Tag Archives: Business

When Does A Business Go Beyond The ‘Start Up’ Title?

As Chicago Pet Video is now entering the end of year two in business, I’m starting to think about how to classify ourselves. We’ve seen significant growth in the level of clientele we serve and larger business accounts, as well as more complex, and ultimately more rewarding work. However, I often still use the term ‘start up’ business when referring to our company.

Murray and Lizzie

What exactly does the term ‘start up’ mean, really? I use it to explain the fact that 2 of my employees still sit at a large table in lieu of us purchasing them desks – after all, we can’t spend all this money on fancy furniture, I need to make sure the business stays profitable. Also, I use it explain away the fact that pets run rampant in the office and it’s okay, it’s usually extras we’re using on a shoot, and a part of our culture. And I use the term ‘start up’ as it kind of just sounds cooler somehow, like I turned my back on corporate America and chose this as a way of life.

But this all begs the question, how much longer can we continue to call our business a start-up? Is it a certain sales point? A certain number of clients? Number of employees? When we get the fancy coffee in the kitchen instead of the cheap stuff?

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I’d like to think that we can consider being a start up as a state of mind – staying lean, focusing on the basics – which is producing great work and keeping our clients happy. As we outgrow this new phase and enter our adolescence, I want to keep those values strong and continue to push boundaries with our creative video campaigns and technology – Total Pet Expo TV was a success we’re super proud of! We really want to be the premiere video production company that specializes in working with animals and animal-related businesses which means we may have to start accepting some responsibility which comes with being a company that sticks around past the start up phase, like offering health insurance, increasing educational opportunities, and allowing ourselves to take a vacation periodically. I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful and talented people that help ensure our high quality work every day, now it’s time to relinquish control, at least a little, so I can start to focus on continuing our growth and future success.

-Andrea Fischetti, Managing Director of Chicago Pet Video

Andrea Working

Have a question? email us at info@chicagopetvideo.com

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How To Integrate Video Into A Robust Content Marketing Strategy (Guest Post)

Steve Farnsworth's Old Blog

Video is powerful because it shows there are people behind your business, which is important for building a strong brand that people can relate to. But how can you integrate it into your content marketing strategy effectively?

Know Your Audience

Before you can put together a video that will be relevant to your audience, you need to know precisely who that audience is. It’s important not to try to appeal to everyone – instead, figure out your archetypal customer. Two tools to help you do this are Sally Hogsheads 7 triggers of fascination and a simple guide to creating a customer persona. This’ll smooth out the rest of the process, because it’s much easier to figure out what to say to one person than to 1000.

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★ How To Integrate Video Into A Robust Content Marketing Strategy

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Why We Don’t Recommend GoogleApps for Small Businesses

Okay, so if you’re in the small business domain, you’ve heard all about the amazing world of Google. There is Google+, Gmail, GoogleApps, etc. Just one teeny problem that is missing in the marketing, the customer service is AWFUL. If you have a problem and call the 1-800 number, you will be connected with someone whose first language is not English and although that in itself is not an issue, it can present a problem when you’re trying to communicate.

Also, one small glitch we’ve come across is when we tried to upgrade from Gmail to GoogleApps, we lost our entire YouTube channel! That’s right, a video production company without samples, active video links, or unpublished videos (used to privately share content) all of a sudden disappeared. This is apparently a problem when you have a YouTube channel that is registered under the same domain name, in this case it was the name of our company, “Chicago Pet Video.” While we are a small company, we are incredibly busy serving our clients and to have our YouTube channel completely disappear did cause some waves and majorly effect the way we conduct business.

Initially we were switching our email system over and went straight for GoogleApps, but now Microsoft’s Outlook is going to have to win this small battle. I’d love to support Google here, but Microsoft’s customers support is definitely better (not by much, but still) and ultimately we can’t forgive them for permanently deleting our entire YouTube channel, with likes, comments, and all.

Anyone else have two cents to share on Gmail vs. Outlook or a similar customer service nightmare story to share?

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Business Financial Advice for Pet Professionals

Episode 2 of Pet Professional Series Web Series, “Your Pet Business.”

Business finance questions answered by pet business expert, Jeff Eckerling, CEO of DoggyLoot. Also featuring Andrea Lain Keirn, owner and founder of Big Bark, as the featured new pet business. Host is Andrea Fischetti from Chicago Pet Video. For more information and other episodes, visit: http://www.chicagopetvideo.com

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Video Marketing Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Campaign

Video marketing is gaining traction faster than most marketers can keep up with it. Audiences are gathering more information and insight into products and brands through video than any other form of content. A video on your home page is essentially your customer’s first impression of your brand, so don’t blow it. Make sure you’re not guilty of these issues that may be causing viewers to bounce mid-video.

1. Your splash screen isn’t eye catching: Make sure your splash screen is visually appealing. This is the first thing a customer’s eyes come across and there needs to be something there that will get them to click that play button. Having a good title description on your video is important, asking an intriguing question here or telling them in a few short words what they’re about to view is key.

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2. You have no direct call to action: The easiest call to action for you customers is to first make sure that what you’re asking fits with what your viewer is looking for. If that matches the exact needs of your viewer then taking the recommended next step will just be a natural course of action for them. Add a more prominent call to action at the end of the video such as “If you liked this video, please click the link below for more information” or simply ask them to share it with others. Don’t forget to make it easy for them to share, whether it’s a shortened link or a way to embed it.

3. You’re selling too hard: People don’t watch sales videos, if anything they go out of their way to avoid them. Rather than promoting, pushing and asking for a sale try a more authentic and soft approach to selling. Identify your customer’s expressed wants and needs and simply inform them how your product or service may benefit them. Sell your product with engaging and if appropriate, humorous content.

4. Buffering takes too long: A study shows that four out of five people will click away from a streaming video if it pauses to buffer (just once) instead of waiting for the video to reload. Odds are you, yourself have been guilty of this before.

5. Video quality is low, editing was choppy: Test, test, test and make adjustments! Lighting can sometimes be forgiven but if your audio is too quiet the viewer will automatically press the stop button.

6. Too scripted: A great video will sound like natural conversation. Though it’s important to start with a good introduction make sure you’ve practiced this enough that you can say it without having to think it through. When you’re looking into the camera speak directly to your audience as if you were in the same room as them, this will help create intimacy and a connection with your viewers.

7. Lack of promotion: Self explanatory. If you have social media channels, use them! Take advantage of Hootsuite’s scheduled posts and promote your videos multiple different times over the course of a few months.

8. Lack of SEO Within Your Video: Make sure you place keywords in the video description, title and keyword tags – keywords that your customers are likely to use when searching for your product. Include a link in your description of the video that will link back to your website, this will help increase your referral traffic.

A marketing video is not something you can throw together in an hour. Remember, your video is essentially a reflection of the quality of your product and services. Poor lighting and audio will detract from the actual information that you’re trying to convey to your audience, causing your brand to be less credible. Take the time and spend some money to create a professional video. Greater quality = greater response.

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Your Pet Business Episode 1: Sales Tips

Episode 1 of Pet Professional Series Web Show, “Your Pet Business.” Sales questions answered by pet industry sales expert, Stephanie Bell, from Blackwood Pet Food. Also featuring Melissa Ramirez, owner and founder of Zerimax, as the featured new pet business. Host is Andrea Fischetti from Chicago Pet Video. For more information, visit: http://www.chicagopetvideo.com

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Best Sources for Lead Generation

The following are some of the best and inexpensive sources of lead generation. A lead is more than just a name and an email, it’s seeking out someone who is actively interested in the the product or service you have to offer. Focusing in on some of these methods will help you capture more sales-ready opportunities for your sales team to turn into new business and eventually increased revenues.

1. Your Website:  Perhaps the easiest way to get leads is through your own website, it’s not too time consuming and there’s no need to constantly update it as long as it has all the essentials.

  • Always, always make sure you have a visible contact number or email on your site.
  • If you’re capturing leads through a newsletter subscription then make sure you have sign-up forms on every page of your site.
  • With forms, it’s almost always best to ask for as little information up front from the customer as possible. Too many requests can often deter the customer and cause them to bounce right away. If you’re unsure about what information to collect, try a split test (1) requesting name and email only and (2) requesting name, email, phone, industry, company, job title, insight into their marketing goals, etc – see which one works best for you and garners the most sign-ups.
  • Adding photos or testimonials to your site is always a plus as it helps to add a greater sense of authenticity and credibility.

2. Networking Events:

  • Make sure you’ve perfected your elevator pitch! The last thing you want to do is ramble on for 10 minutes about how important your company is and how greatly it would benefit this person you’re speaking with. Have something ready that’s quick, concise and to the point.
  • Use names, one of the greatest compliments you can give someone is remembering and addressing them by their name. It’s a sign of respect and it’ll gain you respect in return.
  • If you can’t solve all the challenges and obstacles of what this person is looking for, let them know you’d be happy to make a connection to someone who will.
  • Networking events are great for building a sense of authenticity into your brand. Knowing the business owner or the voice on the other end of a future phone call helps put the customer at ease and makes them more comfortable.
  • Don’t go to networking events immediately seeking out the people who you think could use your service. Help those that may not be able to help you and get to know the ones you’ve met in the past, even better.
  • Map out a follow up process!

3. Social Media Engagement: Using social media for lead generation can be fun and easy but extremely time-consuming.

  • It’s important to do the necessary market research to figure out where the majority of your audience spends their time. You don’t want to be wasting precious hours on LinkedIn if most of your customers are hanging out on Twitter all day.
  • Creating a blog is a great way to get conversations started and keep them going (it’s also a great way to get traffic back to your site where they could potentially see those newsletter sign-up forms!).
  • The power of promotion is huge! Any content you’re creating whether it’s on your blog, an infographic, or video, etc it is incredibly important to promote 100% of them through your social media channels. And don’t limit it to promoting just once. Hootsuite is great for setting up scheduled posts, you can set up a 2 week old blog post to go out a few times next month.
  • Social media makes it so easy for us to take our “offline skills” and put them to use to develop and foster complex relationships online. Throughout your conversations always be genuine, always be of help and make sure all responses are prompt and thorough.

4. Trade Shows:

  • Prior to a trade show it’s a good idea to send an email or invite to pre-registered attendees or those who attended the previous year.
  • Instead of wasting time and money and handing out swag bags filled with logo pens and other trinkets to the masses, take a minute to just engage and converse with all those passing by. If you do plan to spend money on promotional items, do something out of the ordinary! USB drives and magnets are too generic, you’ll just blend in with the other 500 brands out there.
  • If your industry is data driven, make sure those important factors are advertised at your booth. For example, being a video marketing company like Chicago Pet Video, we want our audience to know important facts; 42% of business executives have made a purchasing decision based on an online video and 60% of execs will watch a video, before they ever read the text on the screen. These are facts that will help generate interest in how we can better help consumers with their potential needs.
  • Once you’ve generated a list (or collected information) of visitors, don’t wait weeks to follow-up. Create a meaningful follow-up piece of content that you can send in an email, something that’s targeted toward them rather than just using a typical sales pitch template.

5. Referrals From Current Clients: Referrals can be the easiest and most powerful way to expand your business as long as they’re done correctly.

  • Referrals are a great head start for your sales team but it’s still important to build the relationship and work through the sales cycle from start to finish just as you would any other situation.
  • If you over-deliver, have great customer service and offer a product that already WOWs your current customers, it’s possible that they’re already out there selling for you. They will be some of the most genuine and hardest working sales-staff you’ll ever have.
  • It doesn’t hurt to create a mutually beneficial arrangement where you give the referrer some kind of valuable reward, it lets them know they’re appreciated. When deciding on a reward make sure it’s significant. Determine the value of a sales lead and how much it typically costs you to convert a new customer and base your referral reward around this.
  • Add a “refer a friend” link to emails, websites and newsletters. Make it as easy as possible for people to tell their friends about your product or service.
  • Just remember if you’re taking care of your current customers, making them feel special and delivering amazing results, your outlook for getting referrals is going to be good. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask!
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If you lead, the rest will follow.

What sources of lead generation do you use most with your product or service? Have you eliminated any specific sources or focused more heavily on some versus others? Tell us your story!

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Pinterest for Your Brand

Trying to decide if Pinterest is right for you business? Check out some of the recent statistics behind the site’s success and maybe you’ll have a better idea of what all the hype is about this past year. The social platform is still gaining speed, so don’t worry you’re not too late on your arrival if you haven’t started.Infographic

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