Non-family businesses can learn a lot from family businesses, says Henry Hutcheson, a certified Family Business Advisor and founder of Family Business USA consultancy.
“Family businesses outperformed non-family businesses during the boom years leading up to the 2008 recession, and during the 2001 and 2008 recession years,” he says, citing recent Harvard Business Review study.
Hutcheson, author of the new book, “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business,” says family businesses were less likely to lay off workers during the lean times, and more likely to maintain their emphasis on socially responsible programs.
But that’s just the businesses that survived.
“Many closed their doors,” he notes.
With 25 years of business management and family business consulting experience, Hutcheson says he’s seen the patterns that can lead to major problems. And they’re almost always preventable.
“The factor that enables family businesses to rise to the top is trust: Family members can potentially trust one another far more than non-family members,” he says. “But trust can erode – when a family member can’t or won’t perform at the necessary level; when there’s a sense of entitlement; drug abuse; laziness. And that can have serious, business-killing consequences.”
Hutcheson offers five top success strategies for family businesses:
• Keep the lines of communication open. Schedule regular family meetings to discuss issues of concern and topics such as business transition, business performance, and responsibilities. Include all of the family members, no matter where in the hierarchy their jobs fall – exclusion creates animosity. Create a family manual that lays out the ground rules for how the meetings will take place to ensure everyone gets a chance to be heard and impediments to communication are left at the door.
• Assign clear roles and responsibilities. As a family member, it’s natural to feel that everything is “my” business. However, not everything is every family member’s responsibility. Job definitions prevent everyone from jumping in to tackle the same problem, and help ensure the business runs smoothly.
• Keep good financial data. The downfall of many small businesses and family businesses is not having solid data. Have a single point of contact to manage the finances. If you’re small enough, you can rely on a family member. Otherwise, you’ll need to bring in a qualified accountant. You may cringe at the cost for this, but the difference between a good accountant and a bad one is the difference between knowing exactly where you are on the road and trying to drive with a mud-covered windshield.
• Avoid overpaying family members. Market-based compensation is fundamental and essential. Parents in family businesses tend to overpay the next generation, or pay everyone equally despite differing levels of responsibility. Both are bad practices. The longer unfair compensation practices continue, the messier it will be to clean up when it blows up.
• Don’t hire relatives if they’re unqualified. Competence is key. Family businesses are a conundrum: The family aspect generates unqualified love, while the business side cares about profits. Thus, family members will be hired to provide them with a job, even though they’re not qualified. The remedy is to get them trained, move them to a role that matches their skills, or have them leave.
“More than 70 percent of all businesses are family businesses – they account for a significant number of new jobs and a large portion of the GDP,” Hutcheson says. “But that’s not the only reason they’re important.
“They’re motivated by profits, but also by other important considerations: pride in the family name, building something for future generations, philanthropy. For those reasons, they contribute in tremendous ways to social stability. They make our communities better.”
(Henry Hutcheson is president of Family Business USA and specializes in helping family and privately held businesses successfully manage transition, maintain harmony, and improve operations. His newest book is “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: How to Successfully Navigate Family Business Conflict and Transition,” (http://dirtylittlesecretsoffamilybusiness.com); he’s also quoted in “Kids, Wealth, and Consequences” and “Sink or Swim: How Lessons from the Titanic Can Save Your Family Business.” Hutcheson grew up working for his family’s business, Olan Mills Portrait Studios. He studied psychology and has an MBA from Columbia Business School, and is a popular speaker at professional, university and corporate-sponsored events.)
Site Selection magazine has named Georgia as the state with the Top Business Climate for 2014. As revealed in the November 2014 issue of the magazine, research based in part on a survey of corporate real estate executives and in part on an index of criteria based largely on Site Selection’s proprietary New Plant Database, has led to Georgia repeating its first-place finish in the 2013 ranking of state business climates. Louisiana jumps from sixth place in 2013 to second place in the 2014 ranking; North Carolina, Texas and Ohio round out the top five spots.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal says a competitive business climate is one with “a foundation that makes businesses want to come to your state and want to grow in your state.” The governor told Site Selection that business leaders routinely cite Quick Start, Georgia’s decades-old workforce training program; logistics assets, such as the growing Port of Savannah and the global connectivity afforded by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; and tax reform, such as elimination of the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing, as factors that put the Peach State atop their lists of potential locations for capital investment. Just as important, noted Gov. Deal, is matching available work skills with job openings today and in the future. His High Demand Career Initiative is designed to identify those areas where job openings exist and where technical training and resources are being directed to ensure those openings are filled by Georgians. “If you’ve got jobs out there, and you don’t have people trained to do them, then start with that,” said Gov. Deal. “And that’s what we’re doing.”
“Our New Plant Database of new and expanding facilities tracks private capital projects involving $1 million or more of investment, 50 or more new jobs or 20,000 or more square feet of new construction, and Georgia has the most of those so far in 2014,” said Site Selection Editor in Chief Mark Arend.
“Additionally, Georgia ranked first in our State Competitiveness ranking earlier this year, and it came in second in the site selector survey portion of this Business Climate Ranking, behind Texas. This ranking reflects actual projects announced, which result in new jobs, and the input of those deciding where projects should be located. Georgia’s first-place finish would not be possible without strong performances in both those areas.”
Fifty percent of the overall Business Climate Ranking is based on a survey of corporate site selectors who are asked to rank the states based on their recent experience of locating facilities in them. The other 50 percent is based on an index of seven criteria: performance in Site Selection’s annual Competitiveness ranking; total New Plant Database compliant facilities in 2013; total new facilities in 2013 per capita; total 2014 new projects year to date; total 2014 projects year to date per capita; state tax burdens on mature firms and on new firms according to the Tax Foundation and KPMG Location Matters analysis.
Site Selection magazine, published by Conway Data Inc., delivers expansion planning information to 48,000 executives of the fast-growing firms. The senior publication in the development field, Site Selection is also available via Site Selection Online (www.siteselection.com). The publication also publishes or co-publishes e-newsletters, including The Site Selection Dispatch, Life Sciences Report, Aerospace Report and Energy Report; Site Selection International; The FDI Report; Trust Belt.com and the OnSITE Travel blog.
TOP TEN STATE BUSINESS
3. North Carolina
6. South Carolina
EXECUTIVE SURVEY BUSINESS CLIMATE RANKINGS 2014
3. South Carolina
4. North Carolina
CRITERIA FOR 2014
1. Transportation infrastructure
2. Ease of permitting and regulatory procedures
3. Existing work-force skills
4. Land/building prices and supply
5. Utility infrastructure
6 State and local tax scheme
7. Flexibility of incentive programs
8. Availability of incentives
9. Access to higher education resources
10. Legal climate (tort reform)
(Source: Site Selection survey of corporate site selectors, October 2014)
As we enter the year’s final quarter, Dr. Robert J. Cerfolio, a world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon, says it’s never too early to think about self-improvement for the New Year … and this year.
“Habitual procrastination can really hurt you in the long run because waiting to take care of something that’s obviously important to you – health, money, family matters – weighs on your subconscious,” says Dr. Cerfolio, known as “the Michael Jordan of lung surgery.”
Understanding one’s personal “line of gratification” is the foundation for sticking to self-improvement goals, he says.
“There are many kinds of lines of gratification,” he says. “For some, they’re the number of zeroes in their bank statement; for others, the curves of their muscles after they leave the gym. It’s good and healthy to look back on your hard work and admire what you have accomplished before moving on to the next task.”
Dr. Cerfolio, author of “Super Performing at Work and at Home: The Athleticism of Surgery and Life,” shares tips on how to make those lines of gratification more impressive.
• Be an early riser. The main reason operating rooms hum into action at 7 a.m. is tied to human physiology; the bodies of patients are better able to handle the stress of surgery at that time.
“People are generally better off getting work done early in the day when we’re better prepared for stress and performance,” he says. “And getting a job done early frees you up later in the day.”
• Love what you do. Why wouldn’t you want to take ownership, responsibility and pride in what you do for a living? When you treat a job as only a means to a paycheck, you are missing the point. If your job isn’t the one you’d really love to have, don’t make it worse with a negative attitude. Instead, make it your own. Make it a point of personal integrity and principle to challenge yourself to achieve something every day. After all, 40 hours a week is a long time to stay anywhere.
• Ask yourself: Did I really try my best? “I tried my best” is a common refrain from those who haven’t reached their goals. An honest response you can ask yourself is, “Am I sure?” This question is not about being overly critical. It’s simply about realizing that, if you had practiced or studied an extra 10 minutes each day, you would’ve been that much closer to your goals.
• Set specific, measurable goals. Results define goals. Every individual should have clear goals that are objective and measurable. Goals such as “to be happy,” “to do well at work” or “to get along” are too nebulous. To be successful, you have to be able to define your goals by measurable results.
• Find the high ground. In anything you do, aspire to live up to the noblest, highest aspect of your job. Certain jobs – such as police work, firefighting, teaching or working in health care – are service oriented, so it’s easier to feel good about your contributions. Look for the contributions you’re making in your job and take pride in what you’re doing to make the world a little better.
• Be the go-to guy or girl. This takes time, practice and the confidence necessary to want the ball in a critical situation. Being the go-to guy or girl means being willing to take responsibility and risk failing. A go-to person is also willing to speak up about problems or changes necessary in a business or organization, and suggest solutions.
(Robert J. Cerfolio, MD, MBA, is the James H. Estes Family Endowed Chair of Lung Cancer Research and Full Professor Chief of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He received his medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine, surgical training at the Mayo Clinic and at Cornell-Sloan Kettering hospital, and has been in practice for more than 26 years. The author of “Super Performing at Work and at Home,” Cerfolio, who was a First Team Academic All-American baseball player in college, is a world-renowned chest surgeon and recognized as one of the busiest and best thoracic surgeons in the world.)
FINDLAY — The Findlay-Hancock County Women’s Leadership Forum will be held 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. on Friday, December 5, at The Findlay Country Club, 1500 Country Club Drive. The forum is open to all men and women business professionals looking for opportunities to advance their career.
Presented by the Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, the forum was created to provide business leadership development, education and mentorship opportunities for professional women in the Findlay/Hancock County business community.
The keynote speaker for the event will be Sue Seiler, Dale Carnegie. Ms. Seiler will discuss strategies to turn disagreements into productive idea-sharing, without drama or resistance. Attendees will learn to express opinions, strengthen influence and credibility, both at work and at home. In this highly interactive session, guests will disagree agreeably using hot topics in political, human resource, and social issues.
Doors open for the event at 11:15 a.m. with time for registration and networking. Lunch and program will begin at 11:30 a.m. and adjourn at 1 p.m.
Special Thanks to our Business Partners; Hancock Federal Credit Union, Eastman & Smith LTD, Findlay Village Mall, Imaging Consultants of Findlay, Brooks Insurance Agency, Primrose Retirement Communities, The Feasel Group, Culligan Water, Six Disciplines Consulting Services, Ohio Means Jobs-Hancock County, and Beth Wilkins.
Advanced registration for the Forum is required by December 2. Cost to attend is $20 for Chamber members and $25 non-members. For more information, or to register, contact the Chamber at 419-422-3313 or visit FindlayHancockChamber.com.
About the Speaker:
Sue Seiler strives for change and continuous growth for herself, her family, friends, colleagues and every business and organization she encounters. She has effectively blended leadership wisdom, education and experience from work and life to spur productivity and innovation. As a leadership facilitator, she shares her energy and tried-and-true habits to catalyst you and your team to breakthrough results.
An avid life learner, Sue has been certified in business relevant concepts such as Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, Capital University Facilitative Mediation, DiSC Behavioral Styles, COPE Ropes Course (BSA), LEAN and Quality (Florida Power and Light). Her academic training and experience has been key in raising two strong daughters, and healing her son’s autism.
You’ll benefit from Sue’s rich theoretical knowledge and her real world experiences in a variety of industries and organizations that include health care, government, international, automotive, nuclear, service, social services, retail, advocacy for Autism and many others.
Proudly from the Toledo area, Sue graduated from the University of Toledo for her bachelor’s degree in Business Finance on a full academic scholarship. She achieved her Master’s degree cum laude, in Human Resource Development, specializing in Organizational Development and Instructional Design.
(About the Women’s Leadership Forum:
A program of the Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, The Women’s Leadership Forum is designed to empower those entering or in leadership roles within the Findlay/Hancock business region by providing professional development opportunities aimed at motivating and mentoring others.)
(About The Findlay-Hancock County Alliance:
The Findlay-Hancock County Alliance is a partnership bringing growth and prosperity to the Findlay/Hancock County community. Through a strong economic development focus, leadership programs, business building initiatives and volunteer opportunities, the Alliance helps position its community among the best micropolitan communities in the United States. The Alliance is a blend of the area’s best resources including the Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce, Findlay-Hancock County Economic Development and the Hancock County Convention & Visitors Bureau.)
Small businesses have made a huge recovery since the economic crash in 2008 and that’s good news for all of us. Since we account for 63 percent of new jobs, our success puts people back to work. That, in turn, helps us even more – people with paychecks buy stuff!
And here’s more good news: The number of new businesses launching has grown each year since hitting a low in 2009. One report put it at 540,000 new businesses a month this year.
In hopes of contributing in my own small way, I thought I’d share my 5 C’s for building a business. These are the guiding principles I’ve learned in the 24 years since I founded EMSI Public Relations. Through the ups and downs and all the mistakes, I’ve found that if I keep my compass set on the 5 C’s, we always make it through to smoother waters.
What are the C’s?
It starts with caring enough about yourself and your dreams to stay committed to achieving your goals. (Giving up is never a good option!) You have to care enough about yourself to firmly believe that you deserve success and the good things that come with it.
Just as important is caring about your staff and creating a positive work environment for them. Protect their sanity from the clients who want to chew them up and from new hires who don’t fit in and hurt morale. Be supportive when stressful situations arise in their lives outside of work. And ensure everyone has the knowledge and tools they need to be successful.
None of us gets far at all if we don’t care about our customers. Give them the best exchange possible for their money; define expectations so that they understand the end product you are delivering and for which they are paying. Be willing to listen to their concerns, take responsibility for mistakes, and correct them.
Thirty years ago, I probably would never have said it takes courage to lead a small business, but without it, I assure you, you’ll fail. There are dragons and quicksand and dark woods all around. You’ll find them in the day-to-day problems, the obstacles you didn’t see lying in wait, the risks you must take, and the stresses involved with honoring your obligations to everyone working with and for you.
Trust me, your courage will grow every time you push your fear behind you and deal with what frightens you. Which will also help you build confidence.
Think of the many challenges you’ve faced in your life, and the many times you’ve overcome them. Bring that confidence to your business. Believing that you can reach for and achieve your short- and long-term goals is essential to getting you there.
Competence comes from knowledge and experience. Hone it by staying up on the trends and disruptions in your industry. One of the most important roles a CEO plays is as the visionary for his or her company. That means you can’t, and shouldn’t, take on jobs within your company for which you’re not qualified. You’ll make yourself miserable and your business will suffer. Hire an accountant to handle the financials. Get marketing help if that’s not your thing.
As for employees, take the time to hire competent people who you’ll trust in their jobs – and then trust them!
Stay dedicated to your goals no matter how difficult that becomes. That may mean taking painful measures, as it did for me after the 9/11 terrorist attacks put the brakes on the economy. There came a point for my business when all hope looked lost. I had to make drastic cuts, including letting go beloved employees. For more than a year, I ramped up marketing efforts, diversified our services, and took other steps to get the business out of the red. In 2005, I succeeded – and it has been upward and onward ever since.
Building my business has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I get a lot of pleasure from helping our clients meet their goals. I enjoy coming to work and spending time with the team I’m blessed to call part of the family. We laugh loudly and often!
If you’ve recently launched a new business, know that you’ll encounter challenges. Don’t panic! Remember the 5 C’s and forge ahead with caring, courage, confidence, competence and commitment.
(Marsha Friedman is a public relations expert with 25 years’ experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations and media newcomers alike. Using the proprietary system she created as founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations, (www.emsincorporated.com), an award-winning national agency, she secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for her clients. The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies. She shares her knowledge in her Amazon best-selling book, Celebritize Yourself, and as a popular speaker at organizations around the country.)
Like other authors who write about innovation, I love Thomas Edison stories. He was an inventive genius and found the code to serial innovation more than 120 years ago. That code is still in use by companies like IDEO who’ve learned his lessons and both improved upon them and added to them. But the basic core is still the same.
Less well known is Edison’s entrepreneurial side. He put financiers, government officials, politicians and inventors like himself together in an inspired coalition that built the first electrical grid in New York City. After all, what good is a lightbulb if you don’t have a source of electricity to power it?
But his inventions were not always successful, nor were his attempts to market and sell them.
For example, very few people know about Edison’s talking doll. I think she looks like the “Bride of Chucky” and is more than a little spooky. Talking, animated objects are commonplace today, but Edison was the first to have the idea and execute it.
What gave her voice was a tiny version of the phonograph – another of his inventions. He thought it would be novel to make a talking doll and hoped it would catch on. The doll market was already thriving, so a talking doll could potentially reach the top of the heap.
But not all of Edison’s creativity turned into cash, and his Bride of Chucky was a dismal failure. The little talking machine went inside the doll with the handle protruding from her back. Edison produced 2,500 of the dolls but only 500 sold. They were $10 each — two weeks of the average pay back in 1890 – and many of those sold were returned for quality problems.
Edison quickly turned his back on her.
I particularly like this story because it shows the critical difference between innovation and entrepreneurship. Great ideas are not always great opportunities. Opportunities possess five characteristics that differentiate them from great ideas:
Durability – They keep creating value over time.
Sustainability – The organization has the willpower, manpower and resources to sustain the idea through failure, rethinking and reformulation.
Defensibility – The potential return on investment makes it worth the time, resources and risk that accompany all new ventures, thus making it worth doing this over doing something else.
It creates value – It creates value for the person willing to reach into their pockets for money to pay for the intangible form and thus it creates value for the company.
It is compelling – The Innovation is differentiated in some critical way that makes a customer segment just have to have it.
Entrepreneurs differ substantially from innovators because they have the discipline to determine whether a great idea is also a great opportunity. This takes a lot of work, failure, rethinking and, most of all, passion to get you through all of this vetting. Many innovators lose interest after the idea stage and don’t understand that innovation without value creation may be fun – but it’s also folly.
Edison, like many other inventors, fell in love with his baby and built a bunch of them, assuming a slam dunk in the market. In fact, these dolls were not just spooky looking, they were big and heavy and cost a lot of money.
Edison’s enthusiasm for his ability to make a talking doll was not counterbalanced by the discipline necessary to determine whether the idea was just that or a real opportunity. He was so eager to produce them that he didn’t ask if the market wanted such an invention and at what price.
I am sure that Edison was OK with failure, as he once said that he had not failed in his efforts to create the lightbulb, but rather found a thousand ways that didn’t work.
(Neal Thornberry, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of IMSTRAT, LLC a consulting firm specializing in helping private and public sector organizations develop innovation strategies. A respected thought leader in innovation, Thornberry is a highly sought-after international speaker and consultant. He serves as the faculty director for innovation initiatives at the Center for Executive Education at Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Thornberry, author of “InnovationJudo:Disarming Roadblocks & Blockheads on the Path to Creativity” (www.NealThornberry.com), holds a doctorate in organizational psychology and specializes in innovation, corporate entrepreneurship, leadership and organizational transformation.)
FREMONT, Ohio - Privately-owned Gordon Lumber Company selected Erin Leonard to become the company’s new president effective November 1. The Ohio-based company employs 132 people in nine locations and was founded in 1868.
Leonard, who started with Gordon Lumber in 2011 and most recently served as chief operating officer for the company, was chosen to fill the role of president after an extensive nationwide search. “Erin exhibits the talent, skills and enthusiasm to lead us forward,” says Gary Kohli, chairman of the board for Gordon Lumber. “We have confidence he will incorporate the great traditions and history of our company with its new challenges and opportunities to help grow Gordon Lumber.”
A graduate of Ohio University, Leonard resides in Perrysburg, Ohio with his family. He has more than 18 years experience in the building products industry with positions previously held at Carter Lumber, 84 Lumber Company, United Building Centers and Stock Building Supply.
“I’m honored to have this opportunity to lead Gordon Lumber toward an even more successful future,” says Leonard. “This dedicated team has great potential for continuing to grow our 146-year old company and serve the changing needs of our builder, remodeler and homeowner customers throughout the Western Lake Erie Basin.
“I look forward to leveraging our talented employees, outstanding reputation and the historic nature of the Gordon Lumber brand toward becoming the most agile and customer-focused company in our industry.”
Prior to Leonard becoming president, Gordon Lumber retained T.J. Coombs of Coombs & Associates, LLC, to serve as interim CEO and strategic advisor for the company. During this time Coombs worked closely with senior leadership and the company’s board of directors to provide executive leadership, management assessment and recommendations on the organization’s structure, executive search process and corporate governance. Based out of Atlanta, Coombs & Associates is a business advisory firm providing strategic planning, interim executive leadership and turnaround services to businesses in the building materials and basic materials industries.
Gordon Lumber operates seven lumberyards in northwest Ohio (in Bellevue, Bowling Green, Fremont, Genoa, Findlay, Huron and Port Clinton. The company also has a components and truss plant in Findlay along with a design and window gallery in Perrysburg. Annual sales are approximately $40 million.
Office Concepts, Inc. is pleased to announce Scott Shoda as 2014 Sales Person of the Third Quarter.
COLUMBUS — Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Director Mary Taylor has named Tracy Snow Chief of the Ohio Department of Insurance’s new Office of Captive Insurance.
Governor John Kasich recently signed into law legislation allowing Ohio businesses to form captive insurance companies in the state to provide for their own commercial insurance needs, such as for auto liability and medical malpractice. HB 117 also gives the Department of Insurance regulatory authority over captives.
“Tracy brings great private sector and regulatory oversight experience to this new office in addition to valuable leadership skills,” Taylor said. “His more than 12 years of insurance regulatory experience includes overseeing or directly performing risk-focused analysis of nearly 240 insurance companies based in Ohio.”
Taylor said Ohio-based businesses interested in forming a captive in Ohio or relocating it from another state will find detailed information at www.insurance.ohio.gov and can call the Office of Captive Insurance at 614-728-1753 with questions and for additional information.
Ohio has joined more than 30 states that allow the formation of captives. They have become a popular risk-management tool for businesses seeking greater control over managing their commercial insurance needs.
HB 117 also sets forth certain capital and financial reserve, organizational, general application and fee requirements and gives the Department authority to monitor the relationship/transaction between a parent business and its Ohio formed captive(s) instead of relying exclusively on another state’s regulator. These measures will provide the Department with the regulatory tools necessary to monitor and regulate captives operating in Ohio.
A captive is different from a traditional commercial insurance company because it only insures the business of its parent and/or affiliates. Therefore, captives are regulated differently than insurance companies that serve the public. Like traditional insurance companies, however, captives are regulated by the state in which its headquarters are located.
Tracy L. Snow was named Chief of Captive Insurance of the Ohio Department of Insurance in September 2014. In this leadership role he is responsible for the licensing, administration and on-going regulation of Ohio domiciled captive insurance companies. Tracy possesses more than 12 years of insurance regulatory experience overseeing or directly performing risk-focused analysis and financial solvency monitoring of insurance companies domiciled in Ohio. Prior to joining the Department in 2002, he served as a lead auditor responsible for risk-based internal operations and compliance audits for Nationwide Insurance.
Tracy earned his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration degree at Ohio University. He is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Internal Auditor, Certified Financial Examiner, and Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter. Tracy retired from the U.S. Army Reserve in 2005 at the rank of Major following 21 years of dedicated service, including a tour in Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Online video marketing has become a staple, with 81 percent of companies producing video content for their websites and 69 percent producing it for social media, according to the 2014 Online Video Production Trends Report.
“There are loads of marketing videos on the web now, and some extremely effective,” says Jennifer Santoro, integrative marketing specialist and Chief Happiness Officer for InVidz Smart Video Technology. “But there are plenty that just don’t work.”
Santoro says she’s noticed common themes among the latter group. Based on those, here are her five ways to ensure your marketing video will suck.
1. The Video Takes Too Long to Get to the Point
In the age of the “tweet,” marketers have only a few seconds to capture a viewer’s attention. In order to get the viewer to engage, a marketer must put serious thought into what the main point of the video is, and then clearly communicate that message as quickly as possible. The attention span for video watching seems to be about 60 seconds, so viewers don’t want to hear a marketing message that goes on and on. Every word counts! Don’t use five words when three will do. This is where the practice of writing, rewriting and then rewriting a script helps.
2. The Video Content is Inauthentic
Today’s consumers value authenticity and they can smell B.S. a mile away. Never try to portray yourself or your company as something you’re not. Embrace who you are and what you actually offer; people will relate to and engage with that content. As soon as viewers suspect pretense, their trust will be gone. In today’s market, the truth shall set you free. Take some time for self-reflection about what you offer potential customers and authentically communicate that message.
3. Distracting Noises on the Audio
Rule of thumb: The visual can suck but the audio can’t! Visually you don’t have to do anything fancy. A simple shot of you speaking in front of a nice background will never be distracting. However, distracting noises in the audio will kill your video every time. If you’re on a budget, put your money towards a decent microphone as opposed to a fancy camera. It’s amazing what you can do visually with an iPhone! However, without a proper microphone, the recording will pick up too many distracting noises. Try the Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone to get started. It’s affordable and compatible with an iPhone; you just need the adapter.
4. The Intention of the Video is not Clear
This goes back to No. 1 and the importance of putting serious thought into the point of the video. Too often we get distracted by special effects and features, or telling elaborate stories, and forget that the video needs to have a clear and concise message. Never shoot a video simply because you think you’re supposed to have a video. If that’s the only reason you’re shooting one, you’re pretty much guaranteeing it won’t be strong because it will lack intention for the viewer. BEFORE you ever pick up your audio equipment and camera, spend significant time clarifying the intention of the video and composing your script around that intention.
5. Viewers Can’t Take Immediate Action
The whole point of a marketing video is to get your viewer to take some sort of action. Internet video marketing technology has advanced significantly with the dawn of the smart video, which allows viewers to take immediate action directly from the video itself. We all know the power of the impulse buy! Consumers are much more likely to follow through on a decision if they can act upon it instantly. Therefore, smart videos are a marketing video’s best friend. If you haven’t already started using a smart video marketing platform for your videos, it’s time to start. InVidz.com has made the process extremely easy and affordable. It even offers a free membership to get you started.
“Remember the rule of quality over quantity,” Santoro says. “One extremely effective video is better than 10 ineffective videos.
“When considering your next marketing video, check down this list to ensure it doesn’t suck. You’ll see the difference in your conversion rates!”
(Jennifer Santoro holds a master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication and Management from the Florida State University and is a specialist in online video marketing. She’s the Chief Happiness Officer for InVidz Smart Video Technology, (http://InVidz.com). A Certified Professional Coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, she has more than 10 years of professional communication experience in the non-profit and private sectors.)