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

9 12 2009

-Martin Moleski
mmoleski@igpr.com

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.





The Twitter Effect

20 01 2009

Whether you have a Twitter account yet or not, it’s inevitable that you’ve at least heard of it. If not, it’s a site that allows users to share quick (140 characters or less) information with anyone who “follows” them. Check it out: www.twitter.com. (You can follow The Impact Group at http://twitter.com/igpr)

I recenlty read a great case study on the one-item-for-sale-each-day web site Woot.com and how they have used Twitter to effectively drive traffic and build community. Read the full article at MarketingSherpa.com (http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=30996).

This case study is a testiment to the affects of not only social media, but the web as a whole. When I open my iGoogle.com page every morning, I get everything I need – from the blogs I’m reading to weather to latest news stories to the current product on sale at Woot.com.

Amazing! If you’re not using the web beyond just your organization’s web site…you’re missing out!

Matt
mwhite@igpr.com





The Benefits of an Online News Room

7 01 2009

The web has provided a great opportunity for PR, or online publicity, as a “push” tool to get your press releases out to the world. But, another great option to “pull” traffic to your site is the online news room.

An online news room can take on a variety of forms – depending on the subject, target, and the extent of your outreach. Creating a section on your site for all your news will improve the relevance of your site in searches, and will provide reporters with easy access to press releases, company info and high resolution artwork (photos, logos, etc.). In pitching news stories for our clients, we’ve found that the online news room is extremely beneficial – both to the news media and to us.

A good, simple example of an online news room comes from our client, ForeverLawn – a synthetic grass company based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were pitching a story for a new project they were involved with in Tucson, Arizona. They had installed a landscape product in nine model homes in the new SaddleBrooke Ranch development, and the pictures told the story. See the online news room here.

The story garnered some positive attention, and ultimately a feature story in Arizona Builder Magazine. And, I believe the online news room made that a no-brainer decision for ABM to pick up the story.

If you need help setting up an online news room for your next publicity outreach, let us know.

Matt
mwhite@igpr.com





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!

Matt
mwhite@igpr.com





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

Don
dpolyak@igpr.com





Usability is key to web site success

5 12 2008

Have you ever visited a web site with a specific action in mind (finding info, buying something, getting a phone number, whatever), but once you arrived, you spent several minutes just trying to figure out where to even start? I’m surprised that even today, with all the knowledge we have about the web and how people use it, some organizations still forget to consider usability as a major factor in designing a web site.

Even the giants forget sometimes. Just look at Yahoo! and Google, for example. Both, at their core, offer search engine functionality. But, at just a quick glance, Yahoo has so much more going on that you can get distracted (which may very well be Yahoo’s intention).

Another example: Kenton County School District in the Cincinnati area vs. Garfield Heights City Schools near Cleveland. The Kenton site, while offering a wide variety of informational options, doesn’t provide the visitor with any specific direction; instead the home page is a long list of sections within the site. Garfield Heights, on the other hand, clearly addresses the potential audiences who may visit the site – students, parents, staff, alumni and community. In a quick glance, the visitor can choose which area he/she is looking for, and in one click, get to that information.

One more example: Trinity Pension Consultants vs. Third Party Administrators. If I’m a financial advisor or a business owner looking for an organization to help administer my 401k, and I come across these two sites in my search…it’s clear who I would be calling. While Third Party Administrator requires that the visitor read nine paragraphs of content right on the home page, the Trinity Pension Consultants site provides a quick educational video on the home page, along with two distinct options for valuble “Resources.”

These are just a few examples, but you get the point. When designing a web site, the user MUST come first. It’s not about how you can best get all the information you want on one page! It’s about making it simple for the visitor (ie. your customer/prospect/partner/vendor) to find what they are looking for.

Matt
mwhite@igpr.com





Image Is Everything!

3 12 2008
Uh, yeah.
Uh, yeah.

 When running for the Senate from Georgia, it is important to uphold a certain image that reflects you as a candidate, and which resonates with your key targeted voters. Mr. Martin, this image has circulated across your state, across the country and, with the aid of the internet, across the globe.

Many of us recall the image of Governor Dukakis in the tank.  Or, more recently, Senator Kerry in the space suit that looked like he just came off the Hollywood set for “Outbreak”.  Or, how about George H.W. Bush throwing up in the lap of the Japanese prime minister??  Image is everything!!
Best of luck in your next career. I am sure the hip hop community will be very supportive of your endeavors.
-Kerry