How to be more creative (the fun way)

Stuck in a creative rut? Or just looking to generate some fresh ideas. I’ve been there and it’s not fun. Luckily, after hours of pounding my head against my desk, I’ve figured out a quick way to get the creative juices flowing and it starts by…

Demystifying Creativity

Sometimes people think of creativity as some magical gift only bestowed upon artists or sorcerers. And it’s true, it can often feel elusive, mysterious, even distant at times.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a skill that can be learned. Take it from Steve Jobs who said…

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.

It makes sense. Star Trek is just a western set in space. Glasses are just concave or convex lenses for your eyes. Nearly every creative idea we’ve ever had in our society is a mashup of two or more previous ideas. (Beg to differ? Hit me up in the comments.)

My point is creativity doesn’t have to be some mystical process. It can actually be easy, even fun…

A fun way to be more creative

Try out this game.

1. Pick something you know for sure you need to include in your creative idea.

For example, you may want/need to come up with a business idea for a subscription service. That will be your Pillar Idea: “Subscription business.”

Or maybe you’re trying to come up with a new movie idea that you know must have something to do with WWII. That will be your Pillar Idea: “WWII movie”

2. Now start randomly iterating through other ideas. Go bananas.

This is where it gets fun. Start listing completely unrelated ideas. For example:

  • Zombies
  • Websites
  • Exercise Balls
  • Books
  • Aliens
  • Burritos

This may make absolutely no sense at first. But that’s not the point. The point is to think outside the box here.

3. Connect your ideas (the fun part).

Use this formula to start connecting things:

Pillar Idea + Random Idea = Mashup

In the Mashups spot, give each idea the benefit of the doubt and try to write a convincing idea. You’ll be surprised at what you come up with. For example:

Subscription business + Burritos = Monthly frozen burritos delivered to your door.

Subscription business + Zombies = Online subscription Zombie movies-on-demand site.

Or, for the WWII movie idea:

WWII movie + Aliens = A mysterious spacecraft crash lands in the Mediterranean in the early years of the war, prompting an allied race to find it before the Nazis can retrieve it and harness its destructive power to turn the tide of the war.

WWII movie + Exercise Balls Dodgeball = A comedy in which both sides of the war must use dodgeballs to defeat each other.

As you can see, I started with Exercise Balls, but then Dodgeball popped into my head and seemed seemed funnier—this is totally okay in this phase. You’re trying to find ideas you actually enjoy.

That said, not all ideas are going to be great, no matter how you spin them.

Which is why we have step four…

4. Rank your ideas.

Cross out the ones that you think are dumb, don’t have legs, or have been done before.

Star the ones that you think could be fun, cool, or ones that just get you excited.

The goal is ultimately to find an idea that gets your gears turning, that you’re passionate about, because ideas lead to ideas.

Don’t love them? Try again! Or if you have one or two that might have potential, keep refining them. Be more specific. And remember to have fun with it.


You’re a lot more creative than you think, and fresh creative ideas are just around the corner. Would love to hear what creative ideas you’ve come up with. Let me know some of them in the comments below!

Should my logo be serif or sans-serif?

Wondering if your logo should be serif or sans-serif? Wonder no more!

There’s a general rule of thumb that makes this decision super simple. But first (for those in the back) here’s a quick breakdown of the difference between serif and sans-serif.

Serif v. Sans-Serif

Simply put, serif fonts are ones with added decorative lines that serve as little embellishments—known as the serifs. Sans-serifs are—you guessed it—fonts without serifs.

Serif v. Sans Serif image courtesy of Candelita.is (candelita.is/finding-perfect-font)

It’s said that serifs are better in print, and sans-serifs are better online, but in the words of Sean Spencer…

So which do I use in my logo?

Here’s a general rule of thumb:

If your brand personality is classy, elegant, refined, or timeless—serif all the way.

But if your brand personality is more clean, young, and modern—sans-serif is your best bet.

In the world of design, there are no hard and fast rules (except maybe “Never use comic sans—unless done so ironically”), so your brand may be the exception. But 95% of the time, this rule works.


Your brand not fit the bill? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll get back at you with a more specific recommendation. Would love to help out!

Oh, and if you’re looking to hire a logo designer, check out my latest blog post, What to know before picking a logo designer.

What to know before picking a logo designer

Now that you know your business needs a logo, it’s time to find a pro logo designer.

But before you do, there’s a few things you should do first.

1. The prep work.

Any good logo designer worth his or her salt is going to have a discovery questionnaire or call with you, so it pays to have the answers to these questions in advance. Also, thinking through these things in advance makes finding and selecting a logo designer much easier.

So what kind of questions do you need to answer?

  1. How do you want your name to appear in the logo? (e.g. Acme Co, ACME CO, acme co, acmeco, etc.)
  2. Do you have a tagline that you’d like to appear with the logo?
  3. Who is the key demographic/consumer in terms of age, gender, and location?
  4. What is your brand’s personality in 5 descriptive keywords? (i.e. masculine, intelligent, quirky, etc…)
  5. What is the core message you want your brand to convey?
  6. What parts of the current design (if it exists) do you like or want to keep?
  7. Do you have any color preferences, or existing brand colors you’d like to include/avoid?
  8. Are there images/icons/symbols you want to include/avoid?
  9. How would you like the typography to appear? (e.g. custom, script, sans, serif, bold, light, etc.)
  10. What are some styles of logos that you like? (Dribbble.com, Logopond.com, and Behance.net are all awesome places to find inspirational designs.)

This last question (#10) is super important and serves a dual purpose.  Obviously, it helps you determine the visual style that seems to fit your brand best. But it also helps you…

2. Find a Logo Designer.

No doubt you’ve found some epic designs and perhaps even have a favorite designer! But if you haven’t found a logo designer, have no fear, you have a couple of awesome options.

1. Hire a Design Agency.

This can be pricey, but is also worth it, if you’re looking for a polished brand package and a partner to implement that brand for you. With an agency, you’ll likely be getting more than just a logo, but a full package that can include items like:

  1. Logo in multiple layouts and versions (horizontal, stacked, icon-only, monotone, color, etc.)
  2. Identity guide (a PDF with instructions for maintaining brand integrity which includes complementary fonts, colors, and rules for using the logo—this is particularly helpful when working with other freelancers in the future as it keeps their work kosher with your brand).
  3. Business cards
  4. Brochures
  5. Website / landing page design
  6. Email templates

And so on. If you’re looking for a good design agency, totally check out design agencies in your area on Google, but also don’t be afraid to work with companies who aren’t local. If you like their style and they’re reputable, it could be a perfect partnership.

2. Find a Freelancer.

Likely not as expensive as an agency, freelancers are great if you’re working on a shoestring. That said, I’ve worked with quite a few logo designers and have had some mixed experiences. There are some who are truly fantastic and some that are… meh.

If you prefer the freelancer approach, find someone with a deep portfolio of consistently good work that you like. They may be expensive, but when it comes to your brand, good work is worth it.

Again, Dribbble.com, Logopond.com, and Behance.net are all awesome places to find great designers.

3. Confirm deliverables and process.

Whether you go with an agency or a freelancer, you should definitely have an idea of what deliverables you might need. As I mentioned above, agencies are likely going to be better equipped to offer you more deliverables above and beyond the logo design itself. However, you may just need the logo at this time. If so… ¡Bueno!

As far as deliverables go, at the very least I recommend you purchase the logo and identity guide. This investment up front pays dividends. In fact, most designers I know won’t do a logo without an accompanying identity guide because they believe in the value of having a clear set of guidelines for the life of the logo.

As far as process is concerned, definitely confirm the number of options and revisions you will receive. Hard pass on the logo designer or agency who only offers one option and no revisions. Also, ask about the discovery process and overall timeline. You want to make sure they have a system for (1) understanding what you want—discovery, and (2) delivering it on time—deadline.

4. Trust.

Once you’ve done your prep work, found a logo design partner, and confirmed deliverables & process, it’s time to ask, do you “have a bad feeling about this?”

But for serious, before you pick a logo design partner, you should really feel comfortable with them. This is a creative endeavor, so you have to feel like your creative input is valued, understood, and won’t be tossed out. On the flip side, you also need to feel like they know what they’re doing and that they’ll push back on your bad ideas.

If you’re digging the chemistry, it’s time to center your chi, cleanse your chakras, chillax, and…

5. Get started on your logo design.

This is where you design partner should take it away. As I mentioned above, this usually starts with a logo design questionnaire or discovery call. Let them guide the process, but don’t be afraid to ask questions whenever necessary.

Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the ride!


I hope this post was helpful. If you have any pointers for making it more so, do leave a comment below! Would love to hear your thoughts and stories about your logo design adventures.

 

What services should I offer in my video marketing agency?

Okay, so now that you’ve defined what you want out of your video marketing agency, it’s time to determine what services you should actually offer clients and why.

Hold on to your “Defining Success” list (from the previous post) as it will be your guiding light.

With that, let’s get down to the nitty gritty…

What video services should you offer?

You’ve probably already got a good idea of what services you might want to offer—whether that’s motion graphics, 3D animation, live action, or live events—so I won’t bore you with the details of each.

However, I wanted to share some practical observations I’ve made regarding each of these disciplines that you might want to take into account before determining your service offering.

Motion Graphics / 2D Animation

Generally, this is the least expensive to get started and simultaneously the most flexible. You can usually work from anywhere with just a laptop.

That said, it can be really hard to find non-agency (i.e. direct) clients that exclusively want 2D animation. You might have to couple this offering with something else. In addition, it’s entirely inductive (you have to build everything in the frame from the ground up), which makes it very design heavy and labor intensive.

3D Animation

I get pretty excited about this, because frankly, I love Pixar and 3D character animation. The possibilities are endless and it is usually much less artistically restricting as 2D animation (there are some technical architectural limitations of 2D animation that can be frustrating).

However, it’s usually more expensive to get started because of the licenses for 3D modeling, animation, and render engine software. And depending on how realistic you want your renders to look, it can also be very time consuming and require larger systems for renders (usually meaning you have to be at a certain physical location to work).

Live Action

Live action is the most marketable service, in my experience, as most companies seem to think of ‘video’ in terms of ‘lights, camera, action.’ This can work to your advantage, if you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the live-action production houses.

But you should be aware that live action can be very labor-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive. It also requires significant investment in equipment (unless you’re renting, which I recommend) and physical goods (props), not to mention talent and locations.

And because it requires you to be on-set, you really don’t have a ton of flexibility when it comes to where you work from. But sometimes that can be a good thing—many of my friends enjoy traveling for shoots, sometimes to places as far as Africa and Thailand. So if you don’t mind the long hours and having to be on set, good on ya!

Live Event

This is probably the most plug and play option—you usually configure live event shoots the same way every time. This makes the model more scaleable as it is easier to train employees how to execute a shoot without you.

However, it can also be quite stressful. Because it is live, there’s no yelling “Cut! We missed the dunk tank shot, can we get the presenter dried off and do it from the top?” Any technical issue is magnified. If a camera goes out, you’re screwed unless you have a backup. If the audio is corrupted or garbled, you’ve got to make it right. If your computer dies in the middle of the live stream… you get the picture.

So why are you telling me this?

It’s really easy to get excited about video and not to count the costs.

You probably already know what type of video services you enjoy, are competent in, and would like to offer in your video marketing agency. But before you decide for certain, make sure you have crystal clarity about what’s involved (good and bad). You need to make this decision with eyes wide open.

Here’s where the “Defining Success” list you developed in the last post comes in handy.

Cross-reference your list of “wants” and “don’t wants” with what you know about the different types of media you could offer.

Does one service seem to fit the best? Do none of them fit? (In that case, perhaps you should offer something other than video?) Are there elements of one that might require you to find assistance to provide that service to clients? Is having a bigger team in line with your wants?

Ultimately, you should be getting a better vision for what your business might involve (employees, location, overhead, etc.). It should also give you confidence in your service offering, enabling you to anticipate and withstand the challenges associated with that service.

Up next: finding clients.

I hope this was a somewhat helpful overview of different video services. Stay tuned for the next post in the series on finding epic clients!

How to pick the right video production company for your business

So you’ve already determined that your business needs a video. Now it’s time to pick the right video production partner!

Note: If you haven’t determined you need a video, take a look at my previous post: “Does my business need a video?”

And now you’re looking to find the right video production partner for your video project. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Research local video production companies.

Google is a good start, however, I’ve found that a recommendation is usually much more helpful. Ask around and see if there’s anyone who knows of a good video production partner that would be a great fit for your business.

2. Contact and request estimates.

Reach out and share the basics of your project with a simple email. You can even use the template below:

Hi [VideoGuru],

Saw some of your work online and would love to talk with you about a video project.

I’m looking for something that will [get my customers excited about a new product that I’m launching].

Would love to get an estimate for what that might cost. Happy to hop on the phone and discuss scope. My number is below.

Thanks,

BrandGuru
800.555.GURU

If they’re worth their salt, they’ll get back to you, schedule a call, and ultimately lead you through a discovery meeting that will involve some of the following questions (some of which you may remember from my previous post):

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What would you like the video to do?
  3. What tone would you like it to take (e.g. happy, fun, or refined, serious)?
  4. Do you envision it being an animation project or a live action project?

Note: Pay attention to how you feel on the call.

Making a video is a creative and collaborative endeavor. You want to find a partner that not only understands your business model, but also your company ethos and your passion.

If you feel rushed, stifled, or put down, throw the flag (see below). This is about finding a creative, collaborative partner. So, make sure you jive with the people you’re bringing on to the project.

3. Review video production bids.

Once the bids come in, review the different approaches. Odds are that each estimate will be different. This is okay. Every production company has a different approach.

Ultimately, you’re looking for three things:

1. Price

Look at that bottom line. How does it compare to the other estimates? Keep in mind, cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean a better ROI. In video, you get what you pay for. So don’t be shocked by, or avoid, higher numbers.

Are they offering a discount? There are many reasons why production companies offer a discount. Two of the most common are:

  1. They see long-term partnership potential
  2. They think the project might look good in their portfolio

Usually the discount means that they’re on board with your company’s vision and is a nice indicator of a potential partnership, not just a client-vendor relationship.

2. Process

Does their process make sense to you? Usually video projects are broken into pre-production (before shooting), production (on-set work), and post-production (everything else), with the majority of your feedback solicited in pre-production.

How many rounds of revisions are they offering? In my experience two rounds of revisions on scripting, storyboarding, and edit are generally enough.

What are you responsible for? Production companies can bill certain items to the client if they are variable, like location and talent fees. This is something that should only be done on the condition that you approve of that expense. Ensure that’s the case.

3. Creative Vision

Do you get excited when you read their pitch or project description? Do they ‘get it?’

You want to find a partner that is as excited about your project as you are, and someone who is willing to go the extra mile to make your video dreams come true. Often times, big video deals hinge on this component alone—I’ve seen $50k+ projects go to the smaller vendors (yielding great results), just because they’ve better caught the creative vision than the big fish.

4. If you can’t decide, go with your gut.

Once you’ve reviewed and compared all of the bids, ask any questions you might need of the vendors. If you have a clear front-runner, excellent! It’s on to “Lights, Camera, Action!”

But if you’re still a bit confused by all of the options, go with your gut. Pick the partner that (1) demonstrates competence, and (2) you jive with. Because at the end of the day, an excellent product and great time creating it is the goal.


Let me know how this works for you by commenting below! Would also love to hear from you if you’ve already picked a video production company—what other factors did you consider when picking your video production team?

How to start your own video marketing agency

If you’re interested in starting a successful video agency or production company, I’d like to help. Here’s why.

Four years ago, I was working a 9-to-5 job at an amazing non-profit. It had a wonderful mission, incredible benefits, and nearly zero risk. Frankly, all I had to do was keep breathing, and I would’ve been set for life.

But somehow, despite all of that, it wasn’t enough.

There was no adventure. No excitement. I knew I needed to make my own way. I’d originally been hired to lead branding overhauls and make videos for that organization, so I knew I had the chops, but I didn’t know if I’d be successful on my own.

I didn’t know if I could take the leap.

Four years later, I’m so glad I did.

I went from working in a cubicle, wearing a suit Monday through Friday, to taking day trips down to NYC to see our video for Brookstone playing on the biggest screen in Times Square.

From the moment I decided to jump, it’s been a rollercoaster, filled with good moments and challenging ones. But overall, this has been one of the most rewarding endeavors of my life. And frankly, I want everyone who is willing, to be able to experience that feeling.

That’s why I’d like to help you start your own video agency / production company. Because it’s a freaking blast.

So, in this first post in the series, we’re going to be talking about taking the critical first step to starting your own successful video production company…

Defining Success.

This may sound trite and inconsequential, but it’s not.

Before I left my job and started my company, I spent a lot of time journaling, listing the Pros and Cons of leaving my job to start my own video agency. But, in hindsight, one thing I wish I had done better is define success.

What does success look like for you?

Is it running a lifestyle company? Something that gives you enough time in between video jobs to chill at the beach?

Is it making your production company your life purpose? To use it as a vehicle to bring your creative dreams to life?

Is it to make more money? To establish your video agency as an industry titan?

Is it to grow the video agency and to provide for employees? To build a production company that is bigger than just you?

These are critical things to know before starting your own video agency, or any company for that matter. Knowing what you want will dictate what type of business you’re going to build and how you’ll run your business. It will answer—in advance—questions like “Will I want an office?” or “Will I want to hire people full-time?”

So, define what you want.

Before doing anything, I suggest you sit down and write out what you want out of this business before starting it.

I recommend making two lists…

I want (to):

  • more freedom
  • flexibility (to travel)
  • more responsibility
  • make more money

I don’t want (to):

  • hand hold employees
  • responsible for someone else’s work
  • be stuck in one location
  • be hung up in the administrative elements of running a business

Be specific. These are just examples, and your answers will be different, but I highly recommend going through this process first before deciding to make the jump.


Let me know what you come up with! I’d love to hear about it below. Once you’ve done this, check out the next post: “What services should I offer in my video marketing agency?”

Does my business need a logo?

Want to know the biggest myth about logos?

Most people believe that having a professionally designed logo makes them legitimate or successful.

But surprise! That’s not necessarily true.

Need proof? Take a look at DrudgeReport.com or Craigslist.org. Both have pretty terrible logos, but their businesses work.

So how do you know whether or not your business needs a logo?

Allow me to introduce my patent-pending Does-My-Business-Need-A-Logo Test (*cough* logo forthcoming *cough*).

Let’s start with question #1.

1. Does your business have customers?

A couple of years ago, I built a startup. And oh my, it had the perfect name, the perfect logo, the perfect mascot, the perfect website design, and the perfect treasure trove of puns that tied the whole brand experience up in a beautiful bow.

But it failed. Why?

I forgot rule number one of any business: have customers.

It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the glitz and glamour of branding, design, video, and marketing. To be fair, it’s very exciting! But it doesn’t keep the lights on. Customers—and sales in turn—do.

So, make sure your business actually has customers. People ready to give you money. Or better yet, people currently giving you money.

Because, without sales, a logo doesn’t matter.

Sure, sometimes you do need a logo and brand before you open your doors (if you’re a high-end restaurant, for example). But by and large, you should have customers first.

If you have a business like that, or already have sales or customers, proceed to question #2.

2. Do people actually care about your logo?

If you’re adding value and people are paying for your service, perhaps you don’t need a logo at all. Perhaps just the name in a simple font will do.

I’ve met a lot of amazing small business owners who have a very simple logo (of which they are unnecessarily ashamed) that does exactly what it needs to do.

On the other hand, if you get a few smirks and funny looks when customers see your logo, it might be a good idea to invest in a professionally developed logo.

Why? You guessed it. Because it’s probably costing you sales.

This is especially true of high-end brands. If you’re selling wristwatches for $300, and your logo says ‘two-bit timepiece,’ you’re probably missing out on sales. That’s when a timelessly elegant logo and brand that says ‘prestige’ could be a wise investment.

After all, brand is what gives Nike shoes and Apple computers their magical aura of ‘extra value.’ You know, the thing that makes you say, “take my money.”

The key here is… 

If brand is important to your customers—and important to your customer’s perception of the value of your product—invest in a professional logo.

Punchline

If you’re running a successful business that has its own name, you’ll probably need a logo of some sort. But unless brand is important to your customer, you probably don’t need it to be perfect or designed by Jackson Pollock.

Actually, can you imagine what that logo would look like?


Have any logo horror stories or something else you’d like to know? Would love to hear your thoughts below!

Stay tuned for more information on what to know before picking a logo designer and how to find a designer that is right for your business or personal brand!

How to meet new clients

You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it. “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.”

But how do you meet the “who”?

Hint: it’s not LinkedIn.

Over the course of several years, I can count on one hand the number of referrals / opportunities that have come from a LinkedIn connection.

In my experience, LinkedIn serves to cement relationships, but does not form them nor maintain them.

Yes, there have been some good opportunities that have come from cold connections on LinkedIn, but those have been the exception, not the rule. For that reason, I don’t recommend abandoning it completely, merely shifting the focus to…

Face-to-face meetings.

The human brain is a funny thing. According to Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why,” we humans tend to make our decisions emotionally, then justify them rationally. This explains the very human tendency towards “impulse purchases” and “going with our gut.”

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that business isn’t emotional. I’ve heard multiple stories of billion-dollar deals that went south because someone got ‘bad vibes’ at the signing.

So, in a world of emotional decision-making, the best possible way you can connect with anyone is by meeting them face-to-face. Sharing the warmth of true—and genuine—face-to-face fellowship.

But how does that happen? I’m about to say a word that makes me cringe…

Networking.

If you’ve been around a long enough time, this word probably rubs you the wrong way too.

Conjured forth in your mind is the image of the ‘used car salesman’ type, dressed in a sleazy suit, whose sole aim is to get his business card in your pocket. You feel like a target, not a person. To him, networking is an end, not the means to an end.

This is not what I mean by networking.

What I mean is merely the act of getting yourself out there to meet people—NOT meeting people with the animal instinct of taking down a kill. That makes people uncomfortable. When was the last time you enjoyed walking into a used car dealership?

But to do this—to do networking right—you have to…

Reset your goal.

Before you go to any networking event, you need to eliminate your expectations and reset your goal.

Your primary goal is NOT to:

  • land a deal
  • make people like you
  • force a relationship
  • get someone’s contact info

Your primary goal IS to:

  • be yourself
  • be relaxed
  • have fun
  • make other people have fun

The fact is that people generally gravitate towards confident, fun, relaxed people. So be that person. Be you.

And guess what! If people enjoy being around you, they’ll look for any excuse to do so—even if that means working with you.

To quote my father, a Chairman and CEO of a NASDAQ-traded company,

“People like doing business with their friends.”

So, take the pressure off. Reset your goal. And have fun. Now you’re ready to get out there, so let’s…

Find networking events.

I’ve been to good networking events and I’ve been to bad networking events. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Choose your location carefully.

This depends on your business. If you’re looking to meet with executives of enterprise companies, you’ll probably need to go to a major city. But if you’re just looking to build inroads in your local community, a chamber of commerce meeting might be perfect.

2. Search for your industry and related industries.

If you’re in video production, go to video production gatherings, sure, but also go to marketing events, startup launches, anywhere you might meet interesting people who might eventually need your services.

3. Do your research.

Time is money. Don’t waste either. Do a bit of research into the event itself, read comments, posts, etc. about the event to see what types of people will be there. Are they your target market? Are they well-funded? Can they use your product or service?

When searching, obviously used Google (or your preferred search engine), but, depending on what you’re looking for, you can also try Meetup.com.

But always remember, the goal here is to find people that you’d enjoy working with, so be creative and have fun!


Have another idea for how to meet clients? Or perhaps have a networking horror story? Would love to hear it below!

Does my business need a video?

If you’re like most business owners, managers, or executives, you’ve probably heard about the power of video…

Palpatine: "Unlimited Power"

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

But how do you know if it’s right for your business?

As a creative director at a marketing agency, I often encounter companies looking to create a video. But when pressed as to why, they don’t really know.

So, I usually ask them three questions.

1. Do you have a goal for the video?

You’d be surprised how many people aren’t certain about what they want the video to accomplish.

Usually, we respond by guiding them through a series of discovery questions (stay tuned for more of these in a future blog post):

  • Who is your audience / target market?
  • What do you want them to do after seeing the video?
  • Where will they encounter the video?

Ultimately, you need to know what you want the video to actually do for you:

  • I want existing customers to see our newest offering, go to our site, and buy it.
  • I want employees to see the effect of their work on the world around them and to be proud to be a part of this company.
  • I want to reach new customers on social media and give them a taste of something we’re launching soon. We’d love to have them go to a landing page and leave their email with us.
  • I want a scaleable solution to train folks on how to use our system—that way we don’t get so many training calls.

Once you have this nailed down, it’s time to ask…

2. Is video the best way to accomplish that goal?

Video is incredibly powerful at arresting the attentions of viewers. In fact, just having a video on your homepage drops your bounce rate (the percentage of people who leave immediately after visiting your site) by an average of 34%!

It also has the ability to inspire and passionately communicate your company’s ethos better than most other media. In that respect, video is king.

But sometimes, you actually don’t need video to accomplish your goals. Sometimes a billboard ad is better. Or an email marketing campaign. Or even just a product demo party.

For example, say you want to win over upper management’s approval of an internal project you’re working on. You can certainly make a video. But perhaps just showing them the product and allowing them to use it will cast your vision just as well. But… if you want to host a hundred demo parties, perhaps video is your answer.

More often than not, video is the right approach, but it’s helpful to pause and think through why.

Once you have a goal and know that video is the best way to accomplish it, it’s time to ask…

3. Are you prepared to spend the money?

Quality video is expensive."I need video, take my money."

One commercial-length A-level cinematic live action video can range anywhere from $5k to $500k or more (if you’re in the league of Nike or Apple). And it’s similar for animation.

This is due in part to all of the processes and expenses involved. Discovery, concept, script, storyboard, producing, equipment, locations, talent, crew, edit, sound design, color, music, mix, master—the list goes on and on.

You can cut some corners, but usually at the expense of time and/or quality. And frankly, most ‘budget’ production companies usually do a poor job in both arenas. When it comes to video, it pays to find a quality partner that will do it right.

That said, that’s just the cost of producing a video, not the cost of distributing it. If you’re planning on doing an ad spend, you’ll need to set aside a good amount to make sure you’re actually getting the most out of your investment. Otherwise, what’s the point?

A nice video no one sees is as good as no video.

So, set aside a budget for the video production and leave enough room for your advertising spend.


If you’ve answered yes to all three items, it seems like your business is ready for a video! Stay tuned for future blog posts on how to select a good video partner.

And hey, if you’ve created a video for your business and have some pointers, leave them below! Would love to hear them.

How to write shorter emails (and not sound like a jerk)

RBE—it’s a thing, just like RBF is a thing. So if you’re concerned you have Resting [Blank] Emails, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Luckily, there is a cure. The magical email template of unicorns and rainbows! Check it out below.

Step 1: The Happy Salutation

The first step to dodging jerk-dom is to swap in a more casual salutation.

Hey John,

Or…

Hi John,

But never

Hiiya Johnny,

Or…

Hola Juanito,

(Unless you’ve communicated in Spanish before… and his name is Juanito)

Or…

Heeeeereee’s Johnny!

Come on, we have standards.

Unless you know the person super well, and enjoy occasionally being a doofus like I do, don’t get too comfortable right up front.

Step 2: The One-Two Relational Question

Next, you probably ought to care a little about the person you’re emailing, so ask a question! Could be about weather…

How is life on the east coast? Not too cold, I hope?

Or sports…

Hope you’re having an epic March. How’s your bracket?

Or family…

How’s the family? You guys recuperated from the epic vacation?

Or business…

How’re things going at Apple? You meet Johnny Ive yet?

Or Star Wars… (I may or may not have actually used this)

Glad to meet another Star Wars nerd! Btw, what’d you think of Solo?

Note that this always starts with something general, then moves to something specific to them.

The key here is to find a point of personal connection.

Step 3: The Business Part

Alrighty, now it’s time to get down to the brass tacks.

Sidenote: just learned that it is, in fact, “brass tacks” not “brass tax” nor “bass tracks.”

Anyways, be short and sweet and state your business. You likely won’t need to dress this up, since Steps 1 and 2 have given you a bit of relational capital in the email.

So, just be respectful, maybe even fun and sassy—just don’t be a jerk.

Step 4: The Happy Sum Up

After doing your business (tee hee), make sure to end positively.

If you’re working on a project together…

Excited about where this is headed. Can’t wait to make it happen!

Awaiting feedback…

Looking forward to hearing what you think!

Trying to close a deal…

Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to hop on the phone anytime!

Or just building relationship…

Would love to catch up on the phone and hear how everything’s going for you in the new job! Give me a jingle anytime.

Note the presence—but not overuse—of exclamation points. Be excited, not unhinged.

Step 5: The Complimentary Close

Instead of just your name, or a “Sincerely,” throw something happy in like…

Thanks,

Or…

Thanks!

Or…

Best,

Or…

Cheers,

Or find your own little closing line. Just steer clear of “Yippee ki-yay mother….”


As a guiding rule, enjoy your own emails. Have fun, let your personality into it a bit, but remember to balance all of that with a professional tone.

That’s it! You’re off to the races. Oh, and if you have some pointers to share, would love to hear them below!