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Where’s Your YouTube Channel? September 19, 2012

Posted by David Dirks in Becoming A Thought Leader, Digital Media Strategy, YouTube Channel Strategy.
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Do you have your own YouTube Channel for your business?  If yes, congrats to you as you are taking advantage of yet another great opportunity to expand you market presence and brand.  Oh, and you’ll be able to sell more products or services over time too.  If you answered that question with a no, then I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that your business doesn’t have its own YouTube Channel.

YouTube used to be the place were you could see cuddly little animals performing stupid tricks (or sometimes funny ones).  Or it was the place you’d find dumb pranks or really dumb tricks.  It still is but to a much lesser extent than before…especially when Google decided to purchase YouTube and make it part of its product family a few short years ago.  Since them, Google has really revved up the YouTube business engines.  The YouTube of today is moving in the direction of providing original programming, providing an expanded array of advertising options and now a vastly improved (and valuable) analytics package like its great Google Analytics does for websites today.

So, why consider building a YouTube Channel?  For one, YouTube represents a huge organic search engine with literally millions and millions of people scouring for information on just about any topic you can think of (that is legal and not pornagraphic of course).  Think of YouTube as you do with Google’s organic search engine.  Every day people are looking for information products, services, ideas on a wide variety of topics…including whatever it is your business does and how it does it.

I don’t care what business you are in, people are looking for real and valuable information that will in some way help them.  I can also tell you what they aren’t looking for: being sold a product or service…at least not directly like some carnival barker.

Want to see the emerging direction of YouTube?  Check out this channel:

http://www.youtube.com/howcast

Notice that Howcast has over 389,000 subscribers and over 650,000,000 views…something we marketers dream about.  Now, you might not have that many subscribers or views but you certainly can develop a large following in the context of your business model.

Here’s an example of a law firm that has developed a YouTube channel that drives between 30-40% of their new client flow.

http://www.youtube.com/sparandbernstein

Spar and Bernstein has 529 subscribers which is excellent but the telling number is the 742,000+ views the channel has had since it started in 2007.  The video on most of its 546 clips is not the best quality but that doesn’t stop people searching for information on immigration law from finding and watching it.  Brad Bernstein, who in my opinion is not only a top notch immigration attorney but also a marketing visionary.  In 2007, he decided to tape his daily radio show and then post the video clips of the show onto his YouTube channel.  The results over time have been spectacular in the context of driving real business to the firm.  And, if you watch the videos, they are educational as Bernstein is answer live questions from his radio show listener audience.

YouTube.  It’s not the old YouTube you used to know.
Watch for more upcoming posts on establishing a YouTube channel for your business.  You can do it!

Retailing Winners: Deep Discounters and Used Re-Sellers January 23, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, business strategy, Increasing Your Profitability, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Sales Tactics.
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David DirksWe should have seen this one coming.  While most of retailing struggles, there are those who are doing just fine, thank you.  I noted a recent cnbc.com report that told the story of Family Dollar Stores with quarterly profits jumping 14% in the 4th quarter of 2008.  Deep discount stores have for a long time been the butt end of business jokes but no more.  If every dog has its day, then this dog is having a good one.  Mind you, stores like Family Dollar and 99cent Power have always done well and only just increase their sales and profit tempo by several fold in tough times like this.

Gamestop is another interesting retailing story.  They sell both gaming hardware and software but with  a twist:  they also re-sell used gaming equipment and gaming software.  Just think of it.  When some people move up to the next system or change systems, they are often stuck with  a substantial inventory of gaming hardware and game cartridges.  However, they realized that there is a very vibrant and growing secondary market for this stuff.  So they buy it outright and re-sell it at good profit.  So far, the kids can’t get enough of this stuff and keep buying and selling.  Gamestop also offers a discount off of new games if you bring one in for trade.  Either way, they make a good profit.

You might be familiar with a franchise called “Play It Again Sports” that buys and then re-sells used sporting good equipment of all kinds.  What an idea!  Take the stuff that we who have kids seem to accumulate in droves, buy it on cheap (we just want to get rid of it not realize an ROI!), and re-sell it to folks who are smarter than we are (because they can buy sports equipment in excellent condition for a fraction of the cost we paid for it).  It’s a great play but especially in times like these where every dollar spent is measured carefully.

What can we learn from these retailers?  Here are a few questions I’d be asking myself:

  • What part of my business could take advantage of this concept of offering deeply discounted or re-selling high quality, slightly used products?  For example, if I owned a retail shop that sold hi-tech equipment (think like a Best Buy but on a smaller scale), I might seriously consider buying slightly used, ‘late-model’, high-quality equipment from folks who are looking to unload it for cash.

I’m not suggesting here that you sell junk.  Leave that to the yard sales to move.  Instead, you are creating another source of incremental sales revenue and profits by way of offering a less expensive alternative to ‘new’.  Don’t worry about selling the new product as there will always be those who will only buy new…however, in these times there are a lot less of them.

  • Don’t get hung up on the concept of selling slightly used products.  Don’t let your pride get in the way of your ability to DRIVE TRAFFIC TO YOUR STORE.  This is about creating another level of differentiation that customers will value.
  • Set up a distinct area of your store or website that offers the re-sale product and promote the heck out of it.  Nine times out of ten if it doesn’t work, it’s because it wasn’t promoted  every way possible.  You can build it but if they don’t know about it, they won’t come.
  • You have to let folks know you are a buyer of product.  You have to market to the people who own the product you want to resell.  If you promote to sell product, you also have to do the same to buy it.
  • Buy low, sell high.  Establish an idea of what the used product goes for on the market given different levels or grades of quality.  Ebay is a great place to start.  Look there to see what used items in that category are going for.
  • Set high quality standards for the used products you buy.  The good news is that you don’t have to buy anything that you deem junk.  Set standards for quality (and safety) that anyone could use to measure whether a used product is worthy of you buying.

This concept of re-selling slightly used product or deeply discounted new product doesn’t fit every business model.  Remember, this is about giving customers and potential customers a reason to come to your store (or retail website).

Beating a Recession – 8 December 10, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Innovation: Not Just for the Big Dogz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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David DirksI’m always on the prowl for ideas that can help combat the economic slowdown.  Here are two that I think are more than worth considering:

  • Become a disruptor in your industry or business. Creating products, services, or processes that disrupt your competition and put them on the defensive is a sure way to create market differentiation.  As I always say, the key to any Big Dogz performance is how effectively they differentiate themselves, in a positive manner, from their competitors.  Apple’s iPhone is a great example of a disruptive product.  Who would have thought that a computer company would introduce a product platform that not only is superior to its competition, but has the ability to disrupt the entire cell phone industry?

Another excellent example is a firm called Axiom.  Axiom is a disrupter in the rather tradition-bound law field.  What makes Axiom a disrupter?  It’s how they have harnessed the internet to create a web-based law firm.  Their attorney’s do not work from dark, hardwood-paneled offices.  Rather, they work from their homes.  The Axiom model hires the best attorneys from some of the top law firms in the country and gives them the freedom to work with clients in a web-based environment.  What value do their clients get?  Well, because they have dramatically lower operating costs compared to a traditional highpowered law firm, they can offer their services at rates that can be 50% lower than those charged by traditional, office-bound law firms.

How can you create products, services, or business processes that can create disruption in your field?

  • Empower your sales team to offer discounts on products and/or services, ON THE SPOT. For most retailers and service firms, this would give you heartburn.  Just the thought of empowering your peeps to give an on the spot discount probably gives you the jeebies.  However, there is a method to this seeming madness.  Note:  I’m NOT suggesting that your sales teams ask a customer if they want a discount.  That doesn’t work.  Rather, this is about helping a client who asks about a discount (“yes, I can give you 10% if you order this today”) or is on the fence teetering in the direction of a buy and needs just a little prompting.

Empowering your sales teams to offer a specified discount (I was only using 10% as an example…you can make it whatever you can afford) cuts through the red tape and can possibly save a sale that might otherwise walk out the door.   Customers today want a ‘deal’.  Empower your people to give it to them.  When the good times were here not long ago, you might not have worried about losing those kinds of sales.  The good times are gone.  But you already knew that.

Beating a Recession – 6 November 17, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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David DirksThe title of this blog entry gives away a powerful (and seemingly obvious) way to battle your way to success in a time of great economic uncertainty.  But what is obvious is sometimes the most difficult to do.  If you are finding your business slowly falling into lower sales, revenues, and profits, it’s time to take inventory of your current line up of products and/or services.

When money gets tight and your customers measure every purchase carefully, you need to make sure you have the right mix of products and services they will still be eager to consider and purchase.  Here are a few things you can do to insure you have a recession-proof product & service mix:

•    Get rid of slow selling inventory or service packages now.  I’d swear that some business owners have an emotional attachment to products or services they personally.  They keep them because THEY like them, in spite of how well t hey sell.  If they aren’t selling and taking up space, it might be time to get rid of them.  Make sure you’re not getting rid of products or services that just need to be positioned more effectively so that your customers see the value of spending recessionary money on them.
•    Good financial metrics and reporting are the keys to understanding what product and service lines are produce the best return in a time when people are highly critical of any and all purchases.
•    Ask yourself:  In my business, what products and services will customers still NEED to buy regardless of the economic times?  Am I offering those products/services now?
•    Have you asked your customers what products or services they would find most valuable in hard economic times?  If you haven’t, you should.  Obvious but not usually done.
•    Bundled products and services together whenever possible.  When customers get tight with their purchases, nothing speaks VALUE FOR THE BUCK than a bundle of products and services together.
•    Make sure you check out your competition on a regular basis to monitor how they are (or aren’t) changing up their products and services. What are they doing well that you might not be doing?

Creating products and services that customers NEED and VALUE during tight times is one way to make sure your business survives through all business cycles.  Yes, I know, sounds like a no-brainer but find a business that conducts a rigorous review of their products and services on a 24/7 basis.  Your customer will pay for products that they feel are essential and hold the most value for the money they have to allocate to those purchases.