I’m part of a team hired to overhaul its website and we took the tour to glean information for our content strategy.
The woman who showed us around gave us good fodder for our project. We asked questions about all kinds of things and wondered what she thought of the website we’re planning to redo.
She offered a number of suggestions and said the site doesn’t have enough information.
A curious comment
Back in the office a colleague expressed surprise at that comment. The site has nearly 200 pages and is chock full of text. How can it be light on info?
I reckoned our guide meant the site doesn’t have enough useful information.
Clutter hides the good stuff
Our tour enabled us to realize this is a fabulous facility with numerous one-of-a-kind advantages.
You wouldn’t necessarily know it from the website. Someone who wants valuable insight into what this center provides, its benefits, or how it differs from other places offering similar services, would be hard-pressed to figure it all out.
Many of those details are in fact noted on the current site. That good stuff, however, is surrounded by extraneous text. It gets lost amid the clutter.
How too much can add up to nothing
Our team has more research and planning to do for this web project. We’ll have follow-up questions for our guide and will probe more deeply to determine what information she’d like to see on the site.
Meanwhile, there’s a simple lesson to be learned here.
Take a look at your website. How much of the content offers real value to users? How much is superfluous filler?
Tip: Too much needless information becomes a whole lot of nothing. Clear out the clutter.
- Deni Kasrel
So what do YOU think? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Plenty more. Or a lot less.
It depends on the video. And the website.
If you’re an individual “citizen” blogger, you may be fine with something that has a homemade look. People will often give you a pass. They’ll accept that you’re not a big operation with deep pockets to invest in high-end video.
The quality of your video reflects on your entire company
If you’re a business, people may still give you a pass. Only in a different way. They’ll think, “Gee, how unprofessional. I wonder if the rest of the company is up to snuff.” So they pass you by and head to a competitor’s site.
A slapdash video is a poor reflection of your entire company.
Interview with video pro: Melissa Shusterman, director, D4 Digital
Melissa Shusterman, director of digital video and web communications at D4 Digital, a division of the Philadelphia-based D4 Creative agency, knows how to create professional internet videos that communicate your value proposition in engaging fashion. Formerly a producer who’s worked with MTV, VH1 and FX, she’s also noted as an innovator of episodic web video.
Melissa and I recently had a nice chat. Here are excerpts from our conversation.
Use of video online is getting a lot more popular. How do you see that trend going forward?
Melissa: YouTube is the fastest growing audience online. And its audience is far beyond the under-21 age group… Yet YouTube is filled with crap. There’s a lot of nonsense. You’re seeing a dog sit, or a baby cry, or a person rant. It’s amazing because people watch it. The power of receiving your information through someone’s mouth, or moving pictures, is incredible.
Why is that?
Melissa: Because we are human and we like to feel like we are spoken to directly and that we’re connecting with someone’s body language. Their eyes. Their opinion. It almost feels like a conversation, even in a video that doesn’t have a person looking right at you. Take that guy who talks about wine but screams at you. He’s a prime example. Why would people want to listen to that? Because instead of reading a PDF about the top four wines with a picture of a wine bottle, which is highly impersonal; you suddenly got to connect with a person who is as passionate about wine as you are.
Many businesses don’t see the need for video. They have a website and they think that’s enough. How do you convince them otherwise?
Melissa: Well, one of our clients, a media company… I told them, “I just Googled your company and looked you up on YouTube, and … there was something that came up with someone cursing with your company name associated with it. It looks like you’re not thinking about that world. But other people are posting about you in that world. So do you want your company to be perceived like that? Because maybe you’re not Googling or YouTubing, but millions of other people are.
So they say… “We already have plenty of video. Why don’t we take the video we have now and stick that up on the web?” Well, that’s for broadcast. We need to film things specifically for internet use.
With certain clients you advocate the use webisodes; a series of short episodic videos. How does the impact of that differ from a TV commercial?
Melissa: With a commercial you have the constraints of 15, 30 or 60 seconds. It’s a more traditional medium to convey a very specific message. When you have webisodes, it’s organic. It can be a continual message that can be woven into something that’s entertaining and informative.
When you watch a commercial it’s an assault at you. They’re great and some are highly entertaining, but they’re very quick. Sometimes you don’t even really know what you are seeing.
When you have a personality, or a character, or a storyline, that’s in two-minute increments for 10 days; or a lifetime; you are getting to know the brand better, You are getting the added value of a longer format and the information that can unfold.
Companies often go with a “talking head” approach on their homepage. Do you think that can still be effective?
Melissa: In the past you would have a talking head and it was about two inches wide and one inch tall. The players are much broader today. So now maybe it’s taking up a third of the homepage and it’s taking away some the space you used to have for your messages. So instead of having the CEO speak, that video should encompass your messages.
The CEO could tell the messages. What’s the difference with what you’re referring to?
Melissa: Graphic pictures, voiceover and music can convey a compelling message and it can guide people further into your website. Video messaging is now multi-layered and engaging… I can talk about this for hours but the simple thing is, people Google your company. They land on your page. Do they understand what you do, or do they go to the competition?
It’s one of the components of integrated media that’s going to be essential for being current. People do not read. People watch… If it’s people’s first impression of your company, the message doesn’t have to be long. But there should be entertainment value and it needs to be authentic… Pick a genre that fits your company. Possibly documentary style. Or like a sitcom. Whatever fits your clientele.
Are there any common mistakes that you can identify with corporate videos?
Not being up-to-date. You’ve got to stay current. It’s like wearing a bad pair of jeans. When you’re current it shows you’re investing in the future and you’re moving forward as a company. So it’s not something that you just do once.
Things that are too long. People are busy. Keep it short. Even if it’s got humor, because after someone laughs they’re ready to move on.
It’s always about the consumer or the potential consumer. It’s not necessarily about the company. That’s true of all good marketing.
What if a company says they’ll just repurpose commercials? They’re short. What would you tell them?
Melissa: Don’t repackage what you do for broadcast for the internet. People are savvy. The minute they know it’s a commercial you’ve made a mistake. You’ve turned them off… You have a captive audience. If someone is sitting at their computer it’s different than watching TV where they may be on the phone. Walking around. Feeding the kids. Doing sit-ups. They’re half listening. When someone opens up something and it’s speaking directly to them and you haven’t captured the audience, shame on you.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of Melissa’s thoughts on what makes for an effective corporate video? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 8 so far )
This same time last year our nation was reeling from a financial system in freefall. We’re still in recovery mode, however, if necessity is indeed the mother of invention, then the situation will ultimately spur a windfall of ingenuity.
Such was the spirit of the Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit 2009, held earlier this week in Philadelphia.
The agenda featured numerous panels and workshops. I often wished I had the ability to be in two places at the same time. Perhaps someone will be creative enough to figure out how to make that happen.
I still packed a lot in. Here’s Part 1 of my condensed notes, plus one of many memorable slides seen at the conference:
A cool slide
Let’s begin with that slide, screened at the panel on Regional Creative Economic Strategies. It’s from the deck of Karen Gagnon who’s the dynamic program manager of a major urban revitalization project in Michigan called “Cool Cities”.
Gagnon stressed that the success of “Cool Cities” in part relies on the fact that it does not enforce mandates. Instead, the program finds allies in individual cities that are able to gain the input and buy-in of local groups and communities. Get a look at how Gagnon illustrated her point here:
Man, you gotta love that one.
Now here’s more snippets from speakers and panelists at the conference:
Welcoming remarks: Peter Kageyama, Partner, Creative Cities Productions
- The creative economy is all about whales and krill. Google is clearly the whale, but so much of the creative economy is about smaller companies that are the krill in the water, and in aggregate the krill are far bigger; it’s just harder to see.
- We are the most overly marketed to generation ever, yet we believe almost none of it.
- Green is the new black: To attract members of the creative class organizations and cities must reflect their values. Green (in the context of sustainability) is no longer a nice to have, it’s a must have.
Keynote address: Elizabeth Gilbert, author, Eat Pray Love
- The expectation in our society is that we must constantly outdo ourselves, and in this relentless drive, we cannibalize our ability to be true artists.
- We are pressed to be innovative but we must also be gentle and patient with ourselves.
- Follow curiosity wherever it takes you; and for writers, take a line for a walk across the page.
Workshop: Get to ‘Shiny Penny Hell’ and Back
- Shiny Penny Hell is when you have great ideas but you are paralyzed by not knowing how to turn them into things of value.
- Be a possibility thinker.
- There is such a thing as productive conflict — seek out divergent viewpoints that challenge your ideas.
- Explore the outrageous.
- Obsess over value creation.
- To avoid tunnel vision have focused flexibility, don’t lose your peripheral vision.
Keynote Address: The Global Promise of Entrepreneurship, Randall Kempner, Executive Director, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs
- Innovation is the generation, development and implementation of new ideas that create social value.
- Entrepreneurship is often born out of dire circumstance.
- Entrepreneurship = prosperity
Panel: ABC’s of Mobile Technology
- Mobile is about where you are and what you are doing at a certain time.
- When designing for mobile one size does not fill all; but there are in excess of 20,000 devices, so it’s impossible to design for every one.
- The three most important platforms are the iPhone, Blackberry and flip phone.
- Mobile web designs must be stripped down to essential needs; keep it simple in terms of tasks and navigation.
- Marketing tactics that that work well with mobile include coupons, news alerts/reminders, sweepstakes, text voting polls and surveys.
- The reach of mobile marketing is limited because it’s an opt-in method, but this provides a highly targeted audience that’s receptive to receiving your messages.
- Mobile and social media, perfect together.
OK, that’s a quick glimpse of insights from the Summit. Stay tuned for more.
- Deni Kasrel
What do YOU think of these ideas from the Summit? Anything spark your interest or imagination? Comments welcome.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Guest post by: Gail S. Bower | Read her blog
Earlier this year Northern Trust Bank took a public drubbing for proceeding with the second year of its five-year commitment to PGA Golf because it received TARP funds. According to a statement by the bank’s CEO, no public dollars funded the sponsorship, and the fiscally sound bank went forth with a program its leadership clearly values. Northern Trust participated in TARP at the government’s request, the statement noted, not because it needed the money. (You can read more about the effect this event had on sponsorship in my new guidebook How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times.)
I respect Northern Trust for honoring its commitment and for stating clearly its position in doing so. Corporate sponsorship is a marketing vehicle that gets results. When properly executed companies of all sizes benefit from incorporating sponsorship and event marketing into their business and marketing strategies.
After that incident other banks actually refused TARP dollars to avoid government and public scrutiny of their business decisions.
But some banks and financial firms were not so forthright. The New York Times reported on various corporations’ “‘stealth spending’” for event marketing. These companies are paying five- and six-figures to entertain clients, sans branding and identification of any kind.
I have a problem with the lack of transparency—with the sneakiness of the whole thing. But I endorse entertaining as a legitimate way to build relationships with clients, employees and vendors.
Take for example, Terry’s El Mariachi Supermarkets a Dallas-based chain of 13 stores that embraces the multi-cultural city it calls home. Terry Yu, the owner, invested $175,000 in a suite at the Dallas Cowboys’ fancy new stadium to reward workers and vendors whose support and loyalty have helped grow his business. He told the Dallas Morning News about what a “great investment” the luxury suite has been for him to provide a perk to staff and suppliers. (One of the first NFL franchises to broadcast in Spanish, the Cowboys have a large fan base among Texas and the Southwest’s Latino population, primarily from Mexico. So, imagine what a great perk this is.)
If entertaining employees and vendors works for Terry Yu, imagine how well it works for larger companies.
As a corporate sponsor, there are only three ways to go in these times:
- Discontinue sponsorship and be clear with stakeholders about that decision.
- Acknowledge that particular sponsorship investments meet your goals and provide value towards achieving business objectives. Be clear with the public, the media, and politicians about that decision and about why you are involved with sponsorships. Don’t engage in “stealth spending.”
- Be bold. Acknowledge that sponsorship works and determine new ways to do it that are not only acceptable for the times but that raise the bar. Champion a cause with strong brand alignment and enlist your clients in a day of service or in a cause marketing campaign to support your charity. (A February study on consumer perceptions on American corporations revealed that corporations that invest in a nonprofit organization or cause will win the favor of those consumers by 41 percent.)
Then shout it from the roof-tops. And build your business at the same time.
For those working with corporate sponsors, be sure your communications, both internally and externally, are supportive of corporate partners. If you uncover anti-corporate sentimentality, bring it to the surface and allow people to discuss it. Educate without being dismissive. Create parameters and policies that the staff, board, and other stakeholders will feel comfortable upholding.
Gail Bower is President of Bower & Co. Consulting LLC, a firm that assists nonprofit organizations and event/festival producers with dramatically raising their visibility, revenue, and impact. To learn more about her new guidebook, which provides a whole chapter on ways to enhance internal and external communications around sponsorship, visit http://www.GailBower.com/jumpstart. Her blog is http://www.SponsorshipStrategist.com.
What do YOU think about this post? Comments welcome.
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