5 Reasons Why Video Should be a Part of Your Marketing Plan in 2018

From helping boost sales to engaging those tough-to-engage customers, here are five reasons why your business needs to incorporate more video marketing in 2018.

When social media made its first appearance many years ago, content formats were limited.  People oohed and ahhhed over beautiful photography and perfectly written words.  Today, those channels have evolved to feature content beyond still shots and words.  Social media has become the platform for all things video and it’s important that your business invests in video in order to best utilize each social media platform.

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    So why is video important? Here are five reasons why.

    Reason No. 1: Video engages the laziest of customers

    In today’s world, customers have become lazy.  They want everything at the touch of a button.  Video allows them to receive your message in a clear, simple format that doesn’t disrupt their busy social media surfing too much.

    Reason No. 2: Facebook says it’s important

    Facebook has invested in a variety of video features, such as Facebook Live and measuring video engagement, and is the second social media platform with the most videos right behind YouTube. Facebook has become a top place for marketers to reach their audiences so if they say video is king than video is king.

    Reason No. 3: Video can boost sales

    It’s easier to tell your business’ story through video than a lengthy, wordy message. You’re able to visually show your product and services and have voiceover. You can also segment your videos to specifically target different audiences. A video is much more memorable than an everyday post.

    Reason No. 4: Videos can be leveraged across your other platforms

    Videos can be embedded into emails and onto your website, not just your social media. They can also be used in seminars or for in-store demonstrations. When you incorporate video into your marketing plan, you are investing in a content format that can be used in a variety of ways.

    Reason No. 5: The future is video

    As digital marketing expands, video will begin to become the norm. If you invest now, you'll be ahead of the game.

    Making videos for your business does not have to be expensive. In fact, there are many different video programs out there that can be leveraged to help make videos affordable for your business. If you decide to make any changes to your marketing plan this year, my suggestion would be to increase your video budget!

    Annie Pryatel is the owner of AMP Brand Studios. Learn more about how AMP is helping small businesses succeed by clicking here. 

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    Next up: 5 reasons you should be thinking about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

    5 reasons you should be thinking about the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program

    There are plenty of reasons the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program needs to be on your business’ radar in 2016. But I get it: as a small business owner you have a lot of demands on your time, so allow me to distill the many reasons you should be thinking about the program into the top five.

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    There are plenty of reasons the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program needs to be on your business’ radar in 2016. But I get it: as a small business owner you have a lot of demands on your time, so allow me to distill the many reasons you should be thinking about the program into the top five.

    And they are:

    1. The know-how behind the program. The program is designed by Babson College, the nation’s top-ranked entrepreneurship school. A focus is made on on practical business skills that can immediately be applied by business owners, including negotiation, marketing and employee management.

    When was the last time you had access to a nationally ranked entrepreneurial program?

    2.  There is opportunity to access capital. Through the program, business owners learn how to become more bankable and better position themselves to access financing and capital. The program also gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to network with potential lenders and capital providers.

    When was the last time you had an opportunity to learn more about what it takes to access the capital you need to grow your business?

    3. It makes your world bigger. On the first day of class, most business owners don’t know one another. By the end of the course, they have not only developed relationships and a support network, but they are also doing business with one another. Not to mention the fact the program exposes business owners to the myriad of resources available to them throughout the region that are ready and waiting to help them grow their business.

    When’s the last time you made a connection that helped your business grow?

    4. It will help you (and force you) to grow. Most business owners who complete the program experience incredible growth—not just for their business but also as individuals. The program teaches businesses owners to think differently, to make tough decisions, and to develop a solid vision for the future of the business.

    When was the last time you were given the resources you need to put together a long-term plan for the success of your business?

    5. It’s free. That’s right—there is no cost. There are no hidden fees or gimmicks to get you to buy something once you’re in. The program is sponsored by Goldman Sachs which means the business owners who are chosen to participate get to do so without paying a cent.

    When was the last time you had an opportunity to learn and grow your business without having to pay out of pocket for it?

    When was the last time you said “This is the year I will focus on growth?”

    This is the year you can make that statement. Look at the program. Take five minutes to complete the simple application before the deadline of February 19th. Go here to learn more, apply, and read about the other business owners who have grown their businesses as a result of the program.

    Don’t you owe it to yourself and your business?

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    Next up: 5 Secrets to Small Business Success

    5 Secrets to Small Business Success

    Success never comes easy. As a business coach, I know that really well. Still, I’ve sat down with scores of entrepreneurs and small business owners in my career, and I’ve noticed that the most successful of these businesses seem to have the same five traits in common

    Success never comes easy. As a business coach, I know that really well. Still, I’ve sat down with scores of entrepreneurs and small business owners in my career, and I’ve noticed that the most successful of these businesses seem to have the same five traits in common.

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    And what are these five “secrets” to success? I’ve outlined them briefly below. For a more in-depth look at what makes for a successful small business, check out this podcast I recently participated in.

    1. An Inspiring Vision

    Vision is what establishes a foundation for all critical aspects for the business. An inspiring vision sets the tone for goal setting and other critical managerial behaviors.

    2. An Effective Plan

    This is just crucial. Any good time should be time-bound. It should spell out what needs to take place over a certain period of time. And you need to have a way to measure these goals and your progress toward these goals.

    3. A Disciplined Approach to Execution

    Some businesses are successful despite a lack of discipline. I would argue however that it is very difficult to sustain success over a long-term business cycle without some level of discipline. Businesses need to be driven by a sense of purpose and must have systems in place to assure some level of consistency and accountability in execution. Business owners can also enlist the services of a business coach to instill a strong sense of discipline in planning and execution. 

    4. Financial Mastery

    Business owners need to have at least a basic knowledge of finance and a willingness to routinely seek advice from experts, such as an accounting firm, to understand the relative strength of their business and to guide financial decisions. More specifically, they need to be able to interpret basic financial reports, understand their break-even points, and successfully manage cash flows.

    5. Maintain a Unique Selling Proposition

    The Unique Selling Proposition serves two primary purposes. First, for a business, it answers the question of “Who are we?” And it aligns the company to its unique strengths. Secondly, it provides perfect clarity on the capabilities of the business to prospective clients.

    Brian Alquist is President of actionCOACH and is also a member of the COSE Expert Network. He is an accomplished business executive turned entrepreneur with 30-plus years of experience driving aggressive revenue growth for multiple organizations. Brian helps develop innovative business plans and educational solutions for small businesses to bring about greater prosperity and better life balance for owners. And he effectively coaches small-to-medium sized business owners and employees, leveraging an array of tried-and-true strategies to successfully transition prospects into clients and to improve efficiency that brings about transformational growth.

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    Next up: 5 Tips for Mastering the Side Hustle

    5 Tips for Mastering the Side Hustle

    Side hustles are becoming an increasingly popular option for those of us who want to pursue entrepreneurship without giving up our full-time jobs. At JumpStart’s 2017 Startup Scaleup event, we learned tips for growing your side hustle while holding down your day job at the Mastering the Side Hustle panel.

    Side hustles are becoming an increasingly popular option for those of us who want to pursue entrepreneurship without giving up our full-time jobs. At JumpStart’s 2017 Startup Scaleup event, we learned tips for growing your side hustle while holding down your day job at the Mastering the Side Hustle panel, featuring Robin Doerschuk, founder of The Women’s Leadership Conference of Northeast Ohio, Jason Estremera, founder of CLE Threads, Shibani Faehnle, owner of Bombay Taxi, LLC, and Tiffani Tucker, founder of Have a Slice.

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    Here are our five key takeaways from the session:

    1. Have faith in yourself

    Your side hustle will not be successful if you don’t believe in yourself, period. In other words, “Listen to your gut,” as Tucker said.

    Having faith that you have the skills needed to make decisions, be flexible and deal with whatever challenges come your way is crucial to building a foundation for your business.

    “Everything is a learning process, everything changes all the time - the only constant is you,” said Faehnle. “So, bet on you every single time.”


    2. Listen to everyone - even those who only offer criticism

    Constantly being open to receiving feedback—both positive and negative—is the only way to understand what your customers truly want. And using that feedback to refine your product is a thoughtful and effective way to better serve those customers.

    When reviewing feedback, remember that there’s a difference between haters and people who want to genuinely give you advice, said Estremera. “We have to put our egos aside and determine if a person is being rude” or truly trying to help, he said.


    3. You don’t have to quit your day job

    Instead of rushing to leave your full-time job, appreciate how having that job can benefit your side hustle. For one thing, any monetary investments you make are less risky when you know you have a steady paycheck.

    “Having a full-time job will save you because you won’t run out of cash,” Faehnle said.

    You can also think about using your day job as a platform for marketing your side hustle and getting feedback. Tucker began bringing in baked goods to the newsroom at her full-time job and launched her side hustle at the encouragement of her coworkers.

    On top of that, skills you learn from having a side hustle can actually make you more valuable to your full-time employer.

    “The things I learned from having a side hustle make me a better employee,” Faehnle said.


    4. Striving for balance is futile

    True work/life balance doesn’t exist for side hustlers. There will always be more work to do, not to mention managing family and personal needs. Accept that from the start and you’ll be much better prepared for the often chaotic lifestyle being an entrepreneur while a full-time employee can bring.

    “People ask, ‘How do you stay balanced?’,” Doerschuk said. “You don’t.”


    5. Failure is not a bad thing.

    Treat failure as a learning experience. Failure is inevitable, whether it’s a big, grand failure or a tiny daily task that got messed up, but what you do with that experience is up to you. Learn from your mistakes and you’ll be better able to handle hiccups in the future.

    “Take the risk, fail and learn from what you did; pivot, refine,” Doerschuk said. 

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    Next up: 5 Ways to Maximize the ROI of Your Holiday Gift

    5 Ways to Maximize the ROI of Your Holiday Gift

    It might seem like a long way off, but the holiday season will be here before you know it. Here are five ways to ensure the gift you give also gifts you a positive impression with colleagues and clients.

    Sending holiday gifts or cards to clients and colleagues is a nice tradition that can produce positive results, but also involve time and expense. As you plan for this year, consider these options for increasing your ROI by creating a positive impression—and doing something different.

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    1. I’m thankful for you

    Send “I'm thankful for you” greetings on the Monday before Thanksgiving. They won't be lost in the sea of year-end holiday cards and can create a more positive impression.

    2. Personalize your message

    Whenever you send your cards, chose cards that are blank on the inside so you can hand-write a short, personalized message.

    3. Use cards from non-profits or local charities

    Consider using cards created by local charities or non-profits as fund-raisers. This way, the card itself becomes part of your message.

    4. The personal touch

    Hand-address the envelopes and even the return addresses. The extra effort will help it stand out in a crowded in-basket.

    5. A gift in their honor

    Five years ago, I was doing the above steps and obtaining good results, but decided to gamble on doing something really different. So, I sent everyone an email indicating that I would be making an additional donation to the local hunger center and animal shelter in their honor instead of sending them gifts or cards. I indicated that the need to help others was great and hoped they felt good about my decision. I hoped this plan would be a win for the organizations that received my donations and a win for me in my time savings and in the positive image it produced. However, I did spend a lot more money than simply buying the gifts, cards and postage would have been. The response was positive. Some people even thanked me for doing such a good thing and several said they would try something similar. I've continued with that plan ever since.

    As you plan your holiday gift/cards program for this year, consider some of these ideas that would work for your needs and values. And ... Happy Holidays!

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication (www.communicate-confidently.com, 440 449-0356) and empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. Stella is a COSE Ambassador, Resource Network  Expert, Content Committee member and has been a frequent speaker at COSE events. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.  

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    Next up: 5 ways to take your sales to new heights

    5 ways to take your sales to new heights

    Hal Becker doesn’t mince words when it comes to assessing the profession he’s spent so many years of his life working in. “Most sales people (are terrible),” the sales consultant says.  Fellow sales professional and consultant Marvin Montgomery agrees that there is a negative stigma surrounding the sales profession. “Sales people think anyone can get out there and do this,” he says, adding, “Most don’t do it the right way.” For a small business with limited resources, inefficiencies in the sales process can have a dramatic effect.

    Hal Becker doesn’t mince words when it comes to assessing the profession he’s spent so many years of his life working in. “Most sales people (are terrible),” the sales consultant says. 

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    Fellow sales professional and consultant Marvin Montgomery agrees that there is a negative stigma surrounding the sales profession. “Sales people think anyone can get out there and do this,” he says, adding, “Most don’t do it the right way.” For a small business with limited resources, inefficiencies in the sales process can have a dramatic effect.

    So, what is the right way to approach the sales process? Becker and Montgomery identified five ways your business development program can be driven to new heights.

    1. Identify prospects, not suspects

    Entrepreneurs have a limited amount of time on their hands and should not be wasting that precious time on suspects; they should be going after prospects, Montgomery says. How can you tell the difference between the two? It helps to ask the following questions during the initial contact:

    • What is the timeframe for when the product or service must be delivered? If the timing doesn’t work out for both parties, then there is no sense moving forward.
    • Does the customer have the budget for the product or service? Again, if there can be no agreement on pricing, then the sales person is not talking to a prospect; he or she is dealing with a suspect.
    • Is this person a decision-maker? Ideally, your sales team will be most efficient in working with people who are in a position to make a decision and aren’t just gathering information.

    “Sales people need to look at the initial meeting as an exploration meeting,” he says. “You’ll both explore if there is a need to partner up together.” And if there isn’t a need to partner, make sure the customer leaves the meeting feeling good about potential business deals in the future.

    2. Listen

    A lot of people simply think selling is selling, Montgomery says. That’s the wrong way to go about it. He believes selling is listening. It’s not the job of a small-business sales person to do an info dump. It’s the job of this person to identify whether there is a need for their product or service.

    “It’s all about asking questions and listening,” he says.

    Becker agrees that sales people should engage potential customers in conversation. “I bet if you ask all of your questions and listen to the customer, they will tell you what they want,” he says. “People want to be helped, not sold.”

    Montgomery says it’s best for sales people to engage in “active listening” to help force them to pay attention. This can include note-taking and can also be as simple as leaning forward during the conversation. “Acknowledge that you understand what is being said,” Montgomery says.

    3. Ask for the business

     Once the sales person has a clear understanding of the customers’ needs, it’s time to start closing the sale. That begins with asking for the business, Montgomery says.

    Becker says it’s best to be direct at this stage of the process. He points to how doctors approach patients: Doctor’s don’t waste time talking about family matters; they ask pointed questions to determine your health. In the same way, sales people should ask direct questions to try to zero in on the deal.

    “Get to the point,” he advises. “You don’t need to dance. You don’t need to play games.”

    4. After the meeting

    Regardless of whether a sale is made, it’s important for small businesses to rely on the one natural advantage they have over their larger competitors: the personal touch.

    “Be real,” Becker says. “Have a high emotional intelligence. If you are truly empathetic and put the customer first, they will never forget you. Do the right thing. Don’t just talk a good game, but pretend you have just one client: How do they want to be treated?”

    5. Practice, practice, practice

    Becker and Montgomery agree that small business owners need to be continually refining their sales game. In the same way Lebron James practices the fundamentals of the game of basketball, sales people need to practice their own fundamentals.

    “A lot of sales people come to the game not prepared and they think the best way to sell is to endear themselves to the customer by talking a lot and doing a lot of small talk,” he says. “That’s the last thing you should do.”

    Instead, in the same way musicians have a musical score laid out in front of them during a concert, entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to bring notes to a sales meeting, Becker says.

    “Sales people are supposed to cheat,” he explains. If you have your questions already written out, that allows you to focus on Step No. 1: listening.

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