Expand Your Business With Blogging

Statistically speaking, you’re likely reading this outside of normal business hours. Am I right, or am I right? Why? Because if you have a life (okay … admittedly many people don’t) the majority of your time is spent away from the office and outside of normal business hours. Usually, when the sun goes down you are already out the door. Frazier has left the building.

But the sun never sets on the internet. It operates 24/7/365 for online and offline businesses both. There are no doors to unlock and no lights to turn on. The doors are always open and the lights are always on. No brick; no mortar; no time clocks.

There are so many important online tools for both marketing (presenting your company and product to the market) and sales (trading that product/service for revenue) … if you’re not using them you’re soon to be extinct. Even the US government figured that out. Filed any corporate taxes lately? Most companies now do it online (it is called EFTPS, if you’re at all curious).

Low-to-No Cost – Many of the online resources available for your business are usable with no cost and can offer great results. Calculate the ROI on that: small investment (mostly in your time) and great results. Infinite ROI? No, not quite. But as a business owner if you use these available tools correctly it will make a difference in your business. Put another way, if you are not using online tools for your business, the wolves are at the door and your house is made of sticks. Not brick and mortar; sticks.

Blogging is increasingly being used to effectively to present businesses and products to the market. Websites like Blogger and WordPress make it possible to share value – your knowledge and experience – through blog posts. Helpful blog posts on relevant content establish you as a leader and creates a relationship that your consumers don’t normally get from just visiting your website. Just today in a phone conversation a client said, “I was so glad to see you are a real person!” The personal touch works.

Need a great example? Go look at 3PAR’s company blog called “StorageRap” (www.storagerap.com). No, I’m not associated with 3PAR in any way. But Marc Farley is awesome at what he does for the data storage industry. Take special note of the value that he delivers. Yes, it comes with a heavy dose of opinion, and more than a bit of controversy, but that is the whole point of blogging! Ever read a boring blog post … more than part-way? I rest my case.

If you are venturing into a company blog, ensure it has a clear objective. Brainstorm with colleagues on ideas of what to write and how to represent the company. Then just to it.

Don’t be stingy. And don’t be a twit. – Contribute to the communication in meaningful ways. A terrific way to increase your network is to be active and to comment on others’ posts. Respect the poster; comment on the post. Remember that a single post could be read by thousands, some of whom may take great interest in you and the products you represent.

Don’t Abuse the Blog – If you use your blog correctly, clients and consumers will appreciate your information and insight. But consistency is key. Deliver value to your business community by remaining active in blogging and in social networking forums. Don’t hold back. Give more, and you will receive more.

Brian Moore is a business coach and mentor that assists serious entrepreneurs in building a profitable online business with multiple incomes streams. Brian and his team have assisted hundreds of people in generating profits that exceed $250K or more in their first year. For more information and to contact Brian, visit: http://www.meetbrianmoore.com

If You Own a Service Business, Forget Advertising

Strangely enough, almost every business out there at some point in time will turn away potential customers, despite the fact they’ve paid thousands of dollars in advertising to get that customer to call. The reasons why businesses do this varies, but in the service industry, most of the time they’re just too busy, or their service is too expensive.

This true fact creates an amazing opportunity to quickly, cheaply and effectively increase sales by simply taking the business your competitor doesn’t want or need or can’t cope with.

There are two ways to do it.

ONE: When your competitor has so much demand they literally cannot keep up, you could offer to do the jobs they can’t do (for lack of resources or labor) and pay them a referral fee. For example, a panel beater might be fully booked up for the month but a customer needs a job done urgently. Rather than kissing the sale good bye, your competitor might as well give you the job and take a cut.

In my experience, many owners don’t like this idea for the simple reason that their name is on the line. After all, if a customer comes to THEM and they point them in the direction of a competitor who botches the job up, it’s THEIR name that suffers.

So, it’s important when you approach a competitor that you are confident in the quality of your service and you have a track record to prove it.

TWO: Almost ALL service businesses will refuse jobs from time to time because a customer is haggling them on price. In my experience, I have NEVER come across a business that doesn’t deal with the dreaded price shopper.

If you do offer a lower-cost service than your competitor, and you’re willing to deal with these types of customers if only to get the sale, you could offer to have them refer their price shoppers to you.

A word of warning though. I would only use this method in slow periods when you really need the money. Or if you are able to offer a lower-cost service and still make good margins. The only one fatal flaw in this technique is that you’ll often attract the annoying customers who complain and never pay on time. But if you need the money – it’s worth it. — Marcus Maclean

Article Marketing Blog Help

Article marketing is said to be a great way to generate money online in this day and age. It is actually being used by authors to promote their books or ebooks as well as it is also being used by businessmen in marketing their products and services. But don’t you know that you can also use article marketing even if you are not a certified author or businessman? You simply have to come up with good quality article contents which you need to post on your own website or weblog. As a matter of fact, one of the best ways to be a successful article marketer is by being aware on how to do the article marketing blog.

A blog is actually a web page or site which can serve as your personal journal wherein you can write anything and everything that you want. You can write your personal views and opinions about some things which can be of great help to other people. In point of fact, you can create your own blog and use it for article marketing purposes and gain extra cash eventually. You only need to make sure to arm yourself with some of the basic article marketing blog tips. The following are some blog help tips which you can consider to be successful in the realm of article marketing:

• Place your blog on a main website. This is essential in order to easily acquire more web visitors. You can actually choose a keyword or keyword phrases that would best describe your page and make your chosen keywords to be your blog’s title. You also have to see to it to create a URL for your own blog site.

• Link your blog to all of your articles. This is important in order to acquire greater traffic. All you need to do is to include your blog’s URL to all of your written articles. Furthermore, you should make sure not to publish your articles instantly on your blog. You only have to write on your blog some little explanations or remarks regarding your articles, its purpose, as well as its basis and link it directly to your original website.

• Do the link exchanging. Exchanging links works in a way wherein you are going to include on your blog the lists of online article directories, sites, newsletters, or even other blog sites which publish your articles. This is in fact another way on how to generate web visitors and traffics through other useful sites.

• Put a comment box on your weblog page. This is somewhat helpful in order for you to be aware on how people respond to all your written articles either on your blog site itself or to your original website. You need to accept all kinds of comments whether good or bad and consider all those comments when it comes to improving your blog, website, and articles to attain success in the realm of article marketing.

Indeed, you can use a blog in order to do article marketing and gain instant cash. You only have to keep the aforementioned article marketing blog tips in mind in order to ensure success in the long run. After all, the tips mentioned above are believed to be truly helpful and can be done without much effort at all.

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Should You Guest Blog?

Plan and simple, yes you want to guest blog, but you want to be picky about the sites you are guest blogging on. I say this because you want to make sure your blogging on a site that is actually going to help you get target traffic to your site. You don’t want to waste time and energy creating a blog post on say SEO (which is your specialty) on a blog that is dedicated to preserving Barbie. The point of guest blogging is that it is a win win for the webmaster and the guest blogger.

I am sure that you are not really interested in what guest blogging does for the webmaster at this point. You want to know what it is in it for you. That is the focus on this post. So here we go, the first benefit of guest blogging is that you get instant exposure to your blog. Let’s say that you just launched a new site that you are really excited about and you know offers great benefit to visitors. You want traffic now, not in a few weeks or months. Find an authority site or other site that is reputable in your niche, contact the webmaster and offer to guest blog for them. You blog post will offer informative content and a plug about you and your website.

The second benefit is that exposure you gain. If you don’t have a business that you are trying to promote, but skills you want to offer to hire… guest blogging can help you there as well. When you guest blog on a site, as I said above, you get to do a little blurb about you and what you do, and from there you can direct people to a place where they can learn more about you.

The third benefit and reason as to why you should try to guest blog is that you get a link back to your blog. We have talked in the past about how important back linking is. This is a great way to increase your rankings with links from reputable sites.

Notice that I have mentioned reputable sites. You want to look for sites that have a good ranking, because you know that they are getting traffic. You also know that they are getting crawled by the spiders on a routine basis and that what they say on that website is trusted by people in the niche you are addressing. You don’t want to waste your time blogging on a site that isn’t getting more traffic then you currently are, or worse yet, they are not getting traffic at all.

There are a few rules that you need to keep in mind in regards to your posts. You want to make sure that your post fits into the category of blog you are posting on. Remember, Barbie isn’t going to care much on how to SEO optimize. The blog post that you create must be original and unique. You can’t post an article that you wrote and posted elsewhere.

Also, we are talking about your reputation so you really want to post only articles that you have written. If you are going to farm out the blog posts writing then make sure that you have proofed what is said in the article. The last thing in the world you want to do is make yourself look bad or the website you are guest blogging on.

Finally, when you guest blog if you are going to use a link in your post, it must be a link that is related to the website you are writing for. You should NOT use your own affiliate links. This is just poor taste and not only will the webmaster kick you to the curb, it will get around in the industry that “type” of person you are and you will have a hard time getting another guest blogging spot.

Neil Bartlett is the founder of MyIMCoach.com. My IM Coach provides aspiring Internet Marketers with Tips and Techniques for getting started and/or improving their marketing skills. To learn more INSTANTLY grab his FREE report “How To Make It Online”

History of the Infomercial

When television was first getting started many shows were actually created by their sponsors in order to have a medium to promote their products and services. The entertainment value of the show was secondary and the goal of selling a product or service was primary. However, the FCC eventually got involved and placed limits on how much advertising could actually take place within a television show. As a result, sponsors creating programs to advertise their products were done away with. This was not quite an infomercial, but it was certainly the pre-cursor to this type of advertising.

It is believed that the first North American infomercial occurred in the 1970s on XETV based out of San Diego. The program was a one-hour advertisement on Sundays on homes for sale in the local area. The FCC limits of 18 minutes of commercial time during a one-hour show did not apply because it was actually located in Mexico despite broadcasting its programs in English and to an American audience.

Commercial content that was highly regulated in the 1950s and 1960s found a new atmosphere in the 1980s when the Federal Communications Commission eliminated many of the regulations that had previously been in place. In 1984, infomercials truly got their beginning because there was airtime that could be used for their sole purpose. Perhaps the very first true infomercial was for the Ginsu Knife. The format was created by Barry Beecher and Edward Valenti for this very purpose.

Teleshopping, which is similar to the American infomercial, began in 1979 and became very popular in the UK during the 1980s. The television time that is frequently sold for infomercial advertising is sometimes purchased by televangelists to air their messages. Politicians buy these time frames, too.

In the beginning, infomercials most frequently were shown really late at night and very early in the morning as opposed to going off the air. However, over time stations found that airing infomercials at other times of the day could be quite profitable and now it is more common to see an infomercial during the morning, daytime, and even during early prime and prime time. Some stations do nothing more than air infomercial programming 24 hours per day.

One of the largest media buying agencies for any infomercial and DRTV spot is A. Eicoff & Co. of Chicago

How to Maximize Being “Connected” on Social Networking Sites

Imagine tapping into more than 35 million professionals in over 200 countries and territories worldwide for possible new sales leads, to gain insight from other industry colleagues about upcoming industry trends, and to simply connect with so many different options. This is the amazing reality of social media.

Social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Digg offer you some top-notch professional and business connections that you would never be able to access otherwise. LinkedIn alone boasts these 35 million professionals. So more and more VARs are logging on and logging in to find, be introduced to, and connect with like-minded people to accomplish their business goals. You’ve no doubt heard of LinkedIn and these other social networking sites, and you’ve perhaps even created an account. You recognize the value of being involved in this viral network. Someone asks you if you’re LinkedIn or on Facebook and you say, “Sure.” But quietly think to yourself, “I’m not sure what I should be doing though.”

You’re not alone. So let’s take a look at some of the ways to maximize social networking to your advantage.

First, the network that you develop for yourself will consist of your connections, your connections’ connections, and the people they know, and so on and so on. It’s similar to the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” where you are just a few connections away from key people. It’s the ultimate in networking, and you’re doing it virtually instead of at a Chamber of Commerce mixer or an annual meeting or trade show where you are limited by the physical attendees. In theory, you could be meeting future customers while lounging in your pajamas. Not only will you find partners and business opportunities, but they will find you too!

Now that you’ve set up your account, what do you do next?

1. Put on your sales hat and start selling you! The first step on any social networking site is to create an intriguing and informative profile about yourself and/or your business. Approach this like building an online resume, only you’re creating it within an already developed template. Start with four or five words that sell what you have to offer – let people know not only what you’ve done in your career, but also where you’re headed. One word of caution – don’t just cut and paste your resume into the profile field. It’s great to include that, but you must go beyond the standard resume. What are you passionate about? What are your core values? What makes your business different from your competitors? Why should customers choose you for their VAR? Social network sites elevate resume writing to the creative “self sell” it should be. You are sharing more than just your professional experience – you’re selling the whole package.

2. What details do you include? People do business with people so include a photo of yourself. Remember, a picture paints a thousand words so you’ll want to look professional but approachable in your photo. Lounging on your friend’s boat with an umbrella drink in your hand probably isn’t the best way to tell your story. But being in a stiff suit might not be either. Find a photo that you’re comfortable with and that speaks words about who you are as a professional VAR. Let people know how you want to be contacted. Do you prefer email? Maybe communicating through the social networking site for awhile works fine but do you want to communicate more directly? Or do you want people to call you out of the blue? Be specific about what’s acceptable (and what isn’t) for networking with you. The more honest you are about what you’re hoping to accomplish, the better your chances of connecting with like-minded people.

3. Start building your network. This could be “friends,” “connections” or other terminology depending on the social networking site. But the bottom line is, one connection usually leads to another as you build out your network farther and farther into this vast community. One good way to judge whether or not you want to make a connection with someone is to decide whether or not you would take a phone call from them during your busy day. If you would take the call, then invite that person into your fold. If you wouldn’t, you might want to think twice about the invitation.

4. Maximize the connections you make. Pose questions and answer others. Informed sources will chime in with their information. You become a resource for others. Recommend customers, vendors, and colleagues whom you know and ask them to do the same. Aren’t you more likely to do business with a vendor that is recommended to you by a trusted friend or business partner? The same rules apply here, too.

Of course, when you make yourself public, there are possible dangers and pitfalls to watch out for as well. People can spam and say negative things about you or your business. But that works both ways so never, ever leave negative feedback in public domain. You also might find “leads” on your doorstep that you don’t want or won’t fit within the network that you’re building. And lastly, don’t oversell and build yourself up too much.

The bottom line is that you have an amazing opportunity to develop connections and build quality leads and relationships in these communities. Using social networks will allow you to not only grow your business financially, but it will also enrich your business experience as you learn new and innovative ways to approach business from your peers.

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)

What’s Your Plan?

So often we get caught up in our success or the crisis of the moment. We are reacting to everything that’s happening around us. We forget to ask ourselves, “why are we doing this?” We lose sight of our goals or we don’t update the targets. Without that awareness and ability to change and adapt, we can’t be successful.

Here’s the best part: a business plan doesn’t have to be in-depth in order to help guide you. There’s no need to think that building your plan is an overwhelming task that demands huge time or resources to develop. But the plan should include some fundamental elements, including understanding where your business comes from and the strategies and tactics you will execute in order to succeed. You’ll never know if you’re making a wrong turn or wrong investment if you don’t have a plan to benchmark.

Way back when, in the days when you first started selling, life was pretty easy. You’d grab a prospect list and, one by one, begin calling names, starting with the letter A, of course, at the top. Customers were eager to meet with you to hear what new services you had to provide, which would make their company more profitable. You knew it all back then. You were a leading sales rep, one who manufacturers sought out because of your talent and expertise in the field.

Over time, you built relationships with these contacts, slowly transitioning from the “getting to know you” stage to business partners, and now you’re friends. These are the “customers” with whom you now golf, exchange birthday cards, attend holiday parties, and know each other’s spouses and children. You have essentially taken a potential business lead and customer and turned this person into a buddy.

Now you’re scratching your head and wondering why sales calls are so hard and tedious. What made you unique years ago is now run of the mill. Superstar VARs or others selling on price have crept into your territory, grabbing your business. Internet purchasing simplifies ordering replacement parts or accessories via the Web. While your customer may value your relationship, it’s easy to save time by using the Web. Deep down, you know you can no longer act like “just a sales rep,” and need to think like a business person. You need a process and plan for overcoming changes and a way to anticipate these changes and reinforce your business value. Consultants and business planning books/templates can be overwhelming. Where do you start?

You’re already working lots of hours in the day; creating a time-consuming plan might not be a wise choice. Instead, create a business temperature check – a basic plan that helps you chart your course and determine what obstacles and benefits are in your path.

1. Create a basic plan. Let’s take a step back and think about your core beliefs and values. What vision do you have for your business? What type of company are you trying to be or become? How do you want your current and future customers to view your business? Your answers to these questions will bring your vision into focus.

2. Determine why your current customers are working with you (or looking elsewhere), and create a plan to retain them. You’ve invested time and expertise with these folks. It’s OK that they have become your buddies. Now you need to grow and nurture that special relationship into something fruitful for all.

Chances are, your manufacturer never asks you to share your business plan or marketing strategies. If asked, do you even have those in place? If not, why should your customer want to invest time and money with you? If you applied for a loan with a bank, the bank would ask you for a copy of your business plan as part of their investment strategy. Why are your manufacturers or customers any different than a bank? They’re investing in a partnership with you too. They want to know what your plan is to determine whether or not they want to work with you.

3. Take a holistic approach to finding out who you are. Look at yourself and your business and locate the gaps in your approach. It is challenging and sometimes a bit unnerving to admit to your weaknesses, but this is a fundamental business requirement. You must do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis on yourself and your business in order to maintain and then grow your customer base and bottom line. What are your strengths? Play those up. What are your weaknesses? Find partners and build relationships to bridge those gaps. Where are the opportunities to grow your business? Often, these lie in correcting the weaknesses. Who or what are your major threats? Don’t be fooled. Doing a SWOT analysis on yourself is tough, but the results will be eye-opening and help provide focus for advancing your business.

4. Spend time writing down your goals. With the fast-paced change in today’s world, it pays to re-evaluate the road you’re following. Will it lead you to success or a dead end? Write down some realistic goals. Try to identify key traits that are unique to your business – things that only you can provide and determine how you can leverage those to increase your uniqueness in the market. What makes you unique in today’s market? Write it down. On paper, you may shockingly realize that you’re not that special or maybe you are, tell your story in the best way possible. Write down all the key opportunities you may have. What kind of promotions and ideas do you have that your customers would be eager to invest in? Manufacturers will look to you as the chart maker, to be in tune with the marketplace and will want you to help them see the trends coming before their competitors do. They will seek out VARs who have good channels and prosperous networks, and they will weed out those who suck up time and energy (like long, personal sales calls) that don’t bear results. It’s not just about the sales call and status quo selling anymore. You’re a smart business person. You need to focus on profits and not allow yourself to be swept up in the emotional aspect of the business.

Bottom line. Step back. Re-evaluate and make a plan. Determine what your manufacturers need and what services you have that will help them. Capitalize on your strengths and improve on your weaknesses. Then use your newfound sales tools to dazzle your existing customers again like you did years ago. Deepen your customer relationships and new leads will follow.

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)

PR Vs New Media

Many larger corporations, which have bottomless marketing budgets, incorporate massive public and media relations campaigns around new product launches, trends in the industry, and key story ideas. They “work the media,” feeding them a plate full of facts, figures, soundbites, and information in hopes of garnering the holy grail of the public relations world: the above-the-fold, front page story about their company.

Some companies use inside PR teams with directors, managers, coordinators, and interns. Others engage outside PR firms in order to craft the perfect press release, the pitch letter that an editor will drool over, or to wine and dine a group of reporters at the hippest restaurant and bar in SoHo or Chelsea. Working the media takes time and effort. It involves building tailored media lists, distributing press materials, and yes, meeting with the media and even taking them to lunch (a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it). It’s about nurturing one-on-one relationships that can sometimes take years – and money – to bear fruit.

I know, I know. You have no budget, time, or manpower for a massive PR campaign. I wouldn’t approach this topic if I didn’t have a solution here. The good news is that in today’s New Media world, the art of traditional public and media relations is changing. And it’s changing fast and for the better for small, but successful VARs like you. So I’m offering up a few tips on how to get your PR effort going without taking the traditional route.

Social media is quickly becoming a core element of communications and PR plans, which is great for you – simply because these new media tools are easy to use, don’t demand a lot of manpower, and are economical. How great is that? Blogging, social networks, and podcasts reach more customers and influencers of your product than traditional media might and require almost no out-of-pocket investment. Plus, once you take a little time to get familiar with these channels, it’s so easy to utilize them to your advantage!

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “When it comes to generating goodwill between a company, its customers, and prospects – the very essence of public relations – it’s a buyer’s market for small businesses.” For instance, one small business cut loose their PR firm which had been receiving a $6,500 monthly retainer, and replaced them with a $700-a-month line item in their budget for website maintenance. Using their up-to-date database, they began sending weekly email blasts to VIP customers and friends – again, at no cost. The results? The small company’s best PR efforts came from communicating directly with their existing customers and friends, who then forwarded those email blasts on to their friends. Special email newsletters included targeted information geared toward hitting those touchpoints that the company knew would grab the attention of its customers. They gave their customers what they wanted through links to the website and easy access to valuable information.

News “flashes” are also easy to incorporate into your PR program and search engines love them. When written thoughtfully, using keywords and phrases, and in paragraph format – one paragraph for content and one paragraph about your business – search engines will pick up on these flashes and reward you with a higher ranking in searches for your business or product. Create a “news” section on your website where these flashes can call home. Search engine crawlers visit sites that are constantly changed and that are dynamic. When crawlers see that you update your “news” section frequently, and you have carefully crafted your news to include your keywords, you quickly find that these pages will receive high rankings.

Of course, landing a feature story about your latest product in a Top 20 national newspaper (e.g., USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times) or being included in a segment on Oprah or The Today Show is worth way more than its weight in gold, but so is going directly to the world – literally – and to the newswire yourself. The Web is allowing smart VARs like you to engage with the public without the mainstream press or the PR flak who court it. With new media resources, like YouTube and Flickr, you can now deliver unedited messages in your own voice and image instead of leaving it to the press to report the story they way they think it should be told. Or you can create short videos or podcasts for your own site for customers and potential leads to download and watch. Here, you can craft your own message and become “the expert” in your field. The same holds true for blogging. Start offering some of your insightful wisdom on new trends. Customers – and search engines – and sometimes even the traditional media will come to view you as the resource in your industry. The trick is to learn to use these tools without sounding too commercial in your pitches or offerings, and then enjoy the benefits of well-crafted viral marketing take hold.

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)

The Rise of Video Web Content

Video has notoriously dominated the entertainment industry, and thus the advertising industry for a half century. Recently though, the 300 pound gorillas of the video entertainment industry have taken a beating. So many factors have curbed their power, and now we are looking at an emerging opportunity to gather some of that power to ourselves by using the hypnotic mystery of video ourselves in the online venue.

The internet has certainly brought the middlemen of nearly every sector to their knees. If we look at entertainment brokers as middlemen, could we imagine creating our own content, promoting our own productions, and controlling more of our own traffic and advertising potential? Some innovative web developers have taken us halfway there.

YouTube, Guba, Google Video, Blip TV, and many other providers of free video sharing sites have given all of us the power to publically publish our own video content. The productions are rightfully short due to the issue of bandwidth as well as file storage, but there is also the issue of the truncated attention span of the modern day internet surfer. Even with these episode length curtailments, there are still many respectable serials up on these free sharing sites, and they are quite well done. As a matter of fact, there is something to be said for short, powerful punches of entertainment. In effect, serials made up of short streaming episodes can add up to impressive, award winning quality, production results.

We would like to advocate the concept that a new art form is being organically developed as we speak. There does seem to be a further impediment to the serious pursuit of the art by the masses however. This is not to say that there is no pursuit at all, just that what is being done is not really serious. It might be guessed that a factor in the inhibition to the seriousness of the majority of the efforts we see on these video sharing sites is that there is really no incentive for anyone to create gripping, well thought out, well crafted, and well acted content. What we’re talking about is money. There is no compensatory incentive.

This is not to cynically say that the only legitimate motive for quality from the unwashed masses is cash. We simply have to understand that most people need to spend their time on activities that will put food on the table, not on self expressive, artsy whims of fancy. Some may have the luxury economically to do both, but most of us do not.

There are also technical barriers. While shooting and editing video is an activity that is well within the technical savvy of more and more people, there is admittedly still a predominant portion of our contemporarium that are not yet up to the entire task; not to mention being up to the frustration of posting that finished production up on the internet for all to see.

What we do see however, is that there is a vast sea of tech capable people now in our culture. These people do take time to shoot random, not so well crafted, moderately well edited, video content. There is really a huge volume of it. With this knowledge, there is a certainty that if the art could be made economically viable, people would try to do better at it. If it were possible to make a living, people would flock to the opportunity and give it their best. I think it safe to say that we haven’t seen the best yet.

In conclusion, may we just say that it should be a goal of programmers and strategists to figure out how to make the art of short episodic streaming video a profitable profession for main street Dick and Jane. Let them in on some of the profit potential and some of the advertising / networking power. Some strategist have been working programmatically on that kind of application. I know this, because I am one of them.

Jeff Rogers is the President and Founder of www.dragnetmarketing.com. He is an online networking strategist who believes that relationships are just as important online as they are face to face. In order to have good relationships one has to give something up to get something back. Mr. Rogers has made it his focus to make the give and take more fluent and utilitarian through his strategies. Get online and on the street tactical advantage with Dragnet Marketing strategies and self managed viral Video Pages.

Podcast Marketing

Almost as soon as the original Apple iPod was introduced, people in the marketing profession began to realize the medium’s potential to carry brand and product messaging. Today, podcasting is popular method for communicating corporate information that enables businesses to deliver valuable content to listeners. Because the sound of the human voice carries emotion, the medium can deliver content more effectively than text. In fact, some marketing experts believe that podcasting is more powerful than other marketing media such as direct mail advertising. By developing and incorporating a podcast into their marketing programs, companies can, for example, educate listeners about new and upcoming technologies in their industry, inform customers about soon to be released products, and promote new services. Use the following guidelines for developing your podcast.

Plan Your Attack
Before you even begin to record a podcast, you need to decide what you want to say, what your target market is, and what your call to action will be. At the end of your podcast you may want to point listeners to a specific web URL that will drive sales and measure how many people heard your podcast. You should also develop a script that tells the person doing the voice over exactly what to say. And due to people’s generally short attention span, you should avoid creating a podcast that is longer than 20 to 30 minutes.

Get the Right Tools
To create your podcast you will need a PC and a microphone. Many computers already have microphones built in. But you might want to purchase an echo canceling variety to ensure the highest audio quality of your production. Headphones also are a good idea if you want to hear your recordings played back without hearing extra noise from your surroundings.

You’ll also need software for recording voice such as one of the basic or preloaded programs that came with your PC’s operating system. Or you can purchase a more sophisticated solution that enables you to edit the audio file such as ePodcast Creator or the simple to use and Windows and Mac compatible program Audacity. Audacity is available for free download at audacity.sourceforge.net.

Start Recording
Go the file menu of your program and select New. Test your microphone’s input level and then just click on the record button and begin. If you’re using Audacity, the software saves the recording automatically as an .aup file. However, some programs cannot open this format so you should export your podcast as an .mp3 file after recording.

Upload Your File
After you’re finished with production, you’re ready to upload the .mp3 file to your website or publish it to a blogging service such as Podcasting.com or Apple’s iTunes Podcast Directory. If you want to publish on a regular basis, you’ll need to create an RSS feed. You can do this with an easy to use program such as FeedForAll.

Publicize Your Podcast
To ensure you get a large audience, you should e-mail contacts in your company’s database that your program is available. Include some basic details that will attract their attention. And be sure to include a URL where they can download the podcast. You can also maximize your audience by ensuring your podcast is listed with web search engines such as Google and Yahoo and by using RSS search engines, including Google Blog Search, Bloglines, Feedster, and Technorati.

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)