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General News

Post game analysis

New year, fresh start!

No matter what your business faced or how your team pulled through, now’s a great time to provide your team a well-deserved pat on the back and a thoughtful review.

  • Maybe that’s a half-day out of the office retreat.
Or a recognition lunch. Find something positive to recognize in each staff member, i.e., “Rookie of the Year,” “Best Use of Humor in a Low Moment,” “Most Inspirational,” etc.
  • Second, measure: Take stock. List your division’s accomplishments.
    • How close did you come in each category compared to your goal?
    • Where was growth centered?
    • How did this past year stack up with last year’s?
    • Think marketing. Where do you need to build? What should you be highlighting for future growth?
  • Lastly, where is your business headed? What will you keep as is? What needs to be changed or discarded altogether?
    • There’s no better time of year to debrief, reflect and regroup. If you take the time to do this now, it can prevent you from launching automatically into a repeat of this year. And progress and growth demand new vision.

How to maintain more effective business relationships

How important is building and maintaining solid connections with your customers and the people you work with?

MillennialsBoth are invaluable, according to Michael Ray Hopkin, popular blogger and author of Lead on Purpose.

Hopkin believes that to be a truly effective manager or company president and attract and keep clients, you need to continuously improve your business relationships with your employees and your clients.

 

Here are three ways to do this:

Listen.

Let others talk more than you do. Pay attention to what they’re saying.

Understand.

Appreciate what your clients and your employees do. Take the time to understand where they are truly coming from.

Acknowledge.

Be quick to give credit to others for their successes. Celebrate achievements of your employees and delight in the accomplishments of your customers.

 

At FocalPoint, we agree, and put this goal into daily practice. We have seen that if you do this every day and make it a priority, you’ll learn about what inspires and motivates your employees. That will make you a better manager (and will keep employee morale strong).

Additionally, listening, understanding and acknowledging what your customers are saying, how they are reacting to your company, and what is really important to them – will put you in position to provide the services they really need in a way they will appreciate. And that translates into increased sales and customer dedication.

FocalPoint asks: What are you doing to build effective, solid relationships inside and out of your workplace? Got a great example? We’d love to hear about it.

 

Update: There’s Still Quite The Buzz About Drones

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote a post entitled, What’s All The Buzz About Drone Videos?  In this post, I took a closer look at what drones really are (and aren’t), how they are being used and what benefit they might have to your business.  A large reason for me writing the post was that drones were a hot topic at the time in the video production world and I was getting asked several questions about my viewpoint on drones.  Fast forward to over one year later and drones are still a very hot topic.

A lot of the discussion around drones still stems from the whole “newness” factor.  As I mentioned in my previous post, a flying helicopter with a camera isn’t really new, but an unmanned flying helicopter with a remote control is a different ballgame.  Business and the general public have misconceptions about what a drone actually is and, often times, only hear the “bad” things.  That being said, there have been some important updates since my last article that I want to share.

FAA Confirms Drones Must Be Registered

The FAA confirmed during a recent press conference current drone owners – and not just new purchases – will have to be registered.  Officials hope to have the rules in place by Christmas, when as many as 700,000 drones are expected to be sold.

Currently, only commercial drone users are required to register with the FAA. Other drone users are required to fly devices below 400 feet and obtain FAA permission before operating within five miles of an airport. Operators are also supposed to avoid passenger planes.

The FAA will establish a committee of government and industry officials, as well as drone users, to work out the details of the registration system. It’s unclear if all drones will have to be registered, though the AP reports that toy and other small devices will likely be exempt.

Nobody knows exactly how many of the robotic aircraft are already flying around, but most estimates top 1 million.  This means plenty of people will need to get familiar with these new regulations.  As with many things drone related, when it comes to laws there is a lot of gray area.  This means it’s likely there will be reports of mishaps with unregistered drones showing up in the news.

Drones & Safety

The crazy thing about drones in the news is that the discussion rarely is about video.  With the exception of this drone fireworks video below that now has over 12 million views, the #1 reason drones make headlines is regarding safety.  While it’s completely understandable because there have been some safety issues, it’s a shame because these devices can capture some magnificent HD quality video.

As a marketing professional and owner of a company that provides HD video production services, my hope is that the conversation surrounding drones will make a shift toward one with positive sentiment.  I’d like to see the necessary laws get put in place and misunderstandings be resolved so we can all focus on using these devices in the way in which they were intended – to capture high quality video from a unique perspective.

What’s Next with Drones?

As with all new technology, it takes time for people to understand it.  The same is true with drones.  Once the dust settles on the law updates and adoption of these devices continues to accelerate, business usage will grow.  This is what is exciting about using drones to shoot video, take photos, etc.  The sky is the limit (literally) to what can be done using drones in industries such as real estate, agriculture, sports, etc.

Want to talk more about using drones for video production?  Here’s my card so you can get in touch!

 

Sometimes “I don’t know” is the right marketing answer

Art-of-Listening Some years ago, I met with a potential marketing client over lunch. It was the president of the company. I had heard from him that he was not pleased with his existing marketing program, so this meeting was an opportunity to listen and learn about his business and talk to him about FocalPoint’s work. I was thrilled to get the appointment and wasn’t sure what to expect.

After talking about his present marketing strategy and how it didn’t seem to result in the sales volume he had hoped for, he asked me a pointed question he knew would put me on the spot.

“What can your company do that will get us where we want to be?”

At first it appeared to be a golden opportunity to plunge in and talk up our firm. But frankly, I didn’t want to give a sales pitch based on platitudes, in fact, I never give sales pitches.

“I honestly don’t know,” I said. There was a stunned moment of silence. I was pretty sure I’d lost the opportunity, but I also knew I didn’t have the background on his business that I needed to provide a qualified answer.

“I don’t want to be presumptive and offer you something that sounds good, but is based on nothing. You know much better than I do about what is going on in your industry and your business. I need to know much more before I could even begin to come up with marketing strategies that might make sense for you.”

I was being brutally honest. I wasn’t ready to talk about specific strategies to market his business. But I wasn’t sure how my answer would be received.

Listen-&-LearnInterestingly, everything about that meeting changed in that moment. Instead of having a typical business meeting, we began to have a real conversation. We both dropped our pretenses and did a lot more listening than posturing or selling.

Although that happened a while ago, it fascinates me how life lessons present themselves in unexpected ways. This one has stayed with me at FocalPoint, and it’s one I share with those I work with. Being frank and open and asking a ton of questions is a big part of the way we handle new business.

So, what can you tell us about your business so that we can begin to work together as a part of your trusted marketing team?

Here’s my card. What can I do to help you? Or feel free to send me an email brien@focalpoint.co

FP_BusinessCard_Brien

Er, what should I say about my business on social media?

What-Should-I-SayHere at Focal Point, we frequently talk to business owners and managers tasked with using social media as a part of their overall marketing plan. Often these folks can pull up their latest Twitter feed, link to YouTube, post on their Facebook page, and download their LinkedIN updates, but just aren’t very sure what to say when it comes to business use.

Staring into that void and pulling back is a fair feeling to have. After all, you want to get it right.

We hear you and we have some good ideas about how to plunge in – and get the tone and the content pitch perfect. This is why we work with our clients to develop strategies and use social media to establish them as subject matter experts in there industry, i.e., what you are great at doing or producing. Then, use that expertise to boost your credibility and value.

The trick is, not to simply tell folks you are an expert. Show them. Prove it by sharing interesting tips and developing relevant content in a journalistic style proving your are the expert in your field.

Anything that makes it easy for people to associate you and your business with excellence and expertise in your field is welcome. And the more interestingly you do this, the better.

What not to do? Boring stuff. Tweeting “Ron made #1 salesperson of the year” is yawn-able. Better is showing him getting that news while on on bike tour in Amsterdam in his dorky helmet and bike shorts…or maybe not, but you get what I mean! It’s more interesting and doesn’t come across as tooting your own horn. Businessman-on-BikeHumor cuts through the fences folks build to keep out advertising. And it helps makes companies like yours approachable, less stodgy, even cool.

One other thing about social media in business. The numbers rarely show direct correlations. And progress doesn’t happen right away. It takes time to build an image, enhance a reputation and create value. Keep the postings coming, invite others in your company to help, and stay open to new ideas.

So – jump off that precipice with your smartphone in hand, your fingers ready to tap, and your video on!

 

Need help understanding how to use social media?  Please contact us today to talk.

4 Questions Every Business Should Be Asking This Time of Year

Well, October is here and Fall is officially upon us.  You know what this means – the holidays are quickly approaching as is the end of the year.  Yep, I said it; 2014 is coming to a close and 2015 will be here before we know it.  It seems like October is that magical month when businesses take a long hard look at what they’ve accomplished throughout the year, what they can wrap up in the last few months and begin planning for the new year.  I recently wrote a post about the 2 Must-Haves for Every Online Marketing Plan in 2015 and I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on that post.  So today I wanted to follow that up by sharing with you some of the questions that every business should be considering this year as it relates to a marketing strategy.

Strategic Marketing Plan

 

What Are Our Big Wins So Far This Year?

Think about the first 9 months.  What are the 3-4 big wins that stand out to you?  Maybe it’s a big deal that you closed or a social media marketing campaign that was very well received.  What did you accomplish that helped you or your business move closer to where you want to be?  Whatever it was, take a moment to think about why it was successful.  All too often, we get caught up in the day-to-day stuff and forget to take a step back to evaluate things.  And I’ve got news for you, if you don’t get this done in October there’s no way it’s happening in November or December.  We all know how crazy that time of the year can get, so take the time to search for those golden nuggets NOW and learn from them.

Where Did We Come Up Short?

No doubt, there will be some areas over your overall marketing plan or business strategy where you’ve fallen a bit short.  It’s much easier and more beneficial to identify those things now rather than at the end of the year.  Let me cover that again, think about and begin dealing with your shortcomings NOW rather than at the end of the year.  Sometimes we get too caught up in moving forward forward forward, that we forget to look back at things we might be able to easily fix now.  Maybe earlier in the year you were working on a website redesign and rushed things a bit when it came to the content development convincing yourself you’d come back to it later in the year.  Well, now’s that time.  Or perhaps you were thinking about getting some commercial photography work done for your new product line to update your online catalog, but just didn’t get around to it.   It’s important to identify these things now, and I will tell you why on my next point.

How Will You Make the Most of the Next 3 Months?

After taking a step back to look at your big wins and places where you fell short, think about how these things fit in with what’s left of your 2014 marketing plan.  What can you learn from these successes and setbacks so far to make the most of where you’re going next?  Your answers to these questions my change the plan moving forward.  Perhaps your original marketing budget didn’t have enough built in for social media marketing or hadn’t taken into consideration the benefits you might get from producing an online video to follow up with the one you rolled out in quarter 2 that was so successful.  While it’s always important to stay on budget, where you allocate that budget needs to always be open for review and discussion especially this late into the year.  And I’ll tell you one thing – doing things the same way you have always done them in the past is a recipe for getting left in the dust of your competition.  In other words, just because you spent X on a TV commercial or radio ad last year around the holidays and included that same budget this year doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest.

What’s The Plan for 2015?

Now that you’ve taken some time to look at the first 3/4 of the year and make sure you’re on the right track for the last quarter, it’s time to turn your attention to next year.  The good news is that by answering the first 3 questions, it will make building out your 2015 marketing strategy much easier.  Start by visualizing where you want your business to be at the beginning of the new year.  Let’s say the New Year starts off with a bang and everything is going great – what does that picture look like for your company?  Now, ask yourself that same thing about the end of the year next year.  Next it’s time to work backwards – what do you need to do to connect the dots from the most successful year beginning to the most successful year end?  Identify the mini-goals that need to be achieved along the way so you have nice, bite-sized chunks to tackle one at a time.  If you’re in the right business, answering these questions is sure to get you excited for new year.  After all, there’s no reason why it can’t be your best yet.

Answer These Questions NOW

I am going to wrap things up by echoing what I said earlier.  NOW is the time to answer these questions. I say this for 3 simple reasons:

1. It’s not too late to get back on track even if 2014 isn’t finishing the way you had hoped.

2. It’s never too early to start planning for the new year.

3. End of year/holiday craziness will soon ensue.

Need help with your strategic marketing plan?  Here’s how we can help

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Apple iPhone 6, Being First vs Being the Best

iPhone 6 from Apple.com

Photo of iPhone 6 from Apple.com

After the recent iPhone 6 launch event, I can’t help but pause to take note of everything Apple does right. I know it gets said a lot, but they truly are an amazing company with the ultimate brand and marketing strategy. They just “get it” when so many other companies don’t and come up big where others fall short.

Following the event, I came across this article that pointed out three things that makes Apple stand out – trust, taste and utility. In the article, Steve Lohr is mainly talking about the Apple watch, but I wanted to offer my take on these three values and cover an additional point that makes Apple stand out to me

People Trust Apple

Apple has created a brand that people trust. For the most part, when someone buys an Apple phone like the iPhone 6, they know that it’s going to work correctly and be easy to use. They trust that Apple took their time to do the research needed to put out the best phone on the market. Apple has created a brand that is simple, sleek and delivers products that are sexy. And if there are any issues, Apple always seems to do whatever it takes to get it right. As the article I referenced above mentions, it’s not uncommon for loyal Apple customers to even go out of the way to defend the brand and its products when they do make mistakes. One thing is for sure, when it comes to technology, this company has earned the ultimate level of trust.

Question: What is your brand?  And do people trust it?  Get more info on branding development here.

Apple Has Great Taste

When it comes to design, it just doesn’t get any better than the iPhone 6, 6 Plus and the Apple Watch. This new lineup of products nails the design element again – all the way across the board. I really questioned some of the wearables that I’ve seen from other companies such as Samsung, but as soon as I saw the Apple watch I knew things would be different. I immediately thought, “now there’s a techy watch that I’d actually wear.” With all of the different bands and styles – the Apple Watch looks to be elegant but highly functional. With it’s release date being early 2015, there are still some questions to be answered, though I have a feeling Apple is going to come in and set the new bar when it comes to expectations from wearable technology.

Apple Products Work

Apple products “just work.” This has been said time and time again. Apple has a reputation for delivering products that function exactly as they should right out of the box with a very minimal learning curve and quick setup times. The iPad is a perfect example of an Apple product that has been proven to be incredibly easy to use for kids just over 1 year old all the way to the elderly. The best word to describe the usability factor would be “intuitive.” What I mean by that is that things work just the way you’d expect them to.

It’s Not Always About Being First. It’s Always About Being Best.

When it comes to marketing strategy and execution, Apple gets it’s not about being the first, it’s about being the best.  Many other phones have come to market with larger screens over the past couple years and wearables like the Apple Watch are no longer something new. Apple could have rushed to market with these devices I’m sure, but they take the time to do it right. They understand that it’s not about having good design; it’s about having great design. Apple understands that when it comes to marketing, having a well thought out strategy makes all the difference in the world. There’s a reason the Apple events like the iPhone 6 launch get the exposure they do. It’s because Apple won’t settle for anything but the best.

Wrapping It All Up

Over the next few weeks, there will no doubt be a lot of buzz as the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices ship and consumers get their hands on them for the first time. Sales numbers will be astronomical as they always are leading right into this holiday season. And while it may seem like Apple is this gigantic company (which they are) I can’t help but think about how any business couldn’t help but see success by focusing tirelessly on all of these things. All the way from Apple’s brand identity to its marketing strategy they work and work until it’s right.

While a large part of these Apple events is all about launching new products and driving sales, when you pay attention to everything that goes into it there are so many learning opportunities. I challenge you to think about how you might be able to apply some of these values to your business. I know I certainly have and will continue to do so.

Get more: Find this article helpful?  Let’s talk business marketing strategy.

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What’s All The Buzz About Drone Videos?

Opinion Post:

 

Being a video production company in Indianapolis, we get a lot of questions about the latest technology and trends in video marketing.  Here lately, there’s a very hot topic that keeps getting brought up – drones being used for video.  It’s no surprise as drones are being discussed more in the media and showing up more at events as they become more affordable to the masses. Today, I am going share my opinion on the matter and offer some advice when it comes to video marketing.

Drones or Helicopters with Cameras?

First of all, let me just start by saying that I don’t particularly care for the word “drone” as it relates to video production.  If you ask me, the word “drone” just has a negative connotation that comes along with it and I think that has led to much of the controversy surrounding  the use of drones in the video industry.  Once you start to think of “drones” as what they really are – remote control helicopters with cameras (unmanned aerial vehicles), suddenly the perception is different.  You see, flying helicopters with cameras really isn’t that foreign in the video production industry.  After all, news channels have been flying around capturing shots on video for years.  The big change is that now these helicopters are unmanned and now they’re being offered at a price point that’s more reasonable to the general public.  This is attracting more novice videographers and hobbyists thus leading to some of the drone controversy.

How Are Drones Being Used

One thing is for sure, drones (flying helicopters with cameras) are capturing some amazing aerial shots for video.  Here recently, this video from a 4th of July celebration went viral on YouTube with over 9 million views.

While this is more of a “fun” use of a drone for hobbyist style footage, just stop for a minute to think about the potential for drones to be used for video tours of golf courses or for real estate development.  It opens up a whole new aspect of HD video production that was previously too costly for many businesses.

But the more the idea of drones being used for commercial video production services is discussed, the more the regulations from the FAA are interpreted to mean that such use of drones is illegal…at least right now.  While there is still some gray area, it’s understood that “the FAA states that any commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles — that is, use without recreational or hobbyist intent — is illegal.”  So, what exactly crosses the line between recreational use or hobbyist intent and commercial use?  Is it solely the ability to make money?

Here’s What I think About Drones

In my opinion, that’s where the FAA really needs to come up with a clearer definition and more realistic ruling that’s fair.  I question how using a drone as a tool to produce an HD quality video for a business is any different than any other piece of equipment that might be necessary.  Sure, there’s the concern for privacy and safety, but isn’t that a concern with real helicopters or other videos shot in the a public forum?  It’s for these reasons things such as media releases, waivers and permits exist.  I think the methods/tools for regulating the use of drones in a commercial setting already exist.  It’s just a matter of the FAA making an informed ruling on how these apply to this new technology….and as one might expect I anticipate that will take far too long.

DJI Phantom Vision

Photo of DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus from DJI.com

 

 

 

Photo of the DSLR Octo from Cinedrones.

Photo of the DSLR Octo from Cinedrones.

So What Happens Next?

As this recent article on drone entrepreneurs suggests, the video production industry is not going to wait for the laws to catch up.  As the technology continues to advance, the price points continue to become more affordable and the trend continues to catch on – drones are going to make their way into commercial video production.  Eventually the laws will be forced to adapt to the technology rather than the technology adapting to the laws.

How Do Drones Fit Your Video Marketing Strategy?

I love new technology just as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest while losing site of your video marketing strategy.  There’s a lot of buzz around drones in the video industry right now, but until some things are sorted out the risk doesn’t outweigh the reward for most commercial applications.  What I mean by that is that if you’re struggling to get videos completed or measuring the results of a recent video marketing campaign – then trying to figure out if you should be investing in a drone for anything other than recreational use shouldn’t be a business priority.