Communication Technology – Productive, Busy Or Distracted

Welcome to the world of communication technology and scatter brains. Some call it multitasking. It’s so easy to love the word multitasking as it sounds like you are getting so much accomplished. But, are you productive, just busy, or down-right distracted? Think of these two actions and which one you choose to perform as a priority in the morning: first cup of coffee or checking your email/blackberry. If it was the coffee, what’s the time lapse between the two activities? Facebook is enhancing the craze of constantly checking your messages.

Multitasking has disadvantages. Working harder and longer doesn’t produce more. It results in low productivity and sloppy work. The New York Times has an article highlighting some research to state that “multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of making mistakes” as indicated by David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist and director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan. Researchers found that doing two things at once slows your response time down at least one second. When driving and communicating through our technology device, that one second can mean the difference between life and death.

To evaluate your level of productivity, consider the following questions as a self evaluation. Do you read all text and email messages as they arrive? When you complete a task, do you feel a sense of accomplishment? Are you able to sit for at least ten minutes at a time to quiet your mind – no sound, no reading, and no thoughts – just completely check out? Do you perform three tasks on your way to accomplish your main objective? Are your repetitive tasks performed to keep yourself busy or in order to accomplish them? Do you worry about what’s going to happen? Do you feel tired? Do you view your peers as less productive?

This is just a small sample of a larger analysis tool created to assist individuals and businesses with evaluating and improving their productivity ratio. Productivity is complete with a sense of purpose and the ability to celebrate accomplishments. It’ a beautiful, realistic view associated with a few objectives and tasks each day (not twenty four!) as to enjoy your life outside of the to-do list. This CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED in the work environment too. When you return to your office and your computer following a series of meetings, how does your body and mind feel as you sit and look at your messages and calendar? Tension and a feeling of being overwhelmed can tell you something. Additionally, as you’re working on a project and you see your instant messenger popping up with email notifications, think about (1) how often you just let them accumulate and visit/read them at a later time and (2) how often your body and mind stay centered on your task at hand and not on the subject you just saw pop up. There are procedures to keep your time and energy managed and focused, with the least amount of stress and anxiety.

How To Identify Legitimate Online Promotional Products Businesses

Searching the web for legitimate shopping sites can be a daunting experience. There are literally millions of websites trying to sell you stuff. Furthermore, the keywords you use to search the various engines are vital to your browsing success. The right word choice will automatically narrow the results to be more specific to what you are looking for. This will save you much clicking time on sites that don’t offer what you need.

Keywords should be short, concise and as specific as possible. If you know exactly what you are looking for you not only need to use that word, but also provide other parameters to the search engine. For example, using the industry I work in which is promotional advertising, if you are searching the web for tote bags for an upcoming trade show you cannot simply plug in “tote bags”. Tote bags are not only sold in bulk or wholesale, but also sold individually by retailers of all kinds. Tote bags purchased for retail purposes can be bought individually and are not meant to be purchased by the same consumer en mass. Conversely, if you are buying tote bags as a give-away at a trade show or event, you most definitely want your company logo or brand imprinted on that item!

When I Google the keywords “tote bags” I get not only hits for ecommerce distributors selling imprinted bags in bulk, but also get hits on the same page from popular online retailers like Coach, LL Bean, and Amazon.com. Add a few more descriptives like “imprinted” “custom” and “trade show”, and now I have pages of websites to search from that will print my company logo on 5000 tote bags for my upcoming trade show in Vegas.

Once you have found a good selection of web stores to shop on you will find that most promotional product sites will sell you essentially the same items. Your next challenge is to narrow down the sites you will focus on. This is important as it will save you time and help you be more organized with all the information you want to gather.

Here are some tips on choosing which web sites to concentrate on:
1. Sites that you feel comfortable with because aesthetically they appear professional and well organized;
2. Sites that are user-friendly;
3. Sites that allow you to search using multiple criteria such as category, brand and price range;
4. Sites that tell you a little something about the company or owner;
5. Sites that make their contact information readily available;
6. Sites that display some sort of official security seal that tells you their website is secure and safe to use.

Now that you have narrowed your search down even further, here are some tips on how to discern which web businesses will most likely deliver once you have placed an order:

1. Did you contact the business by phone or email and get a response in an acceptable time frame?
2. How was the customer service you received? Did the respondent answer your questions or concerns satisfactorily? Did he or she go out of their way to address everything you are confused or concerned about?
3. If you asked for a sample was one sent to you?
4. Once the order was placed did you receive some sort of acknowledgement in a timely fashion?
5. Did the products for sale have good product descriptions and layout other important information like imprinting information, production time and pricing?

With the exception of few items such as “memory items” (i.e. media players and USB flash drives) the browser should be able to see the item price at the very moment you are online shopping. If no pricing is available and you contact the company for this information, make sure you note the name of the person you spoke to, the date and time the communication took place, and confirm whether the pricing provided has an expiration date.

The promotional products industry is as competitive as any other so you may often find sales or claims for lowest pricing or meet and beat pricing. Many times this is NOT a gimmick! A smart online shopper will identify an item he or she is interested in and find that exact item on a few competing sites. It is definitely O.K. to contact each company and let them know that you have found their item on another site for less money. Give the competitors a chance to win your business! However, you must be honest and you must tell them exactly where you found the better price so they can verify the information. As a courtesy you only want to take up somebody’s time if you are serious about purchasing that item. And don’t forget… most companies offer incentives for re-orders and repeat customers such as discounted set-up charges or willingness to honor a previous price from a past order or cut you a good deal to retain your business.

Even though the World Wide Web feels like a huge black hole of anonymity, we are all out there using this amazing vehicle to buy and sell stuff and to promote and grow our businesses. I hope the tips I have shared here will help make your online shopping experience more effective and enjoyable!

Video Production Business Tips – Sell Old Equipment and Software to Improve Cash Flow

This may seem like a no brainer to most video business owners but I’m going to assume there are enough of you out there who are just like me. When it comes to video production equipment and software, once I buy it, I tend to keep it….FOREVER! The problem with this is that I only use about 10% of the stuff I own and the rest collects dust while depreciating more and more each day.

In the middle of looking for ways to cut costs around my studio and figuring out that my wife is making a killing on eBay selling her old clothes, jewelery, etc. the “DUH” moment hit me. Sell everything I don’t use on a daily, weekly or at least monthly basis and sell it immediately!

Why?

For starters, the assets lose value every day they sit on the shelf. If I had sold my computers last year instead of this year, I probably would have been able to get $300 to $500 more than I can get for them now. I have cameras, edit software, video/audio cables, mixers, server racks, speakers, blah blah blah. Basically, I have enough crap (although good quality crap) to start 3 or 4 more full blown studios.

So, if you are looking for ways to generate some cash when no one is buying video productions, look around your studio to see what you absolutely can’t live without…and sell the rest. Furniture, cameras, the 10,000 cardboard VHS tape cases you’ve kept for 5 years because you can’t bring yourself to let them go, etc.

I figure I can put about $30,000 in my pocket once I get rid of all my junk. Now finding the time to get everything cleaned up and listed on eBay or Craigslist is another story. Perhaps a great job for an intern.

A word of caution though: Be careful not to sell anything that you are currently using as collateral against a bank loan. That can get you in a lot of trouble. If you aren’t sure, ask your accountant or banker. They’ll let you know what options you have. Also, if you sell things that have already been depreciated in your accounting records, you’ll have to pay some type of tax for what is made on the sell. Your accountant will know so give them a call.

Video Production Business Tips – Video Marketing to Make Clients Rock Stars

My three-year old niece, Kinsley (KK), is one of the cutest little girls on the planet. Of course I’m a biased uncle but I’m serious… cutest girl on Earth. As most toddlers do, she experiments with various phrases to see which ones get a reaction from the adults around her.

A few months ago, when I visited them in North Carolina, the first thing she said to me was “Hey Uncle Kris, What’s the Biiiigggg Idddeeeaaaa?”

I picked her up, squeezed her tight and replied “I don’t know but let’s figure it out together.” For the next several minutes, we proceeded to take every single toy she owns out of her toy box so we could examine them for “the big idea.” She’s an amazing little person.

So, what is the big idea?

As you can imagine, I have a lot of ideas. Some are good… most are crappy… but every now and then I come up with something that I think, “Hmmm. That just might work!”

Once I determine whether or not it’s a good idea, I have to put it through my squirrel test. Does it fit with my overall business plan? Will it help me achieve my goals faster or will it just waste my valuable time if I try to explore it further?

After writing yesterday’s post about the need for us to become rock stars in our industry, I started to think a lot about how it’s equally, if not more important for us to make our clients (and future clients) the rock stars of their industry.

While I was giving this thought the “mental beat down” I happened to be glancing over the video stats on my company’s social media page. That’s when the light bulb went off in my head!

What if I teach other business owners, executives, etc. how to become video marketing rock stars?

I’ve already developed a great system for producing the videos and marketing them online so why not package that into a service that I can sell clients?

Taking it a step further, why don’t I offer a turn-key lead generation system that includes production and marketing in a way that these clients will want to pay a monthly retainer fee for?

I know this isn’t a brand new concept, but I don’t think anyone out there is doing it the way that I’ve figured out how to do it and there must be some value associated with that. I’m “rock star” enough to think there is a lot of value in it but only time will tell.

I’ve tried similar “packages” where I produce 4 marketing videos per month for a client in our studio at a price point of $1,500 per month. It worked for a while but then fizzled out. After talking with these clients about why they wanted to cancel the program, they said they simply didn’t have the time, resources or expertise to really get the most out of the video marketing effort.

Plus, we were producing videos that made their company, products and services the “rock stars.” I think in today’s economy, the need to build a personal brand is growing at a rapid rate so I wonder how successful I’d be if instead of making the company the star, we focus on using video marketing to make the owners, managers, engineers, etc. the stars.

If I were to change my direction today, here’s what it would look like…

1. I’d start recording my own promo videos with topics related to building a personal brand and how to use video marketing to develop your own rock star status in your industry.

2. I’d end each video with a tag like “Are you a rock star in your industry? If not, let me show you how to use video marketing to become famous in the eyes of your customers and colleagues. Give me a call right now or visit my website to schedule a free consultation.”

3. After producing the videos, I’d upload one per week to my media channel and embed the clips into my blog.

4. Once uploaded to the blog, I’d send an email out that teases the content in the video and links back to the blog post.

5. The next and final step would be to post a teaser with link back to the blog on my social media page. I’d also purchase the $10 promotion that allows the post to be featured on all my friends and their friend’s wall. This really helps to drive new traffic to my social media page which generates new likes and more traffic back to my website.

Once a prospect contacts me to learn more, I’m not really sure yet what my next step will be. I’m trying to decide if I need to put together a rock star presentation that completely blows them out of the water in their conference room or if I need to put together a really well-produced (and short) video that I can send them that outlines the program before we meet in person.

One of the issues I’ve had in trying to explain to clients how video marketing works is that it takes way too long to connect all the dots in a way that they can understand. My challenge is to figure out how to do this in a video that’s 5 minutes or less or in a live presentation that’s 15 minutes or less.

The other challenge will be to slant the information in a way that appeals to the client’s ego. I believe it won’t be enough to get them excited about using video marketing to promote their company, products and services. It will have to be more focused about using these tools to build their own personal brand that will propel them to that coveted rock star status in their respective industry.

I see this as a service that will appeal to high-paid independent professionals in their mid 30s to mid 50s. Mainly doctors, attorneys, stock brokers, realtors, etc. but it can also be very effective for business owners who simply want to build their reputation as the face of their industry… or at the very least, the face of their company.

My wife is a brilliant woman and I don’t give her enough credit for how much she helps me in business. Years ago, I was trying to put together a pitch for a very successful commercial building developer in town. This guy is worth millions! I kept trying to focus in on all the reasons he needed to produce the video like return on investment, educating potential buyers, etc. but just couldn’t find anything that seemed to get his attention in previous conversations.

She then told me, “Kris, this guy was a millionaire before you and he’ll be one without you. He doesn’t need you to be successful. Instead of focusing on all the ‘normal’ reasons he needs to produce the video, you should probably focus on the reasons why he ‘wants’ to produce a video. Stroke his ego, make him look like a rock star and by this time tomorrow you’ll be in line at the bank depositing his check.”

She was right on all accounts. In our conversation the next day, the client said “Kris, I want this video to make me look good. Everyone focuses on the bricks and mortar stuff; I want my video to focus on why I’m the best damn developer in this city.”

I was standing in line at the bank a couple hours after that meeting with a deposit check for $8,000 burning a hole in my pocket.

“So, Uncle Kris, what is the big idea?”

“Well KK… to use my video marketing skills to help successful people feel better about themselves while building their own “rock star” brand in their respective industries.”