THE BLOG FOR AUSTRALIAN SMALL BUSINESS

READY TO ROLL THE CAMERAS?

Getting to Grips with the Basics of Online Video Marketing.

Have you ever considered shooting simple video content to help market your business online? Why is it becoming increasingly important to connect with your online audience via the medium of moving film? What are the basic essentials that you should be taking into account before the cameras roll?
And what are the most common strategic mistakes to avoid when mapping out your video marketing content?


Action! Here are the basic essentials to consider before shooting a new online marketing video to promote your business.I’m currently sat in Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar, dressed up in a silly Wizard’s costume which is way too big for me.

I’m surrounded by Elves, Dinosaurs, Clowns, Giant Rabbits, and a couple of blokes arguing over which one of them is supposed to be Tarzan.
(I’m guessing the one in the loincloth will be declared the winner. The one in the spaceman outfit has clearly got the wrong idea altogether.)

All this is not a million miles away from a typically chaotic scene down at Smokey Joe’s Bar, yet there’s something distinctly odd and exciting in the atmosphere today.

You see, we’ve all agreed to take part in Smokey Joe’s brand new marketing video.
We’re not getting paid or anything, we all just thought it would be fun to get involved.

With hindsight, I kind of wish that I’d asked to see a script or something before I agreed to participate.
In all honesty, I have absolutely no idea why I’m dressed as a Wizard, or what role I will eventually play in this online 90-second promotional video.
I’m hoping all will become clear very soon…

But Smokey Joe certainly has the right idea in embracing the online marketing video, even if he seems to be over-egging the production just a little bit.
He should perhaps have worked a little harder on his strategy before inviting the big expensive cameras into his bar.

Here’s a brief rundown of the essential points to consider when preparing to create brand new video marketing content for an online audience, and a couple of clues on where Smokey Joe might just be going wrong…

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BE MY GUEST?

How to Write Guest Content for Related Blogs
and Publications Without Getting Rejected.

Getting your own unique words of wisdom splashed around the pages of online and printed publications related to your business can be a powerful way of connecting with your target audience.
But how do you convince the editors that your Guest Content is fit for publication?

Hooking up with the editors of Blogs or publications related to your business could prove to be a fruitful partnership. But how do you make sure that your proposed Guest Content doesn’t get rejected?For the third time this week, I found myself stuck in a very long queue down at the Sweet Pastry Shop.

I don’t usually mind too much, as I often find myself getting engrossed in useful conversations with equally hungry business owners in need of pastry-based refreshments.

Today, I ended up discussing the merits of Writing and Submitting ‘Guest Content’ with Greenfingers Graham.
He runs a business selling gardening equipment, and he’s been super-busy composing all kinds of expert articles for possible inclusion in Blogs and magazines aimed at the keen gardener.

It sounds like a cracking idea in principle. But has he had any luck so far?

Nope.
“Complete waste of time!” he wailed. “Nobody out there is remotely interested in publishing the stuff I write. I’m close to giving up on the whole silly idea!”

I was initially a little surprised, as I know for a fact that Greenfingers Graham is a really good writer who composes engaging content.
I was once strangely drawn in by one of his 35-page articles on birdhouse maintenance, despite not really having much interest in the topic. At all.

But the problem seemed to be that Greenfingers Graham was submitting the wrong sort of content.
He was delivering the kind of material that the publications were already providing in-house.
He was sending in highly technical stuff to simple and fun Blogs. He was going overboard with the promotion of his own business. And he was submitting wild and wacky content to intensely serious publications that weren’t really a suitable outlet for all his turnip jokes.

Here’s how to reduce the risk of rejection and get those editors interested in your own Guest Content…


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LOGO DESIGN JURY

Hit or Miss? What’s Your Verdict on These 12 Controversial Business Logos?

 The best and worst of Business Logo Design! Here are some pretty good and pretty bad examples of Business Logos. But what’s your verdict on these controversial designs? Hit or miss?A winning Logo Design can be a tough concept to crack for any business.
Over the years, I’ve been truly blown away by quirky and clever logos, and I’ve been taken by surprise with original and attention-demanding designs.

I’ve also been largely unimpressed or completely baffled by logos that have failed to convey a clear message, and I’ve been left disappointed by designs that ultimately don’t quite hit the mark.

Sometimes, I’ve experienced all the above reactions from just one single Logo Design!

A new logo has so much work to do, so many boxes to tick, and so many potential clients to impress, it’s perhaps not surprising that so many new designs stumble over at least one of the crucial elements.

Personal tastes and opinions may differ when it comes to choosing all the right ingredients for a perfectly crafted logo, but there are certainly several key factors which should generally be avoided at all costs.

Plenty of consideration should be given to that very first glance from a prospective new customer.
But the second glance is critical, too.
Oh, and the third glance is fairly important. And the fourth. And the fifth.
And maybe the 379th.

In the interests of scientific research – and also because I was at a bit of a loose end last Sunday afternoon – I took a batch of 12 unusual Logo Designs down to Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar, and asked the usual entrepreneurial crowd whether they thought each design was a HIT or a MISS.

But what’s your own instinctive verdict?

The jury is now seated, have your scorecards at the ready…

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DOMAIN NAME GOLD RUSH 2014!

Why Your Business Should Be Planning Ahead for the All-New Domain Extensions. 

Are you ready to strike gold with the introduction of brand new domain extensions for your business? Here’s why you should be planning ahead for the future and staking your claim to a perfect new domain name.2014 is going to witness one of the biggest and most dramatic changes in the history of the internet.
But is your business preparing to take advantage of this golden opportunity to secure a perfect new domain name?

We’ve all become very familiar with those boring old domain extensions that have been around since the dawn of time.
Stuff like .com and .com.au and .net and .org.

But this year will see the gradual rolling-out of a whole treasure trove of brand new domain extensions – one of which could prove to be a valuable goldmine for your own business.

These new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) will include such precious jewels as .expert, .health, .engineer, .dentist, .florist, .photography, .builders, .supplies, and many, many more.

Big Ted, the chief printing wizard here at Martin Print, was hopeful that he might be able to grab a new .snakesandladdersgrandmaster domain extension for his latest little online venture, but that’s one of the few possibilities that has yet to make the list.

However, glaring omissions aside, the new gTLDs have the power to be a real game-changer for businesses seeking to upgrade their domain name and hammer home the brand with a deliciously short URL.
For example, a self-employed photographer currently operating a website with the URL martinrussellphotography.com.au, could well be in a prime position to grab the much smoother martinrussell.photography domain name if he’s quick off the blocks.

The first batch of new domain extensions have already started to roll out in recent months, and you can check the full schedule in the handy Launch Calendar below to see when your perfect new extension is due to be released into Cyberspace.

But just how easy – or expensive – is the process of securing your new-look domain name?
Why should we be thinking about both sides of the dot from now on?
Should you be staking your claim during the initial Sunrise or Landrush periods of a new domain extension?
And what on Earth do those mean anyway?

Let’s go digging for Domain Name Gold…


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ARE YOU GETTING THE MOST FROM TWITTER?

The Tools, Tips and Tricks that YOUR Business Should Be Using on Twitter This Year

The tools and features that every small business in Australia should be using to pull in the biggest marketing results from Twitter.When using Twitter as a marketing tool, those 140 characters can seem like a long shot.
Here in the Martin Print office, we have difficulty in getting Old Bert to condense his vocal ‘crucial communications’ down to 140 minutes.

You can imagine the fun and games we endured when we tried to introduce him to the succinct sound bites of Twitter. It was a total non-starter.
We never really got past his irrational fear of trolls anyway. I don’t think he fully grasps the meaning of the internet slang term, but it was taking forever to explain that he was not going to be pursued by an army of cave-dwelling creatures with mighty noses.

However, forget the trolls, ignore Piers Morgan, and get signed in;
Twitter is undoubtedly worth your time. It’s a free opportunity for your business to communicate and engage without stuffing promotions down the necks of your customers.

Twitter features are evolving all the time, so let’s take a look at some of the finest features this year and how other businesses are already using them.


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PROUDLY PRESENTING… YOUR BEST WORK! Why Building a Small Business Showcase is Far More Effective than Writing Hollow Words

Are you showing your audience what your business can do instead of just telling them? Here’s a show and tell with no tell but lots of show.Are you showing your potential audience the very best bits of your business?
Could you be falling into the trap of trying too hard to tell instead of show?
And how exactly do you build up powerful online and offline showcases of your very best work?

Well, I’d like to kick off by talking about broken business promises.
Not that you or I would ever break a promise to our customers.
Not intentionally, anyway.

No, I’m talking about the empty marketing promises made on a regular basis by less reputable businesses.
The kind of business that doesn’t actually have anything decent to offer, so makes up for it by shouting a lot.

You know the sort I mean. They’re not in a position to show anything good, so they will instead try to tell the customer that their product or service is ‘Amazing!’ or ‘Out of This World!’ or ‘The Best in Australia!’ or ‘So Brilliant That My Grandma Bought Nine and She Doesn’t Even Own a Hovercraft!’
They usually do this in a very big font with capital letters and lots of exclamation marks.
The end result never lives up to the hype.

Nobody likes a broken promise.
Whenever another business breaks a promise or misleads the customer, a little fairy dies.
Far more importantly, it makes every business look bad. It makes our job harder.

A cynical customer who’s been let down in the past is never going to just take our word for anything.
That’s probably the right attitude, too. Why should they?
Anybody can call something Amazing, especially if they’re trying to sell it.

This is why you need to show the quality of your business instead of just coming up with a string of generic excitable words.
You need to show your prospective customers exactly what you can do, why you’re so uniquely brilliant, and why they would benefit from signing up to your services instead of your inferior rivals.

So, how do we do it?


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COAX YOUR CLIENTS INTO ONLINE SHOPPING
The Crucial Factors That Your Audience Will Consider Before Buying Online from Your Business

How to convince your potential customers to buy online from your business. It takes just a little more effort than a smile…I’d like you to join me on a journey inside the mind of your typical prospective customer…

If you’re determined to sell more of your products online, it would certainly be useful to take a peek inside the head of a member of your target audience.
You could discover the crucial considerations that are getting mentally weighed up before a firm decision is reached to buy or move on.

For example, how much is the average customer likely to spend on a product without seeing it first? What kind of goods would they never consider buying online?

And most importantly of all, what exactly can your business deliver during the online shopping experience that will make a potential customer far more likely to buy your stuff?

A recent report from PR firm Walker Sands reveals some of the answers, and one factor in particular seems to be dominating the inner thoughts of the everyday online shopper…

My own investigations into this were inspired by a challenge that I set the Martin Print team last week;
I asked them to find Australia’s least likely person to ever make an online purchase, and then convince him or her to enter the digital world of internet shopping.

They didn’t have to look very far.
They believed that this dubious honour went to our very own resident caretaker, Old Bert.
He’s suspicious of anything developed after 1957.
The team reckoned that if they could persuade Old Bert to experience the benefits of buying a jar of his favourite pickled eggs online, they could persuade anyone.

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QUICK DRAW COPY!
How to Write Business Content
for an Audience Turned Off By Words

It can be a tricky challenge to communicate all your key messages within a single slice of business content. So how do you hit all your targets without confusing your audience?Communicating a big batch of crucial business information to a target audience who are repelled by reams of words can be a challenging prospect at the best of times.

So, how on Earth do you compose business content for people who instinctively switch off from the sight of too much text?

A cynic might suggest that the digital generation just don’t have the concentration levels or willpower to bother with reading lots of words in one sitting.

But the truth is perhaps more to do with time and efficiency.

We live in a busy world and your target audience will have a lot of other stuff to do.
In many ways, it would be quite unreasonable of us to expect them to put everything else on hold whilst they absorb every detail of our long-winded essays.
Let’s be honest, it’s a pretty big ask. And it’s up to us to come up with the solution.

So, whether we’re writing a slice of new marketing copy, an email communication, helpful snippets of advice or guidance, a new Social Media post, or indeed any type of written business content at all, it’s vital that we focus on making ourselves readable.

It can be particularly tricky to convey a mix of potentially complex information within a single parcel of content.
Here are a few helpful tips and pointers on how to get your messages across in the most effective possible manner…


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RED HOT HIGHLIGHTS OF 2013
A Rapid Roundup of the Juiciest New Developments of the Year for Small Business

The red hot highlights of the year! Here’s a roundup of the best Small Business developments of 2013.What was your favourite Small Business Highlight of the Year?
Maybe it was an intriguing new development?
A useful new innovation? A fresh opportunity to market your business in an exciting new way? Or simply a comical highlight which made you smile?

My own Rapid Roundup of My Favourite Bits of 2013 hopefully includes a brief sample of all of the above…

I did ask some of my fellow Martin Print team members for their own thoughts, but I must have forgotten to stress the ‘business’ element.
Josh was very keen to point out that the highlight of his year was reaching Level 172 in Candy Crush Saga with only minimal screams of frustration.
Charlie, our Shipping Supremo with a mind rooted in strategy and tactics, seemed particularly proud of his work mapping me out a brand new route to the Sweet Pastry Shop.
It shaves a whole two minutes off my travelling time, although I now get stung by nettles and scratched by thorns every lunch break.

Meanwhile, Old Bert claims that his highlight of the year was beating Big Ted at Snakes and Ladders in a high-tension match which went on for days. His victory celebrations lasted just slightly longer.

Hmm.
Well, I’ll politely skip over those for now, and unveil my own selection of the hottest highlights of the year for Small Business.
From long-overdue changes to Facebook Contest rules which change the game completely, to the rise of NFC marketing, via the funniest Social Media meltdown of the year.

Did you miss any of these juicy bits of 2013?


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AVOID THE BOGUS RULES OF SMALL BUSINESS
Why You Should Never Follow These
Mythical ‘Unwritten Rules’ of Business

False! Wrong! Bogus! Untrue! Let’s take a look at a list of some of the worst unwritten rules in Small Business and why you should never follow them…Are you following any of the so-called Unwritten Rules of Business?
If so, could you be making a very dangerous mistake and putting your business health at serious risk?

I was having a catch-up with my good friend Wonky Alan last week down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.
I’d spent what seemed like two hours listening politely to his latest news, updates, and plans for the future.
In fact, I’d managed to get through four Fizzy Frothy Fruity Fusion drinks before it got round to my turn.

Eventually, I got the chance to share some of my own new stories and anecdotes from the continuing design-driven adventures of Martin Print.
However, I was only really starting to get to the good bits when I was abruptly cut short after less than ten minutes.

“Stop!” yelled Wonky Alan, dramatically. “Have you been feeling unwell or something? It sounds as if you’ve been breaking every unwritten rule of business in the book! Maybe it’s time you took a holiday?”

Well, I wouldn’t say no to a holiday. But I strongly disagreed with Wonky Alan’s reasoning.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem with ‘unwritten rules’ of anything.
If a rule is so good, why on Earth has nobody ever bothered to write it down?
Could it be because the rule in question is actually a bit rubbish?
Is there even perhaps a small chance that the unwritten rule could turn out to be completely wrong?

At this point, Wonky Alan pulled out a curiously named book from his pocket called The Definitive List of Unwritten Business Rules.
Hmm. Surely a contradictory title? Unless all the pages were blank.

But no, the pages weren’t blank. In my honest opinion, the pages were crammed full of very bad business advice which should definitely have remained unwritten and unspoken.
Wonky Alan seemed to have been absorbing all this nonsense recently, so I decided to postpone sharing my own stories and news until our next catch-up.

I felt our time would now be better spent on exposing the lack of logic in many of these mythical guidelines, and ripping up The Top Four Completely and Utterly False Rules of Business


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