Web Marketing Strategy

This strategy is something that developed over quite a few years, and will of course adapt as the web changes. Its something I’ve put together from many different people’s ideas, into something that made sense for the majority of my clients.

Web Marketing is probably the most effective thing available to the common man to promote his stuff. Tons of ways to do it, and with time and effort it can be done with little money. You know the rule. Cheap, Fast or Good, pick two. Well, with the web you can do cheap and good. And maybe gets some money to do the stuff that literally can’t be done without money, like Superbowl ads.

Without further ado, I give you, an online strategic marketing plan for promoting a product, service, company or individual.

A good web presence has many connected pieces. Each has a job to do, but some are much more important than others. The best are where you’re customers can learn, experience, and share in a targeted venue.

Let me start off by saying this. Facebook is usually your number one connection with customers. If you’re not using it, you either have a very interesting company, or you need to do it right now. All you customers are there, waiting to share you, be reminded how great you are and be upsold anytime you like.

A website with a blog is your number one connection to search engines. Anyone searching for your company will go there. It gives you legitimacy, branding and marketing potential. More importantly, it is a place for customers, press, vendors, and all other business to business contacts to contact you. A frequently updated blog tells search engines you’re alive and interesting, and gives something useful to all those people visiting you.

Beyond that you need a twitter feed, as many pages you can make on other networking and sharing sites (MySpace etc.), YouTube channel, commenting, fan assets, back links and a topic based website.

Website

  • Blog with Comments and articles with info, trivia, and personality
  • About Page so people can get to know you
    • History
    • Description
    • USP(Unique Sales Position)
    • Mission and Vision
    • Tag Lines
  • Demonstration of the product or service as best and prolific as possible
    • Videos
    • Photos
  • Press Section with news releases, assets for publication (such as photos, posters), and contact info
  • Schedule and Important Dates
    • Dates and Times that people can plan for or look forward to

Twitter – Opinion and Factual, and as active as possible. Make it topically relevant

Facebook Pages – This is as, if not more, important than your website. As much info from your tweets and your website should be on here. In my opinion most of your efforts should be focused on Facebook, because the influencers are on Facebook, even if your whole customer base isn’t.

Squidoo, MySpace, Friendster, Digg, Del.ico.us, etc. – These are old. Get a presence with back links to the top three. The most important thing is having some sort of presence at these places. A little bit of effort could make the difference. This is the long tail of twitter and Facebook.

YouTube – as important as Facebook, but extremely specific role. Use video to your advantage. Like everything else so far on this list, it’s cheap and will be good quality if you put in the time. Viral videos are some of the most powerful marketing forces on earth, but really, any decent video is much more likely to be useful to you than a gallery or an article. It has sound. You can say more in a video than you can any other way. Use It.

Backlinks – find places to put links to your stuff. The more links you have, the better your Search Engine Ranking, and that is extremely important.

Commenting on blogs with relevant information is awesome. Spamming is not. There is no fine line. You know what is useful to a conversation. That said, this is the best way of getting new fans. People read comments. If you’re informative about the topic and that you actually produce available content, people will come.

I touched on fan assets in the web section, but I’ll go into more detail. Fan assets are stuff fans can use to remind themselves that you exist and that they like you and/or promote you. For instance, a music poster: They can put it on their bedroom wall. That’s good for them and whoever they let in their room. They can put it in a post online. Everyone who sees it will know about you. They can post it on a campus…. You get the picture. Any kind of assets you come up with, sound bytes, freebies, purchasable goods, anything. Make it available and it will get used.

Topic based website – This is the most unused piece of all of the above. Its also the most effective long term marketing tool on the internet. Here’s how it works: You make an online topic resource that at first appears unaffiliated with any company other than itself. It has SEOed articles on all sorts of  researched topics designed to give searchers the information they need. Then you add links within the articles sending people to your site. That’s where you turn your warm lead into a happy customer. Relevancy is key here. If you’re a heavy metal band, and you make a site about knitting, that’s not gonna work. But if you make it about the best heavy metal music out there, and if you like those guys you’ll like these guys too, here’s an awesome music video, and here’s another video behind the scenes and here’s their album on iTunes… Oh look at that. I was looking for new music and I found some. Win/Win. Use SiteSell’s SBI to do this. They are awesome and will hold your hand the whole way.

In Summary: The topic based website is the most expensive. A camera, mic, and tripod, and a computer is necessary as well. Seriously, you should already have those. If you’re going to do one, do Facebook. If you’re going to do two, do twitter and Facebook. But all of these together will give you a huge edge beyond the main ones everyone uses. Not everyone does this, surprisingly. If you do, you’re ahead of the game.

Army National Guard Training

A National Guard Camera Operator

Way back when I was working in Helena MT, I taught the National Guard to use Soundtrack Pro. It surprised me how much an outfit like the Montana National Guard put into PR, and video production. We spent a day on Soundtrack Pro, which used to be the Final Cut’s sound editing program (I guess its Logic, Pro Tools, or Audition now). Taught them how to do noise reduction, pretty necessary across the board, and sound enhancing using the eq, compressor, expander, etc. It was great, they were great, and I kinda wished I had their budget to makes some decent films. I would love to do it again.

Modeling and Acting

I have modeled for photographers Patrick Byrd and Daniel Macdonald. I’ve also been a churchgoer and a dancer on Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life and a priest on Season of the Witch with Nicholas Cage.

Running a Business: The Truth of the Matter

Orion Beaufort directing RESET

Getting Beaufort Productions off the ground has been an awesome opportunity for personal and professional development, but it hasn’t been a smooth ride, by any means.

I discovered that running a business is a lot more challenging than I had thought it would be (a common discovery, I’m sure!). People talk a lot about how having your own business is great because you enjoy more freedom, you get to choose your own hours, and you can make more money. That’s all true, but what I have found is that I am under a lot more stress than as an employee, and it is difficult to work with the income fluctuations that are natural in any business.

I was hoping for more creativity, more engaging projects, doing things I enjoyed doing, and it has turned out to be more interesting than my jobs, but not a whole lot more interesting.

Has it been worth it? Absolutely, if nothing else than for the discoveries I made about myself. I found out that I work really well in a team environment. I strongly prefer to work with people, rather than alone as a silo. I see my clients as collaborators, and that is ultimately my working style. I propose something to them and say “What do you think? Does this send the right message for you?” More often than not they really enjoy talking with someone who is obviously an expert in the video advertising world and being able to make use of my experience in getting their project how they want it.

I enjoy working with clients who are very clear in what they want. I have found that all the small business owners I have worked with are very professional and respectful, which is fantastic. We combine their thoughts with my feedback, collaborating back and forth until it turns into a beautiful, great idea.

I really enjoy wowing them. There were two different companies that I created a logo for while I was working on their commercial, just because I saw that they had didn’t have a logo that would work in the context so I created something and sent it to them and they both responded along the lines of “Wow, this is great! Send it to us bigger so we can use it in our other materials!” That was exciting for me – I like throwing in those little extras that make a big difference to the client.

Assistant Director, Helen Beaufort, on the set of RESET

Assistant Director, Helen Beaufort, on the set of RESET

I have learned that I am a very good director. I’m still trying to be less James Cameron, or at least, less demanding with my perfectionism when it comes to people I work with. Working with clients, of course, really helped me learn patience in getting things right. They give me instructions like “make it bigger” or ” more ‘pop'”, which don’t really make sense to me but I have to kind of pull out of them what they really want to do, which is interesting and sometimes fun.

I really get to demonstrate to myself that I am a good manager. Prior to Beaufort Productions I hadn’t had much management experience so I really got into working with people, making sure they had what they needed and that they were doing a good job. I made some really great friends that way too. I got to work with one young man who, when I first met him, had only worked on a couple of projects and wasn’t very skilled or professional just because he was so inexperienced. He was working with me on Saints Wrap Up and on commercials and I was able to direct and coach him on shots. We had a lot of fun – he got to feel more confident in his abilities and I also got to feel more comfortable giving him assignments. By the time I finished my projects with Lyon Productions he was shooting his own commercials and editing them skillfully. So it was a very fulfilling experience for me and I discovered that I particularly enjoy the mentoring side of management.

The Saints Wrap-Up Experience

A still of the Saints-Wrap Up Show

Host Bruce Parker and Coach Van Deese discuss the intricacies of the Saint's football play strategy.

Every Sunday from September 2008 through March 2009 I was in charge of shooting and editing a TV show called Saints Wrap Up. The Saints is the name given to the sports teams at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. The football team is actually very good in their league and they’ve won quite a few seasons. They went to the National Championship the year that I worked on that show (though they didn’t win). The show featured interviews with the coaches and highlights from the week’s games.

Each show was made from start to finish in an 8 hour window. I get a lot of people asking me what it was like to do that, so here’s a rundown of my typical weekly experience:

I had two production assistants helping me make sure we had everything, carrying things, keeping track of the mics, etc. which was very helpful. We’d generally already have all the equipment set out from the day before.

So we would get to the office at about 10:30 am every Sunday. We’d grab the equipment and drive over to the location with a freshly edited show plan – basically a listing of all the commercials that we wanted to include and how much time we had for each segment. Hopefully we had all the segments timed out by then – sometimes we wouldn’t know what the segments were going to be until after we would get back from shooting the show but normally we would have a good idea of what we had to get for each piece.

Saints Wrap-Up Show 2009 Logo

The new logo for 2009

We would reach the shooting location at 11:00 am and basically talk with the host and set up the cameras and the lighting. We had just enough time to set up so if we had forgotten batteries or tape or something we would have to pause the show, which would of course cut into our edit time, which did on occasion lead to some crazy last minute stuff.

At around 11:30 the talent would arrive – the coaches and players. We had at least two coaches to interview, plus a player or two, sometimes more, and they had 3-5 minute segments each. The host had his interviews planned out and we had a two-camera shoot so we would basically just keep the cameras running, keep quiet, and make sure the cameras didn’t do anything weird like run out of battery or flip to the side. Occasionally we had a camera not working so we had to do a one-camera shoot. We’d just be zooming in and out a bit or stick with the wide angle.

Saints Wrap-UP Show Highlights Reel

Mixing HD and SD made the highlights reel extra awesome.

So the shoot was pretty easy and we got free food at the end – always a plus! If we had a ‘highlights’ reel from the previous night’s games we would record the host giving voiceovers for that. One of the assistants shot the highlights reel and edited it on Saturday night so that it was ready to be incorporated on Sunday, although sometimes I had to finish it for him.

At this point it would be between 12:30 and 1:30 and we’d drive back to the office, capture all the tapes onto the hard drive which would take us to about 2:30 or 3:00. We’d edit the footage from the two cameras, making sure there weren’t any audio issues – sometimes we’d have to re-sync the audio or eliminate background noise. Then we’d add in all the graphics, which were pre-made, although we’d have to edit the titles, make sure all the names were spelled correctly, re-order the commercials, that kind of thing.

Saints Wrap-Up Show Touchdown

The Saints make another winning play.

By this point it would be about 6:30 or 7:00 and we had to do a pretty fast render, get it onto DVD and drive it over to the NBC station for almost immediate airing. Thankfully it was Sunday evening so we didn’t have to run into anyone on the road!

I gained a lot of experience with directing, planning and production. Doing the show forced me to become fast and efficient at my editing. Fortunately the edits were very obvious. I got to play around with L-cuts, which is where the image changes before or after the audio, and other video editing techniques. I had to make sure it was as perfect as I could get it before I took it to the station, because once it was there, it went on air and that was that.

We did of course encounter a host of problems that had to be solved in the moment during production. Batteries would die and so we’d only have one camera to work with. Sometimes mics were fuzzy and so we could only use one. There were times when we didn’t realize there was a mic issue until we got to the editing station where we’d have to clean up the audio, which gave us another hour of work to do. Occasionally production assistants couldn’t be there, which made it a fun challenge for me, watching two cameras and the talent at the same time, plus monitoring the audio, making notes on the tapes, etc.

Saints Wrap-Up Show Basketball

The Basketball team wasn't as good, but they were fun to watch.

Sometimes the shoot would run long which would eat into our edit session. Once someone forgot the plate for the tripod so we just had to balance the camera on it and hold it there for the duration! Now and then an interviewee would go long so we had to jig the segments around or remove commercials to make enough time. Rendering often brought up a wonderful plethora of problems, making for quite a few nail-biting finish lines.

I was definitely able to handle everything that came up. I didn’t always have the luxury of time to figure out the cause of a problem so I just had to run with it and keep everything rolling, getting it as good as I could. There was no time for perfectionism. Occasionally a show would air with a few blips in the audio or a repeated commercial, and I would feel a bit deflated about it, but most of the time I was happy with the result. And hey, there was always a next week.

A Bit About my Skills

I have worked in multiple aspects of production. I have a number of qualities, skills, and technical know-how which make me a increasingly valuable asset to your team.

As a major graphic designer working in multiple fields, such as web design, flash, print, product design, and most recently motion graphic design, in the US and in the UK, I have attuned to a broad and clear sense of what is good, and what makes great design.

Preparing one hundred and four 15 minute podcasts, streaming videos, and 26 hour long shows for DVD, I became excellent at understanding and applying video streaming technology.

On average, Americans have been classified as one of the hardest working peoples in the world. Many of the people I have worked with show extreme dedication and enthusiasm to their work, and tenacity for ushering a project through to completion. I understand and exemplify these qualities perfectly.  I begin with the goal in mind and I see creative and technical brilliance as a prerequisite to any completion.

This has culminated in my role as a freelance producer, where it has become my full-time role to influence, coordinate, galvanize, and develop the professionals and the work we do. I believe the leadership and skill I apply to my business has helped me to retain and enthuse some of the best professionals in the industry to work with me.

I’ve proven my talent with the aforementioned podcasts, as well as educational and promotional shorts for an online eyewear retailer, a fitness training DVD, local Austin service providers’ promoting their expertise with the Red One, among many other past, present, and future projects.

I am good at what I do, and believe that the quality of my work is very important. However, I believe that the thing that truly matters is the ability to enliven those around me to do better work themselves. And at that, I believe, I excel.

Composing and Editing

Editing for me is like composing to a prewritten melody. As a musician, I have had much opportunity to compare composition in music to editing for picture. As a composer, I must express what is in the music as meaningfully as I can. As an editor, I express the story as meaningfully as I can. This is the art and the craft, the most important aspect, which every editor strives to achieve. This is a striving that is worth achieving in and of itself.

The beauty of this striving can only be seen in true art, and as it is achieved, so it is appreciated. This is the uniqueness of the motion picture. That it is so widely appreciated, so widely accepted, so difficult to master, so easy to begin, and so beautiful that it moves more people to laughter, tears, and many other emotions, to realizations, and changes in thinking, than any other art form, save for the written word, has done consistently. And not even the written word can compare with the visceral impact of the mix of audio, video, and masterful storytelling.