Businesses can spend $300 a month to have a coupon on the back of a grocery receipt. They can spend $2,000 on a newspaper or magazine ad. A successful broadcast campaign can run five figures. But when small business looks at marketing costs, they miss one very important factor. It's called shelf life. These are the folks who have not yet discovered the power of online video.

videos on website How many ways are there for a business to communicate, market and entice its prospects?
Basically, there are only three: Broadcast, Print, and Online. Each medium has its own advantages and limitations, whether intrinsically or monetarily.

Broadcast is radio and television. Companies buy advertisements.

Those ads take up a finite amount of time in the broadcast day. The more successful the station, or in many cases the time of day, the more expensive the ad.
• Nighttime radio in a small town can be had for a few dollars, while a 30 second spot on the NFL Championship game could cost upwards of a half million dollars.
• Many local broadcast stations produce their clients' spots for free. National campaigns can have a feature film budget.
• And in both radio and television, the clusters of spots have gotten longer. But the twelfth commercial in the set pays the same as the first.

For print, size matters.

• Full page, and 4 color display ads run into the thousands.
• But print can also cover the direct mail pieces, or the backs of grocery store receipts. Those vehicles tend to be more reasonable for small business depending on the length of the contract and the area of distribution.
• There is usually a setup fee for the printing.

Online banner ads and platforms such as Google AdWords have been around almost since day 1 of the internet.

• Advertisers pay each time the ad is clicked, or for a particular action (a lead or a conversion) and the rates fluctuate wildly.
• Production costs vary too, from graphic design for your banner ad to video production for "pre-roll" advertisements.

Here's what many companies miss: you also must determine the shelf life of an ad and figure that into the cost as well. For radio and television, when your 30 seconds is over, it's gone. For print, if the ad doesn't catch the eye, the page is turned; the coupon is thrown away; the envelope isn't opened and you've failed.

But what if there were a way to actually ATTRACT prospects to your message in a way that they found entertaining and informative no matter where they are or when they search? There is.

But it's not advertising, at least not in the traditional sense.

Folks who search you out are aching to have their questions answered. To find out what you do, and how well you do it.

The CONTENT you put in your online presence is accessible 24/7. It doesn't disappear like broadcast. It doesn't get tossed in the garbage like print. So its shelf life is as long as it needs to be. And that decreases the overall cost.

The companies who advertise on the backs of grocery store receipts, or in the neighborhood value magazines, or in the direct mail coupon packs are perfect clients for me, because I can do a better job of delivering their message at about the same price they are currently paying.

Yes, there are video production services out there charging $1,000 per finished minute.
In my world, that could be three months worth of compelling content videos.

Consider the message.
Consider the audience you're trying to reach.
Consider the shelf-life of the message.

One of my original clients just refreshed his video after seven years! It was working extremely well for him, but he wanted to use it on his mobile website, and the video was in Flash format, instead of MP4. This time we shot two specialized pieces and testimonials. His clients love his service, and now he's poised to grow the business even more.

DIY video can be alright, depending on where it is going to be used. If you've invested a thousand or more into your website, you probably don't want your brand to be represented there with an amateurish video.

Professional video can be added to your website or blog for just a few hundred dollars. If you're looking to build a content video library, regular monthly or semi-monthly shoots can lower that figure even more. It's an investment that will pay off. It's an investment you want to make in your business before the competition does.

-- that's a wrap.

Ron Harper is the founder of Videos On Your Website, a Cincinnati digital marketing firm specializing in video web content for businesses. Read more at "ON, the Videos On Your Website official blog"

Retaining Your Business Records

What Business Records Should You Keep and For How Long?

accounting recordsMost business owners know they should hold onto important documents related to their company’s finances. But have you ever wondered what documents you really need to keep and when it’s finally okay to throw them away?

The truth is, it really depends. It depends on the specific document and what you use it for. The IRS says that you should keep documents “that support an item of income, deduction or credit shown on your tax return until the period of limitations for that tax return runs out.” That means that any document that backs up the information you’ve included on your tax return should be kept through the “period of limitations” set by the IRS.

What’s the “period of limitations”?

The period of limitations is the timeframe you or the IRS can revisit a tax return you’ve filed. If you find that you left something beneficial off your taxes, you’re allowed to amend your return and claim a credit, as long as you do so within the period of limitations and have the proper documentation.

However, during this time, the IRS can also take a deeper look at your return and charge you for taxes you previously failed to pay. If you believe your return is correct, having the right records will prove you’re right. The IRS provides specific periods of limitations for different scenarios on their website.

Employment tax recordkeeping

You should keep records related to employment taxes for at least four years after your last quarter filing. Employment tax records should be comprehensive and include specific details about each employee, like their name, social security number, dates of employment and the wages and benefits they were paid. You should also hold onto copies of past returns you’ve filed and the tax documents your employees completed when they were hired.

Records concerning property

If your business owns any property or equipment, you should keep all relevant documents related to it until the period of limitation passes for the year you sell or dispose of the property. This is because your records support any depreciation, amortization or depletion deduction or the gain or loss you incur when selling the property. Again, the IRS website can help you determine the correct period of limitations for your situation.

Records that aren’t used for taxes

Even if records aren’t used for tax purposes, there still might be good reasons to hold onto them. For instance, an insurance company might request certain documents while preparing a policy quote for you. Also, your current lenders might want particular records to understand how their investment is doing and potential lenders could make a similar request before deciding to invest.

Use online document storage

Keeping documents stored and organized has long been a hassle for business owners. Paper tends to pile up and can quickly make your desk a cluttered mess. And some documents get lost, damaged or accidentally thrown away before they even make it into the pile. You can use a filing cabinet but even that takes up space and requires time to organize and later search through.

The good news is you can now store all your documents online in the cloud. Most services offer a variety of convenient ways to upload your records and it’s easy to find the document you need when the time comes. 

See Bookkeeping Express to learn more about this important subject. 


company logo

logo blog images 1Yes, it is important that your business is easy to find when one needs an accountant, landscaper or hair salon. For online purposes a solid SEO process helps. Ok, they found you. Now what? Will they click to your site? Call? Or just navigate to something else that may stand out a bit more or remind them more precisely what they are seeking?

A paragraph of well-written copy doesn’t stand a chance against the Nike swoosh or the golden arches. In this environment of instant answers people expect to find a target and respond on a dime. Well-designed logos can speak to the more impulsive nature of the “shopping” arena. Yet, it still is a process. A well designed logo begins the process of persuasion. Beyond that, why is a well designed logo important? …

It can allow your market to identify YOU in an instant…

This can be especially important with logos used in crowded fields; I.E. in traffic (car wraps, signage, billboards), grocery store shelves (packaging) and yes, online. Successful logos in these instances often look as if they were created effortlessly. It seems that many great things are like that. Yet, it IS far more difficult than it seems. That’s because it’s difficult to devise unique memorable images that are on target and boiled into its essence. This is one of the ultimate challenges of a serious logo designer. Wrap the sum of your companies’ parts into a simple shape or word. The challenge is capturing the feel, the philosophy, product, attitude…all in a shape and color. Possible? Yes, with the right designer and serious participation from the client. 

It can make your business more visible and memorable. 

logoMaking your brand more visible and memorable is not about who can shout the loudest or who wears the loudest tie. Obnoxious imagery is everywhere to the point it is actually becoming boring. Imagine you own an indoor racing and entertainment facility and you need to be seen and remembered. You need awareness that you exist and then to encourage trial. HOW? A great name is a good start. Invest the time necessary and research other entertainment options available in your area. BRAINSTORM! The initial stages of brainstorming should function like an idea net. Great ideas come from lots of ideas. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with a cliché. The hard part is boiling it all down. You’re attempting to find the equivalent of a needle in a haystack both in the name and the image. Scour the corners of the universe for that perfect moniker. Often the answer is right before your eyes. I once designed a logo for a cheesecake bakery. During our first meeting the client showed me a crayon drawing of a cupcake character made by the owner’s daughter. I felt that by making use of a drawing made by perhaps the most important human in her life as inspiration she’d be even more invested in the process and her company. It served as an intangible emotional connection. I’m not sure I can always explain why but that approach just felt right. Be ready to defy logic and trust instinct. Try to explain why Mona Lisa’s “smile” is sublime. That can often make all the difference. Great marketing is not always linear.

It can emphasize what is unique about your business and contrast you from competition. 

custom logoLet’s imagine you own a family butcher shop a few blocks from a Wholefoods. The Wholefoods brand is ubiquitous. Your brand’s market trajectory may go about as far as you can throw a small stone. How do you convince the neighborhood within which you operate to shop for meat, and only meat at your shop when one can take care of all their grocery needs at Wholefoods. Well, Wholefood’s logo is green, kind of friendly/organic. It’s credible as well. However, it is damn corporate looking to me. So, where is the opportunity to distinguish your brand from Wholefoods? Should you try to make your shop look more established, corporate , “credible”? NO!

custom logoConsider using the founder’s image as a central component of your logo. Emphasize the relationary advantage versus the almost faceless blanket of the Wholefoods brand. When one enters the small butcher shop its likely someone they grew up with will take the order. Honestly, I would almost try to “de-skill” the design a bit while still using solid design principles. Maybe it should seem as if the logo has been designed by someone’s grandpa in the tool shed. Have the sign painted old-school. Hell, use grandpa’s face on the logo. Will this put Wholefood’s out of business? No, but you’ve gone a long way in distinguishing yourself as a credible, family owned alternative with an authentic feel. I hate grocery shopping. I try to get in and get out. For my wife, it’s an experience. Some folks want shopping to be an experience. Make the experience “feel” a bit like being at Findlay Market without the drive.

It can lend credibility and trust to you and your brand. 

logoLets say you just hung your shingle out as a financial planner. You may be a recent MBA or just coming off a stint with a larger firm. Financial planners are nothing if not about trust, credibility, stability, consistency. While Ronald McDonald served McDonalds well, its likely he will not be a financial planner’s mascot. Designing an effective logo for a financial planner at first glance may seem like a mundane task for a creative graphic designer who’d like to make their bones working on more sexy projects. However, it is these kinds of projects that can present the most enticing challenge. Trust, credibility, stability and consistency seem to demand boring imagery. Really? So as a newbie how are you going to gain awareness with a vanilla logo in a field of well-established brands? You still need to set yourself apart while coming across as trustworthy etc. Your designer needs to go on a deeper dive using a more sophisticated blend of color, form, typography, emphasis and arrangement to allow for a credible image that evokes a response. Your designer needs to understand the magnitude of this challenge. Your designer needs to be well equipped to boil your personal philosophy into its formal essence. You need to project an image that distinguishes you from these old pillars yet still engender that sense of trust.

It can humanize your image in business that is reputedly technocratic.

custom logoApple computer is a perfect example. Often, part of a companies’ marketing effort requires educating our potential customers. This process includes dispelling inaccurate preconceived notions about your business.  Before desktop computers emerged many imagined those working in high tech were nerdy data geeks with little understanding of day to day “human” dilemmas. People believed that working with computers required in depth knowledge of highly technical processes. Apple computer’s logo was designed in part to dispel that largely inaccurate characterization. The apple logo; an apple with one human bite mark, conveyed a more organic humanized image immediately as if to say “we are capable of making your everyday life simpler, not more complex”. The human bite mark, while subtle, was key. It may seem like a stretch, and it is not an overt message but over time that image was underscored by Apple’s approach and philosophy about their computer products.

custom logoThey knew it was an marketing strategy that needed to be aligned with their business philosophy as a contrast to the more techno centric perception. Microsoft seemed to be left holding the bag in that regard. I will explain another time but this strategy is similar to the one utilized by BP in their effort to make their oil company be perceived as more “green”. You are free to decide for yourself if BP succeeded.

It can begin the process of persuasion (First impressions can mean more than you think)

custom logo designAnd persuasion is a process. Can a well designed logo make you hungry? I’m not sure exactly how but the Skyline Chili logo seems like a large fishing net to me; especially when I’m hungry. However, a good logo is about far more than a simple impulse. A great logo also begins the process of persuasion. Skyline’s logo is more about impulse persuasion. How about the persuasion required to purchase a car, or a house? What contemporary cultural images, colors and fonts can serve as the beginning of the persuasion process for the big ticket items? Either way, a great logo is part of your investment in the persuasion process as well as an integral part of any successful business strategy.

Brian Krueger
Sign Rehab
Be seen, be remembered, for the right reasons

marketing cincinnati

Everyone wants to hire the expert; We absorb their advice like a sponge. We watch experts build and design on HGTV and other channels. Yet I hear small business owners say NO - I am NOT telling my clients how I do things. Guess what -- people that want to do things themselves are NOT going to buy from you anyway.

So Why Bother?

research before purchasePeople Research. People want to know that they made a smart choice by hiring you. So give your customers the reassurance they want. Talk about the how and why in your selections. When is Product A the better choice? What are the risks of Option C? People are in general very savvy. They research, compare, study options... and judge if you, the small business owner, are the expert they are needing, or just another company.

Be their valuable resource.

Stay on top of business trends and communicate to your audience.
Offer insights into your methods and philosophy.
Focus on your industry, and communicate with blogs to your ideal customer.
Websites with expert advice perform so much better than simple websites that only list services or products. How well do you know your industry? Your business success challenge is to convince them that you are knowledgeable. Well researched information demonstrates that you are worthy of getting their opportunity.

So give away the store? Yes. It is to your advantage to have people read your website, even if they choose not to hire your business services. Google ranks websites (in part) on the time spent on a website. Researching your products and services online (by non-buyers) will increase your ranking, thus making your website easier to find online. Therefore causing a win-win situation!

Your Expert Advice Blog:

be the expert blog Write a blog every week! Pick a subject and tell some great advice. Pick a recent event and tell your story. Did you rescue a client from a bad situation? Write a blog about that! Yes, getting started with blogs can be a bit challenging. But this is a job where no experience is necessary. Creating great content takes practice. Start today knowing that your content will improve as your audience does, in time.

Every blog post you write and publish helps grow your business. Blogs build brand awareness and promote your expertise, products and services. 60% of businesses who blog acquire more customers, according to a HubSpot survey. In just a short time - your website will stand out as your business savvy, self confidence and blogs improve. Trust me, you will become a better writer, and a better speaker.

What makes a Good Blog?

  1. Come up with a theme, and a name for your blog. Write your bullet list, what's your blog going to discuss? If you were looking to give a speech you would prepare an outlineright? Do so here too. This is your discussion, be true to your voice.
  2. A blog keeps your business focused on your content marketing strategy. Create a schedule and stick to it to deliver informative purposeful content. A study by Hubspot showed that consistent blogging actually leads to higher subscriber growth rates. Over a two-month span, businesses that published blog entries more than once a week added subscribers over twice as fast as those companies that added content once a month.
  3. Determine who is your ideal customer. Understand your audience, and write to them! (The rest can listen in.) Understanding them may take research, but it is worth it.
  4. Explain the what and the why. Give away the store with great knowledge that will make your ideal customer want to come back for more.
  5. Promote your blog all over the Internet. Add your great blog to your website. Then distribute the blog on an emailed newsletter. Also post to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn! Get the word out.
  6. Close with an amazing call-to-action. With blogs this often means register their email online for newsletter feeds. Invite them to follow you on social media platforms. People are more likely to recommend companies they follow on social media. The CTA could also be inviting the audience to receive something free! Other options include requests to register for a class, buy a book, or take advantage of a coupon.

My Call To Action?

My personal blogs are about what I know best! Getting businesses found online.

I write to small businesses that are ready to take that next step from starting to growing... Writing a blog today, about writing a blog, was a special request from a follower on Facebook. (Hi John!) Many of the LDR Interactive custom websites include page after page of content that I have either written or rewritten for SEO benefit. I gave away the store. Then I told you why. Then I told you how.

Bottom line... Great blog content drives traffic. LDR Interactive has website clients in 31 states. Learn more about how we do this by becoming a blog fan of ours! Of course I read all comments, and even answer them! Thank you for reading this blog!

Read more blogs here today:

Better yet, Subscribe Online right now!

Your SEO Friend,
Beverly Richards
LDR Interactive Technologies

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