Any business, large or small, can benefit from local internet marketing. But if there is one type of company that needs it the most, it is the service industry. These are companies who do their business not through walk-ins, but through appointments. These include many businesses such as dentists, chiropractors, lawyers and realtors.

A local internet marketing campaign is better than a phone book ad for several different reasons. With a phone book ad local marketers are limited in the information that you can give prospective customers. Even if a full page ad is paid for, only so much information will fit within that space. And much of that space is often taken up with logos or photographs. These might be eye-catching and will help secure phone calls, but they do not help build a relationship between the customer and the business. Space is not an issue online, so a company is able to include vital information, photographs, maps and build a relationship with the client before a phone call is made.

More and more individuals are doing searches online when they are looking for a new business rather than flipping through the phone book. While this does not mean that a company should ignore telephone book advertising completely, it does highlight the importance of developing a web presence. It will allow the company to advertise to more of the market, including the young and affluent that are more likely to search online.

Local marketing allows a relationship to be developed between the service provider and the client before the client even calls to make an appointment. By publishing articles on the webpage that give advice, the company becomes a trusted resource. A realtor may write about the local area which helps people who are relocating, or include a mortgage calculator that many potential home buyers would find useful. A lawyer might explain the state’s DUI laws and why a lawyer is necessary in these cases.

Specials can be offered and changed frequently on the internet. This saves businesses money because they don’t need to worry about printing costs or distribution costs. These coupons and special offers are targeted to the people who are looking for them. A coupon for a free consultation is one thing that can be offered. Tracking results from online ad campaigns is efficient and simple, especially with help from knowledgeable search engine optimization professionals that manage accounts and provide monthly reports.

Businesses in the service industry can survive without local internet marketing, but it is important that they learn to adapt to new technology and ways to advertise. If they do not, they are missing out on building relationships with prospective customers.

Are You a Victim of the Financial Services Industry?

Most buyers want to do business with people they can trust: Being trustworthy is key to successful selling. Yet, most salespeople who work in the field of Financial Services have been deliberately and calculatedly misled by their employer- usually a Brokerage Company or an Insurance Company. Is it any wonder that only 3 out of 20 people who enter the field survive?

You are a victim of the financial services industry, if you’ve been told that:

* Plenty of people are making a lot of money in the business.

Truth: About 15% are making a decent living selling financial services, the rest are struggling.

* Most people really need your products and services.

Truth: Most people may need your products or services, but most don’t want to buy them. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t teach you how to find the High Probability Prospects that do want to buy insurance now. Rather, they want most of their agents to beat the bushes for the low probability prospects – because they work on commission.

* You have to really want to help people in order to be successful.

Truth: Most people don’t want your help.

* You need to become very knowledgeable about the technical aspects of financial services.

Truth: It *is* helpful to understand financial services products. It is much more important, however, to become skilled at Prospecting (a form of Marketing) and Selling.

* It’s easier to learn how to sell than to learn financial planning.

Truth: The reverse is true. It’s easy to find highly competent financial planners who will work on your cases very inexpensively – because they don’t know how to sell.

Salespeople new to the Financial Services industry are usually victimized by some, or all, of these Myths. The result? They work hard, they work diligently – and they sell very little. The neophyte salesperson is blamed for not being persuasive enough, being too thin-skinned, being overly sensitive, or just being lazy.

How do the top salespeople in the Insurance and Brokerage industries survive? How do they succeed in earning six and seven-figure incomes, against the odds? The sales stars that we’ve studied know how to:

* Define target markets – those willing, and able, to buy from you

* Develop a viable prospecting list: A true prospect must meet defined criteria

* Maintain contact with prospects – without annoying them

* When to make appointments – and to avoid wasting time with ‘low probability’ prospects

* Make the ‘numbers game’ work to your advantage

* How to dramatically boost the probability of successfully closing a sale

When you stop being victimized by the Sales Myths perpetuated by your industry, and stop victimizing prospects by perpetuating those myths, you will enjoy real sales success. When you differentiate yourself from your competition, know how to open and maintain real dialogue with prospects, know how to develop mutual trust and respect, and focus your selling efforts only on viable (High Probability) prospects, you can enjoy considerable success. You don’t have to work harder; you have to more competently!

Video Production FAQS For Business and Industry and the Internet

Video production is an effective tool for producing more sales, training employees, and telling the world about products and services. Video presentations can be shown to large groups and be viewed privately by one person. Television is the number one source of information for most people in North American and Europe. Business and Industry has been using industrial films and videos for years. As production costs have dropped, video production has become even more widely used for small businesses. Small businesses can use video to improve their bottom line, but before launching a video production, a little knowledge will help in the overall process and help achieve an effective and useful video presentation.

Here are some frequently asked questions concerning business/industrial video production. Good luck on your video project.

Q. Can we use people from our own company in the video to save talent fees?

A. Talent fees are the key words, here. Generally professional actors are used for voice over and on-screen word. They do a great job. They learn their parts. They can cope with script changes and the many re-takes of scenes. Best of all, however, is that they come across well on the TV screen. In short they have talent. If you need to trim your budget, there are better ways. A good production company can work within most budgets without sacrificing the effectiveness of a production. Using non-professional talent is a risk.

Q. Can’t we have our people in the video at all?

A. Sure. Company people are excellent in video presentations. They are great to have interacting with each other and with clients. Company people can be videotaped for voice over commentary and short sound bites.

Q. Our head salesperson is used to giving presentations on our product all the time. He’s a natural. He’s friendly and people really like him and identify with him. Plus, he knows the product backwards and forwards. Shouldn’t he be the one talking about our product on our video?

A. Sometimes company people can do a good job, especially experts like yours, and we’ve used them in our video productions. One word of caution, however. We’ve seen video productions get shelved soon after they were produced because the spokesperson on the video decided to quit and go to work for the competition. You can’t have your spokesperson (especially, if they’re well-known) saying good things about your product if they are no longer part of your organization. The appearance is that they found a better product or a better company to work for. If companies continue using a video tape with a turn-coat expert, it appears that the video tape is marketing the competition’s product. That’s not good.

Q. How about having our CEO or one of our top managers appear on-camera? Is there anything they can do to come across as professional as possible?

A. Yes, CEOs and top managers are excellent choices for corporate videos. They should be prepared for the shoot with several choices of wardrobe. They should also have their lines memorized. They should review a list of tips and suggestions for looking good on-camera.

Q. Can we shoot our own footage and then have a professional video production company edit the footage?

A. Yes, especially if you have competent people in your organization. We recommend that you read the book, Producing a First-Class Video For Your Business – Work With Professionals or Do It Yourself before you attempt this, however. We’d be happy to consult with you and assist in your production in, anyway. Our book is available at many fine book stores across Canada and the United States. Especially if the book store has a Self-Counsel Press display. Check with your favorite library, as well.

Q. We have some existing footage of our product in the field. It looks really good. It’s on VHS format video tape. Can we use that in the production.

A. We pride ourselves on our ability to incorporate many different types of media into our production. VHS video footage, while it is the lowest resolution format, could be digitized and edited. Results vary. Production companies using digital non-linear formats, could probably handle your request very well, also.

Q. How disruptive is a video production?

A. Full-production, Hollywood-style crews can be disruptive, it’s true. We like to keep crews to a minimum. Sometimes we only use a one-person or two-person crew. This is not only less disruptive, but it also saves money. With new lower-light cameras, the need for the bright lights of Hollywood have gone a little by the wayside.

Q. How long does it take to produce a video?

A. In depends on the complexity, but generally about a month. Video production companies are used to working with deadlines. We’ve done many quick turn-around presentations. We burn the midnight oil for our clients. Visit the PNW Video Production site for a more detailed break down (week by week) of pre-production, production and post-production needs.

Q. What’s the most economical video to produce?

A. A voice/over type is the least expensive. A good, professional voice is essential for the voice over. The more expensive video type is interactive/acting on-camera. This type of production can sometimes double a budget, but produces very effective presentations.

Q. How do we find actors?

A. Most production companies know actors. We have a selection of professional and semi-professional actors to work with. Video tapes and audio tapes (or Reels) are commonly available for review.

Q. Should we ask for a sample tape to look at?

A. Sure. Professional video production companies should either have their own sales & marketing tape (they’re in the business!) or copies of productions that are similar to your project.

What we like to do is talk about the production and budget first. Then we show samples of productions within a selected budget. It doesn’t do our clients any good to show them a champagne budget video, if they’ll be working on a beer budget. The reverse is true, also.

Q. Professional video production companies would have to fly into our location. Wouldn’t it be cheaper for us to hire a local production company?

A. Sometimes. There are many good production companies throughout the world. Even in small communities. There’s a difference, however, in video production and business/industrial video production. There’s no magic in producing a good looking video. What’s more difficult is producing a video that sells a product, service, or viewpoint.

Q. What does a video cost?

A. There are many factors. The usual figure given in the industry is $1,000 to $1,500 hundred per finished minute for quality productions. Many Betacam-SP productions run about $3,000 per finished minute.

Q. We only have a small budget. Is there anything we can do to help cut costs?

A. Certainly. Please, tell the video production company up-front what kind of budget you have in mind. The production can be tailored for your needs and requirements. There are many ways to make video productions more economical. We’re experts in trimming costs.

Q. What video format are used in industrial/business video production?

A. It depends on the budget. There are a wide variety of video formats used by industrial video production companies. VHS is the lowest resolution. Betacam-SP is one of the highest. There are many formats in-between.

Sometimes we shoot on Betacam-SP, a high-resolution broadcast standard. Most often these days, however, video camcorders are recorded in digital format, so the information can be easily transferred to editing computers.

Q. Can you put our completed production on DVD, or CD-ROM for distribution and the internet?

A. We like to know exactly how you intend to use your production. But, no matter how you are distributing, we will use the best format for your video.

Q. What’s the first step? What do we do?

A. Take a few minutes to think about your project and your needs. To produce a video a good industrial video production company will need to know a few things about your company and the presentation.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. In what setting will the video be shown?

2. Who will be watching the video?

3. What is the purpose of the video?

4. What do you want people to do when they’re through viewing the video?

5. What do you want people to remember about the video?

6. How many poeple are going to view your video?

7. How are you going to distribute the video?

Write your information down and share it with other people in your company to get their responses.

Niche Markets in the Food Service Industry

You could pretty much sum up the restaurant scene in America in one sentence: Hamburgers are dead; and beef itself is losing some appeal. The kind of restaurant that is making a name for itself these days is the one that gets a cult following rather than marketing to a general broad appeal. Consider this as an open letter to the food service managers of America. For pity’s sake, do something different!

We might as well face it: only the young care about general appeal any more. A ten year old kid is the most conservative diner you could imagine. Take them to any restaurant offering a menu of wonders and delights, and they’ll head straight for the hot dog. No chili, no cheese, just ketchup, thank you. Pizza parlors are about as exciting as their culinary explorations get, but they’d better offer plain pepperoni or there’s going to be trouble.

But the grown-ups think in terms mostly of ethnic categories. And speaking of ethnicity, Mexican, Italian, and Chinese are fine… but isn’t it time that we acknowledged that there’s more than three countries that make food? Treat yourself to a Mediterranean restaurant some time and you’ll get a feel for what you’ve been missing. Falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, fresh wet green tea leaves, sweetening with honey instead of sugar, and ways to cook lamb you’ve never thought of. Pita bread baked fresh on the premises, so it shows up at your table in a puffed-up balloon and slowly deflates to the flat pancake shape.

America, the melting pot of international culture, and yet unless you’re in one of the five biggest cities you’re out of luck finding international foods outside of pizzas, and tacos. the bowl of chop suey if you’re lucky. South American cuisine that is farther south than Mexico is unheard of. An Argentinian or Brazilian restaurant perhaps? And when’s the last time you found a Russian deli outside of New York? America has made two gains in Russian cuisine – Pirozhki and Baklava, and Baklava is more Baltic than Russian. I bet if you’re a typical American, you’ve never seen Shashlyk. It’s a Russian-style shish-kebab usually made with marinated lamb and some favorably sweet grilled onions. How hard is that to make? To take another example, France gets praised for it’s wonderful cultural food, but by reputation only. Let’s see a few more French restaurants and perhaps we’ll get a chance to see what all the fuss is about.

America has a hard time dealing with it’s own native cultural diversity, it seems. You get cheese curds in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and in the rest of the States cheese is yellow and in the form of flat slices. Cajun cuisine got rave reviews on all of the cooking shows on Food network, but the craze seems to have come and gone without more than a few Cajun-themed restaurants popping up. Nobody east of Utah seems to have heard of a Denver omelet, nobody west of New England seems able to understand how to cook a lobster. I guess Indian cuisine within driving distance is a faint hope when you can’t even get all of America into one food court.

And as if the lack of international diversity and interstate diversity weren’t enough, it seems that even the methods of preparing food are stuck in a rut. Why must all chicken be breaded and deep-fat fried? Travel the planet if you have to, but find a place serving broasted chicken and grab a plate of that. There, now, wasn’t it nice to have chicken that isn’t drowning in grease for a change?

Consider the other food varieties largely missing from the American plate. Did you know pasta can be made from something besides wheat, bread can actually be something besides bleached and white, pickles aren’t always sliced and sour, and they’ve invented varieties of pepper which can be served whole besides the Jalepeno? That kielbasa sausage tastes just as good on a bun as a hot dog? That sweeteners can be based on something besides corn? That you can put condiments on a sandwich that aren’t yellow and red? That tortillas can be made from something besides bleached wheat flour? Listen, if only I never have to look at another “French fry” as long as I live, it will be too soon; enough with the damn deep-fried potatoes already!

American cuisine draws a heavy dose of criticism abroad, and for good reason. We simply do not offer substantial variety. The usually noble American ethic of being practical and down-to-Earth takes on an edge when you ask for something besides fried cow. What, are you some kind of elitist? Fried potatoes not good enough for you, you want fried mushrooms or zucchini instead, eh? Yeah, you must be an Imperialist to be making demands like that! No, actually, we’re not Imperialist, we just saw that food pyramid that the USDA put out and thought that it might make a good idea to support it.

Of course, the food industry feels a huge economic impact. Cost measures are everywhere; it’s difficult to get Americans to try something new, tough to find a supplier that offers a diverse stock who is also economical, and especially hard to hire trained staff that knows how to make dishes not usually found in the average homogenized restaurant. But with a small amount of effort, this can all be overcome. And the reward potential is outstanding. The restaurant business being competitive as it is, the one best way to draw a customer base is to offer something unique that you can’t get anywhere else.

Because you don’t want to be just another grill. You want to be that fantastic place that people drive miles out of the way to get to and tell all their friends about. You want to be the kind of place that serves the food people get an irresistible craving for. Irresistible cravings, after all, aren’t just a matter of taste – nutritionists have indicated that they’re your bodies way of telling you that you need certain nutrients that only the craved-for food can provide. But most of all, you want to be recognized as the food service manager with an edge, somebody who thinks out of the box and makes their business crazy successful by being better than all the others.