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


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…


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.

What You Need to Know about the New Marketing Paradigm (Or, why content is now king)


Perhaps you’ve already noticed the big paradigm shift in the marketing world, and you’ve been working on figuring out how your company is going to take advantage of it. Maybe you have not yet understood the sea change that’s been going on, and you’re wondering why your marketing efforts have not been as successful as they used to be.

Either way, the reality is that the marketing paradigm really has shifted. This is especially true in the B-to-B world, and it’s also the case in many sectors of the B-to-C world as well. So what is this paradigm shift? What exactly has changed? Here is the deal:

  • The way that your prospective customers approach the buying process has changed
  • The technologies available for reaching prospective customers have changed
  • Lead generation and lead nurturing have changed
  • And marketing best practices have changed in response to these conditions

In this article, we will discuss these changes, and what direction your business needs to take to leverage this new marketing paradigm and close more sales.

But before we go any further, there’s something that needs to be made crystal clear: These new marketing methods are all “additive” to the traditional marketing methods that you are probably using now. They’re not a replacement. Even in the new marketing paradigm you still need to continue your branding activities, and have high levels of creativity in place to catch your prospects’ attention.

So What’s the Difference?

As Steve Jobs famously said, your company needs to “market, innovate or die.” To help you do that, let’s compare the old marketing paradigm to the new one.

In the past, the buying process that most customers followed was one that developed because of information scarcity. If a prospect was considering buying a product or service like yours, he had to rely on your sales people to educate him about your offering.

So it’s no surprise that in this world of information scarcity, lead generation was very much an “outbound” effort. Marketers bought, begged or bugged their way in the door with print ads, direct mail, cold calls, PR and commissioned salespeople. The main focus was on intrusive outreach techniques designed to set sales meetings with prospective customers, so that the sales people could educate the prospect and, hopefully, close the sale.

Today, however, information scarcity is history. A vast array of educational resources are now easily found online. Which means that today’s buyer takes a very different approach to the purchase decision than yesterday’s buyer did. Before they even speak to a sales person, most of your prospects will go online and do their own research. They’ll learn about your product category in general, and about both your products and your competitors’ products in specific.

In fact, studies show that prospects will gather 65 to 90% of their decision-making information before their first contact with your salesperson. They’ll gather their information, sift through it, digest it, and then contact your firm to either ask further questions or complete the sale.

So it’s no surprise that in a recent national survey, 80% of customers said “we found them” – referring to the product or service vendor, rather than “they found us.” Lead generation has shifted from being a primarily “outbound” effort to being a primarily “inbound” effort.

Content is Now King

In this new marketing paradigm, marketers essentially “earn their way in the door” by publishing helpful information. Consequently, content is now king.

For considered purchases, the reality is the buying cycle can be quite long. To thrive in this new marketing environment you need to provide the information that prospects are looking for and require. Today lead generation and lead nurturing are all about quality educational content.

Since buyers are now actively seeking information, so to build awareness and an affinity for your brand you need to conveniently provide high-quality marketing pieces that give prospects the information they are looking for at various points in their research process. Providing high-quality educational content – such as articles, white papers, videos, case studies and more – as part of your marketing efforts, will help you become a trusted resource to your prospects.

In fact, research has demonstrated that prospective customers are more likely to buy from and feel better about companies that are producing valuable content that educates them during the decision-making process.

Quality content (not sales materials) is key to nurturing potential buyers and building relationships so as to earn their business when they are ready to buy. Although this new marketing paradigm does not apply for impulse buys, content marketing can be vital for any company that has a long knowledge cycle and/or a long sales cycle. Educational content is today’s fuel for your marketing engine.

So how do you leverage this new inbound and content-based marketing paradigm to capture and nurture leads and close more sales? Check out Creating Effective marketing Content Efficiently and The 5 Secrets of Content Driven Sales to learn more.


If you have any questions about the art of content-driven marketing, call Total Spectrum at 714.637.3600 today and speak to a content development expert. We have the knowledge and experience to deliver top-quality content to fit any budget.

Interviewing for Content Creation (Or tips to get them to say what you need)

As discussed in “The 5 Secrets of Content Driven Sales” it’s a given in that in today’s marketing world, content is king. You get that.

You also get that in-depth, recorded interviews (either audio-only or shot on video) with industry experts, key company personnel, customers, installers, end users, etc., are excellent for generating valuable educational and marketing content that can be used as source material for case studies, white papers, YouTube Videos, thought leadership articles and much more.

If you just stumbled across this article, be sure to read Creating Effective Marketing Content Efficiently for more information about the content generating process.

What did I get myself into?

So you have finally pleaded, begged, cajoled or blackmailed some “people of knowledge” in your industry to consent to being interviewed for your content generating efforts. Let’s say for the sake of this exercise you have developed at least a dozen good, probing questions for each interview, and sent the questions to the interviewees ahead of time so they could prepare for the interview. You also booked a professional video studio and crew to capture the interviews so you can use video clips as well as the raw, transcribed content. What the heck do you do now?

The Interview Shoot

Let’s assume you have sufficiently vetted the video production company via viewing samples of their work and checking references. They have their end wired. This is more about what YOU have to do to ensure a successful “content generation” shoot. Here are some tips:

Tip #1: Warm Them Up

Most people are not accustomed to being on camera and in most cases be a little or extremely nervous. The “electric eye” can melt even the most seasoned public speakers and CEOs, so it’s important that you make your interviewees feel as comfortable and at-ease as possible.

Before diving right into your content questions, warm your interviewee up with a few questions about their education, career history, current job position, responsibilities and overall business philosophy. You probably won’t use much of this stuff, but it will get the session up to speed before getting to the meat of your interview.

Tip #2: Ask Open-Ended Questions

Whether an interview is videotaped or over the phone, from your end it’s really all about the questions and how you ask them. In addition to being pertinent, probing and timely, they need to be as open ended as possible – meaning that they can’t be answered in short phrases. You want the answers to be as detailed as possible. If a question gets your subject “on a roll” and he or she talks enthusiastically for 2-3 minutes, let them go – don’t interrupt – as this scenario is exactly what you want.

Bad question: “What are the 3 main factors that are driving sales in the industry today?”
Bad answer: “Factor A, Factor B and Factor C”

Good question: “From your viewpoint, discuss how factors A, B and C are driving sales in the industry today?”
Good answer: Subject gives his opinion on A, B and C for a couple of minutes or more

Tip #3: Have Them Rephrase the Questions

A good way to get solid, complete answers to questions is to request/prompt your interviewees to re-phrase questions as the beginning of their answers.

Question: “What effect does the weather have on productivity in your division?”
Answer: “Weather effects productivity in my division in a number of ways. To begin…”

This method gives your subject good launching points for their answers. It also makes it easier on the poor sucker who has to wade through and edit all the raw video because the answers exist as complete thoughts since the question is built into the response.

Tip #4: No Question Left Behind

If a short answer could be more detailed or needs clarification, don’t give up – by all means follow up with more questions. Re-ask, or re-phrase the same question if necessary. Do a second take. Don’t be afraid to dig deep; you probably only have one shot at this. That said, not all short answers are bad. If you get a nice concise sound bite that hits all the right notes, go with it. You will know one when you see one.

Tip #5: Wardrobe Choices

Have your interview subject bring at least 2-3 different wardrobe choices. Sometimes you just don’t know what looks best until the lights and cameras are turned on and video is reviewed on a monitor. Try to stay away from white, as it can look too “hot” under lights, and greens or light blues if shooting a green screen production – where the green background is later keyed out and replaced.

Clothes with odd stripes and patterns should be used with caution, as they can look too “busy” and distracting on-screen. Be sure to “iron out” wardrobe considerations well ahead of time to avoid last minute shopping trips to the local Walmart for a pair of wrinkled khaki’s that you have to steam in the bathroom.


That’s about all for this content-driven marketing installment. If you need any assistance with prepping for content interviews or any aspect of video production, Total Spectrum is your source. We have the experience, equipment and staff to help you acquire the content you need. Contact us at 714.637.3600 and speak to one of our experts today.

View this article as an infographic.


The Art of the Trade Show Video

(Or how to attract and inform visitors while keeping your booth staff sane)

In How to Effectively Deploy Your Finished Video Production, we touched upon the best practices and hardware for playing a video in a trade show booth or environment. In this article we will delve into some tips that will help make you trade show video “all it can be”. A common misconception is that any video – whether it is a short corporate promo, an installation piece, or a product knowledge clip 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. Behold the Art of the Trade Show Video:

Production Quality

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.

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.

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 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-carts and want to produce a trade show video. The first minute or two can be a voiced-over “commercial” and quickly focus on the company and models of go-carts provided. Then cut to a minute or two of racing shots of the go-carts set to music – with no narration or voice over – just music. Next, have the voice over return and cover go-cart features and benefits. Then cut to a customer testimonial or two…then cut to more go-carts 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. More about that next…

Music Video vs. Voice Over Video

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.

On the other hand, 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!


In conclusion, here are the key elements of a winning trade show video:

  • 5-7 minutes in length
  • Well-paced, infomercial format (see above)
  • Compelling music track and/or
  • Engaging voice over
  • Solid on-screen copy points

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 without sound, it’s a winner for sure.

If you are looking for “winning” trade show videos, Total Spectrum is your production company. We have the experience, equipment and staff 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.

How to Effectively Deploy Your Finished Video Production (Or what the heck do I do with it now?)

Introduction: Now What?

OK, so you have completed your short, attention-grabbing 1 to 3 minute video production as outlined in How to Concept and Executive Produce a Short, Effective Video Production. What are the next steps? In this short article we will review various video formats, applications and tips on how to maximize the impact of your video.

Video Formats

As we mentioned in the above-referenced article, you should have requested that your finished video be delivered in different formats for different uses and playback systems. We recommend:

  • DVD (Standard or Blu-Ray)
  • High Definition (HD) .mp4 Video (for Mac/PC)
  • High Definition (HD) Windows Media File (Generally for PC)

Let’s briefly examine each format:

DVD (Standard and Blu-Ray)

For years DVDs were the preferred method of delivery and dissemination of marketing video content, as they were a vast improvement over VHS tapes and were the state-of-the-art in the pre-YouTube era. Although their use is tapering off in the marketing world they are still commonly used in mailers and in connection with TV commercials such as spots for reverse mortgage companies (“Call Now for Our Free DVD”).

A quick technical overview: pre-or non-Blu-Ray DVDs are in Standard Definition (SD) as opposed to High Definition (HD). The native dimensions of an SD DVD “picture” are 720 x 480 pixels. Those pixels are enlarged depending on the size of the TV screen. If you play an SD DVD on a really large screen, it will “pixelate” which means the pixels will become noticeable and elements in the picture will appear “jagged” and not look so hot.

Blu-Ray DVD on the other hand is a High Definition (HD) format with native dimensions of 1920 x 1080 pixels – which is a heck of a lot larger than the 720 x 480 SD video format. Since there is a lot more to “work with” in HD, it looks far superior and sharper to SD on any size screen – large or small. Bitrate plays a big part as well. An SD DVD bitrate is usually around 6,000 – 9,000kbps, where a Blu-Ray DVD is 12,000 – 18,000kbps and up.

There is more to it, but those are the basics of DVD formats and resolution. The moral of this DVD technology tangent: Keep in mind the possible end uses of your DVD. If it’s going to be played on small to mid-sized screens, then an SD DVD is just fine. If it’s going to be played on a large screen at a big conference, then it’s Blu-Ray all the way!

High Definition (HD) .mp4 Video

In today’s video world, the .mp4 is becoming the most-used and flexible video format. It’s compatible with most media players in Macs or PCs, as well as iPad and other tablets. Some older Windows players won’t play mp4s, but that situation can often be remedied with a quick player or codec update. The file sizes are reasonable and good for uploads, and the picture quality is great. (…If properly rendered, of course..)

High Definition (HD) Windows Media File (.wmv)

Windows Media Files (.wmv) are similar to mp4 video files in that the file sizes and picture quality are roughly the same. The main difference is that .wmv files are the the PC “standard”, and will play on any PC pretty much flawlessly. Very reliable. On the flip side, sometimes Mac video players won’t play .wmv files or require an update or a plug-in.

So really, the whole point of multi-format delivery from your video producer is to cover your Mac, PC and DVD bases – which will give you the options you need for any playback scenario.

Video Uploads: Where and Why

A question that often comes up is: What file do I upload to YouTube or similar sites? The answer: either the HD mp4 or .wmv file described above – it doesn’t really matter as long as it’s in HD. You want to upload the highest quality video you can for optimum playback quality. This is especially important if end users decide to stream your video at full screen size through a large TV or computer monitor.

Please don’t try to upload the files on a DVD. It won’t work. (We actually had a client who tried that, but that’s another story.)

Another hot question: What’s the best place to upload and host my video for a website embed? That’s a bit more involved, so here goes:


Everybody knows about YouTube…as far as video sharing websites are concerned, they are at the top of the heap – size and volume-wise. But a key advantage of YouTube may not be so obvious: In addition to hosting videos, YouTube technically is the second largest search engine on the planet next to Google, who guess what? Happens to own YouTube. So, with rare exception, your video should probably be on YouTube, and maybe a couple of other sites as well.

The down side of YouTube is that there is a LOT of advertising, pop-ups, competing videos and general clutter. It’s kind of the New York Times Square of video sites in that regard.


Vimeo is a somewhat different animal as users can purchase different levels of “Premium” and “PRO” customization with fewer or no advertisements or pop-ups – thus keeping the competition from intruding on your channel or page.
Vimeo PRO accounts for business and commercial use allow additional storage, more plays, advanced analytics, third party video player support and more. Everyone except “small scale independent production companies, non-profits, and artists who want to use the Vimeo Service to showcase or promote their own creative works” must become Vimeo PRO subscribers in order to upload commercial videos or use Vimeo for their business’s video hosting needs. Sometime you just gotta pay…


Wistia is similar to Vimeo and is often used to host training and content libraries. Wistia has also integrated closed captioning, transcripts and other tools that are growing increasingly important in the video marketing world. The Wistia interface allows for complete customization of the video player, post and pre-roll behavior of the video, and an API which allows users to make customizations to their videos, accounts, and statistics on the back end.

There are numerous other up and coming video hosting sites out there. Check several of them out to determine what will work best for your company or organization. Most of the time, we prefer YouTube for general videos and Vimeo for our website embed applications.

Descriptions and Tagging

Regardless of the where you upload your video program, it’s important that people can search for and find your work. So take advantage of the video description box and write a short description of the video. Make sure to include your website URL and contact information as well. A hyperlink to your website will be automatically created in YouTube if written in the http://www.yourcompany.com protocol.

In the admin section for each video there is also a box to add “Tags” or key words and phrases to allow search engines to index, locate and list your video in search results. Tags should include the company name, name/model number/title of the product or service, product benefits, city, county, state, etc.

eBlast Your Video

A great way crank up some video views on YouTube or other video sharing sites is to send an eBlast promoting or introducing the video to your customer email database. eBlasts should be designed with a big “Play” button prominently displayed so potential viewers can click directly through and view – unless you require a form to be filled out and submitted before accessing video content.

Trade Shows

Every company needs a video or videos playing in their trade show booth. It’s really the topic of a whole different article, but as far as format/playback is concerned there are a couple of things to consider:

The tendency is for clients to ask for a “DVD for the booth”. OK, but not always the best choice. First of all, a DVD requires hardware (a player) that has moving parts, so there is always the possibility of mechanical breakdown or failure – especially if the unit is running for days at a time. DVD’s played in laptop computers can be sketchy in general unless they are playing store-bought movie-type DVDs. This is because store-bought DVDs are “replicated” and just more reliable than one-off computer-burned “duplicated” DVDs. It’s a strange science, believe me.

A better choice: play the mp4 or .wmv version of the video on a laptop or tablet with the video file stored on a flash drive or on the computer desktop. No mechanical DVD drive to fail or stutter. Then connect the laptop or tablet to the TV monitor in the booth. Done deal.


That’s about it for this installment. As you can see, one video can be deployed and used in a number of ways to effectively promote your service, product or brand. Have questions or need help with your online video hosting? Contact Total Spectrum at 714.637.3600 and speak to one our experts. They have this stuff down.

Green Screen Tips and Techniques

Tips and Techniques to Ensure a Great Green Screen Video Production

As mentioned in our article on video production, a super-effective and flexible video production tool is green screen technology. For example, you shoot video of the host of a program against a special green or blue background that can be removed or “keyed out” in post-production and replaced with the background or backgrounds of choice. With this technique, the host can appear in multiple locations without the need for travel – thus saving thousands of dollars in production costs.

Probably the earliest and most common use of green screen or “chroma key” technology is TV weather reports – where meteorologists stand in front CGI backgrounds gesturing wildly at the latest weather patterns.

In the past, the chroma key or green screen technology tended to often look cheesy and rough around the edges, but with modern keying technology, equipment and techniques it can look very crisp and incredibly realistic – adding amazing dimensions and flexibility to your project. The kicker is that it can now be accomplished within a modest budget.

Basic Tips and Techniques

Although the results can be fantastic, there are a few things that are critical to a green screen shoot that can truly make or break the production:

The Green Screen or Wall

Most green screen video shoots utilize a wall or multiple walls painted with a special bright green reflective paint developed specifically for the purpose. It’s worth repeating: this isn’t Home Depot or Dunn & Edwards paint, but special stuff that’s formulated to provide the high luminance values and color saturation required for keying effects. It’s also generally about 80 to 100 bucks per gallon.

Larger, more elaborate green screen studios often have green floors, as well as walls with curved corners for head-to-toe or wide, seamless shots. That’s a lot of expensive green paint. Portable green screens with special green cloth that stretched over a frame are another option for location shoots – say at a convention or event where you wish to shoot quick customer testimonials and select industry-appropriate backgrounds for your subjects later in post-production.

The main thing to remember is that whatever type of green screen is used, it needs to be smooth, even and properly lit, which brings us to our next topic…


Equally important as the green wall or screen itself it the lighting applied to it. It needs to be sufficient, even and smooth across the entire green wall or screen. No shadows or dark areas. No area should be brighter or blown out with excessive light. You should see nothing but that weird green – nice and consistent. To best dial-in the light on the wall or screen, studios use dedicated lighting systems just for the green screens. The on-camera talent is then lit separately – as humans require different types of lights and lighting.


The idea of using an ultra-bright green as the color to “key out” and replace stems from the fact that there are very few hues in the natural world that come close to it. It’s also about as far away from human flesh tones as a color can get, so it’s a good color to use. That said, if an actor wears a green shirt in front of a green screen it can key out or partially key out…even if it’s a much different shade of green.

This means the green shirt would disappear or partially disappear – and would be replaced by whatever background that is being used. Not good, to say the least.


If the on-camera talent or anything else in the shot casts a shadow on the green screen, you also have trouble. The shadow technically changes the color of that part of the green screen or wall. This means the area with shadows won’t key out properly or will be very difficult to key out properly. The remedy? Move the on-camera talent farther away from the wall to eliminate the shadow. Actually, it’s best to have the talent as far from the green wall a reasonably possible to eliminate the next potential problem…


In addition to eliminating shadows, keeping the on-camera talent a good 8-10 feet or more from the green wall eliminates “spill”, or unwanted reflected green light from the wall or screen. That bright green wall reflects green like crazy and that wild green light can get everywhere. If on-camera talent is too close, expect a green hue on the tops of shoulders, or even on the sides of faces. It can tint blonde or light hair green. If a person is wearing glasses, the sides of the frames can catch and reflect a bit of green and also cause problems.

Incorporating Props

If you are going for a realistic location look, there are a couple of easy and cool ways to enhance the shot. Let’s say the planned background shot is live footage of a beach or resort shot from a balcony. The on-camera talent shot in front of the green screen will be laid over that footage. To increase realism, include an actual table, chair, plant or other prop in the talent’s green screen shot. That way the foreground is completely “real” and only the background is “faked”. Add a fan blowing lightly off screen to simulate a bit of outdoor breeze through the set and you have nailed it – the VAST majority of viewers will think it was shot on location.

That’s about it for this installment. In today’s marketing world, “content is king” and green screen productions are a great way to add interesting, compelling content to your online presence. Additionally, if you want better communication with your customers, investors, regulators, vendors and even the press, let us show you how green screen productions can help you achieve these goals in a cost effective manner. Just call Total Spectrum at 714.637.3600.

10 Guidelines for Developing a High Performance Website

In this article, we will cover the major factors in developing a successful modern website that people can find and use easily. Are there more than 10 factors to consider? Of course, but we have hit all the big ones here. If you follow these key guidelines, you really can’t go wrong. We are not big fans of long, needless introductions, so here goes:

Website Design

While it is true that “Content is King”, presentation is always critical. When you meet someone for the first time, you want to make a good first impression. The same should be true for your website, as the overall look and feel of your site is the first thing your visitors will notice. Not only does a website need to look professional and industry-appropriate, it also needs to clearly and professionally communicate to your key message to your core audience. Here are a few design basics:


An all too common mistake many people make is placing as much content as they can on one page. Cramming too much into each page mainly creates confusion and information overload. Visitors quickly get frustrated if they have to scroll through rows of links and images to find their desired content. By keeping web pages simple, your website will be user-friendly and will provide a more productive and enjoyable browsing experience.


Visitors to your website shouldn’t feel like they are visiting a new website each time they open a new page on your site. Consistency among the pages on your site makes navigation a much easier task, so it is important for all website pages within site to follow a certain layout in order to maintain a theme and uniformity. Naturally there are exceptions for specially-themed landing or special event pages, If the layout of your website pages is not consistent, your website will look disorganized – and won’t properly reflect your organization’s image online.


Color selection can often make or break a website. You know it’s true, as we have all visited websites that are simply painful to look at. When choosing colors, use a consistent palette of colors that don’t clash and make sure there is a strong contrast between the text and the background. Of course, your color selection should mirror you corporate or company colors to help maintain, you guessed it – consistency.

Code vs. WordPress

This isn’t really a performance or best practices issue, because either website platform will work just fine, but instead it’s more of a practicality and flexibility issue.

Custom Code

Some web developers will tell you that whether it’s HTML or PHP, nothing beats writing your code from scratch. It is true that if you code your own pages, you have complete and total control over how they look, act and respond. The downside is that when changes or updates have to be made, you have to know how to write code, or be proficient in software like Adobe Dreamweaver.

With custom code the scenario that typically unfolds is that you need an emergency change made to your website, and your “code” guy is at the comic book convention for 3 days. Then the replacement code guy doesn’t understand the original code, says it’s “bad” and heads off to the comic book convention himself.

Utilizing WordPress

The short version: WordPress is template or “theme” based so it’s easier for users or site administrators to make additions and changes on the fly. You don’t have to know code or learn elaborate and expensive software. It’s also browser-based – so you can log on and work on your website from any computer. Users simply drag and drop photos or files, add or change text or other content within pre-defined parameters and hit the “update” button.

Since WordPress is template-based, you obviously do not have as much control over the look, design and other features as you would with custom code. That being said, there is probably a “theme” available to meet just about any website look or need. A bit of food for thought: as of this writing, approximately 37% of all new websites launched are in WordPress.


There are few things more frustrating on-line than not being able to find certain content on a website quickly. If the visitors find it difficult to navigate from one page to another, they will give up and leave the site. Keep in mind, attracting these frustrated visitors to come back to visit the site is extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Pages should be well-organized with topics or tabs listed clearly across the top of the page so that visitors can easily browse through the different sections on the website. Depending on the industry or purpose of the website it may be a good practice to list duplicate links vertically along the left hand side of the page.

For an example, go to www.holdrite.com and click the “Products” tab at the top of the page. You will notice that the same product links are listed vertically along the left hand side of the home page below the Search boxes – to make it as easy as possible for visitors to go directly to desired products. Is this for every website? No, but it’s worth noting.

Browser Compatibility

Remember when Netscape was just about the only game in town? Today, there are various Internet browsers in use, so it is imperative that your website loads properly on the main browsers – which include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome.

In theory, all browsers are supposed to render webpages the same way, but sometimes they just flat-out don’t – often seemingly for no real reason at all. Make sure to test your website thoroughly on multiple browsers to make sure everything loads and appears correctly. It’s always best to catch and correct these problems ahead of time instead of relying on complaints from visitors down the road. Or worse, if they don’t complain at all and never come back.


People will access your website using a wide variety of devices – including smartphones, tablets, netbooks, laptops and desktop computers. Consequently, it has now become critical that websites scale and display correctly on different screen sizes. Most recent WordPress templates/themes are scalable, but if you are going the custom code route, cover the scalability issue with your web developer right out of the gate. It’s a major hassle to make a hard coded website scalable after the fact.

This is officially a big deal. According to Google half of web searches are now done with mobile devices – the majority being smart phones.


As time goes by, the main factor that drives a website towards becoming successful is its content. Even if a site is beautifully designed, it is no more than an empty shell without content. A good website has both great design and great content. All of your pages require unique, original content that will make them worth visiting.

If content is not updated often, potential website visitors will have little reason to return. Adding and updating content on a regular basis can be accomplished via a blog on the site or a “News” or “What’s New” section area. You can post white papers, eBooks or thought leadership articles that users can download.

Once again, let’s go back to Code vs. WordPress…unless you can rely on a webmaster or have one on staff, a WordPress website platform is probably your best choice, because additions and updates are much faster and easier to accomplish via your browser.

For more on website content development, visit tsadvertising.com/content and download “The 5 Secrets of Content-Drive Marketing” eBook.


Even though bandwidth availability and download speeds have increased dramatically overall, there are still many pockets of “slowness” out there in the world at large – so any website should be designed to download quickly. Forget the elaborate splash page that takes 30 seconds to load just to eventually say “Enter Here”. In today’s fast-paced world, patience is rapidly becoming a quaint practice of the past.

Visitors want websites to load quickly to look at photos, articles or watch videos immediately. When a website has too many large images or large videos within it, it will take longer to load – which can invariably lead to frustrated visitors leaving your site.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO – AKA “The Big Mystery” – or many would like to have you think. Let’s face it; many SEO “gurus” these days are the snake oil salesmen of the new millennium. Pay them a hefty monthly fee and magical things will start happening. Then nothing changes and you fire them in three months.

For starters, real SEO is based on research and is an on-going process built around best practices, great (and current) content and other factors that work in harmony together to increase search engine (namely Google) presence. There is no magic software, button or short-cut – just proper strategy and execution.

For starters, you have to create a consistent “trail” for the search engines to easily find something. For a best practices example return to holdrite.com, click the “Products” tab. You will see “Acoustical Isolation” listed. After clicking “Acoustical Isolation”, you will notice that the words “acoustical-isolation” are part of that page‘s URL. This is good. (“Acous-Iso” would be bad). Now kook at the page itself: the exact words “Acoustic Isolation” appear as the headline.

So there is the trail: the “Products” tab, the page URL and the page itself each contain the exact phrase “Acoustical Isolation”. Of course, there are numerous other factors regarding SEO, but this example is generally helpful.

Google Analytics

It’s seems like it’s Google’s world, and we just live in it, right? Google Analytics is what is used to keep track of how each and every page on your website is performing. Although there are multiple search engines in the world and multiple ways to track website traffic, activity and user behavior, Google is king of both – so roll with it for now.

Basically, when you create a Google Analytics account a tracking code is generated which is then installed on each page on the website by your webmaster – or in the case of WordPress sites the code is installed in one area that automatically populates the code throughout the site. A wide range of data is then collected that can be filtered and exported for review in in a variety of formats. For more information, check out google.com/analytics

Marketing Automation

Everything is up and running, the SEO and the Google Analytics are happening…now it’s time to take things to the next level with marketing automation. It really doesn’t make sense to have all these people come to your website and browse all over the place…and not track where they go and what they do. With marketing automation, a tracking cookie is placed on the browsers of visitors to the site – which can then collect and store a surprising amount of information and user behavior.

Traffic reports with a detailed list of website visitors are generated daily. Tracked information is also fed into a database where it can be filtered and prioritized for automatic marketing outreach efforts such as targeted emails. For more information check out: tsadvertising.com/marketing-automation


That’s about it for this junior website manifesto. There is more to tell, but if you keep these 10 guidelines in mind when conceiving and developing your next web project, you will be well on you way to creating a successful web presence. If you have any questions, need help with a website project or want to hear a motivational speech, contact Total Spectrum at 714.637.3600 and ask for Jim Bogenreif.

The Secrets of Successful Brand Positioning Statements

A brand positioning statement – a one- or two-sentence statement that clearly defines how you want your target market to perceive your brand – is meant to be used as a filter for making decisions about your brand’s marketing activities. If you study those that are successful, you’ll see that they share some common attributes:


contain four key elements – While there are a few different commonly used templates for creating them, successful brand positioning statements all include definitions of the market and target audience, a brand promise (a benefit for your target market) and the “reason to believe” that your organization can deliver on this brand promise.

are narrowly focused – Your brand positioning statement is about how you want to position your brand to your best target audience, not all of your target audiences. This means one target, one promise, and just one or two “reasons to believe” to back up the promise. This promise is based on your one best, most relevant benefit – the one that hits the sweet spot of something that your brand does best, that members of your target audience really want, that you do better than your competitor. In the digital age you really need a short form brand positioning as well as a long form. The short form is for limited space – single page ads, digital banners, etc. The long form serves as the inspiration for more detailed content such as white papers, case studies, videos, brochures.

present the emotional benefit – Your brand promise will communicate a benefit that your brand offers. Try to take this up a notch by going from a rational benefit (i.e. what customers will get) to an emotional benefit (i.e. how getting that benefit will make them feel). Why? Because as neuroscience has shown, most decisions are ultimately emotion-driven.

provide excellent & relevant reasons to believe – Your one or two “reasons to believe” need to be spot on. For example, say your company is a single-source supply chain provider for data centers, and your promise has to do with speed. Two good “reasons to believe” are your global sourcing abilities and your extremely fast processes. The fact that your organization has lower overhead than the industry norm, however, is not relevant to the “speed” promise.

are written for an internal audience – This is not an elevator pitch or mission statement. It’s a statement about who you are and who you want to be. As such, brand positioning statements can be long (in order to provide a precise definition of the target market), and often are not pretty.

are sustainable – In addition to being relevant to the audience, successful brand positioning statements are also clear, defensible and true to the brand’s core character.

A successful brand positioning statement will produce a clear image of what sets your brand apart from the competition for a particular segment of the market, and provide clarity and focus for your marketing efforts.


If you need help in this area give us a call. As a full-service marketing agency, we have the expertise you need.

Planning Your Lead Nurturing Campaign

The days when prospects had to rely on your sales people to educate them about your offering are gone. Today the average buyer will gather and sift through 65 to 90 percent of their decision-making information before their first contact with your sales force. Then they’ll contact your firm to either ask further questions or complete the sale.

The benefits of lead nurturing

For considered purchases, having quality content to nurture prospects through the sales cycle – and, hopefully, change or shape their perspectives – has become vital.

With lead nurturing you can educate prospects about their options, show them how to prioritize their needs, and guide them to view the market and evaluation criteria in a way that positions your solution as the best solution. Then you can give them the “ammunition” they need to “sell” your solution to others in their organization. Your goal is to ensure that when prospects are finally ready to buy, you’ll be both top-of-mind and the top choice.

Three Stages of The Buying Process

The first step in planning your lead nurturing campaign is mapping content to the stages of the buying process. Not only do people need different information at different times, each target audience and buyer persona may have unique information needs as well.


  • Information Needs: Education about the market/field/industry in general.
  • Types of Content: Whitepapers, ebooks, tip sheets, checklists, how-to videos, introductory webinars, podcasts


  • Information Needs: Information about how your company in particular can solve their needs. What makes your solutions superior? What makes your company better? What do others have to say about what you’re offering?
  • Types of Content: Product webinars, case studies, samples, manuals, FAQs, data sheets, demo videos, podcasts, PowerPoint presentations, testimonials, reviews, buying guides, polls/surveys, ROI calculators


  • Information Needs: Information that will answer any lingering questions, overcome any final objections, and show prospects that they are making the right decision.
  • Types of Content: Free trials, live demos, consultations, advanced webinars, estimates, coupons, testimonials


As you work through the content mapping process, think about the logical steps that members of each buyer persona are likely to take as they move from awareness to evaluation to purchase. What information will they need to move from one stage to the next? What content assets do you already have that can be deployed at those stages, and what do you need to create?

Stay relevant to ensure one touch leads to another

To keep prospects from opting out of your lead nurturing list, you must plan your campaign in a way that makes them want to keep engaging with you. Provide valuable content that they can’t get elsewhere, that helps them evaluate their options. Deliver this content at the right point in the buying process. And use a variety of content types in order to cater to the different learning styles that people have.

Need help creating a lead nurturing campaign that works? Give us a call. We’re here for you.

Is It Time for a Rebrand?

Your brand encompasses everything that your target audience thinks it knows and understands about your offering. As such, it can be a significant asset for your organization. Unfortunately, because buyers often disregard a brand in seconds, if your brand is not projecting the right image or communicating the right message, it can also be holding you back.

When should you consider rebranding?

Things change, and sometimes your brand has to change to remain relevant. But rebranding is usually a time-consuming and expensive undertaking. There must be a strong business case for the enterprise-wide benefits that it will bring.

That said, there are many situations that warrant considering rebranding. These include:

  • Your target audience’s needs and desires have changed. Your current branding isn’t broad enough to encompass the changes you must make to meet these new needs.
  • You’re losing market share. Your brand no longer reflects a competitive advantage.
  • Your current brand is looking dated. The perception is that you’re no longer relevant in your marketplace.
  • You’ve changed your strategic focus or fundamentally changed who you are or what you offer. Now there’s a misalignment between your brand and your business strategy, goals, priorities or mission.
  • You want to diversify your audience. You need a new branding that will resonate with these people.
  • You’ve experienced a PR disaster. Your current brand’s reputation has been irreparably harmed.

What are the potential benefits of rebranding?

A successful rebrand is a strategic growth accelerator that opens new doors for your organization. As such, it can increase sales by:

  • Giving you a competitive advantage
  • Broadening your appeal
  • Attracting new audiences
  • Transforming perceptions
  • Making your brand relevant
  • Streamlining your identity
  • Reflecting changes in company size, market position and technological innovation
  • Increasing employee engagement

You need to do a thorough cost/benefit analysis

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that a new brand will bring any of these potential benefits, which is why rebranding is not a decision to take lightly. A rebrand can be a boon for your organization, but only if it’s truly needed and done well. We’re all familiar with the disaster stories of companies that undertook very expensive rebranding efforts that were so poorly received that they had to be immediately rolled back!

As you’re evaluating your options, be sure to ask some important questions, such as:

  • Does this warrant the cost?
  • Is there truly a need, or could we accomplish our goals through other measures?
  • What strategic goals do we have that cannot be supported by our current brand?
  • How is our current brand limiting our growth?
  • How much positive brand equity will we lose by rebranding?
  • What are the potential risks and costs of not rebranding?

Need help making the rebranding decision? Give us a call. We’ve been down this road many times, and we can help you take a hard look at whether the business case pencils out or not.