Awww Snap! Getting to Know your Target Audience on Snapchat

snapchat-stock-0973-0-0
 

7 out of 10Unless you live under a rock, you’ve more than likely heard about Snapchat – the revolutionary social media app named most popular for 7 out of 10 millennials according to eMarketer (2015). What you may not know is that Snapchat’s not just for the younger teen crowd – Dave (2016) estimates nearly 6 million of its daily users in the U.S. are age 35 to 54 (12%). And while the older crowd may join to keep up with younger family members, increased app literacy in this demographic leads to marketing opportunities for businesses.

According to an online article published by Bloomberg (Frier, 2016), Snapchat video views jumped from 2 billion to 10 billion from May 2016 to May 2017, a 400% increase in only 12 months. The case for leveraging this application for your business keeps getting stronger. So how exactly can a business reach Snapchatters? Recently, Snapchat introduced three new features (Liu, 2016) for businesses to advertise:

  1. Snap Audience Match (allows marketers to target audiences based on email addresses or device id);
  2. Snapchat Lifestyle Categories (allows marketers to target audiences based on the videos they watch); and
  3. Lookalikes (uses matched users as templates to create similar audience based on similar characteristics).

In all instances, user privacy and anonymity is still maintained to a degree, which is one of the reasons the app is so popular to begin with.

millennial_graphic_2Liu (2016) also points out that there is a shift from the traditional methods of targeting your audience based on age and gender to targeting based on common interests. While the inability to hone in on a micro-specific target audience may seem frightening, it’s a great opportunity to experiment with less formalized content. Just as McLuhan said: the medium is the message. Using an informal platform that anticipates and expects the unusual, funny and bizarre, creating content incorporating those elements draws attention and followers to your brand.

So what does that mean for the savvy marketer? Keep your messaging and stories dynamic, flexible and informal. Snapchat usage is growing rapidly among older audiences, so focus on the commonalities among users, not the demographics.

 

Resources

Dave, P. (2016, January 13). How Snapchat is targeting the over-35 crowd. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-snapchat-over-35-20160113-story.html

eMarketer. (2015, January 21). Want to Reach Millennials? Say Hello to Snapchat – eMarketer. Retrieved from

Frier, S. (2016, April 28). Snapchat User `Stories’ Fuel 10 Billion Daily Video Views. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-28/snapchat-user-content-fuels-jump-to-10-billion-daily-video-views

Liu, L. (2016, September 19). Snapchat Is Adopting Facebook’s Ad Targeting Strategy. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/282472

Let’s Get Visual: Storytelling Gone Wild

old-man-telling-story-to-kidsWho doesn’t love a good story? From the dawn of time storytelling has been central to everything that holds our society together. It is the foundation of communication and the way in which we learn to relate to the world around us. It is through stories that we learn what it means to be good or bad, right or wrong, rich or poor, together or apart. Stories help us form opinions, stake our claims in life and make decisions about who we are, what we want, and who we want to become. Stories are the currency of conversion. What you see and hear determine your beliefs and therefore your actions.

One of the most powerful tools available to marketing professionals today is visual storytelling. So what distinguishes visual storytelling from the regular variety? According to a blog post by Smart Insights, “visual storytelling involves the use of graphics, images, pictures, and videos to engage with a target market and convey a brand’s message in an effort to drive emotions and encourage a particular action.”

There are many strategies and methods that a company, brand, organization or individual can employ to create a visual narrative. Whether you are explaining a difficult concept or selling your brand, using a visual narrative will capture your audience’s imagination and emotions. Besides, the human “brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes for the brain to decode text” according to a blog post by Sam Kusinitz from Hubspot. Below are some powerful examples of visual storytelling, each with a different approach and purpose.

 

Rule of Three

Rule of Three

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the Rule of Three’s use of typography creates a visual journey for website visitors. The use of simple visual cues like monotone arrows direct the visitor to the next phase of the story. Text is broken up into single, short sentences. As you scroll down, the use of simple graphics and text, combined with basic motion and interactivity (the story unfolds as you scroll down the page) carry you through the story and you are compelled to follow the “path” to completion. The target audience, businesses who need copywriting services, get to experience first hand how effective good copy and a compelling story work together. They sell what they do by engaging the potential client in the same way they will help them engage their customers, which is a very effective B2B marketing strategy.

 

Bagigia

Bagigia

Bagigia is perhaps one of the most unique and stunning visual stories I’ve ever encountered. Not only is the product story compelling, but the way in which its told is at once fun, mesmerizing and extremely informative. The product is a leather bag, fashioned after a hot water bottle. The product is practical, well crafted, whimsical and very uncommon. Those details are conveyed through the product demo – as you “unzip” the bar below, the product reveals itself by rotating in different positions with handwritten text describing what you are seeing. The message is clear: there is no other product like this and only the very clever and unique will be able to open its secrets. The shopping page continues the story with the different colors showcased using attractive but average looking models in quirky, playful poses. Bagigia’s target audience is the fun, outgoing consumer who appreciates craft and quality. Their unique story effectively sets the tone for those individuals.

 

SlaveryFootprint.org

SlaveryFootprint.org

A socially responsible organization, SlaveryFootprint.org is an immersive educational experience. Designed to educate the average consumer about poor labor conditions and human trafficking throughout the world, the site is at once engaging and disturbing. The use of simple interactive graphics, images and statistics, the emotionally compelling story effectively brings a seemingly distant human rights issue to your doorstep. The participant is carried through the journey of discovering how they contribute to the problem through everyday consumerism. They are then invited to help by changing their behavior and contributing to the cause. This site targets everyday consumers with a conscience. It is especially effective on individuals who believe they are doing right in the world and are unaware that their lifestyle and buying habits are influencing slave trade.

As you can see, there are countless ways to leverage visual storytelling to promote an organization, a product or a service. All you have to do is know your audience.

 

 

Sources

Alton, L. (2016, February 5). Visual Storytelling, Digital Marketing, and 2016 Trends – Smart Insights Digital Marketing Advice. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-strategy/visual-storytelling-digital-marketing-2016-trends/

Kusinitz, S. (2014, July 18). 12 Reasons to Integrate Visual Content Into Your Marketing Campaigns [Infographic]. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/visual-content-marketing-infographic#sm.00001im8gvg12mqf9otfb9exycfne

Moon, J. (n.d.). 30 Compelling Examples of Visual Storytelling on the Web. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.dtelepathy.com/blog/inspiration/30-compelling-examples-of-visual-storytelling-on-the-web

Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Brief Analysis of Post-Canonization Twitter Feed

 

sticonToday, Sunday September 4, 2016, Pope Francis canonized Mother Teresa (1910-1997) in a centuries old ceremony, officially declaring her Saint Teresa of Calcutta. A world-renowned figure that many considered the embodiment of peace and goodwill, Mother Teresa was also criticized regarding on her stance on family planning and the conditions found within her clinics. She received the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize for her work among the poorest in the slums of Calcutta India.

Conversations surrounding Saint Teresa’s canonization have been mixed. The following statistics were gleaned from Tweets sent during a 60-minute timespan immediately following the canonization ceremony. A total of 446 tweets were evaluated, all of which were sent between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm, Vatican Time. The following search terms were used: #MotherTeresa, #SaintTeresa, #FraudTeresa, #MotherTeresaQuote. Of the tweets analyzed during this time period, 72% were re-tweets (320 total) and nearly one third (28%) could be considered original posts.

Tweets By Content

nature_of_tweetsAs expected, the majority of the tweets were positive (68%) accolades and stories praising Saint Teresa. News reports regarding the canonization made up an additional 20% of the posts. There were quite a few direct quotes (6%), followed by negative posts (4%). The following 2% of posts were equally split between neutral comments and those that were undecipherable.

The overwhelming positive response to Mother Teresa’s canonization is not surprising. However it is interesting to note that she is more revered as a person of love and goodwill than a Roman Catholic nun. She is beloved for her acts of charity and life of sacrifice and it transcends religious barriers and divides. Many of the quotes came from individuals who did not indicate their personal religion.

Negative comments did seem to center on issues that related to religious convictions, her beliefs concerning family planning, and the Roman Catholic Church in general.

Tweets by Geography

breakdown_of_tweets_by_countryOf the 446 tweets that were analyzed, just over a third came from undisclosed countries (36%). The remaining tweets represented 26 countries, spanning the globe. These countries included: India (26.9%), Philippines (20%), United Kingdom (3.8%), United States (3.1%), Italy (1.3%), Australia (1.1%), United Arab Emirates (1.1%), France (0.7%), Germany (0.7%), South Africa (0.7%), Afghanistan (0.4%), Canada (0.4%), Spain (0.4%), Taiwan (0.4%), Bangladesh (0.2%), Greece (0.2%), Indonesia (0.2%), Ireland (0.2%), Kenya (0.2%), Mexico (0.2%), Nigeria (0.2%), Norway (0.2%), Portugal (0.2%), Russia (0.2%), Serbia (0.2%), and Sweden (0.2%).

Disclosed Origin of Tweets By CountryIt is striking to note the global reach of tweets published. It is not surprising that one-third of the tweets from disclosed locations originated in India, where Mother Teresa served the poor for over 60 years. Nearly a fourth of the tweets came from the Philippines (20%), where more than 86% of the population is Roman Catholic.

It is interesting to note the countries that one would not expect to register interest such as the United Arab Emirates (1.1%) and Taiwan (0.4%). One could speculate the tweets originated with expatriates from the Philippines, a popular destination for overseas Filipino workers. There is an estimated 500,000-600,000 Filipinos currently working in the UAE.

Conclusion

The global impact of Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s life cannot go unnoticed. A prominent humanitarian figure in both religious and secular circles, it is poignant that positive comments were focused on her person, negative comments focused on her religion.

Digital Campaigns: Balancing Between Helpful & Creepy

When it comes to using social media for marketing, I’m really torn. On one hand, I understand its importance in potentially reaching new customers. On the other hand, I know how annoying (and creepy) targeted pop-up ads and marketing efforts can be. As a digital marketing professional, how do I address this paradox? How can I elevate my message to reach legitimate customers through social media without causing damage to my company’s reputation?

In an article entitled Onward and Upward: Research-backed Tips to Rise Above the Noise on Social Media, blogger Lisa Marcyes discusses three “data-backed” strategies to stand out from the sludge of advertising weighing down our social media feeds. Her common-sense approach reinforces the golden rule – treat others the way you want to be treated. Marcyes encourages digital marketers to know your audience and use interesting (and valid) visuals to reinforce or illustrate your message. Her advice is practical and timely, and a must read for anyone struggling to be heard through the cacophony.

Neil Patel from Kissmetrics, echoed some of my own concerns in his article, The Dark Side of Retargeting: How Retargeting Could Be Killing Your Sales. An avid fan of retargeting and digital marketing in general, Patel cautions that less is more. While retargeting can boost sales, increasing the number of impressions for a given target can have detrimental effects. He also warns about privacy concerns and the “creepy” factor. With that in mind, knowing your audience is paramount – most consumers do not understand how retargeting works (see borrowed infographic below).

Responses to Retargeted Ad, Source
Responses to Retargeted Ad, Source

Another interesting article by Brenda Barron entitled Ad Retargeting – Why You Need to Understand How to Use It offers a smart overview of the various types of retargeting and practical guidance on getting started. Barron explains how retargeting can build your brand, provide a personalized experience for potential customers and increase conversions. She also explores the different types of retargeting (site, list, email) as well as available platforms.

Based on the three afore mentioned articles, I realize that retargeting, like chocolate or a good craft beer, can be an amazing thing if consumed in moderation. The key to social media marketing (or any marketing really) is to know your audience. Effective communication requires that you understand and use the language of the person you are trying to reach. Therefore, everything you do should be measured against the needs of your intended customer. If you put the customer first, you will be able to strike a balance between helpful and creepy.

B2H Marketing: Where B2B & B2C Merge

Let me pose a question: is there really a difference between Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing? Sure, the end goal is different – B2B customers are a link in a longer chain of distribution channels and consumers are the end of the channel. But are the marketing efforts really all that different. What if we replace the word “marketing” with “communication”? Do you see the shift in perspective? It is no longer the content that determines how something is said, but rather the audience. Regardless of the “what” in the equation, ultimately the communication portion is between humans.

Table 1: B2B Content Marketing is a Numbers Game, adapted from Dupre (2015, p. 23).
Table 1: B2B Content Marketing is a Numbers Game, adapted from Dupre (2015, p. 23).

There is a long-standing history of distinction between B2B and B2C communication efforts. However, in this era of Big Data, businesses now have the opportunity to adopt marketing strategies previously thought to be the purview of consumer-centric marketing. In an article published by dmnews.com, Elyse Dupree (2015) suggests several approaches B2B marketers should be borrowing from B2C:

  1. Businesses really shop like consumers: “Because B2B customers are also consumers, they have consumer expectations… such as the desire for personalization, convenience, and seamless shopping experiences” (p. 21).
  2. Businesses play like consumers: “The average B2B buyer completes 57% of the purchase process before engaging sales… [businesses] need to engage wherever their customers are – even in channels their industries haven’t historically played in” (p.22).
  3. Businesses have feelings like consumers: Tapping into the sense of urgency or scarcity can be just as effective in the B2B world, because “avoiding loss is a primal human driver” (p. 22).
  4. Businesses socialize like consumers: even in business, peer to peer recommendations hold far more weight when it comes to closing the sale. “Make it easier for buyers to seek advice from their personal network by encouraging ratings and reviews” (p. 23).
  5. Businesses prefer personalized solutions, just like consumers. Solve the customers problem the way they need it solved.

Content marketing plays a key role in leveraging B2C strategies. Technology affords businesses the ability to have a laser-focused approach to target customers. However, you still need to know and understand your audience. In Table 1, adapted from dmnews.com, there are significant differences for communication preferences between business veterans (10+ years experience) and professionals from Generation Next (1 – 10 years experience). Marketers need a clear understanding of their target audience in order to develop content that will reach said audience.

Ultimately, everything comes down to one, distinct truth: we market to people. Corporations are made up of people so in order to be successful, businesses must factor in the human element. Instead of compartmentalizing communication strategies, I propose a new acronym to replace B2B and B2C: Business to Human (B2H) marketing.

 

REFERENCES

Dupre, E. (2015, September 01). 5 Ways B2B Marketers Can Channel the B2C Force. Retrieved June 22, 2016, from http://www.dmnews.com/marketing-strategy/5-ways-b2b-marketers-can-channel-the-b2c-force/article/435644/

Lets Get Personal – Mastering the User Experience

Not before I finish my levelWe’ve all been there one time or another: standing at the sales counter, politely trying to get the attention of the individual standing a mere 34” in front of us, seemingly oblivious to the outside world. Or your Internet is down (again) and you’ve called customer service for the umpteenth time, and placed on hold. Only to be told a technician will be sent out within the week, during a 4-hour time span that you must be physically present for. You try to pin down a day, and are told you will be called 24 hours in advance of the 4-hour time span.

Bad customer experiences (read user experiences) in a business are like cancer in the body – it can consume good, healthy parts of an organism and if left unchecked, completely destroy it. A negative experience shared by word of mouth spreads like wildfire, igniting the indignant and undoing any good your company ever did. Or didn’t do.

So what is a decent business to do? You can react as situations flare up, or you can prevent them from happening in the first place, through positive user experiences. And how do you provide positive user experiences for your customers? You get personal. Really personal.

If you want to deliver meaningful, positive, customer (or user) experiences, you really need to know your customer. Develop a solid understanding of who they are and what makes them tick. You can gain key insights and personalize your services when you understand the following:

  • Demographics: Where do your customers live? Who do they live with? Are they educated? How old are they? What is their ethnic background?
  • Location: What other businesses do they frequent? Where do they work? Where do they play?
  • Time: When are your customers more active? Do they prefer to shop in the morning? At night? Over the weekend?
  • Interactions: How do your customers prefer to engage you? Online? Via the phone? Do they prefer using a computer or mobile device?

Know Your Customers
These insights merely scratch the surface of the information available to business in the information age. Given the right data, one can even tell what mood their customer is in on a given day. And all this information allows business to do one thing really well: provide amazing user experiences by personalizing those experiences for user. And its far easier than you realize.

Lets go back to the beginning of this article. What if the clerk behind the counter engaged with you immediately, recognizing you were a regular customer and greeted you by name? Your experience would be transformative. Or better yet, what if the customer care representative greeted you by name, and told you what the issue was before you told them, then took it a step further and worked with you to resolve the issue immediately, instead of making you wait? There is technology available today that allows us to adopt these strategies in handling customers. The more personalized we make a customer experience, the more successful our businesses will become.

Meet the Information Generation – the Future of Your Business

You’ve heard it said time and again – your future is what you make it. You can do anything you put your mind to. And today, you really can. It is no secret that technology has transformed our world. And with that transformation, we experience an integration of spaces that were once compartmentalized – work, family, social and personal. We look to technology to solve human problems, to answer our questions, to entertain us, to help us achieve, earn and be more. We are the Information Generation. We are plugged in.

In the executive summary for the report “The Information Generation: Transforming the Future, Today”, the Institute for the Future (2015) describes the Information Generation as “a community of digital citizens living in a global network, always connected with the world’s information at our fingertips. We are engaged online more than ever before and have become significant contributors to a vast and growing information ecosystem, a world unlike any we’ve known before (p. 4).”

It only takes a little imagination to envision what this means on a personal level. However, what does this plugged in lifestyle mean for business? How can business keep up and compete in a world that is always on, always engaged, always moving? Even entrepreneurs have to sleep sometime.

The old way of doing business – 9 to 5, what-you-see-is-what-you-get – no longer applies. The Information Generation is comprised of educated consumers, who presume you to know who they are, what they want, and how they want it. Whether they are purchasing for themselves or on behalf of their businesses, the expectations for customer engagement don’t change.

So what is the new way of doing business? The Institute for the Future (2015) identified five business attributes accessible to any business leveraging today’s technology:

  1. Identify new opportunities through the “creative use of data to upend status quo thinking, react and adapt in real time, redefining strategic direction” (p.5).
  2. Innovate and respond to new opportunities by quickly developing products and services that distinguish themselves through innovation (p. 5).
  3. Remain transparent and trustworthy, keeping “open, ethical conduct in both use of data and engagement with people (p. 5)”.
  4. Provide a personal, unique experience to every customer by leveraging available information and delivering custom solutions (p. 5).
  5. Stay open and available for the customer when they need you, and in real time (p. 5).

Real business success is no longer measured in currency but in bytes. Information is the key to leveraging advanced technology and innovation. How does it work? Technology allows us to process and respond to micro-shifts in customer needs based on big data. Businesses who leverage such information not only remain ahead of the curve, they shape the future.

 

RESOURCES

Institute for the Future. (2015). The Information Generation: Transforming the Future, Today [PDF]. Institute for the Future for EMC. Retrieved from: https://www.emc.com/information-generation/resources/IFTF_EMC_InformationGeneration_ExecutiveSummaryReport.pdf

Building Value Through Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing StrategyIs digital marketing really the cost effective, wave of the future everyone says it is? Depends on who you’re asking. When done correctly, digital marketing can facilitate phenomenal business growth. But done without planning, it can be an incredible drain of resources, with little to no return on investment.

As you start to develop your digital marketing strategy, be patient and realistic. An effective strategy doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does require time and research to do it right. The following resources will help you understand the concept of building brand value and help you develop a digital strategy uniquely suited to your business.

  • Connor, M. (2015, November 01). Creating Customer Value in a Digitally Transformed Future.Journal of Creating Value, 1(2), 204-213. doi:10.1177/2394964315569631
  • Competition in our digitally transformed world is fierce. To remain competitive, you need to understand your customer and the digital ecosystems they reside in. This article will provide you with the critical questions and tools you need to develop digital vision for your business.
  • Lowenstein, M. (2015, May 01). Strategic Customer Brand-bonding: Building Personalized Value and Loyal Behaviour through Obsessive Focus, Discipline, and Innovative and Engaging Communication.Journal of Creating Value, 1(1), 108-118. doi:10.1177/2394964315569636
  • As companies become more customer-centric, it is vital to understand how this change in thinking affects the business-customer relationship. The relationship dynamic has shifted from “functional value delivery” to more emotional, personal relationships with customers. This article introduces a new set of values to follow as you develop your digital and overall marketing strategy.
  • Morse, D. (2015, May 01). Powered by Customers: Relationship Is Key to Surviving 100 Years in Business.Journal of Creating Value,1(1), 101-107. doi:10.1177/2394964315569635
  • Your relationship with your customers can make or break your business. This article will help you develop closer relationships with customers and discover your value to them.
  • Oconnor, B. (2015, November 01). What Every CEO Needs to Know about Digital Marketing.Journal of Creating Value, 1(2), 214-220. doi:10.1177/2394964315569641
  • This article will help you understand the value of digital marketing within your organization. Additionally it will help you “understand digital marketing’s levers… and the steps [your] organization can take to become more effective.”
  • Patterson, L., & Rackley, J. (2015, November 01). How Best-in-Class Marketers Serve as Value Creators.Journal of Creating Value,1(2), 190-203. doi:10.1177/2394964315605239
  • This article discusses the benefits of Marketing Performance Management (MPM) and how this discipline can maximize your marketing strategy effectiveness. An effectively managed marketing program can be cost effective, but does require more up front effort to guarantee success.
  • Rao, A. (2016, May 09). From Brand to Customer.Journal of Creating Value, 2(1), 18-30. doi:10.1177/2394964315627253
  • This article will help you move from a product-oriented business model to a customer-centric one. Learn “key metrics that need to be defined, measured, discussed and driven within the organization.”

Turning Obstacles Into Opportunity

Turning Obstacles Into Opportunity

Over the course of my professional career I’ve encountered many speed bumps, detours and roadblocks. I did my best to convert these obstacles into opportunities, learning invaluable skills in the process. Each setback proved to be a springboard into a new direction, which ultimately helped me to succeed during one of the worst economic downturns our country has seen since the Great Depression.

When my career first launched in the mid-90’s, specialization was all the rage. You picked a career track – in my case it was non-profit public relations – and from that point on, it became your professional identity. Generalists (as opposed to specialists) were considered wishy-washy, indecisive and undisciplined. If you wanted to be considered professional, you were expected to advance up your chosen career path and not deviate. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to make a living wage working for a nonprofit organization, especially in Hawaii. I knew I wanted something different, something diverse, and I felt trapped by my own naivety.

Fast forward a few years later. After a stint in the Navy and several relocations, I still found myself struggling to find a place in the working world. I tried event management jobs, clerical positions and even landed a job as a finance manager. But nothing seemed to fit my experience or my aspirations. Then 9/11 happened. The bottom fell out, I lost my job, and I had no clue what to do next.

It was during this low point that I realized I needed to pursue my passion and find a job in a creative field. I had experience as a desktop publisher, but that experience wasn’t enough to land me a design job. So I went back to school, thanks to the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), and earned my BFA . I was now ready to tackle the design world. And I just knew that every forward-thinking employer would jump at the chance to hire me. Needless to say, I was a little misguided.

It took several more years and many jobs – some temporary and some permanent – to earn all the skills I have today:

  • I learned pre-press set up at an industrial print company;
  • Explored out-of-the-box, low-cost marketing techniques at a microbusiness serving medical practices;
  • Developed my photography and photo-editing skills at an early childhood education supplier;
  • Honed my luxury branding expertise at a cosmetic teeth whitening manufacturer;
  • Perfected my analytical writing skills as a technical writer developing training materials;
  • Refined audience-centric communications at a big-box retailer; and
  • Mastered inbound-marketing techniques in a technology company.

Because I embraced each new change as an opportunity, I was able to thrive and keep working, even while my peers became government statistics on unemployment rolls. My adaptability enabled me to do more with less; to leverage technology to achieve business objectives. All these skills have lead me to one, single, professional goal: to help microbusinesses and small businesses effectively communicate with their customers, while operating lean and profitable.

Professional Video Production on the Cheap

You’re an aspiring entrepreneur. You have the product/idea/concept of the century and you’re ready to shout it from the rooftops. You’ve done your homework – searched Google till your mind went numb, sought advice from experts (including Uncle Joe, who knows everything), and concluded you have to produce a video. Only one problem – you’re an aspiring entrepreneur with a very tight budget. And you have no clue where to start.

Quality, professional video production service starts in the low $20K range and quickly goes up from there. The following animated product video for Birch Communications falls into that category.



But don’t despair, there are affordable, better alternatives than having your kid sister compile smart phone clips in iMovie and setting them to music.

PowerPoint Videos

I know what you’re thinking: PowerPoint is for boring old company presentations. Not so my friend. With a little imagination, a good script and a decent headset, you can convert your old slide deck into an effective marketing tool. Microsoft PowerPoint 2010 is optimized for video creation – check it out in the online article: Turn Your Presentation Into a Video. If you have access to Microsoft Office, chances are you already have PowerPoint loaded onto your computer.

MakeWebVideo.com

Short on time and need a little inspiration? Then head over to MakeWebVideo.com. For a nominal fee – prices start at $29/template – you can purchase a pre-animated, professional video template. Bring your own text, images, video footage, and music (if you don’t want to use theirs), and you’re good to go. No technical skills are required – they boast an easy, drag-and-drop interface. Best of all, offer a free trial so you can test the service before you make a purchase.

Prezi

Want to create more interactive content? Then Prezi is just what you’re looking for. A hybrid of interactive video and slide presentations, Prezi is perfect for multifaceted and layered presentations. Export your presentation as a video or embed it within your website as an interactive element. Either way, you will definitely engage your audience for a very small monthly fee (subscriptions start at $4.92/month). Prezi offers a 14-day trial with all subscription levels so you can try before you buy.

Camtasia

If you are tech savvy and have a slightly larger budget, you definitely want to check out Camtasia. An industry standard for instructional designers, Camtasia gives you high-end video editing capability in a relatively easy-to-use interface. Costs vary depending on your operating platform: a license will set you back $99 for Mac and $299 for PC. The perfect tool for screen capture demonstrations, Camtasia offers countless tutorials to help you get started with the software.

Ultimately, everything boils down to what you are comfortable working with. Only you can decide what platform or service will help you get your message across. There are many cost effective solutions to marketing your idea – you just have to dig for them. No matter what platform you choose, remember: the key to successful communication is to follow your passion with purpose. Even Uncle Joe can’t argue with that logic.