CharmThem

Interested in learning more about video marketing? Comment on this post or subscribe to our digital marketing blog – The Content Catch Up! 

 

Tell Me a Story

It’s no secret that we are attached to our phones and other electronic devices. In fact, a recent study in the UK found that most people would rather give up the following as long as they got to keep their smart phone: sex, shoes, house keys, their partner, alcohol, a car, and… get ready for it… JOY. Let that sink in for a minute. People would forfeit joy if it meant they got to keep their phone.

Ok. So, we can accept that electronic devices are not going away anytime soon. But what does that really mean to you and your business? If you’re in the market of selling something – pretty much anything – you need to reach the people who are on those devices. And that means that you have to find something interesting to say – and a way to say it – on a consistent basis.

It’s not enough to write an article or blog post one time and call it a day. In this crowded but all-important digital space you have to learn how to define your company’s story and how to tell that story in an impactful way.

And just what that way is depends on your business. You have to know your customers and find out where they’re hanging out online, then find a way to be in that space in some meaningful way.

Across the board you’ll find that people tend to spend the most time on social media sites. Most of us are on these sites 1-2 hours a day, and for many it’s a lot more than that. This means that if you’re in business it’s a good idea to have a social media presence that people find interesting and engaging. Depending on your sales cycle or type of service people may or may not purchase from you right away, but staying top of mind is worth the investment of maintaining an active presence.

Also, speaking in general terms, YouTube is a site that cannot be ignored. Not only is the YouTube search engine second in size only to Google, but the platform is growing at mind-numbing speeds. At this point in time 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every single minute. It’s important to have a presence here for all sorts of reasons (Google the statistics on the percentage of people who would prefer to watch a video about a product or service instead of reading about it). But it’s even more important that you have a message that will get noticed among all of that clutter in the YouTube space.

At the end of the day, people want to be entertained, but they also want to be smarter about all kind of topics, especially if getting to that place of being smarter is fun and easy to understand.

So, please, make story part of your strategy and use videos to help engage your audience too, but make sure you’re doing so in .an interesting and consistent manner, and preferably one that brings value to your clients. People are always up for a good story. You just have to figure out the right way to tell yours.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released early 2018. To find out more about how you can use video to grow your business visit our website.

Using Video Sounds Good, But What Do I Say?

Social media posts with video are 1200% more likely to be shared than posts with just text, and text and pictures COMBINED.

Consumers who watch a product video are TWICE as likely to purchase the product than those who do not.

Websites with heavy video content are 53 TIMES more likely to land a first page Google ranking than sites without video.

Many of you have heard the impressive statistics about using videos to reach your current and potential customers, but are unsure how to proceed when it comes to knowing what to say in a video, or in creating videos about your business.

With our Video Crisps subscriptions our clients get professionally edited and/or animated video content given to them each and every month. When we launched this program we didn’t anticipate how many people would struggle with not only knowing what to say in the videos but also with knowing how to use them.

That’s exactly why regular consultations on content and strategy are an important part of the program. This is the first of a series of blog posts in which we’ll be looking at different type of video content and usage, starting next week with community outreach and public education.

But in the meantime here are some ideas to get you started brainstorming what video can do, in very tangible terms, for your business.

  • Explain how your services work
  • Collect customer testimonials
  • Recruit fresh talent
  • Describe your mission
  • Train your employees
  • Enhance your social media
  • Increase open-rates on emails and newsletters
  • Introduce your staff
  • Showcase your products
  • Show your audience your space
  • Highlight your community events
  • Stay top of mind
  • Create videos that can be shared
  • Communicate your message

If any of this sounds interesting, give us a call at 607.239.5423, and remember to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a single post about how using video in your messaging can significantly impact your business.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017. To find out more about how you can use video to grow your business visit our website.

You’re Weird and Unusual? Me Too!

I’ll never forget the first conversation I had with my friend, Meagan. We were hiking in the Angeles National Forest outside of L.A. There were rather a lot of us on this day hike as friends-of-friends rounded out our original core group of hikers to about 15 or 20. We split off into smaller groups of twos and threes as fitness levels and varying degrees of patience created a kind of natural selection process and determined who was going to end up in conversation together.

Meagan and I found ourselves together and as we made our way down the trail we discovered that we both loved traveling and had done a lot of it. As we talked I was starting to realize how much I liked this person, but when our discussion turned to food and cooking – another passion for both of us – the conversation had gotten to the point where we were already planning our next meeting. But then Penzeys came up and that’s when we knew we’d be friends. You may know that Penzeys is a company that sells spices, herbs and seasonings. These days they have specialty shops all over the country, but back when I first met Meagan they were a fairly small mail order business. Not many people knew about Penzeys in those days, but Meagan and I were both huge fans, and once we realized this our conversation – and friendship – really had gone next level.

Today Meagan and I live across the country from one another but we’ve stayed friends. We both are still loyal Penzeys customers too, and that’s the issue that I want to talk about in this blog post. Penzeys has always had a strong brand and a clear voice. Back when they were the “little guy” there were certain things that they always talked about, and which came across in all of their materials: quality, integrity and a kind of homeyness. It made Penzeys customers feel loyal and inspired, like we were part of a movement of goodness, healthy home cooking and a place where the little guy could come out on top.

Now, decades later, the tone of Penzeys hasn’t changed much, even though the business has become much, much larger. The company has put their voice behind social issues and hasn’t been shy about political ones, either. While their choices may cost Penzeys the business of a few customers, the remaining ones are loyal advocates who feel like the company understands them. And the steady growth of Penzeys earnings speaks for itself as a testament to what happens when you’re real and authentic. You end up with a tribe of brand advocates – loyal customers like me and Meagan who not only talk about the brand, but who bond over it, forming a life-long friendship halfway up a mountain!

These days, more than ever before, it’s imperative that businesses begin to show their real selves to the world as a way to attract the right people to them. Even corporations need to realize that it’s okay to be a little weird and quirky. Trying to please everyone only leads to a bland vanilla brand that no one will ever get excited over, so go ahead and let your hair down. Be yourself.

Take a chance and share your thoughts. Let us hear your voice, peek behind the curtain of your operation, see you step in front of the camera. When you find the courage to let your voice be heard, and do so consistently, week after week, you’ll watch with amazement as your tribe begins to form around you, one loyal follower at a time.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017. To find out more about how you can use video to grow your business visit our website.

Why Video Content Matters

If you have a business of any kind chances are that you could benefit by engaging in conversation with your current and future customers. Anyone can start a blog or post on social media, but what’s a little trickier is coming up with a strategy around what you’re saying, and finding a way to make sure people are paying attention.

If you want to make sure that the odds of a successful campaign are in your favor then you may want to consider including video in your mix. While today’s consumers are looking for relevant and useful information, they are less likely than ever to want to actually read long blocks of text. You only have three seconds in which to capture someone’s attention, and video helps to stack the odds in your favor.

It also allows you to create a personal connection with your audience and to show – not tell – what your business is all about. People still like doing business with those who they connect with, like and trust, and with video your authentic and true self can shine through.

But don’t just take my word for it. The anecdotal evidence and statistics speak for themselves. Social media posts with video are 1200% more likely to be shared, and according to Wirebuzz, viewers retain 95% of the message when they watch it in a video as opposed to just 10% when reading it in text. “How to” searches on YouTube have grown by more than 70% in the past year and will continue to increase, according to projections. That’s pretty impressive, especially as YouTube is already the second largest search engine.

You probably don’t need to be convinced that video is relevant, but how can you use it to grow your business? The possibilities are endless, really. You can introduce your staff or product, give a behind-the-scenes tour of your offices or showcase client testimonials. And if you don’t like being in front of the camera, there are dozens of ways to create videos that can keep you safely behind the scenes.

Because of the nature of our business we see successes just about every single day. I have a client that didn’t even have a YouTube channel a few months ago, and now, after a couple of months of Video Crisps content, she is coming up number one in a YouTube search. It’s exciting and it proves that there’s no time like the present to get started in making video work for you.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017. To find out more about how you can use video to grow your business visit our website.

The Business of Generosity

Gift

Can you build a business on being generous? Can you commit to delighting your customers every time, and how would that affect your bottom line? Can you always deliver extra value and a pleasant experience for your clients?

While you ponder that thought, let’s take a look at the opposite side of the spectrum. Consider a company that manufactures something and decides to cut corners and reduce costs. Perhaps the product still works well – almost as well – as it originally did, and a few pennies are saved. Is this kind of cost-cutting a solid business decision?

Possibly, but the answer might not be quite so simple. In the scenario where the product works slightly less well with a few pennies saved, then what happens the next time costs are cut? And the next? Many times there will be a gradual degrading of quality to the point where people start to notice and question their purchasing decisions.

We all know how much easier and more cost-effective it is to keep current customers instead as opposed to seeking out new ones, which means that losing a customer is an expensive proposition – probably a lot more expensive than the pennies saved in production.

But let’s take the idea of adding value, going the extra mile for your customers. Your bean counters may not be happy at first, but what’s the real value of a delighted customer – one who tells their friends about the extraordinary service that he or she has received? It may be hard to quantify but that doesn’t mean it’s not extremely valuable. Companies like Zappos understand this concept and have built their entire culture around it.

How can you embrace excellent service within your organization and encourage your employees to be generous with their time and skills? You may find the way that your customers decide to thank you to be both delightful and profitable, as well.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017.

Adapt and Grow

If you’re not always changing and adapting as a business, then your business is dying.

You have probably heard that idea before, but if you’re running a small business are you so caught up in the day to day that you’re forgetting to ask yourself how you can continue to do better, be better, and adapt to and ever-changing and often fickle marketplace?

Part of the solution to this issue is a commitment to education for leadership and employees of any organization. And the other part is a willingness to grow and change, to try new things and to let go of that which is no longer serving you.

In order to do this effectively you have to ask a lot of questions, which means listening to your customers, your employees and to peers and leaders in your field. And, when you do start getting feedback, you have to be willing to do something about it.

If you start hearing that your pricing is too high, for example, that could mean one of two things. Either you need to come up with a product or service that is more affordable to your customer base, or you need to court a different demographic because you’re probably not working with your ideal clients.

Obviously no business should want to jump on every trend that pops up, but being savvy enough to balance what your customers need and want with new advances and best practices in your business are a winning combination and one which we all should be striving for.

And even if achieving the perfect balance of innovation and consistency is tough, you don’t have to be perfect to be effective. In fact, any steps you can take towards intentionally creating an innovative and forward thinking company are going to serve you well and move your closer to your goals.

Perfect Place, Perfect Time?

At times running a business can be scary. You could lose a big client, make a costly mistake or have issues with an employee. Your office space could flood as we’ve seen happen recently down in Texas, or you could get sick and have to step back from the company for a while.

I recently spoke with business owners who have experienced all of the above, and one of the similarities that I found among them was this.  While no one enjoyed actually going through the unpleasantness of a major setback, every one of the people I spoke to was convinced that their lives and their businesses are better off now than before they experienced their life-changing event.

One friend, for example, had extreme challenges in her business when she lost a major client. She was forced to dramatically cut back on her staff, and then shortly after that she became seriously ill, which meant that working 70 or 80 hour weeks was no longer an option for her.

What ended up transpiring was that she cut her work hours back dramatically and actually found that without her previous overhead, that her profit was actually significantly higher, even with the shorter hours. She also started working on a book that she had been meaning to write for years but which she had to keep putting off due to other obligations.

It’s not hard to see how this friend’s life and business were better after the unwelcome shake-up happened, and interestingly, I found the same thing to be the case with everyone I talked to about this. Each of the business owners had had a significant setback that turned out to be a blessing. And that’s the part that I started getting very, very interested in.

So often we resist change, especially when it’s something that is perceived as negative, but in the cases of the people that I spoke to, the changes they had endured all had incredible blessings attached to them.

There is a school of thought that says the Universe is always conspiring for our highest good, for our best interest – even when it’s difficult or impossible to see it at the moment you’re going through something challenging. I for one am going to work on actively remembering this the next time things don’t go my way in life and in business. Sometimes the best thing we can do is to relax and allow, and lean into our faith in happy endings and positive outcomes.