Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Importance of Carrying a Business Card

By Karen Preston-Loeb

Technology has transformed business communication from email to internet. While written communication is often paperless, one piece of correspondence remains printed: the business card. And while it seems that it would be more advantageous to ping information between colleagues, it remains important to always carry a business card.

Here are some reasons why business cards are effective business tools:

Brand marketing
The business card represents your company’s brand. Not only does it convey important personal contact information such as name, title, email, website, address and phone number, but oftentimes it is also the first exposure to the overall image of the business. The company logo is prominently displayed for brand identity. The fonts used, color, texture and paper stock used also conveys a message about the type of industry represented. Specialized printing techniques can be used such as embossing, foil stamping, thermography or laminating. The business card reflects the personality of the company and gives the first impression.

Conveys professionalism and preparedness
Image is everything. Having a business card on hand gives the appearance of professionalism and shows proper planning. Being caught off-guard without a business card imparts an ill-prepared impression. Always carry a stack of business cards protected by a card case and you will convey a polished quality.

Quicker to hand a business card vs input digital information
Numerous apps exist for smartphones to transfer contact information wirelessly; however the quickest and easiest way to exchange data remains the paper business card. Multiple business cards can be handed out in seconds at a networking event versus entering data. In the fast-pace workplace, time matters and nothing beats the quick handing over of a business card for speed.

Some clients do not own digital devices
Do not rely on smartphones for transferring of contact information, because some people do not own digital devices or are not tech savvy. While the majority of our population does have a personal electronic device, some prefer not to rely on theirs. And even if digital devices are used by both parties, the applications may not be compatible. Exchange business cards and you can always follow up with an email that contains your digital contact card.

Essential in international business
With the rise of global working opportunities, doing business overseas is becoming more normal.  Business cards are not only necessary in international business in some cultures, but they are also used ceremoniously. In most Asian countries, the business card is treated with respect. It is often presented with two hands, never tossed, and should be properly placed in a holder once received—never shoved in a pocket. In Japan exchanging business cards is a ritual and considered a formal introduction to a person. Business cannot begin until business cards are exchanged as this signifies the beginning of a relationship. In India, business cards are exchanged even in non-business situations and are always presented face-up with the text facing the recipient. In the Middle East, protocol varies per country. In Bahrain, for instance, never exchange business cards with the left hand and be certain to look at the business card received carefully before putting it away.

The printed business card still dominates. At any instance, whether a networking event or at a coffee shop, the opportunity for a business connection can occur. Not having a business card on-hand could result in a lost potential client. Exchanging business cards gives the ability to follow up, providing a foot in the door for a business transaction. It also allows a personal encounter between two parties, a crucial element of creating a business connection.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Aligning Video Content with Brand

content marketing video best practices
How to Make the Most of Your Video Production Marketing Efforts

By Laura Powers

Businesses today should consider video a key component of a strategic content marketing plan. In January 2017, 78 percent of internet users in the U.S. watched online video content. It is a vehicle that immediately communicates a sense of what it is like to work with or for the company, the culture that surrounds the company, and team members and collaboration at the company. All of these factors contribute to a viewer's decision to buy services and products, to consider employment opportunities, or to make a referral.

Included here are key factors to consider for brand consistency as you invest time, resources and a team’s creative energy into producing marketing video content.

Keep it Short

There are reasons that elevator pitches are effective. They provide us with a tool to convey important messages in the short time frame where we have a person’s undivided attention. This recent blog on the limits of our attention span touches on the importance of tailoring experiences to a distracted population. Undivided attention for an elevator pitch is an infrequent, but fortunate, opportunity. Undivided attention while watching and listening to a video is more rare. We can’t control the distractions that may happen while someone is viewing. Since we are not in the room with the viewer, they can easily turn away or ignore us without the fear of being perceived as rude.

For these reasons, videos developed for content marketing purposes should run no longer than 60 seconds. If a one minute video can’t communicate everything necessary to educate and inform your audience, make a series of videos on one topic.

In certain circumstances – such as a 20th anniversary video that includes highlights from an organization’s history and profiles of key leadership – it is appropriate to extend the length of a video.

Select a Single Theme

Videos produced for paid advertising placement are typically driving one message home in a short, concise clip. Videos for marketing purposes are shared on a different platform (YouTube, Vimeo, company website) and are pushed out via a different method (email marketing, social media) and can get caught in the marketing trap of diffused, complicated messaging. To be most effective, each video produced must capture and hold the attention of viewers, be clear in its purpose, and increase credibility and trust with your audience. Some central marketing video themes are:
  • About Us Content – showcase your brand, team members, products or services in a documentary video
  • How-it-works Content – demonstrate a product or process in animation or live action video
  • Specialization Content – highlight differentiation, unique features and benefits of company services
  • Special Topic Content – videos highlighting anniversaries, events, awards, and topical issues
For about us, how-it-works and specialization content, select a single theme with a single message and focus on only that in one video. For example, a video highlighting a team member's expertise in state and local tax issues shouldn’t distract from the theme with other unrelated accomplishments or expertise.

Set the Mood

The atmosphere in video across the web is wide and varied. The atmosphere in a company video should demonstrate a tone and personality that is consistent with the brand through other marketing vehicles. In making decisions for setting a mood, ensure that they align with the company’s positioning statements, key messages and brand strategy.

Mood and atmosphere are often overlooked in a company video, especially with the low quality production tools available to the general public, but they are very important to get right. Incorrectly aligning the tone of a video and a brand can set a company back in its overall marketing efforts rather than move it forward.

Consider POV

On occasion, an individual facing the camera and speaking to the viewer (a talking head) may be necessary, but strongly consider a different point-of-view. A law firm promoting their energy practice attorneys may convey a better experience of their brand story if beautiful footage of energy sources is shown on screen with a voice-over, versus an office interior with a talking head. Abstracted video concepts like this one convey emotion, a sense of culture, and a personality. Most importantly, they are exciting to watch.

All video produced for business with the objective of building credibility, describing products and services, or reinforcing trust can benefit from thinking cinematically before filming begins. A first-rate video production company will assist with concepts and recommendations, scripting, securing voice-over talent and providing a mix of camera options such as wide pans, time-lapse and multiple angle options.

Video is a vital vehicle that will amplify a brand and provide reinforcement in a multi-channel marketing mix. Strategically shaping the POV, mood, tone and theme will produce a marketing video that aligns with and reflects the perception you wish to maintain.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Can You Keep a Goldfish Interested? The New Attention Span in the Age of the Internet

By Rose Strong

In a world bursting with new technologies, it has been said that humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish which has an attention span of about nine-seconds.

The New York Times op-ed by Timothy Egan, addresses the eight-second attention span. He says, “I can no longer wait in a grocery store line, or linger for a traffic light, or even pause long enough to let a bagel pop from the toaster, without reflexively reaching for my smartphone.” Does this sound familiar?

According to the website Statistic Brain, office workers check their email 30 times an hour, and the average attention span has dropped 3.75 seconds from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8.25 seconds in 2015. In addition, only 17 percent of website page views last four seconds or less.

When you are thinking about marketing and public relations in a world where people zoom by ads and content, it is a challenge to engage them successfully.

How, then, do you get and keep your clients’ attention?

Consider audience wants and needs. You first need to think about your target audience. What do they want? What do they need? When will they be paying attention? Often, businesses share content online about their accomplishments but it is important to connect those accomplishments to the prospective customers’ needs. For instance, if you are a lawyer who was named a Best Lawyer or Super Lawyer in the area of estate planning, it’s worth sharing that news and tying it into how your readers can safeguard their personal estates.

Go where the customers are. Understanding where people get their information is fundamental to a successful online content strategy that seizes the viewer’s attention immediately and keeps them. For instance, B2B businesses are more likely to engage their target audience on LinkedIn than Twitter while Facebook is a better platform, in general, for B2C.

Capture the micro-moment opportunities. Today most people are doing micro-moment searches on their mobile devices. According to an article by Rob Weatherhead of Media Network Blog for The Guardian, the micro-moment is a term coined by Google to define anytime a consumer uses an online platform to look something up, be it a store’s hours, a restaurant menu or where the closest gas station is located. Make sure your content is optimized for organic search in order to keeping the viewer’s eyes on the prize.

Create clear, concise and engaging content. In today’s tech world where immediate gratification is all around us, it is important to carefully manage content choices. For example, website images and their placement should take into consideration load time, size, placement, visual appeal and story-telling value. Those images should complement your content, which should be easy to read by using bullets or specific spacing. Less is often more.

In her interview with David Greene of NPR, Jessica Helfand, author of “Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media and Visual Culture,” says, "The impatience with which people have come to expect everything to be delivered to them is a terrifying prospect." In an age where people are “constantly engaged in multimedia multitasking — reading, working … and checking Facebook every 10 minutes,” Helfand says it is important to create “a better visual, more compelling experience— an experience tailored to shorter attention spans.”

With the rise of technology and its continuing advancements, we have turned into a society even more eager for information at light speed. We can embrace in marketing and public relations with shorter, more targeted, more visual information distributed through the many new tools, such as social media, that capture the minds moving at warp speed.