Saturday, May 30, 2009

YouTube for additional advertising

An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't."
-Anatole France

With every business looking for effective ways to advertise, you have to spend your money wisely. I have seen more people waste advertising dollars than any other expense dollars. I think the reason for this is that, unlike other types of expenses, it is hard to quantify the results of advertising.

Lately, I have seen many businesses using YouTube as a way of driving customers to their web sites. This is especially true for products or services that need to be seen and require some education or information for their use.

One such product is the Toyota Prius. I am interested in getting a new Prius. Compared to my older model, the new model has so many neat features, from a lane assist option that warns you if you drift out of your traffic lane to a solar panel that keeps the car cool when it is parked in the sun.

While I can see pictures or read about these features, going to YouTube and seeing them in a video is so much more effective for me. I was really able to get an understanding of what each feature is and what the associated benefits and limitations are. The videos on YouTube helped me decide which features to have on my new Prius once I decide to get one. Of course, I really would like to have one!

Another example is a relatively new Tallahassee business called Talon Training Group. They specialize in weapons training (which is excellent, and I have attended) for both law enforcement officers and the average citizen, as well as selling related products such as holsters and magazines. The business is owned and run by law enforcement officers, so they do not have much time or money for advertising campaigns. As an alternative, they have joined the numerous other companies that are using YouTube to raise their visibility.

You can view one of Talon’s videos at or just by typing “talontraininggroup” into the search box at YouTube. While their videos are not super slick – not very slick at all – they convey information in a very clear and honest fashion.

Their videos, like so many other good ones, are primarily educational and secondarily sales-oriented. This is just good marketing. You want to educate potential consumers so as to build trust and encourage them to visit your web site.

In order to be effective there are several rules of thumb to remember when creating your video. Firstly, it must not feel like a commercial. If it feels like an ad, people will not walk, but run from your video.

Secondly, because the sell has to be soft, a call to action will not work very well. The best thing you can do is show your web site. The goal is to get the user so excited about your product that their next stop is your web site.

Thirdly, the video needs to be short. Three minutes seems to be the ideal length. If the video is much longer than this, people will lose interest and move on.

Finally, the video must be both educational and engaging. Having 40 years of experience as a professor, I can tell you that education without some type of entertainment is not very successful.

Now go out and see if YouTube might be an effective way for you to advertise your products to potential customers.

You can do this!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Any change, any loss, does not make us victims. Others can shake you, surprise you, disappoint you, but they can't prevent you from acting, from taking the situation you're presented with and moving on. No matter where you are in life, no matter what your situation, you can always do something. You always have a choice, and the choice can be power.
-Blaine Lee, The Power Principle

Occasionally, we deal with an entrepreneur whose story is so surreal that it is hard to believe it is true. This column is about one such situation.

A very good entrepreneur had a small equity partner who operated a portion of the business located in another city. As the entrepreneur could not travel, this minority share owner was not managed very much outside of his ability to make money, which he did on a continual basis. However, as the entrepreneur discovered, there were recurrent problems with how the small equity partner managed the office, from unnecessarily low pay to ethical issues.

This shareholder, who actually owned less than five percent of the company, thought of himself as a partner rather than as an employee who happened to own stock. I remember one conversation I had with him about this, and he had a hard time accepting the fact that he was not a partner, but only a small equity owner and an employee.

If you are thinking that this person had a giant ego, you are 100 percent correct. This person did have a giant ego, but he also had a skill set that the company needed. While he was a pain to deal with, he did bring some valuable things to the table, including a proficiency in bringing in business and generating revenue.

Despite these skills, several fundamental flaws kept creeping up. Among them, of course, was his ego. In addition, he had some personal financial issues that kept him asking for more and more money until he was – and I am not exaggerating here – being paid more than five times that of a comparable employee. He covered his sizeable salary by paying his staff low and generating lots of revenue so that the office looked like it was doing well.

In order to find out exactly what was going on, the entrepreneur finally made a trip to this office. Upon arrival, the entrepreneur noticed that the office manager, who used two monitors, had rear view mirrors mounted to each one. Remember, this is a true story!

When asked why she had rear view mirrors on her monitors she replied that she had them so the small equity owner could not sneak up on her when he came in. When pressed further she said that he micromanaged everything and that the whole staff would find other jobs if they could.

Letting the minority partner go was a very tough decision for the entrepreneur as he knew that he would have trouble finding another person with the necessary skill set. However, the entrepreneur discovered that the minority partner was looking for a job with a competitor – despite his non-compete agreement – at about the same time that all this was going on. Following this discovery, the entrepreneur finally let the employee go.

When I asked the entrepreneur how he tolerated this individual for so long, he shook his head and said, “I thought I no choice until I was pushed into a corner and left with no other option but to let him go.”

No employee should ever be considered irreplaceable. Now go out and make sure that you do not allow a situation to develop where employees have to put rear view mirrors on their computers.

You can do this!