High Impact Video – With a 5-Pound Sledge

Screen shot from the Charlie the Cheapskate video showing a 5-pound sledge hitting a piece of Wilsonart Laminate flooringVideo is a great way to tell a story. The combination of visual and audio elements can have a great effect on the viewer. I believe the more entertaining the video is, the more impact it will have and the more it will be remembered. Videos can be very effective, even if you’re reaching out to a niche market. A great example of using video to reach out is “Wilsonart Flooring and Charlie the Cheapskate” by Spike and Dave.

Spike tells the story: “I have been in the flooring business since 1993 and Dave (the salesman in the video) has been in flooring since 2000. Both of us attended the Wilsonart Training in Temple, Texas a few years ago, since then we have pushed to sell Wilsonart because of the quality and the difference between HPL (High-Pressure Laminate) & DPL (Direct-Pressure Laminate)[flooring]. We were asked … to come up with something that would show how we sell the Wilsonart Flooring.”
How the two sell flooring is apparent throughout the short video. They talk about low price versus value, especially considering how HPL resists stains, spills and damage. They even go so far as to drop a sledge hammer head onto a piece of HPL laminate flooring. According to Spike, this is something they really do, “When customers come into our store we use the sledgehammer as a visual to show the impact resistance of the [Wilsonart] floor.”
From a marketing perspective, the video incorporates important elements of a successful video, including the “Call to Action” at the end to visit Wilsonart Flooring’s web site. It’s all done in a short, to-the-point, but very entertaining segment. “As an advertising manager, I think it’s important to have something that people don’t forget… so we created ‘Charlie the Cheapskate’, a story of a man that would shop around at the Big Box stores to get the cheapest price on flooring, until he was educated from a professional, on why one floor is cheap and another is not,” said Spike. I believe he did it right as the video he created could be used as a training tool for sales people as well as a spot to educate customers the difference between different kinds of laminate flooring.
Check out the video and see for yourself. Does it give you ideas how to use video in your business either as a training or promotion tool?

Video credit: spikegilley

How Are Your Digital Assets? – Stuff I Learned At PubCon South

At PubCom South in Austin, Brian Combs of Apogee Search, Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit, Mike Grehan of Acronym Media and Jackie Bodine of Google made up an excellent panel entitled “Universal & Personal Search: This Changes Everything.” I picked up quite a few ideas and action points from their presentations. Allow me to share some ideas with you.

At PubCom South in Austin, Brian Combs of Apogee Search, Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit, Mike Grehan of Acronym Media and Jackie Bodine of Google made up an excellent panel entitled “Universal & Personal Search: This Changes Everything.” I picked up quite a few ideas and action points from their presentations. Allow me to share some ideas with you.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) have changed. No longer are there a few sponsored links on top, some to the side, then a list of “generic” or “natural” searches in a list taking up the main part of the page. Now there are links to images and videos with thumbnails to attract the eye along with “Shopping Results” and the “10-Pack” or “8-Pack” filling up the SERPS. If the searcher specifies a location in their search a number of links with a map image will also appear in the SERPS. All of those newer items sometimes crowd out the natural search results, which could bump your site down to the bottom of the first page or even to the second.
Because the human eye tends to focus on images first, SERPS with images will totally bust the traditional “Golden Triangle” or “Z” pattern of viewing as discovered in eye-tracking studies of the past. I’m going to use the example of searching for “Elvis” on Google, Live Search and Yahoo! to show how the images and video thumbnails look on SERPS which feature them. Click on the images below to see the actual web pages. Is your eye attracked to the images first? Mine were.
Google SERP on search for the word ELVIS

Live Search SERP on search for the word ELVIS

Yahoo! Search SERP on search for the word ELVIS
Here are some examples of SERPS where a location is included in the query. You can see how the map and “local” results change the SERPS:
Google search SERP on search for shoe repair in Austin, TX

Live search SERP on search for shoe repair in Austin, TX

Yahoo! search SERP on search for shoe repair in Austin, TX
Traditional web page only search optimization isn’t going to cut it any more. If you have digital assets (in this case referring to images, videos and PDF files) they need to be optimized just like everything else on your web site. Here are some tips:
  • Inventory your digital assets so you know what you’re working with.
  • Name digital files with a user-friendly, descriptive file name. “Chef Presentation of Banana Guacamole.jpg” is better than “img0900030233489a.jpg”.
  • Optimize PDFs using the pieces in the “Description” tab in the properties box. I created a guide posted on our Intranet to help those in my company who create PDFs.
  • Create a video site map file for Google (http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=80472&ctx=sibling).
Something to seriously consider is uploading your images to sites like Flickr and your videos to sites like YouTube. Even if you get your digital media files are indexed in Google, Yahoo! or Live image and video searches, you greatly increase your chances of people sharing and linking those files if they are on a site which specializes in such. Make sure to tag and describe the files thoroughly as well as make any copyright and trademark notices visible.
Videos need to have a call to action. It’s good to set the profile the videos are uploaded to with a “Visit my website at www.mywebsite.com” message, but it’s equally important to put that call to action somewhere in the video. This is because people can embed the videos into their own blogs or web pages, and they may not link to your site from their page. I think it’s be a good idea to put the call to action at the beginning and the end of the video and at the bottom of each image.
The bottom line we must keep in mind is “Content is King.” Content must be well-done, compelling and relevant to what your customers are searching for. All of the optimization is all for naught if you don’t have good content.

Austin Tweetup with @Barb_G

This morning I was privileged to meet some great folks at a tweetup in Austin. Barbara Gibson, Chair of The International Association of Business Communicators was in town for a speaking engagement. Bryan Person set the place, which was El Sol Y La Luna on 6th Street in Austin – an excellent choice.

In addition to Barbara and Bryan, Glenda Holmes (past Chair of IABC), Aaron Strout and Heather Strout were in attendance. We had a great discussion about social media as it relates to PR and marketing. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say they had a great discussion and I listened intently. They are some very sharp people and I highly recommend following them on Twitter:

Team Blogging – Stuff I Learned At PubCon South

Last week I attended PubCom South in Austin, Texas along with one of my marketing colleagues. It was a great, well-organized event put on by the folks at WebmasterWorld. I picked up quite a few good tips which I will share in a short series of posts.

Content is King
In the realm of SEM, one theme I’ve caught once and again at various events is that a well-optimized web site will have good, fresh, compelling and relevant content. One can optimize all day, but if the content is no good, the site still won’t score well in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Fresh Content is Important
In my notes next to various ideas I picked up at PubCom I wrote “Blog” five times. At each occurance the word is circled and once I wrote three exclamation points behind it. Here’s why:
An important point many PubCom presenters mentioned about web site content is that it needs to be fresh. Gone are the days when someone can create a great web site, post it and forget about it for a year or two (if those days ever really existed).
Not only does content need to be good when the site is first posted, but the content needs to be refreshed on a regular basis. This is especially true if you want visitors to come back to your site after their initial visit. Think about it: how many times will you visit a web site which isn’t often updated?
Blogging is a very good way to get new content on your site on a regular basis. Before you start a blog, here are some things to consider:
  • Commitment. If you start a blog, you need to commit to posting. Opinions vary, but I think once per week should be the maximum interval between posts. If you’re not going to be able to post at least once a week then you shouldn’t start.
  • Your posts need to be relevent. If the purpose of your web site is to sell banana guacamole, then don’t post articles about how to select a cell phone or what kind of shoes are in style this season.
  • SEO. Your blog posts should be optimized just like the rest of your site. If you have good, relevent content a lot of that work is done as you go.
I know what you may be thinking at this point: “I just don’t have time to blog. The time commitment alone is enough to put me off the idea.”

Catalan Climbers demonstrating teamwork

Team Blogging
If you’re in a small shop and you feel this way, perhaps blogging won’t work for you. At least not for now. But, if you’re in a corporate shop and there are a number of people in your marketing, sales and IT departments, please allow me to introduce the concept of “Team Blogging.”
Team blogging is simply this: get a group of people who can write some posts and make a schedule of who blogs when. If you go on a weekly update schedule and can gather a team of 6 people to blog you’ll only have to post something once every six weeks. Is that do-able? For many it will be.
When gathering your team, don’t forget to include those who perhaps can’t write themselves, but would make a good interview subject. For instance, your CEO might not have time to write something on a regular basis, but is available for an interview every so often. Also, don’t exclude those who can come up with good content but whose writing skills may need some polishing. Editing can be faster than writing something from scratch. In reality, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Because people today want to hear from the real people who work for the companies they do business with, I don’t recommend hiring a ghost writer to do blog postings. Although a tempting short cut, using ghost writers can backfire, especially when you take into consideration my last suggestion. Guest writers who are acknowledged as such don’t fall into this category.
My last suggestion about blogs: Allow your visitors to comment freely. Your web site’s visitors can also add relevant content to your blogs by commenting and asking questions. Of course, you (and the rest of your content-generating team) will need to respond. That will take some more time investment, but it’s well worth the effort. (I know you might be thinking about it now, and I’ll post suggestions on how to handle detractors and angry commenters in the near future).
Photo credit: Jurvetson