How to Produce a Superior Trade Show Video

A common misconception is that any video – whether it is a short corporate promo, an installation piece or a product knowledge clip shot on a smart phone – is perfect fodder for trade show viewing.

In reality, a properly produced trade show video is really its own animal and needs to be approached as such. Elements of existing videos can certainly be incorporated into a new trade show video production – but not relied upon to do the job by themselves. Here are 5 good rules to live by:


#1 Production Quality

In this day and age, any video should be in HD and crisply and professionally produced. (For tips on affordable, high-quality video production check out How to Concept and Executive Produce a Short, Effective Video Production.)

Since most trade show booth video monitors tend to be on the larger side (32” and up) this is particularly important. Due to the massive proliferation of hi-quality consumer HD video and audio equipment, audiences are getting more and more sophisticated. (A properly used smartphone can shoot damn fine HD video in the right lighting and conditions.) People are accustomed to viewing hi-quality video pretty much everywhere – your booth should be no exception.


#2 Length and Structure

Since trade show booth videos are typically played/repeated all day throughout the show, a 1-2 minute video generally doesn’t make sense – as it will pretty much drive everyone nuts in short order – show attendees and booth staff alike. Most attendees are at a show to learn more about a service or product and are willing to spend some time doing so.

Conversely, a 15 minute training video is much too long and detailed for trade show use. In our experience, 5 to7 minutes is the sweet spot for the majority of booth/product applications.

 

#3 Think Infomercial:

Much like trade show videos, infomercials are often repeated over and over so they are worth examining. Let’s briefly look at the structure of a typical infomercial. Usually an infomercial begins with an upbeat (or dramatic) “commercial” that hits all the key points of the product or service. Then it stretches out with more detailed information and demonstrations. Then the cycle repeats: commercial – detailed information, commercial – detailed information, etc. Maybe there are a few customer testimonials thrown in randomly as well.

The point here is that the style and pace of infomercials changes up frequently – instead of repeating one video segment over and over until it becomes a droning buzz in the background that people tune out…or turn off.

An Example:

Let’s say you sell racing go-karts and want to produce a trade show video. A basic format would be as follows:

  • The first minute or two can be a voiced-over “commercial” – that quickly focuses on the company and models of go-karts provided
  • Cut to a minute or two of racing shots of the go-karts set to music – with no narration or voice over – just music
  • Have the voice over return and cover go-kart features and benefits. Then cut to a customer testimonial or two
  • Repeat more go-karts in action set to music

You get the idea. The main point is to change up the style and pace to better hold viewer interest. Of course, in the “music video” portions you can also fly-in copy points or logos as needed to help reinforce your message or brand.


#4 Voice Over and Music

Trade shows can often be very noisy environments, and narration from video playback in a booth can add to uncomfortable noise levels and/or not be heard properly.

If trade shows or conferences where you exhibit tend to get really loud, you may want to consider ditching the voice over format in favor of a music video format where footage, text and graphics are cut to an instrumental music track appropriate to your industry and company.

The challenge when taking the music video route is communicating your message, business philosophy or brand with on-screen text and graphics. The up-side is that if you do it right and your visual content and text points are solid, a music video is a powerful and effective way to communicate – even without the benefit of a voice over.

Conversely, if your booth is large and perhaps has a separate conference area for meetings with interested attendees, a video with a voice over is preferred as it is a more “formal” sales setting. In a perfect scenario, your prospect would have been drawn in by the informative and fast moving music video playing at the front of the booth!


#5 The “No Sound” Test

One more tip and we are wrapped-up. A good test for almost any trade show video is as follows: turn the sound all the way down and watch the video. Does it still communicate effectively, a little bit or at all? If it still communicates clearly without sound, it’s a winner. Hands down.

So how do you present your finished trade show video? Check out How to Effectively Deploy Your Finished Video Production, where we touch upon the best practices and hardware for playing a video in a trade show booth or environment.

If you are looking for “winning” trade show videos, Total Spectrum is your production company. We have the in-house staff, equipment and experience to make it happen in time for your next trade show. Contact us at 714.637.3600 and speak to one of our experts today.

De-mystified: What to Expect When Making a Professionally Produced Corporate Video

Short videos for websites, tradeshows, eBlast campaigns, social media and other delivery platforms are becoming larger portions of the marketing pie – exponentially, in some industries. So this article isn’t about the need for video – or how to do it yourself on your smartphone or GoPro.

Instead, we are going to cover the professional video production process from nose to tail – so when you do decide to produce a high-quality custom video you will know exactly how to proceed and what to expect.

Where do you begin?

This is often the biggest stumbling block and it’s the first step. It’s what seems to mystify the most. So where to begin? The first step before approaching a production company or agency for a proposal is to determine how long a video you need, and the range of your budget. Attention spans are getting shorter, so brevity is paramount. A good target length is two minutes – three minutes on the outside. 90 seconds would be even better.

If it’s a complicated subject, think of producing multiple short video “modules” instead of a 15-minute snooze-fest. Recent studies have shown that the most effective length for videos on platforms like Facebook and Instagram is from 6 to 30 seconds! That’s not a typo…6 seconds!

What do you like?

Next, find and bookmark a few videos on YouTube or Vimeo that you like or would like to emulate. They don’t even have to be related to your industry. Then write up a detailed outline of what topics you would like to cover – keeping in mind more than 3-5 major topics or points in a short video becomes an unwieldy mess.

A simple breakdown or outline of a video could look like this:

  • Logo or title sequence with music swell (5-10 seconds)
  • Introduction to the company, service or product (15-30 seconds)
  • Key Point #1 (20-30 seconds)
  • Key Point #2 (20-30 seconds)
  • Key Point #3 (20-30 seconds)
  • Summary or Call to Action (30 seconds)
  • Final screen: web URL / Phone #, etc. (10 seconds)

As far as total running time is concerned, research has shown that for marketing videos you are generally better off shooting for the shorter end of the spectrum.

What does it cost?

As far as budgets are concerned, prices from production companies vary wildly but plan on spending at least $3,000 to $5,000 for a broadcast-quality finished product in HD or $4K with a moderate amount of bells and whistles. Three finished minutes of custom video for $5,000 is a good rule of thumb – depending on location, crew needs and the number of shoot days.

We realize that’s a healthy chunk of change. That’s because when all is said and done – from scripting to delivery of the final video – there are at least a few dozen hours of time invested – and significant outside costs for voice over professionals, music licensing and possibly other special services.

The value? Not only will a professionally produced video best represent your brand, but a strategically conceived video production can be deployed /repurposed on a variety of platforms, including websites, tradeshows, sales presentations/meetings YouTube, social media, eBlast campaigns and more.

How does the production process work?

The next big question to de-mystify. Let’s break it down into three key areas:

The Script

Generally, the video production people will take the outline you provided and flesh it out into a script for the voice over or on-camera talent. The script will most likely go back and forth a couple of times for approvals, revisions or tweaks. From there the script gets recorded by a professional narrator or on-camera host.

Note: It’s very important to really nail down the exact script verbiage because it gets expensive to make changes after everything has been recorded and edited. Trust us on this; it’s pure experience and wisdom.

The Shoot

Unless it is a complete 2D or 3D graphics production, there needs to be “video for the video”. Most short marketing or company overview videos are shot on location over the course of 1-2 days at a corporate office, plant, construction site or wherever the desired activity is taking place. It’s always good to get a few shots of every job or process for plenty of variety. Wide, establishing shots of the offices, lobbies or facilities are always a must.

A super-effective and flexible video production tool is green screen technology – where you can have the host of a video appear in multiple locations without the need for travel. With modern keying technology, equipment and techniques it can look very crisp and realistic, and can add another dimension to your project.

The Editing

So you have your script written, your narration recorded and your raw footage in the can…it’s editing time, people! There are two approaches: Let the video editor take all the assets and come up with a first cut for your review and revision, or sit with him or her the whole time.

Unless it is very technical subject matter, I strongly discourage the latter approach as it invariably takes way more time and having someone sit there often drives the editor nuts. Just the way it is. Some editors may want you to hold their hand the whole time, but that’s not who you need. A professional should drive the process at this point – with input from the producer as needed. Like the script, there will be a couple of rounds of back and forth, and then it’s a done deal!

How long will it take?

Video production time frames vary depending on scheduling, availability, script and video draft approvals and a number of other variables – some often unseen. That said, in a reasonable world the whole process should take about a month. Basically, a week each for scripting, shooting, editing and revisions/approval is a good rule of thumb. However, sometimes scripts or video draft approvals get hung up in corporate, legal or both for weeks at a time.

Naturally, time frames can be compressed – but that can often result in higher fees. Plan on a month or so for the process to unfold (if you can) and help keep everyone involved sane.

What formats are best for the final video?

Finished videos should be delivered in a few different formats. First and foremost, a full-resolution HD mp4 file that can be used for both uploads to YouTube and played from a computer or USB drive connected to a large screen TV; an HD Windows Media version for older PC media players that don’t play mp4s and a physical DVD – either standard or Blu-Ray. 

Of course, every project is different, but these basics apply to the vast majority of short video productions. If you need a proposal for a project or want more information about any type of video production, contact Total Spectrum at 714.637.3600 and ask for Mark. (He is hell on wheels when he is half-drunk at the editing bay.)

Grab a 6 Pack Of Cool YouTube Tricks

It’s probably safe to say that we ALL use YouTube – both professionally and personally – at home and in business. Next to Google (who owns it), YouTube boasts the second largest search engine in the world. Since it’s an important “go to” source for information, we have compiled some useful hacks and tips that are guaranteed to please.

#1 Feel the Need for Speed?

Have you ever watched a YouTube sports or action video and something cool goes by really fast? Here’s how to slow it down and check out what really went down:

First, on any video, click the gear icon in the lower-right corner of the video player. Then click the drop-down box next to “Speed.” You can lower the video speed down to 3/4, 1/2 or 1/4 of the normal playback speed. Conversely, you can speed the video up by a quarter, half or double. Speeding up a video is a great way to condense a long training video or an archived webinar. (For high-energy CEO types, this feature is a godsend.)

#2 Get Into the Loop

Let’s say you are at a trade show, conference, lunch and learn, etc., and want to have a YouTube video repeat or “loop” on your computer, laptop or tablet.

It’s actually quite easy. Just add the word “repeater” after the words “YouTube” in the URL. This will then open the video at YouTubeRepeater.com, which loops the videos for you. For example, just change the URL www.youtube.com/watch?v=tidTE8oEM6w to www.youtuberepeater.com/watch?v=tidTE8oEM6w to loop it.

#3 Timing is Everything

Here is one of our favorites: let’s say you found a YouTube video of a 15-minute comedy routine that you want to share – but it doesn’t really get funny until about halfway in. And you don’t want to bore people with the first part.

Just cue up the video to the start of the section you want to share. Then right-click the video and select “Get video URL at current time.” Copy the link that appears and paste it into an email or on Facebook, or whatever platform you are using. When someone clicks on the link, the video will start at the exact spot you specified.

Pro Tip: Copying the link using the CTRL+C command doesn’t always work. If you test the link and it doesn’t start the video at the right time, try this instead: Right-click the video and select “Get video URL at current time.” Then right-click on the link and select “Copy.” Finally, paste the link and it should work.

#4 Clean Up the Stream

YouTube is generally “smart” when it comes to automatically selecting video quality settings. It adjusts the bit rate based on your internet connection speed to minimize buffering (i.e. waiting around for the video to load).

That said, if you have an unstable Internet connection that speeds up and slows down, it can throw YouTube for a loop. When your connection speeds up, YouTube will try to push to a higher video quality setting – and then you’re stuck buffering when the connection slows down again.

The Solution: Click the gear icon in the lower-right corner of the video player and look at the number next to “Quality.” Try dropping it down one setting and see if that stabilizes the stream – if it’s 1080p, switch it to 720p. If you’re still having trouble, drop it down another level until the buffering stops.

This feature can also be used to “force” YouTube to a higher quality setting. You’ll be waiting longer for the video to start playing, but it will play at the higher quality once it has buffered.

#5 Annotations, Be Gone!

Everybody’s pet peeve: those little clickable messages that pop-up over the video blocking what you want to watch! Most YouTube producers and creators use these pop-ups sparingly – but some go overboard where it almost compromises or ruins the video.

To turn these messages off, click the gear icon at the lower right of the video player, and next to “Annotations” click “Off.” However, they will only go away for that current video.

To turn off annotations across the entire site by default, click your profile icon in the upper right corner of YouTube. Then click the gear icon to visit your YouTube settings. In the left column, select “Playback and performance” and under “Annotations and in-video notifications” uncheck “Show annotations …” Then click the “Save” button. It’s easy-peasy, folks.

#6 Download that Video

Sometimes it’s nice or more convenient to download a video for offline viewing. There are several ways to do it from YouTube, here are a few:

Before the “youtube.com” in the video URL, type either pwn or kick to jump to services that will let you download those videos in a variety of formats. For example, this URL: youtube.com/watch?v=tidTE8oEM6w can be downloaded by changing the URL like either of the following:

Pwnyoutube.com/watch?v=tidTE8oEM6w

Kickyoutube.com/watch?v=tidTE8oEM6w

Or, there are programs like Freemake Video Downloader, where you simply copy and paste the desired YouTube video URL into the app’s dialog box, select your quality setting and format, and hit the download button. Keep in mind, there could be copyright violation issues if you repurpose or repost downloaded YouTube videos. Personal viewing offline is always fine.

That’s it for now. We hope this “6 Pack” of tricks and hacks will enhance your YouTube viewing and overall user experience. If you would like to learn more about how YouTube can be integrated with your marketing or PR efforts – or if you need a YouTube video produced – message us or call us at 714.637.3600 and we can guide you through the process.

Haunted Happenings in Southern California

Southern California boasts plenty of frights, scares, and haunts to choose from. Check out these famous attractions in the area if you dare:

 

The 17th Floor Haunted Experience: The madness at Perpetuum Penitentiary continues.
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The Fleshyard: Walk through an old, run-down cabin maze in Horrorworld –where only the most depraved souls reside.
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Haunted Orange County: A collection of history and true ghost stories from some of Orange County’s most haunted grounds.
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The Gershon Dungeon: Every year around Halloween spirits and ghosts can be heard coming from the dungeon beneath the earth.
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Dark Harbor: Named as one of the most haunted places, the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor is Southern CA’s most terrifyingly authentic haunt.
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Knott’s Scary Farm: The largest and most haunting Halloween experience in Southern CA with 1,000+ beings lurking in the mist and unique haunted mazes.
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Sinister Pointe’s Scary Place: With 3 heart pounding attraction, scream zones and stage shows it’s a truly sinister place.
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Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios: Your worst fears are brought to life from some of the most iconic creatures in Hollywood.
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Warner Brothers Studio Tour Hollywood:
Nightmares await you in the iconic back lot where famous evil characters lurk.
Learn More>

 

Mickey’s Halloween Party: See appearances from rare characters that appear in the night along with a fright-filled, fun parade and trick-or-treating.
Learn More>

5 B2B Hot Trends

Whether you’re a small or large business, a start-up or a major corporation, we understand B2B marketing strategies constantly evolve. To withstand the ever-changing market, we’ve compiled a list to ensure you always stay on trend with the latest and greatest B2B marketing.

 

#1 Your social audience is out there. Engage it.   

Sometimes we forget that businesses are composed of people that use all the same apps, social media platforms as everyone else – and are subject to all the same human instincts as B2C customers. In other words, successful B2B marketers must have a well-developed social marketing program as a part of their mix.

Now before you fire up the dormant Facebook account and start wildly posting to make up for lost time, keep in mind that LinkedIn is the social media platform of choice for 92% of the B2B action. (According to Content Marketing Institute). Get your company LinkedIn page tuned-up and squared away before worrying about Facebook, Twitter and others.

One more thing: your employees can be your strongest potential advocates. A recent study showed brand messages had 561% higher reach when employees shared them. (No, 561% is not a typo) It’s good to encourage employees to share posts when appropriate, but from an HR standpoint, don’t make it mandatory.

 

#2 Rely More on Video (or REALLY miss out big)

In today’s environment, it can be argued that video could be the biggest way to engage B2B audiences online. Consider this: Analysts predict video will represent 82% of ALL consumer Web traffic by 2021. Also keep in mind that as of this writing, there are roughly 576,000 hours of video uploaded to YouTube each and every day.

That said, some will argue that B2B marketing is all about lead generation, performance and metrics – not high-concept, hard-to-quantify artsy stuff. But it’s not just a numbers game, and video is vital to the marketing funnel when used to drive brand awareness, generate interest and emotion – while building strong client connections.

Tips on Video Content: Educate, Don’t Dazzle
While we’re on the subject of video, the HubSpot “State of Video Marketing in 2018” survey found that 81% of businesses use “video content” as part of their marketing strategy. Of those who don’t, 65% say they plan to use it this year. And since 74% of business people say they’ve made a purchase after watching another company’s video, it’s pretty much the proverbial no-brainer.

So what kind of “video content” are we talking about? You don’t want to hammer them with traditional marketing/sales videos. The key to B2B video content is information and education – not slick sales pieces. It can come in the form of pro-tips or “hacks“, explainer videos, webinars, behind-the-scenes process or manufacturing footage, industry trends, safety tips and more.

 

#3 Personalize It

Since it’s a whole new B2B world, today’s consumers expect a lot from “their” brands in terms of interaction. They want to know that when they engage with a business, there are humans involved on the other end. A B2B relationship should be exactly the same.

So, don’t worry about how to engage a business; focus on engaging with people. How do you do it? The answer to that key question is, drum roll… authentically!

The idea is to tell stories, respond and engage. Make it a point to use natural language and strive for meaningful, organic interactions. Instead of relying on generic, highly-circulated content, customize your messages to individuals instead.

Personalized email campaigns are rising trends that take this approach… and the stats don’t lie:

  • Emails with personalized subject lines are 29.3% more likely to be opened
  • Emails with personalized messages have a 29.95% open rate and a 5.03% click-through rate
  • Segmented campaigns lead to a 760% increase in revenue

Those are some eye-popping numbers.

Important point: when composing emails for business leads, do not use the same message to each lead. If available, include the name of a person you’re reaching out to – and think of something relatable to refer to in your message. (Easier said than done, right?)

If you just don’t have the time or creative writing fortitude, you can utilize readily available email automation and scripting technology that can help get it done. Trust us, it’s worth it.

 

#4 Let Customers Do the Talking
Deploying solid, concise and clear customer testimonials is one of the toughest marketing techniques to beat. But keep in mind, B2B testimonial marketing is different than what you may know from the B2C world.

Real customers are a must. The days of celebrity testimonials are pretty much over – unless you’re William Shatner. Today’s users are looking for reliable, authoritative, research-backed evidence of why they should choose your product or service – and they want to hear directly from people who they already trust. So get the people to speak. Preferably on video!

Along those lines, there is an emerging trend that you may not have yet considered – podcast partnering:

 

#5 The Podcast Piggyback

According to a Podcast Consumer report by Edison Research, the percentage of people listening to podcasts week to week and month to month is rising significantly. While podcast marketing is certainly not new, there is still a lot of room for growth – and it’s growing. Based on compiled data and research to date, Bridge Ratings estimates ad spending to hit over $500 million by 2020.

Generally, when someone follows a podcast, they usually follow it for weeks and months at a time – as the series plays out. (Like the radio serial dramas of old) During this entire time, the podcaster is educating their listeners on specific topics, forming relationships – and building trust. Even in the podcast world, people buy from those they trust.

For more information about these techniques and how to implement them, just send us a message or call 714.637.3600. Let’s talk B2B soon.

How to produce an effective video …without footage

Posted by Mark on June 29, 2017

Chances are you are reading this article because of its contradictory title. Maybe you are thinking “no way, this is pure clickbait. How can a video be produced without footage?” You may be thinking “Its animation!” Nope. Animation is a really expensive option, even in 2D. And 3D animation can quickly decimate the heartiest of budgets.

So I will take the concept one step further: How about producing an effective 2-3 minute product, company profile or training video without footage – on a reasonable budget. By reasonable I mean somewhere in the 3.5K to 5K range – which isn’t peanuts, but since the video can be utilized over multiple platforms such as website, blog, eblasts, YouTube channel, trade show booth and more the value is tremendous.

First, the Perfect Scenario

I write this all with a bit of trepidation, because creating a video without footage – but instead with a “Toolkit” of assets and sources I will get into shortly – is not the preferred way to go. In fact, it can be quite a pain and strain on the brain. So humor me and let me describe an ideal situation for producing a video. Or skip down to the chase…your call.

Let’s say we are producing a trade show loop for a company that manufactures “X” brand of car accessories. They have a lot of state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and processes they want to showcase in the video. My dream scenario:

  • The manufacturing facility is clean, well-lit and up to all codes and standards
  • The workforce is reasonably diverse and wearing fresh clothes or uniforms
  • It’s a sunny day outside – with the sun in the right position to facilitate a nice exterior shot of the building
  • The various machines and processes are humming along nicely for as long I need to shoot video of them
  • Finished product is shipping out the back door – always nice to shoot
  • I get finished early, beat traffic and start happy hour at 4pm sharp
  • The client provides hi-resolution, professionally-shot application photos to incorporate in the final video – as well as hi-res version of their company logo.

The Reality

To put in poker terms, if all the above elements fall into place it’s pretty much at least a Straight Flush – possibly a Royal Flush.

But as in poker, hands like that in the video production business are few and far between. The reality is that sometimes as far as assets and video resources are concerned you end up with two Jokers, along with a 3, 7 and maybe a Jack. Usually it’s somewhere between those two extremes.

This could be for a number of reasons – some possibly beyond anyone’s control. Perhaps the client’s product or service is more conceptual and isn’t something that can be shot with a video camera. Maybe the product is made overseas. Maybe they are a young company and their only application photos were quick smartphone shots done by sales people in the field that are photography challenged…even with smartphones. Maybe the manufacturing process is messy/dirty and doesn’t lend itself to impressive video.

For these reasons and others I have been called upon numerous times throughout the course of my 30 year career to PRODUCE EFFECTIVE VIDEOS WITHOUT FOOTAGE.

Here are my secrets. Let’s assume the client has given me very few assets to work with. Close to Zero.

The “No Footage” Video Tool Kit

Script

Here is how it works. Every video needs a script. The first step is to obtain the necessary information about the product or service and develop a script for the video that will eventually be narrated. In most cases I glean the info I need from company brochures and websites.

Should you write the video script yourself? Maybe, but probably not. You are better off coming up with an outline and letting someone like me write it. Or a freelance writer. Use the power of Google, for Pete’s Sake!

Professional Narration

For the video voice over, you need to hire a seasoned pro. Since we are essentially “creatively winging” the footage aspect of the production, there is no excuse for the voice over to be anything less than stellar. Don’t even think about narrating the script yourself in the bathroom into the audio app in your smartphone and sending it to the video editor. (He or she will hate you.)

Animated Video Backgrounds

High-quality animated video backgrounds used behind onscreen text and images add visual interest and can be acquired at low cost from numerous places on the web. Some are even free. A trick of mine is to convert a color animated background to black and white in post-production, add a bit of blur if appropriate, and then apply the company’s corporate color to the animated background. Voila – I have essentially created a custom animated background to use in the video as needed.

Titles & Text

For the best communication, the appropriate amount of well-placed titles and on-screen text are crucial in any video. Again, to increase visual interest, it’s usually good to add some subtle motion and or fades to the text – or have text bullet points progressively appear.

Think of producing this type of video as a layering process. You start with your voice over as your foundation. The next layers are the animated background, then text layers, and finally other images and graphics as needed. It’s kind of like a pizza.

Foraged Client Assets

In my world, any graphics, photos, charts or video clips I can lift from a client’s website or company literature are fair game. If it’s there, I will find it and use it. If the resolution isn’t HD, I can place it in a frame as an inset over the animated background with a bit of descriptive text off to the side.

Here are a couple short clips that illustrate how the elements we have discussed so far come together. (The door graphic in the video was pulled from the client’s website and modified for use in this video.)

Stock Photography – ala Ken Burns

The availability of high resolution, affordable stock photography has exploded over the last several years. There are hundreds of millions of quality images available. I am consistently amazed at what I find that works perfectly for our clients’ videos.

Stock photos can be used as insets, with text or bullet points off to one side or below – similar to a PowerPoint look, but with motion elements discussed earlier. Stock photos can also be full screen with pans, zooms, or motion effects applied – a style popularized by famed PBS documentary director Ken Burns. If it works for Ken, it will work for any production.

Once I was tasked to produce a “high energy music video” to introduce a line of door locks and handles. Since the product was new, there were no installations, so there were no application shots. All I had were glamour shots of the hardware. Great.

The solution: I incorporated numerous background shots of the types of buildings and offices the hardware would be soon installed in. Done deal. You can check out a sample of it here:

Stock Video Footage

OK, I fibbed a little. Some “no footage” videos do have a bit of video footage. Like stock photography, stock video footage services have really come a long way, so I use a clip or two here and there if appropriate. You can run into some cost issues, because it can get expensive. One stock video clip generally costs as much as 4-5 stock photos. If it’s a shot of a building, a mountain or scenery you are better off using a still shot and adding a bit of motion in post-production.

Here is a video sample that combines stock footage, stock photography, on-screen text and product shots:

For the record, on a few occasions where cost was not an object, I have produced entire videos from stock video footage:

“Poor Mans” 2D Animation

This technique combines graphic arts, Photoshop skills and video editing knowledge – the trifecta. I’m not a graphics guy, but I’m solid in Photoshop and a black belt in Adobe Premiere video editing software. So, for me this technique is usually a team effort.

Basically, multiple Photoshop layers are manipulated in the video editing software with various effects to create a simple “animation” of a process or concept. It’s way more cost-effective than a standard frame by frame animation, and can be done fairly quickly.

The Infographic

The infographic is an art form into itself that combines graphic, text and 2D animated elements to effectively tell a story. The Wikipedia definition spells it out perfectly: “Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends.”

Infographic videos are excellent platforms to demonstrate information flows, data, concepts and other ideas that would be extremely challenging or downright impossible to shoot on video.

The Creative Factor

These various hacks and techniques to produce videos or parts of longer videos with little or no footage are proven, and have always pulled me through. That said, it’s a process that requires a LOT of thinking outside the box and improvising. It tests creativity and patience to the limit. There are often seriously high levels of frustration. In other words, don’t try this at home, it will drive you nuts, to drink or both.

Call me at Total Spectrum instead. I or one of my protégés can hopefully convince you to work toward the “Perfect Scenario” video described earlier. But if not, we’ll figure out a way to make you a great video with whatever you have or can provide. It’s just how we roll.


Mark Terpening is a seasoned copywriter, videographer, video editor and reluctant IT specialist for Total Spectrum Advertising. He is also a practitioner of other Strange and Unusual Arts too numerous to mention here.

What’s Trending in Marketing Photography for 2017

Posted by Tammy on June 15, 2017

So you’ve got an ad, flier, or social media post deadline coming up, and you’re looking for that killer image to call out to your audience. But what does that look like? It’s a question that many marketers like you have asked. And from “the chosen,” trends emerge to help us stay current.

So to help you with what’s hot right now, lets take a quick look back at what was Hot in 2016, and what is Hot in 2017.

FIRST, A LOOK BACK AT 2016.

In 2016, we saw a huge emphasis on people connecting with community, and genuine moments. Posed studio photos that screamed of “stock photo” were already long gone. People had gotten so good at tuning them out they became white noise. So what were the stand outs that embodied the opposite of staged and fake? We saw a few ways it manifested in photography: the return of flash photography, the return of film, body art and neon haze.

Flash photography, easily identified by its bright light, hot spots and harsh shadows, also brings that quality of “in the moment.” It feels authentic, even when it’s completely staged because it gives the impression that there wasn’t time to stage it.

Film, identified by its analog and grainy quality, saw a resurgence. With so many instagram filters being used for everyday photos, the audience cast a vote for enhanced reality. Photographers were called back to the traditional media of film to provide a truly authentic version of the “filtered” digital images.

Body art made its way into mainstream in a big way. Tattoos were flaunted instead of covered up, and reflected the growing acceptance of body art in society. While not seen much in photos in the corporate world, they still made their way into many other ad media.

Neon Haze was everywhere. This technique of turning sharp colorful photos of the here and now into neon versions reminiscent of decades old polaroids became prevalent. Its appeal can probably be attributed to Instagram’s influence, but its popularity may be because it functioned so well on websites. These images were bright and colorful and, at the same time, websites could take advantage of these photo’s low contrast to easily place legible type on top of them.

THAT BRINGS US TO 2017.

So now that we’re smack dab in the middle of 2017, let’s take a look at what trends persist, and what has taken their place. After all, while trends never last forever, some have a knack for sticking around.

In 2017, we are still riding the wave of authenticity. Which is no surprise. Millennials are currently the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, as well as in America in general, so the topics that speak to them are going to influence the language marketers need to use today.

Body art is going strong. Bold expressions of individuality… right-on. It’ll be interesting to see if body art  starts making its way into photos in a corporate setting. But at this point, everyday people in everyday activities are fair game.

Newer Tech is popping up in images. Laptops are still ok, but tablets and smart phones are where it’s at. Remember when I mentioned Millennials as the biggest group of people looking at your marketing efforts? They conduct business on laptops, but they also conduct business on their smartphones, and I don’t mean phone calls. Photos that mirror their lives resonate with them, and make you look like you are up with the times.

Real world places become the setting for convincing authenticity. Whether in a built environment like a restaurant, bar or home, or against a natural backdrop of forests, gardens or beaches, real is in. You’ll also notice the people in these photos behave naturally and appropriately for their setting.

Alternative Points of View (POV). We are already seeing more birds-eye views thanks to drones. But we’re also seeing more first person POV images—walking in on a surprise birthday party; mountain biking on a wooded trail; holding hands with the love of one’s life in a romantic setting. With the rise of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), we’ll continue to see more of these alternative POV shots to mirror advances in technology.

Social commentary is also trending this year. This is where you’ll see a range from subtle to extremely bold. Brands are taking a risk in revealing where they stand on social issues because their customers, especially Millennials, care about where you stand. Whether it’s a message of tolerance, diversity, or breaking away from traditional roles, a surge of socially charged topics are making their way into the images we see on all channels.

We’re not even half way through 2017. There’s still half a year to witness new shifts… and I’ll be watching.

While this list is nowhere near comprehensive, these are areas I’ve been following. If you are interested in a more comprehensive trend report, large stock photo houses like Getty and Stocksy usually prepare yearly trend forecast reports based on their search data.


Tammy Deng is an Art Director at Total Spectrum Advertising – and an ace photographer to boot. She is also a skilled client mind reader who has a habit of nailing concepts and ideas the first time and then knocking them out of the park.

How do you explain marketing automation?

You don’t – you demonstrate it!

Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that marketing has its advantages. Implemented properly, a solid marketing automation campaign can be executed with precision, speak directly to your audience at just the right time in the buying decision process, and yield incredible results.

The Devil is in the Details

The challenge, of course, is to start with a solid strategy. Assuming that the strategy has been properly identified and articulated (a necessary assumption since the topic of this article is implementation and not strategy), the “marketing” piece is automated, right? I mean, it’s in the name.

Not so fast. Marketing automation requires meticulous front-end planning. With careful orchestration of your marketing communication components and messaging, as well as accurate sequencing of workflows, you can sit back and – push the button. It’s “automatic”.

Can’t Picture it?

Think about how exciting it would be to have a product that handled the front and back-end deployment of marketing automation powered by a team of experts to help plan and execute your campaign. You’d want to tell the world, or at least a few of your closest friends. But how to explain a relatively complex product capability? Put it into action!

That’s exactly what we did. At Total Spectrum, we developed an interactive demo targeted to an audience that we anticipated would be receptive to the idea of a new kind of marketing automation product + service. Because although the software can perform its’ function, if you don’t have the right thinking behind your communication, your efforts will be wasted.

Take It For A Test Drive

An interactive demo allows the audience to participate in an engaging “test drive” to experience, first-hand, how the product works. Based upon self-identifying with a set of criteria, the prospect is sent a series of emails that tailors the message to his/her specific interests. This is the core tenet of any successful digital campaign.

Gone are the days when a “passive” visual will attract attention and elicit a response. There’s too much competition for attention. See how the power of interactivity transforms a static communication into an interactive, immersive journey that communicates the power and possibilities of marketing automation.

Click Here To Go For A Spin

Web Analytics Basics (Or, Google and Everyone Else)

Introduction

Just so we are all on the same page (no pun intended), let’s start off with a formal definition of web analytics: “Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of web data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage.”

The source for that little tidbit: WAA Standards Committee. “Web Analytics Definitions.” Washington DC: Web Analytics Association (2008).

For our purposes, “understanding and optimizing” web analytics translates into marketing and research, as well as tracking eBlasts, on-line ad campaigns, surveys, landing pages and much more. To begin this short journey, let’s review a bit of web analytics history:

The Pre-Google Analytics World

Without getting too technical, here goes: In ancient, pre-Google Analytics times (before 2005) there were open-source web-reporting tools that parsed and analyzed website server log files. Essentially, they were (and often still are) features included in the control panel or “back-end” administration sections of websites. Among them are:

  • AWStats analyze data from Internet services such as web, streaming media, mail, and FTP servers. As mentioned above, AWStats parse and analyze server log files, producing HTML reports. Data is visually presented within reports in simple tables and bar graphs.
  • Analog is a free web log analysis computer program that runs under Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and most Unix-like operating systems. It offers reporting options for a technical audience. Analog does not support the concept of a visitor – an option much-desired for business analysis.
  • Webalizer is an application that generates web pages of analysis – also from access and usage logs. It is one of the most commonly-used web server administration tools. Statistics commonly reported by Webalizer include hits, visits, referrers, the visitors’ countries and the amount of data downloaded. Statistics can be viewed in graphic form and presented in different time frames, such as by day, hour or month.

Hits! I was waiting for that dirty word to come up. We now must take a minor detour into a major pet peeve: One of the worst and misleading metrics ever conceived for website tracking is “hits” – hands down. Why? Because clients tend to think “hits” on their website equate to visits or views. They don’t.

Here is the short version: let’s say a single page on your website has 10 photos or 10 separate graphic elements – or a combination of both. If one person visits that page, it counts as 10 “hits”. Basically, everything “seen” on the page counts as a hit. You can see how that can skew data! Clients see hundreds of thousands of “hits”, but it really only equates to tens of thousands of actual visits. End of rant.

All of the above programs provided good, solid information – but each had significant gaps in their reporting and NONE of the information was presented nicely. The reports were not (and are still not) pleasing to look at, to say the least. (The 1950’s called; they want their reports back.)

Google Analytics: The Big Dog Basics

There are other solid website tracking programs available, but as we have said before, currently it’s Google’s World – we just live in it. Besides: Who is going to argue with Google results? It’s pretty much the gold standard for better or worse.

Google Analytics IS a very powerful web analysis tool that will help you understand and improve the engagement, sales and metrics outcomes for your online marketing efforts. This isn’t your “grandfather’s” analytics. The types of information and ways you can track and filter it and are staggering. It also has features to help you track and evaluate the monetary values of traffic, actual sales outcomes and interactions related to real product data.

You can even see how many visitors are on your site in real time, what pages they are on and more. (For any Harry Potter fans out there it’s kind of like the Marauders Map from the third installment of the series.) It’s a really cool feature.

So how does it work?

Unlike the control panel or web server-based programs discussed above, Google Analytics tracks website data via a tracking code or “script” inserted in the unseen meta tag header of each web page you want to track. This is important. If a website consists of a home page and five sub-pages, all six pages must have the tracking code installed if all six are to be tracked by Google Analytics.

In WordPress and other website templates, there are Google Analytics plug-ins that will populate your tracking code into every page automatically – which is quite nice for websites with lots of pages.

So how do you get a tracking code? After you set up a Google Analytics account for a website, the tracking code is generated. Then, you copy the code (be sure to grab all of it) and either send it off to your webmaster and mix a proper martini, (preferred method) or open Dreamweaver, WordPress, etc. and insert the code in to the web page headers. This requires some software and a bit of web savvy, but it is doable – it’s not webmaster-level stuff.

Once the code is in place, Google will start tracking you web pages within 24 hours. Whoohoo!

Linking to Social Media

In the Google Analytics console you can activate important functions. One of the most important and easiest settings is the Social Settings which “tells” Google analytics where your social media pages are, and specifically tracks them. In Social Settings you can easily enter the URLs for your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and other pages to view how much traffic comes to your website via social media.

Dashboards and Reports

Now that your site is being tracked it’s time to begin exploring Dashboards and Reporting in your Google Analytics Console. These functions allow you to see tracked data and have various settings you can adjust with dashboard widgets, custom reports, date range variation, etc.

There are literally countless ways to set-up tracking or pull reports for any date range on-the-fly.
What you should focus on depends on the nature of your website’s business and your specific marketing objectives. Our advice is to start on the left-hand side of the console and open and review each report one at a time to see what information is available.

Generally, as a bare minimum you should be checking the following Google Analytics statistics on a regular basis:

Audience Overview:
Shows total number of sessions, users, page views, average session duration and more

Engagement:
Breaks down session duration times

Frequency and Recency:
Breaks down session visitor counts

Mobile Overview:
Sorts mobile, tablet and desktop sessions, as well as types of devices used

New vs. Returning Visitors:
Compares new and returning visitors

Organic Search Traffic
Lists key words and phrases typed into search engines

Pages:
Lists the top pages visited, visitor counts and more

Referral Traffic:
Ranks websites that have referred visitors to your website

Unlike the old-school web reports, in Google Analytics, NICE LOOKING data and reports can be exported into spreadsheets or PDF’s and shared via email or stored reports. You can even have web reports automatically generated and emailed to yourself or others on a specific day and time.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Using Google Analytics is a dynamic process and is always a work in progress – especially at the more advanced levels. It can work in sync with your SEO efforts, webmaster tools, call-to-action comments and subscriptions – and other tools that provide information about your website and user interaction.

Naturally, Google provides numerous tutorials to help you along as you learn. It can be a bit daunting but well worth the effort.

Wrap-Up

If you get it, but just don’t have the time to mess with it, Total Spectrum has the answer. We can set-up and manage your Google Analytics accounts and provide regular reports custom-tailored for your organization. Call us at 714.637.3600 and speak to one of our web experts. They have the knowledge and experience that deliver the results you require.

Evaluating Internet-Sourced Content (Or, tips so you don’t go off half-cocked)

Introduction

Scenario: Let’s say you need to beef up educational content on a company website. The powers-to-be decide to go on a Google-fest and find a bunch of industry-related articles and videos to post on the newly-minted company blog. Problem solved.

Not so fast. First of all you should be moving toward creating your own content as discussed in Creating Effective Content Efficiently. That said, there is nothing wrong in supplementing your website content library with articles and posts from other sources. But there is a step that often gets overlooked: vetting the content you are posting for truth and accuracy. You can’t just grab and go. Keep in mind passing along bad information can potentially damage your company’s credibility and/or cost money.

Remember, anyone can pretty much post anything on the internet – accurate or not. The purpose of this article is to review some tips on how to quickly evaluate the content of web pages to help you weed out questionable or inaccurate online content.

Tip #1 What’s in a URL?

Let’s start with the basic-basics. Look at your list of search results. Before you get fired up about anything and start clicking around, glean all you can from the URLs of the results page. Questions to ask yourself include:

Questions to Ask:
Is it somebody’s personal web page? Read the URL carefully: Look for a personal name (i.e. smith, or sjones) or words like “users,” “members,” or “group.”

Is the server a commercial internet service provider (ISP) or a provider of personal web page hosting – like wix.com? Personal pages are not necessarily bad sources, but you will need to investigate the author carefully – because with personal pages, there is no publisher or domain owner vouching for the information on the page.

What type of domain does the page originate from? Is it educational, nonprofit, commercial or government? Government sites end with .gov or .mil; commercial sites .com; educational sites .edu and non-profits are .org. (Note that .edu can include personal student and faculty pages as well as official college and university pages.)

Additionally, many country codes, such as .us, .uk. and .de, are no longer tightly controlled and may be misused. Look at the country code, but also use the techniques in Tips #2 and #4 below to see who published the web page.

Tip #2 Scan the Edges

Once on a page, look for links that say “About Us,” “Philosophy,” “Background,” “Biography”, “Contact” etc. If you cannot find these links, you can often find them if you truncate back the URL. Here’s how: In the top location box, delete the end characters of the URL stopping just before the first / after .com, .edu or whatever. Then press “enter” and you will be taken to the home page. Hopefully you will find the information there.

Questions to Ask:
Who wrote the web page? Look for the name of the author or the name of the organization, institution, agency, or whoever is responsible for the page. An e-mail contact is not enough. If there is no personal author listed, look for an agency or organization that claims responsibility for the page.

Does the page seem dated? Is it current enough? Is it stale or out-of-date information on a time-sensitive or constantly-evolving topic? In our view, undated factual or statistical information is no better than anonymous information. Don’t use it without confirmation.

What are the author’s credentials on this subject? Does his or her background or education look like someone who is qualified to write on the topic? Could the page have been written by a self-proclaimed expert, or enthusiast? All good questions to keep in mind…

Tip #3 Look for Quality Indicators

Look for a link called “links,” “additional sites,” “related links,” etc. If you see little footnote numbers or links within the text of an article that might refer to documentation, take a little time to explore them.

Questions to Ask:
Do the links work?
What kinds of publications or sites are they? Reputable? Scholarly?
Are they real? (It is possible to create totally fake references)
Are sources documented with footnotes or links?
Where did the author get the information?
If there are links to other pages as sources, are they to reliable sources?
Do the links represent other viewpoints or indicate a bias?

The credibility of most writings is proven through footnote documentation or other means of revealing the sources of information. Just randomly writing stuff (however true) without documentation is not much better than just expressing an opinion or a point of view.

Tip #4 What do Others Say?

It sure doesn’t hurt to do a separate general Google search of the author and/or the owner/publisher of the web page to see what others have to say. If there is negative information about either, the chances are it will be posted somewhere. This might be the quickest way to vet an article or site in a pinch. However, although “Googling” someone can be revealing, be sure to consider the source. If the viewpoint or tone of an article or blog post is controversial, expect to find detractors.

You can also acquire more information about a website by typing or pasting a URL in the search box on alexa.com. Depending on the volume of traffic to the page you can view:

  • Traffic details
  • Contact/ownership info for the domain name
  • “Related links” to other sites visited by people who visited the page.
  • Sites linking in to the page

Another interesting resource is the Wayback Machine, a website archive where you can view what almost any webpage page looked like in the past.

Tip #5 How Does it Add Up?

To close a website content “investigation”, step back and think about all you have learned about the page. Check your gut reaction – the gut never lies.

Think about why the page was created and the intentions of its author(s). Be sensitive to the possibility that you are the victim of irony, spoof or fraud. It is easy to be fooled on-line, and this can make you look foolish in turn. We all need to stay aware of the range of intentions behind web pages.

One more thing: ask yourself if the web is truly the best place to find resources for the content you are creating! Just saying…

Wrap-Up

If you have any questions about websites, web content, marketing automation, video production or just about anything else in the B2B marketing realm, call Total Spectrum at 714.637.3600 and speak to one our seasoned experts. We have the knowledge and experience that delivers results. You can bet on it.