10 Years after Y2K Is A Good Time to Start Using Video

9 12 2009

-Martin Moleski

The end of one year and start of another always gives us time to simultaneously reflect and look forward. I’ve always found it to be a good time. Did I accomplish what I wanted in 2009? How can I be more successful in 2010? Wow…I’m coming up on my 10-year high school reunion (don’t despise me because I’m still under 30). The year 2000 was supposed to usher in flying cars, new technologies and almost limitless possibilities from the Internet.  And in just 10 short years so much has happened that it’s easy for even a young guy like me to get behind the curve every once in awhile. Before 2000, we never used Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, iTunes or this little search engine program called Google. Think about that. No Google before 2000. How was I even able to find information for my high school research papers?

And as these technologies grew so did our reliance on online video.  That’s right, I said “reliance” because these days the news is becoming more and more about what we can see and hear and less about what an anonymous source said. Don’t believe me. Try to think of the White House crashers story without the accompanying video of Mr. and Mrs. Salahi walking around the White House posing for pictures with the president and vice-president. Or maybe how protesters in Iran can only show what is happening to them by posting cell phone videos on their Twitter accounts. Still not convinced, I have two words for you: Balloon Boy.

Today’s technology is forcing you and your company into a video-centered world…whether you like it or not. If you still don’t have video on your Web site, you’re competition probably does. If you’re still going to sales call with a PowerPoint presentation, your audience has probably seen it before. As you start to both reflect and look forward, ask yourself, “How did I stand out in 2009?” More importantly, “How can video help me stand out in 2010?” If you can’t answer either question, now might be a good time for you to call The Impact Group.

My Favorite Web Projects of 2008

24 12 2008

More and more of what we do here at The Impact Group involves the web – web site development, social media marketing, video email, web video. Here are a few of the projects I had the privilege of working on this past year:

www.GetItFacts.org – A web site created for the Teen Wellness Initiative through the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. We were able to have some fun in the design because the audience was younger, a little more edgy.

www.TrinityPension.com – We were able to take a company that lives in an industry that’s not too flashy…and make their site flashy by integrating video. Administering retirement plans is not an easy thing to explain; but, using video allowed Trinity Pension Consultants to present this information in an easy-to-understand way.

www.O-LineAcademy.com – Just a couple months ago we launched the web site for O-Line Academy, an offensive line training academy created by former Ohio State University o-line star, LeCharles Bentley. Not only was it fun working with LeCharles, but we were able to present O-Line Academy as THE place for offensive linemen to take their game to the next level using video and creative design.

www.ohiolife.org – Ohio Right to Life made a major jump from it’s former online presence (which was very old-school) to a dynamic, video-driven, up-to-date web site. In addition to the updated web site, we also helped Ohio Right to Life kick off a new e-mail outreach campaign this summer.

www.igpr.com – While the cobler’s son always goes without shoes (or however that phrase goes), we DID finally upgrade our own site in 2008. Although it took longer than most of our clients’ sites to develop, it did turn out well. We were able to integrate much of what we’re telling our clients to do in our own sites – web video, dynamic content, e-newsletter, blogging, and social media (we recently added a Facebook group, too – check it out).

There were many others, but these were just some of the highlights. 2009 looks to be another year where the Web plays a powerful role in growing our clients’ business, as well as our own. The online environment is changing daily, so we’ll be keeping on top of the latest trends and technologies to ensure we’re able to implement the most effective tactics for our clients.

Looking forward to 2009!


10 Ways to impact growth in 2009

15 12 2008

I can’t imagine a single educated person in a position of influence that hasn’t been affected by the negative news of late. Market volatility, political changes, bailouts and an overall uneasiness of stability has defined 2008. How will YOU prepare for a better 2009?

Things are no different here at The Impact Group. We are a full service marketing communications agency in Hudson, Ohio. We are experiencing clients and prospects that are taking a longer time to make decisions, shrinking budgets, disappearing cash flow.

The time is now to create a better growth strategy. Exclusively using the same marketing methods of the past and not incorporating “new media” will be a major mistake for organizations trying to thrive in this time of survival.

Understanding the shifts in the way people obtain and share information will be a critical component of marketing success in 2009. Being able to quickly apply that understanding into marketing outreach campaigns (social media marketing, online publicity, online marketing) that complement past / current methods (print materials, web, advertising, direct mail) is THE challenge for marketers in 2009.

The Impact Group has come up with 10 points to think about for a solid growth strategy in 2009.

1. Redesign your brand. What does a new car, new outfit, new haircut or a new coat of paint do to the psyche? The same thing a fresh corporate identity make-over can do to an organization. Even a modest change to an organization’s look can provide new energy to employees, media opportunities, excitement to current customers and new business opportunities. Check out some samples: Portfolio of work

2. Video Video Video!!! With the advances of video compression technology, video has never been easier to use for marketing purposes. Video is 5 times more effective than print for someone to remember your message, so throw away the print and replace it with video wherever possible. Use a video spokesperson to explain your website as people visit your homepage. (Sample: www.igpr.com) Incorporate video email for your sales and marketing outreach. Post video explanations and commercials of your products and services on your website (podcasts) and on sources like youtube. (Sample: www.trinitypension.com) 2009 will be the year direct mail will take a back seat to video email campaigns in cost efficiency and effectiveness. Get started before your competitors figure it out! More info on the effectiveness of video – http://www.vidpro.org/videomkt.htm

3. Listen to your customers. I can’t think of a better way to recalibrate your marketing message for 2009 than the recommendations from the customers buying your product in 2008. Do you have a simple print survey that can go in your invoices? How about an online survey that when completed, provides a coupon? We encourage gathering satisfaction data and recommendations year round. There are more comprehensive methods like focus groups, surveys, polls that can provide statistical certainty to strategic directions. I recommend starting with getting into your car to visit a few of your best customers, wish them a happy holiday, tell them why you appreciate their business and ask them for advice on how you might be able to grow into next year. Free marketing advice from the people that already buy your product can give you some good ideas for your 2009 growth strategy.

4. Social media marketing! The major trend in successful marketing is moving from the high impression factors of the past (one Super Bowl commercial brings 50 million + impressions on a broad audience for a 1 outreach : 50,000,000 target ratio) to the PERSONAL impression factor (1 personal trusted message : one target). This trend of one to one marketing can be most effectively done through online social networks. With the rapidly growing use of MySpace and Facebook and the ability to publicly follow a person or organization on Twitter, one to one marketing is ready for the savvy marketer to make an immediate and powerful impact. Read more on Social media marketing – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media_marketing and Social Media Marketing

5. Blog. 2008 was a year of exploring how blogging could impact an organization’s marketing efforts. Blogging (if done effectively) showed a powerful marketing ability to drive relevant traffic on a website, influence credibility for a product or service, grab mainstream media attention, and shape consumer behaviors. Blogging is providing the ability for the smaller company to have a louder voice. Read more on Blogging – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

6. Online publicity. The web has provided small and large organizations alike a wonderful medium for disseminating news. Public relations, which used to be reserved for mainstream media, is now more effective when implemented through online channels – called Online Publicity. Not only do the major media receive notice of your news, but individuals and organizations can receive info directly to their inbox through things like GoogleAlerts and RSS feeds. Getting your news online – through your website, blogs, news sites, social media, and others – can make a huge impact in 2009.

7. Hire experts. Most organizations trust a CPA for their tax filings, attorneys for legal issues and doctors for medical matters. The problem with “expert” marketers is that there isn’t a universal accepted and measured accreditation like the previously mentioned professions. Most marketing firms are a few folks that took a couple design courses and now lay claim to most marketing capabilities. On the other end of the spectrum are the extremely expensive large agencies that need their invoices to match their high rent and huge payrolls. Check out this article on small vs large agencies for some thoughts. http://adage.com/smallagency/post?article_id=111233  Marketing techniques have gotten very complex due to the reliance of new technology and the critical timing of delivery. The right marketing group will help you create and implement a growth strategy for your organization and allow you to streamline resources. How to select an agency – www.ehow.com/how_2052377_select-right-marketing-firm.html  Start your agency search – www.igpr.com

8. Redefine your marketing message. Is your marketing message brief, simple to understand, interesting and able to distinguish you from your competition? Is it easy for someone interested in your product or service to get information in order to make a buying decision? What are the sound bytes? Everyone is too busy and you are competing against a world of information being thrown at your potential next customer. Your message must be able to cut through and motivate specific action.

9. Rebuild your web site. Most web sites are now outdated in information, technology and appearance. With the low costs of web technologies and the high value a good site brings to an organization, your website has to be a top priority in 2009. The ability for your products and services to show up on the top of the search engines is so important for growth. Your website appearance and relevance will be one of the main factors of establishing credibility in your future customers. Your website should be the centerpiece of the way you market.

10. Get your story told in the news. I’ve already talked about getting your news on the web. But, print and broadcast PR opportunities still exist in a big way. There are niche magazines for just about every industry in the world. And, while most news in a down economy is doom and gloom, media outlets are looking for positive, uplifting stories to tell. Getting the word out about that new client you landed, the product launching or the new hire…all these things are welcomed good news to the media, AND your prospects, clients and employees!

2009 has the potential to be a banner year, if you approach it with enthusiasm and knowledge. Take these points to heart. And, let us know how we can help. www.igpr.com


A Sucker for McDonald’s Monopoly Game

9 10 2008

Every year at about this time, a crazy phenomenon occurs…Monopoly at McDonald’s! I get sucked in! It is VERY unlikely that I will win ANYTHING! And, yet, I go in and buy more McDonald’s food than anyone should, with the hope that I’ll win that $1,000,000! In fact, just today I bought the Big Mac meal…large size, so I could get the Monopoly pieces on the fries, too! One of the pieces I got was Park Place! All I need is Boardwalk, and I’ve got $1,000,000 coming my way! I’m SURE I’ll get it “next time” I’m there! I’m sure of it!

So, this got me thinking…surely I’m not the only sucker for McDonald’s Monopoly game. Otherwise, they would have stopped the promotion year ago. So, I think, “What is it that drives me to this place for decent food, that’s not really good for me, to spend my money with the hopes of winning a million dollars??” And, that’s when it hits me! It’s the dream…the hope…the wish…the once in a lifetime opportunity. What would I do with a million bucks? Who knows! But, man wouldn’t that be cool?

And, what McDonald’s has done so well is taking the simple concept of what used to be played with tear-off pieces and a brochure-sized game board, and integrating it with the web. So, now they make it so you feel like you have twice the opportunity to win. All the game pieces you get at the store have a code that can be entered at www.PlayatMcD.com for a chance to “roll” the dice for a turn on the virtual game board of Monopoly. Outstanding!

Or course, McDonald’s has partnered with FootLocker, Shell gas stations and Coke to offer instant prizes, as well. Once again, making you feel like you just can’t lose!

The PlayatMcD.com web site does a great job of getting you to register, so they gather all your relevant information (I assume they will use that for market data, as well as sending me something at some point).

One thing that’s lacking is web video. There is some sound included on the site, but wouldn’t it be more powerful to actually watch a video of last year’s $100,000 winner telling his story of a pessimistic attitude, how he never thought he’d win, but he kept trying, and after 3 or 4 visits he got that winning piece? Video is such a powerful medium and can say so much with very little. We have been able to integrate video into web sites and have seen some great results. I just think McDonald’s missed out on a huge opportunity to take a great concept one step further.

In the end, they got me! Video or not, I’m hooked. I can tell you what meal and what size to get to ensure you get the best chances/most pieces! Sad! But, if I can just get that one other piece…Boardwalk! I’ll be a millionnaire! Whew! I’m hungry…anyone for McDonald’s??

Matt White

Camp Rock – Marketing Brilliance, Once Again

24 06 2008

If you have kids (especially girls) between the age of 4 and 14, you probably know what Camp Rock is. For those of you living on an island somewhere without any sense of connection to the media world, it’s the latest marketing success by Disney Channel. Following the hugely successful (twice) High School Musical phenomenon, Disney, once again, hit it big with Camp Rock.

I was completely blown away when I became aware of the first High School Musical a few years ago. I happened to be in the presence of about 35 girls from kindergarteners to seniors in high school when a HSM song came on the radio. EVERY SINGLE GIRL IN THE PLACE started singing this song – so I had to know what it was.

When they told me that it was from the soundtrack of the High School Musical Disney movie and that the movie was a REAL musical, it first took me back to thoughts of Grease! But, I soon realized that this was no Grease. Disney had created a marketing juggernaut with HSM, and then HSM2 (and soon to be released HSM3)! Here’s what was included with the first movie…and I’m probably missing some of the elements:

  • The movie itself – debuted on Disney Channel (and then aired many, many, many times after; and on ABC Family, too)
  • The soundtrack – which just so happened to go on to become the BEST SELLING album of the year
  • The DVD – which includes 2 versions of the movie…one with the lyrics to every song displayed keroke-style and one without
  • The merchandise – WOW, the merchandise…sold everywhere!
  • The solo music careers of several of the movie’s stars (most of which were first timers to this)
  • The interactive web site
  • And so much more…

Then, they did it all over again with HSM2 last year. My then-turning-9-year-old daughter scheduled her August birthday party around the movie and invited several friends over to watch the premier. My wife had burned copies of the soundtrack – which was conveniently made available about 2-3 days prior to the premier – to hand out to all the girls after the party. And, we weren’t the only ones having a party. Just about everyone we know with kids in that age category were either having a party or attending one that night to watch!

SO, that brings me to Camp Rock. The premier was this past Friday night. And, again, people’s schedules were planned around the show. My neices were coming to visit their grandparents, but had to be back home in time for the movie. My own kids were showered and ready to go (without complaining) by the 8:00 start time. Our neighbors were going to a friend’s house to watch. And, do you know what else? My daughter and her friend watched it again the next day (we DVR-ed it of course)!

You can think of Disney whatever you want. But, what you can’t argue with is their extreme sense of marketing success. The best part about it, in my opinion – well there’s actually two things…1) the movies are not bad – meaning they are decent to watch as an adult (I can’t tell you how many times I sat and watched HSM1 with my kids…sadly, I probably know all the words, too!); and 2) the kids enjoy it and are sucked in to the marketing trap that we so boldly create for our own clients on a daily basis. And, I mean “trap” in the nicest way possible. Disney (and The Impact Group) effectively grabs the attention of its audience and creates a response in them. Impressive!

Now, I have to get home to watch Camp Rock again!

Matt White

$4 a gallon gas = Campaign Rhetoric

24 06 2008

Thanks for the donation, I'll need to fill this bus up!Martin Moleski

I’ve always wondered just how much gas our country uses unnecessarily. I’ll start with, of course, NASCAR. Never a fan of watching cars go around in circles for four hours while sporting a fashionable farmer’s tan, I can’t even begin to imagine how much gas is wasted at just one NASCAR event. Before becoming a political science major, I took a few business classes, including economics, so I think I understand supply and demand.

The more we use… the more it costs. I know there is more to it, but I  like to think it’s that simple.

As I thought about it further, and with a presidential campaign now in full swing, I wonder how much gas each presidential candidate is using as he campaigns across the country? My research shows most coach buses get about 9-14 mpg at best. Naturally, not everybody can fit on the bus so support staff, reporters, photographers and protesters travel around in separate cars to get to campaign events. I imagine it looks much like a soccer game between five-year-olds. Everyone is running around following the ball and not really accomplishing anything (rest assured, your kid is an All-Star).

So each candidate tells us he has a plan to bring the cost of fuel down, yet each has spent the last 17 months travelling around the country using up massive amounts of gas and limiting the amount that’s available to Americans trying to go to work and make something for themselves… thus driving costs up.

With a little more than four months until Election Day, imagine if the candidates made a pact to use less gasoline as they travel around the country. Not only would the candidate show the American people that we all need to cut back on our fuel consumption, but it would change the way candidates campaign from here on out. Because by not driving to and from campaign events – or at least driving less – the candidates would naturally turn to social media, video integrated marketing and other creative ways to reach out and communicate with voters.  We have seen how social media can severely impact a campaign (see here) but think about all the positive ways social media could be used throughout the campaign. Candidates could blog with supporters, join a web video conference or send web video to their e-mail list. Each of these tactics connect with the voter on a more personal level than another flyer stuffed into the mailbox or sitting at the top of an arena after waiting in line for six hours. And while candidates can never really get away from traditional campaigning, increasing their use of social media marketing is certainly in their best interest.

If for no other reason than it helps out the campaign treasurer fill out those campaign finance reports.

New media takes over Ohio…

23 06 2008

While we may be behind on fashion trends and winning any sort of bowl, championship or series, Ohioans ARE among the first to embrace new and social media. Prove it? Attend PodCamp Ohio this coming Saturday, June 28.

First launched in Boston in September 2006, PodCamps have spread to various US and international cities, and have built a stronger community of podcasters, bloggers and other new media enthusiasts. 36 events have been held in the United States and abroad since 2006 and nearly 20 more are scheduled for 2008.

PodCamp Ohio will provide geeks, like myself, a perfect opportunity to learn, share, and grow their new media skills. Whether you’re just interested in new media or an experienced veteran, PodCamp Ohio will have something to offer.

“It’s all about learning, getting hands on with new media and spending time with folks that make up your online community,” said Angelo Mandato, coordinator of PodCamp Ohio. “By attending PodCamp Ohio, members of the blogging, podcasting, marketing, academic, and business communities will lead the charge toward embracing and effectively utilizing new and social media in our area,” he added.

Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

Participants can attend informal sessions, created and driven by participants, about podcasts, blogs, digital music, web video and related aspects of new, Internet-based media. The format allows both beginner and expert media producers, as well as listeners, watchers and readers, to participate, discuss and network.

The event is presented by the ITT Technical Institute in Hilliard, Ohio and is open to the public, but registration is required. To sign up or learn more, visit www.podcampohio.com. Experience with podcasting or blogging are not requirements to participate; professionals of any industry, hobbyists and students are encouraged to attend.

So while we might spend a lot of time crying over lost games and out-of-date hairstyles, at least we’ll know how to post video blog re-caps of the one that got away, tweet Tribe smack talk and track Joe Blow-rowski’s public perception online.

Until next time,