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Video Campaigns: a closer look

October 28th, 2011 by Diana

Technology is a tool that binds us.  We’ve got to remember that no matter what we can do technologically, its a tool for people to be close when physically its impossible.  When marketing your business online, you’ve got to remember that people would rather not open their emails, would rather not be reading loads of text and would rather be sitting with a person face to face.  This is why video campaigns can be useful (and lots of fun).

Who doesn’t like watching a great video campaign?

Here are some tips on creating a fun and effective video campaign.

1.  Envision Your Video. Who are you appealing to?  What sort of message are you trying to convey?  Who will work on the video?  Will you make the video in house or hire a video crew?  Sit down with your video team, envision your future video, and ask yourself the following questions:

2.  Get Detailed. Decide your timeline and budget for your video launch.  Setting limits right away will keep the work focused and efficient.  Next determine the following requirements with your video crew by the end of your initial meeting: branding, talent, scripting, audio, filming style and editing.  Remember that a clear plan means a clear execution.

3.  Set Clear Goals. Keep your specificity here.  You may not know this, but your goals may be vague.  Like, “we want more business” is vague.  What kind of business?  Who are you speaking to?  Specifically, what are your goals and how will you know when you’ve achieved them?  Setting specific goals will provide stepping stones to achieving them.

4.  Get Everyone on Board. Know who is involved in this campaign.  Let the brand you’re working on, investors, stakeholders, everyone involved, know about your video from the beginning .  Let them know what its going to be like and what its goals are.  By doing this you’ve already got confirmed viewers  and a test audience.

5.  Keep Testing. Once you’ve published your videos, see if you met your goals.  See if people like them.  See if you like them.  There is always room for revision so stay open and keep improving.

These five steps were inspired by a recent article on Wesbite Magazine written by Craig Wax, CEO of Invodo.  Invodo is an Austin based company that makes terrific eCommerce videos.  To watch their promotional video, visit their website.

Stay creative and keep going!

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Irrational helps the Rational

October 26th, 2011 by Diana

In The Tragedy of the Commons Garret Hardin writes “as a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain.”  This concludes that to be rational is to maximize gain for personal interests. You earn more money to buy a larger home.  You buy flowers to keep your wife.  You go to college to land a well paying job.  It can be assumed the majority of people are rational beings working to fulfill a personal gain.

And where has this gotten us?

Today we face depleted resources in the forms of jobs, economy, governance, lodging, forests, water, food, and more.  What we have an abundance of is population, and this population has an abundance of rational thinking.  As business owners and employees we must all be aware of this.

So what do we need now?

Irrational thinking.  By Hardin’s example, a rational person acts for his own gain so an irrational person acts for the gains of others, or perhaps no gain at all.  This may seem counter intuitive in terms of growing your business, since business growth is a rational act.  This also does not call for complete irrational action, as I believe we cannot escape our fundamental rationalism.  It does call for some out of the box thinking.  In today’s market, it is the businesses that focus on the needs of others who will survive.  It is the irrational businesses that are thriving today.

What does this mean?

When meeting a client, a group of people, giving a presentation, picking up your phone or posting your blog consider your reader.  Do you know who they are?  Do you know the needs of the businesses you service?  The last thing you want to do is make someone feel like you’re using them for your own gain.  People are savvy and no one wants to be used.  When you are solely focused on your capital when speaking with a client, they can tell and retreat.  When you put them first, they’ll advance.

These are tight times.  In tight times, the irrational win.

Read The Tragedy of the Commons by Garrett Hardin

Read The New York Times

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Blog writer, Blog reader.

October 25th, 2011 by Diana

As a writer of three blogs, I also read a lot of blogs, websites, Twitter updates and Facebook pages…and I bet you do too.  After hours of collecting information, which blogs do you remember?  Which blog tips do you follow? This blog reader is reporting the ones I turn to.

I was turned on to several of these blogs from this terrific article on  Click on those links and give them a scroll!

Seth Godin’s Blog. Get ready to read technology and life tips in this clear and playful blog.  Seth’s words are direct, thoughtful and provocative…so he doesn’t need a lot of them.

BITS Blog, NY Times. There is a reason the New York Times is so popular.  Their content is excellent, relevant and will be re-tweeted many times.

Good Blog, Good Magazine. This magazine is like a goldmine for forward thinkers, and their blog is no different.  If you’d like a news source that’s a bit out of the box, Good Magazine’s blog is the place for you.

Rashmi Shina’s Blog. This is the first blog on my list written by a woman.  Rashmi Shina’s blog is immensely informative while maintaining assertiveness.  This is a great place for business and tech news from a familiar no nonsense person.

Tim Ferriss’s Blog. Tim Ferriss is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek.  He writes about seizing your business, and more importantly, seizing your life.  He looks to fear as a great guide of what you should be doing.  He also has a great TED talk.

While starting or maintaining a business, it is just as important to absorb as it is to produce.  So happy reading and we’ll meet back here.

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Hey You! Get Off of My Cloud!

October 14th, 2011 by Diana

This week two clouds have been getting a lot of attention; the iCloud and Google Cloud Connect.  But which cloud is your cloud?


The iCloud was released last Wednesday, and will add another addition to your Mac library.  If you’re a Mac lover you’re excited by the create, image, designer-based products Mac offer.  The iCloud is no different.

The iCloud is replaced the formally (failed) program MobileMe.  If you’re a MobileMe user, you’re probably transitioning to iCloud right now.  If you’re looking for a simple way to share photos, apps, music and (Mac based) documents then the iCloud is for you.  However if you’re looking to share Microsoft based documents like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, iCloud is not for you.

A recent NY Times Bits post investigates the strengths and follies of this Cloud program.  The main problem, the system keeps failing.

Google Cloud Connect

Last winter, Google launched its newest Cloud Computing system; Google Cloud Connect.  This service is ideal for businesses and individuals looking to share their Microsoft Office documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) through Google docs with no converting and no attachments.

Google Cloud Connect is also great for businesses creating apps, and as Apple released its iCloud, Goole improved its Cloud Connect.  Cloud Connect has upgraded its app portion of its Cloud programming.  The biggest enhancement is that developers can now read and write files to Google Cloud Connect via the App Engine Files API, which means more accessibility for apps.  Google Cloud Connect does not currently run on Macs.

So your cloud will depend on your needs, capabilities and programming.  Thanks!

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Steve Jobs, We’re Listening

October 7th, 2011 by Diana

What is most remarkable about Mr. Jobs is not that he was the CEO of one of the most successful businesses of all time; its that he loved every second of it.

Steve Jobs started Apple with his high school buddy.  He was fired from Apple in the 1980s.  Then he started his own company NeXT, and used all his money to buy a start-up computer animation company; Pixar.  In 1995 when Pixar released Toy Story, they revolutionized annimation and won the company three Academy Award Nominations.  Soon Disney bought Pixar, giving Jobs a 7% in Disney stock.  Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, and spent the next several years introducing the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

His relentlessness has captured the hearts and minds of billions.  We’ll all be looking to him for inspiration for years to come.

Since his death last Wednesday, October 5th, there have been many touching articles written about his life’s work.  I suggest you read all of them, learning more about him will enrich your business and your life.  For now, here’s a sample:

“You need a lot more than vision — you need a stubbornness, tenacity, belief and patience to stay the course.  In Steve’s case, he pushes right to the edge, to try to make the next big step forward.”

Edwin Catmull, a computer scientist and a co-founder of Pixar, NY Times

“Mr. Jobs saw that computing was becoming personal — and that it could even be a force for social and economic change.”

Steve Lohr, NY Times

Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last.  Because he did, he transformed our lives.”

President Obama, The White House Blog

Steve Jobs, you’ve encouraged everyone to listen to their hearts and to “stay hungry, stay foolish”.
We’re here and we’re listening.

Further Reading:

Apple’s Visionary Redefined Digital Age, NY Times

Steve Jobs: Designer First, C.E.O. Second, NY Times

10 Things I’ve Learned From Steve Jobs, The Huffington Post

President Obama’s Statement, The White House Blog

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Growing with E-Commerce

September 27th, 2011 by Diana

Chances are that if you have an online business, you have an e-commerce plan.  Since technology and the Internet are constantly changing it is important to keep updating your e-commerce plan and keep your business growing.

Quick tips provided by Brian Horakh, CEO of e-commerce software Zoovy.

These tips are primarily for small business owners, but we think they’re great guidelines.  As posted on Website Magazine.

Offer Shipping Promotions

Offer free shipping.  Its one of the easiest ways to complete the buy cycle with new customers.  Studies show that when a site charges for shipping, they loose business, so find a way to ship for free.

Keep a strong return management system.  Overlooking whats being returned and how often could cost you millions.  You want customers to be happy with what they’re buying from you, so make sure its good.

Multiple Storefront Expansion

Create several sites for your business and make each one unique.  Different customers, different products, different atmosphere, etc.  This way you can appeal to current and future customers in more than one way.

Retail shops do this all the time.  Urban Outfitters Inc. owns Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People however each store offers a difference experience and the business is all going into the same pot.  You can do this virtually.

Competitive Repricing Options

Use an automated tool to reprice items.  Comparative shopping moves quickly on the web so you want to make sure your products are offered at competitive prices.

Valuable Reporting

A good reporting tool is not only to track your performance trends, provide statistics, and mark your progress.  It should also offer business intelligence.  Once you’ve got your data, know what to do with it.

Here are some E-Commerce software worth checking out:

Further reading:

Four Strategies for E-Commerce Success, Website Magazine

The Business Side of Web 2.0,

Top 10 E-Commerce Strategies for 2011

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Internet Security

September 21st, 2011 by Diana

There’s been a major digital shift recently.  We can thank the popularity of the smartphone for this, tablets, refined cloud-computing and digital docs.  Thank you.  This means we are re-examining the security of the Internet.  With more information online, personal records and identity theft rises.  California residents, felt this  a few weeks ago when leaked digital records from Stanford Hospital were found on the Internet.  These digital records have been leaking into the public for years, and no one knew until a few weeks ago.  With a leak like that, recovery is unfathomable.

So what’s the solution?  The Business section in the Times last Sunday, talked about a new form of online protection coming from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Its an online user authentication system, which has been used privately for years, and making it public.  Natasha Singer, of the Times, says to “think of it as a driver’s license for the Internet.”  This authentication system would be strong enough to use with Social Security, I.R.S. and the DMV.  Experts say that the technology would use two, or more, ID methods which may include; encryption chip for phones, smart cards, one time passwords, or fingerprints.  This gives Internet users one way to access their information, bills, etc online with one strong ID rather than a collection of weak passwords.  They flip side?

“Look at it this way:  You can have one key that opens every lock for everything you might need online in your daily life.  Or, would you rather have a key ring that would allow you to open some things but not others?”

-Lillie Coney, the associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center

Will this privacy threat stop activity on the Internet?  No of course not.  Online shopping is huge now, even though 43% of online shoppers have said they’ve been hacked.  So if you’re a merchant, make sure you’re making constant updates to keep your site secure and communicating that security to your customers.  If you’re a shopper, avoid shopping online with your mobile device.  Transactions made from a mobile device are more difficult to protect than transactions made from laptops or PCs.  Though you have the capability, avoid mobile shopping.

For further reading on fraud and protection, check out:

Survey Reveals Online Fraud Concerns, Website Magazine

Call It Your Online Driver’s License, NY Times

Electronic Privacy Information Center

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Tumblr Is The New Black

September 11th, 2011 by Diana

Looks like the fashion industry has taken a liking to, or is it the other way around?  Since its inception four years ago, has given more attention to the fashion industry than any other social media platform.  Of course with tumblr’s high res and photo based blog templates, its easy to see why.  This year’s fashion week was particular tumblr-ed.  On Fashion’s Night Out last Friday night, tumblr set up a photo booth for folks to have their photo taken in, which was then posted onto

Another reason why many industries and bloggers are using tumblr is because its so easy to use.  Tumblr offers a plethora of apps including blogging directly from your cell phone or recording your voice which is then entered as content into your blog.  This makes it the ideal blog for anyone with a busy lifestyle, i.e. anyone in the fashion industry.

Fashion Designer, Stefano Gabban, primarily blogs from taking photos on his phone and uploading them to his tumblr site  Tumblr has also been embraced by designers, photographers and many others working in a visually based medium.  Why?  Its nice to look at!  There isn’t too much content and any photos uploaded onto tumblr are going to look fantastic!  Check this blog out and see for yourself;  Its also wired with google analytics so when you build a tumblr site its going to be seen.

However, tumblr has been getting into some trouble with the fashion industry by asking a large sum for page posts.  This has mostly been looking bad for tumblr because they have spent their time helping the fashion industry and now it seems they’d been doing this for profit.  Whats more, Ramana Kia, Head of Digital Marketing at Starworks Group, recently advised to avoid any paid partnership between a client and Tumblr.  He goes to recall several instances in which heads at Tumblr failed to recognize his own social marketing firm (one of the largest) as well as being rude within business correspondence.  He calls it a lack of empathy and reminds us:

“The inability to be empathetic is in fact one of the key differentiators between individuals who are considered to suffer from social communication disorders such as Autism and those who are considered to be normal.”

However, for any free use of tumblr this social platform is terrific.  Read more from Ramana Kia on his blog

For further reading on this topic check out:

Where Fashion Gazes at Itself, NY Times

Tumblr Power

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The New Search Engine

September 8th, 2011 by Diana

Today’s technology is dominated by mobile phones and social media.  It just so happen that these are two components that many leading search engines have adapted, except for Yahoo.

In the early days of the Internet, Yahoo and AOL ruled the school.  They both offered many ways to reach information online rather than on paper.  They hired, and continue to hire, amateur journalists to write new content on a variety of topics.  This way AOL and Yahoo were portals of information.  Well, today’s internet isn’t just about information, its about connection.  That’s part of the reason today’s Internet leaders are Facebook and Google.

Google in particular has used what Yahoo and AOL set up a couple of decades ago, and continue to listen to the ever changing surface of the Internet.  Today’s users like to surf the web on their devices, and they like to connect with people through social media.

This lack of change is probably why the chief executive of Yahoo, Carol A. Bartz, was fired this Tuesday.  This isn’t to say that users aren’t still using Yahoo, they are.  In fact, Yahoo has more users than Facebook, but Facebook users spend twice as much time on Facebook than Yahoo users do on Yahoo.  It seems offering original content and information is no longer enough to keep up in today’s race for the Internet championship.

Once a Leader, Yahoo Now Struggles to Find Its Way

Carol Bartz Exclusive

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No End To Great Start Ups

August 29th, 2011 by Diana

This morning I was looking through the Tech articles in the New York Times and found one about some really excellent start ups.  They were such fun to check out that I thought they may help you consider your start up.  Each start up also has really great websites so make sure to check them out below.  You’ll also find the New York Times article by Jenna Wortham below.

OK here we go.

The first is TaskRabbit.  Leah Busque, chief executive of TaskRabbit describes her business as “service networking, rather than social networking.”

TaskRabbit is a San Francisco based service/networking site that allows folks to post the tasks they need done (picking up laundry, groceries, kids) and find trustworthy task doers (ie rabbits) to do your tasks for a small fee.  If this doesn’t totally make sense, check out their video.

Another start up mentioned is Zaarly, which helps you sell, buy and trade things and services.  Both TaskRabbit and Zaarly are efforts to help you get stuff done and connect with people in your neighborhood.  Which is pretty great.  How many of us actually know our neighbors these days?

These start ups have found a way to couple the physical necessities of our age (like help completing chores and errands) with the emotional needs plaguing us all (like getting to know our neighbors).  Its also a great way for those out of work to pick up a bit of cash here and there. If you’ve got your own start up, check out the simplicity of these.  Their sites are super simple and mixed with plenty of humor something that will at least get you the attention of the New York Times.

Let us also go over reasons why this economy is the perfect climate for start ups.  These tips are from Jason Cohen’s post from last December, which you can find below.

Jason says:

  • Low Opportunity Cost
  • Cheap Talent
  • Cheap Stuff
  • Eager Customers

are just a few reasons to consider a start up of your own today!

Further reading and exploring:

6 Reasons Why This Economy Is Good For StartupsGofer Does Your Bidding, for a PriceZaarlyTaskRabbit Agent Anything

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