Writing is an often overlooked and undervalued part of business and brand communication – yet most of what we know and learn is being conveyed through language. Therefore, written content is the crucial ingredient that holds your other brand and communication elements together, explains them, and enables you to connect with your customers and readers. So, it seems almost superfluous to ask the question:
Why Does Writing Matter?
Daniela offered the following reasons to think twice before you press ‘post’ or ‘send’:
Connection. Written content gives you the opportunity to connect with your customer’s needs and emotive side. It’s important to get the tone and message right to be able to properly connect with your target audience.
Trust: Building trust is about detail; if you don’t take care of the details of your own communication, your target audience will likely make the assumption that you may also sloppy in other areas of your business. Will your business take care of me, your customer? Without trust, you have nothing.
We’re Not 100% Rational. People make their business and buying decisions based on a mix of ratio and emotions. Writing enables you to tap into shared believes, values and desired outcomes. Content sets the tone of your overall communication. It’s vital in starting a conversation and building a solid connection.
How to Avoid Common Communications Mistakes
Daniela explains how to not fall into three common business communication traps:
Perspective. Businesses tend to talk too much about their product and not enough about how it’s beneficial to their clients. Remember to offer a solution, not sell an attribute. To communicate this well, we really need to understand the needs and pain points of our target audience – and then adapt our communication to those needs.
Jargon. Using jargon can really build barriers. It may sound smart to use jargon, but most of your clients aren’t interested in that; they want a clear solution to their problem, and need clear communication in language that is easy to understand.
Think about how Apple sells their iPad; Thinner, Faster, Lighter. Not ‘i7 floating point processor and 25000 MIPS plus 128 MB graphics accelerator hardware’.
Spin. Your target audience is smart. Your customers sense what’s authentic and what is spin. Don’t end up on the wrong side of that equation: be honest and authentic about what you offer. And own up to mistakes. Admit them, rectify them, and you will come up smelling like roses.
In our video interview in the run up to this Thursday’s Short Takes, Alchemy Equity’s Kate Ingham discussed a number of common mistakes in communication. Here are four areas of communication that deserve your attention:
Mistake 01: Sweating the small stuff.
Video is brutal when it comes to small details. Make sure your outfit matches what you are communicating: double check that your tie is done and your hair is o.k.; check frequently during the shoot.
Mistake 02: Not working on non verbal communication.
Make sure everything you do contributes to creating credibility, so the viewer feels confident that you can do what you say you’ll do. Visual communication is beyond the rational; simply getting the information across isn’t going to get you results. Take the non verbal cues like look, tone of voice and posture into account when you present. Video is powerful in building trust, but is also very good at destroying it.
Mistake 03; Not considering presenting style.
Have you considered how you want to come across? Do you want to be personable or formal? Low detail of very specific? What is your target audience after? Who are you trying to connect to? Really think through your presenting style, or even better get some coaching.
Mistake 04: Not thinking through Scripting.
Scripting your video is about presenting yourself in the best possible way; don’t think you can wing it or ‘ad lib’. Unless you’re a professional presenter, you’ll get much better results from working with a script and using an Autocue. During the next Short Takes, we will workshop using an autocue and a script do you can see for yourself how this can work for you.
A vast majority of your customers trust the opinions of their peers much more than anything you say. This is why simply bombarding everyone with you marketing message doesn’t work anymore; you need to go social with video. Social proof like client testimonial videos offer an amazing opportunity to grow your brand in a credible and authentic way.
But get it right.
Most client testimonial clips are excruciating. They’r too long. They lack credibility. They look terrible. Or they simply miss the point. If done badly, client testimonial videos can be damaging for your business. Here are some ways to make sure you get them right.
Don’t Bang On. Unless Your A Drummer.
The number one mistake is that videos simply too long; 60-90 seconds is plenty to get the message across. Your clients don’t need to explain how your product works; all they need to share how what you do created a positive experience.
Lo Fi options.
Lo Fi is occasionally good in music, but client testimonial videos are not the place to skimp. If you film your clients under fluorescent light with a handheld flip camera, you make them look bad because the light and general look is very unflattering. Especially female clients won’t appreciate that, even if they may not let you know. Another negative aspect of cheapness is that it makes your brand look budget; great if you offer a very low price, low value item. Not good if you offer a B2B service or high value service or product.
Take your pick.
Don’t ask your former business partner or brother in law to do a client testimonial; most of your potential clients probably know who they are.
Your testimonials need to be verifiable and honest. If viewers can’t see who’s talking (‘a happy client’. ‘Rob M. from Sydney’.), they’re not going to buy into the message. Don’t script testimonials; if everyone uses phrases that sound like they’re straight out of your marketing material, you lose credibility. Allow people to use their own language and anecdotes, but feel free to direct them in terms of being concise and relevant.
No, this is NOT a good idea.
To be credible you need at least three testimonials. Use the various takes to get a number of people to tell one story, don’t make 10 people repeat the same story about how great you are. Boring.
They’re not presenters.
Authentic doesn’t mean badly presented. Make sure your clients get directed and coached so they feel comfortable. Don’t make the clients present directly to camera; presenting something straight to camera is a real skill that needs training. Instead, interview them so the testimonials are more like a conversation than a presentation. Make sure your clients looks at the interviewer when answering the questions; you’ll get answers with a better flow and a more conversational tone.
What if noone wants to talk?
A lot of people are very reluctant to be on camera; some can’t be swayed at all. Here are some ways to make sure it’s more appealing to take part.
Make the shoots as low impact as possible. Either a small team locally with limited equipment and set up time, or a half hour in a studio that they can walk into.
Share the footage if the clients talks about their business; it doesn’t hurt you to be generous.
Give them a way out; allow them the option to veto the clip if they’re not happy with how it turns out.
But stop short of bribing!
Offering clients a financial incentive to take part may be tempting, but never ever go down that path. One post about that on Facebook and Twitter and you’re looking at some major brand damage. I you can’t find three people who are enthusiastic about your product you probably need to improve your product..
Get to the point
A lot of client testimonials don’t offer a real insight in why it’s you they should choose. I’ve seen client testimonials where someone describes the service like this; a building company turned up, did the job and the house is still standing. That’s not a story; I may be naive here, but I expect a building company to actually turn up when I pay them. What’s the story? What sets you apart?
Believe in your brand. Hallelujah!
Nothing beats social proof like client testimonials when you’re building a connection to existing and future clients; if you get these right you’re really cooking with gas. Happy shooting! Preferably with a camera please.
How do you build credibility around your business?
At some point your business will need resources to reach a next level. Alchemy Equities is about helping businesses get access to funding and support to make that happen. A key element of getting access to resources is building credibility around your business. Kate shared a number of strategies to build credibility in our interview:
Balance your entrepreneurial enthusiasm with experience: Build a team with that includes people with significant experience.
Exposure and network. Make sure who ever is on your team also has exposure and a network that helps build the business
Create solid communication around building the credibility of the team: investors want to see a team of people who complement each other, not an individual.
So how do you create that kind of communication?
When you work on building credibility, look at how your collateral is communicated;
Show attention to detail. If you sweat the small stuff your clients and investors will question your capability to execute what you promise.
Consistency. Be clear and a 100% consistent about what you want to communicate.
Don’t bluff it. Be honest and authentic about what your doing, including what you’re not getting right. Communicate to your audience how you’re dealing with issues; that’s what ultimately builds trust.
Adjust you communication to your target audience. The people you’re communicating to are savvy. Choose language that’s appropriate.
Earlier this year, Hunting With Pixels caught up with Shay David from Kaltura on the New York leg of our epic interviewing spree. Kaltura are a leading open-source video platform, helping business and educational clients deliver top quality video solutions. In this interview, Shay David talks about the difference between open and closed systems, and where the seemingly modern phenomenon of crowdsourcing fits in. Traditionally, there are two primary social forces that lead to things “getting done”, and these are closed forces, in that people generally have no say over how they work. Managerial command is a social structure where orders are given and executed in a top down format. For example, in the army, a commander gives the orders, and a private carries them out. Or else in the traditional educational system, the teacher tells students to sit down and study, and the students do. In a larger and more ethereal sense, there is pricing and market forces. Shay gives the example of hailing a taxi on a main road. Nobody has ordered the taxi to be there, however they turn up because there is the likelihood of them being paid. In contrast, an ‘open’ force, like Wikipedia, does not rely upon these methods of coercion. Wikipedia is run entirely by volunteers, who work on what they please, and have no real central command. This does not fit into either of the two traditional models. However as a phenomenon, ‘Crowdsourcing’ isn’t actually that new. In 1914, there was a radio relaying system, where volunteer radio enthusiasts would pass messages on a chain of short ranged sets. In fact, any volunteer organisation cannot be explained by our standard closed systems. As an academic, Shay David has studied extensively the theories of cooperation and coordination around the economic and social aspects of open-source. Kaltura was founded by him and several like-minded others, around the idea of using the principles of crowdsourcing in the world of media. With the great levelling power of the internet, open source systems are becoming more and more common. Businesses that can harness this, and turn it to their advantage, will find themselves attracting truly passionate people, with wild and new ideas http://www.vimeo.com/25699966
Here’s a great example of written content that’s on Daniela Cavalletti’s site. Someone clearly put some time into this: “We will remain competitive in the constantly changing market for defense legal services by creating and implementing innovative and effective methods of providing cost-effective, quality representation and services for our clients.” Do we hide behind Corporate Speak to sound clever? Or is this language that can be appropriate in certain settings? Does this clarify the positioning of the company or does it diffuse meaning? We’d love to hear what your thoughts are. Daniela is one of the speakers at our next Short Takes event around Why Writing Matters, more information can be found here.
Earlier this year, we caught up for a social with the charming Andy Ellwood, Director of Business Development for Gowalla, a location-based social media group. For more info about Andy, click here. In these two clips, Andy pinpoints Time Management as the root habit of successful people, and discusses how we go about teaching these skills to the next generation. Counter-intuitive it may seem, but in terms of self-motivation it is very difficult to achieve great things without a concrete deadline. As Andy says, “A goal without a deadline is just a dream”. Setting up a deadline applies pressure upon yourself to achieve and put in the hard yards, instead of doing things when you get around to it. When we attend school, we have deadlines provided for us by our teachers. They hand you an assignment, a due date, and a set of consequences should you not achieve your goal. However, as we shockingly find out once we graduate, this is not the way the real world works. It is perfectly possible to cruise along doing the bare minimum, and not achieve anything. It is those students who learn in school how to set their own goals, and to manage their time appropriately, who become successful in the real world. The freedom to do what we want, when we want, is a wonderful thing, but it can also be debilitating. Andy suggests that his particular method of education, being home schooled by his parents, is responsible for teaching him the necessary time management skills. Being given deadlines, but left to figure out how to reach them, was something of a bridging step between school and the real world. Once grown, all Andy had to learn was to make his own goals, and the rest came naturally. Setting goals, of course, is another kettle of fish altogether. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TD2Ls4ECtM http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY5Cx-4qJnw
Videos is an incredibly powerful tool to promote presenters and speakers; nothing will provide more compelling evidence of what you have to offer. Still a lot of websites of keynote speakers have no, or really bad video. We think the reason for that is twofold: – video is too expensive. – video of presentations often misses the magic that live presentations offer.
But where’s the magic?
One of the reasons a lot of speaker sites lack video is that video of conference often don’t have the same impact as being at the presentation; the lighting is weird, the camera angle not quite right and overall the video just doesn’t connect. Here’s an example of a speaker who’s actually pretty good, but the video is just not that convincing:
Let’s change that.
At HWP we’re running a pilot for a new Speaker Showreel Package which will create beautiful, TED like presentations that will help you stand out from the crowd. Here’s what a well produced speaker video looks like: http://vimeo.com/32976928 A good speaker showreel needs to be recorded with great lighting, a slick background and at least three cameras; this is why video from most conference (except the top ones like TED) don’t offer compelling video of presentations; it’s simply too expensive.
So here’s a deal
We’re launching the speaker packages product early next year, but would like to create a number of pilot videos so we can use them as case studies. We create a great looking speaker package for 3 keynote speakers. We’re looking for ambitious people with experience and great IP. What we offer is a package that would cost between $ 1500-2000 at cost price. This offer is limited to 3 people only and offers a great opportunity to finally get that video that shows what you can offer; a great opportunity to take your speaking career to the next level.
A great way to promote you as a speaker
We want to make sure the shoot is a fun experience and offers the maximum benefit to you, so feel free to invite friends, colleagues, clients and prospects to the event; this is a great networking opportunity!
We recently talked to our friend Nigel Collin, who’s an awesome ‘on camera presenting’ coach, we thought it would be great if we could combine a live presentation for an audience with the controlled environment of a studio. The advantage of this set up is that you have the vibe of a live presentation, but you get the superb results that studios offer.
.. and cut costs!
Another issue is cost; renting a studio with three cameras and operators and lighting is very expensive; a way too big investment for most keynote speakers. This is why we came up with the idea of sharing resources and making part of the evening self funding. – You share the facilities with two or three other speakers, dramatically reducing cost. – You can invite prospective or current clients to the evening, creating a great opportunity to network. – You can sell tickets to partly self fund. Have a look at the video;
So what are we offering?
Here’s what we offer:
A presentation in front of an audience in a specially set up venue.
Great lighting, great audio, great vibe.
Superb quality TED style video recorded with 3 cameras.
To create some examples for the promotion, we’re offering three speakers the opportunity to get this package at cost price: $ 695,-! The pilot takes place on the 14th and 16th of December at the Hunting With Pixels HQ, level 1, 270 King Street. This is a one off, after that you pay the full whack! So get in touch now!
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Steve Rubel, executive VP for Global Strategy and Insights with Edelman. Edelman is a global public relations firm, well known for being on the forefront of technological change. Click here for more info on Steve and Edelman. In these two clips from his interview, Steve discusses why and how businesses can become their own media company and self-promote. With the dispersal of media authority, audiences are increasingly becoming proactive in seeking out information. A gamut of opinions and facts are a simple Google search away. This is incredibly advantageous to small and medium businesses, those who might not have the capital to hire a PR firm like Edelman. When creating content, it is important to start small. A torrent of information and promotion will not only be expensive, it will likely be a case of sensory overload, so that the audience comes away with a diluted message. Online video is a concise, personal and direct marketing technique, which is becoming increasingly cost effective. One slightly left-field method of video promotion is to host ‘How To’ videos. By creating content that shares expertise in your business’ chosen field, and placing it online somewhere accessible by the public (especially YouTube), you can have your audience seek you out, satisfy a need that they have, while reinforcing your brand as being the experts on the topic. One of the major side effects of this democratisation of information is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to stand out. When everybody can be an expert, then we see a dilution of what ‘expert’ means. The best way to be head and shoulders above the crowd is to be innovative, to present new concepts that address the core needs of your target audience in a new way. By self-promoting in this direction you will not only be viewed as an expert in your field, you will become leaders in it, and more and more people will come to be seeking out your online content. In this way, you will have built your brand and brought in new customers, all without spending a fortune on a big marketing campaign. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BuLeeLNT4I http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INl7dDkaDXk
Using online video as an SEO tool isn’t complicated. Here are some tips to get you started. – Use relevant keywords and tags. Spreading your tags wide and thin might seem to attract more hits, but to keep people on your site and convert views into customers, you need to have relevant content. Remember that you want your brand to have credibility. – Having said that, put some thought into how you use your tags, keywords and video title. Tags should describe the video and relateded to the subjects; simply copying them over can create links that lead to people clicking away, which will actually hurt your page ranking! – Make quality content. It doesn’t have to win Oscars, but it does have to look professional. If your video will feature a presenter, consider either using an actor or on camera presentation coaching. – Don’t skimp. It’s good to be economical, but if your video looks cheap it says that you are cheap. That’s great if you sell second hand tyres, but it’s unconvincing when you sell something of higher value. Always consider your brand credit. – The thumbnail preview of your video is vital in convincing people to watch. Video hosting sites like YouTube and Vimeo will often let you select which frame you wish to use as a thumbnail – make it a good one. – Consider adding a transcription of the video, so that Google can pick up the content as text; search engines like video, but they can’t figure out what the content is. There are some great tools online that can take the hard work out of this. – Make sure that you keep engaging the audience. Regular content will keep people coming back to your site, and build up brand recognition and loyalty. Rather than making one long video, consider a series of shorter ones, clearly labelled, that will have people clicking through your website. If you do video well, you’ll be really starting to cook with gas SEO wise!