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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!

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Shifting Your Business Strategy – 5 September 11, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy.
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David DirksShifting a business strategy doesn’t always mean that it will be successful.  However, business is about risk and making investments in strategy options that seemed to show the most promise.  Often times the need to shift business strategy is driven by events outside the span of control that a company normally exercises.  Then again, prior business strategy decisions that didn’t pan out with the necessary results will require you to re-adjust.

IBM has long been known for its huge investment and consistent commitment to research & development, the incubator for innovative products and services the feed revenues and profitability.  In the September 7 issue of BusinessWeek, there was a story on how IBM is making some significant changes in how it manages its R & D process.  One change that is particularly eye-opening is how IBM is shifting how it shares and partners with others in R & D efforts.

Traditionally, IBM research was in locked-down mode; a closely guarded and very secretive organization.  Now, IBM is cutting deals with corporations and research universities across the globe to collaborate on research.  Intellectual property issues aside (and that is no small issue by the way), this shift in business strategy gives IBM several key advantages:

1.  By sharing the cost of R & D with key partners, IBM gets more bang for its research budget than ever before.

2.  The collaborative process allows IBM to get viewpoints and insights to research that it normally wouldn’t get access to and thereby exposes its researchers to potentially more ideas.

3.  Globalization of IBM research by collaborating with foreign governments and major research universities gives IBM a leg-up on competitors when it comes time to start selling products and services.  If you have a critical relationship with someone like IBM that is working, why wouldn’t you consider buying their products and services?  This strategy allows IBM to develop key customer relationships in places that it had not considered before in the context of sharing research.

Will this R & D strategy shift work?  The jury is still out on that and it will take some time to see the full measure and benefit of the new open collaboration on research.  IBM is willing to make a real investment in this strategy primarily because it has so many positive outcomes for the company if it executes it effectively.

Shifting Your Business Strategy – 3 August 24, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Solving Business Problems.
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David DirksWaiting for things to ‘get better’ is not a strategy.  Or least, it’s not a winning strategy.  Waiting for things to ‘get back to normal’ is just an opportunity for someone else to eat your lunch.  I hear too often from business owners who echo those sentiments.  Whatever the outcome of any economic cycle, the high performing Big Dogz who grow through them are the ones who win longevity.

It’s quite natural for a business owner to want to hunker down, close the hatches, and wait the economic storm out.  Some businesses will survive and others will not.  Let me ask you: who wants to be just a ‘survivor’ when you can do better?

How many do you know that own a business that are using the ‘wait and see’ approach as an excuse to hide in the bunker until the shelling stops?  Probably more than you and I know of.

The good news is that you can take advantage of this or any other times of great uncertainty by looking for opportunities that you can leverage to grow your business.  I’m just scratching the surface here but some things to consider:

  • Work harder to find ways to free up cash that can be deployed to expand your business.  The common response in tougher times is to free up cash and then hoard it until the good times come again.  Obviously not entirely out of order to keep some cash in reserve but many businesses just hoard it.  By the time anyone realizes the good times are back again, it’s too late for you to find opportunities to invest some of that hoard.

What to invest in during tough business climates?

  • Upgrade to more efficient and powerful equipment.   The right investments could reduce your costs on a product or service line is one possibility if it makes your business provide services faster, better, and cheaper.
  • You could take advantage of a weak competitor in a nearby geography that you currently don’t serve and hire additional sales firepower to build business there.
  • Buying a competitor when it makes sense and the price is right.
  • Develop & expand your product and services lines.  We’re often quick to prune the losers (or at least we should be) and much too slow to replace with products/services that could keep revenues moving forward.
  • Upgrading customer services.  Too often this is left in place or cut back.  High performing companies make sure that any customer touchpoints are responsive and best-in-class.
  • Establish a strategic partnership(s) with other businesses that are complimentary and have high potential to drive revenue growth.  Hunkering down can blind us to opportunities that are staring us right in the face if you only took the time to look.

None of this is easy to do.  That said, what it does take to do this well is 1) constant and deep scanning of our business environment to find and connect with opportunities and 2) the internal ability to move on those opportunities that won’t be there if you wait for the ‘good times’ to come back again.

Beating a Recession – 9 January 28, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Increasing Your Profitability, Recession: How to Beat It!, Solving Business Problems.
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David DirksI think I’ve found my dream job.  In the last several years, you might have heard this title being flaunted around and wondered what it meant.  Chief Revenue Officer.  When I first heard this title I’ll admit I thought it was a bit over the top.  Over time, with a bit more insight and study, I see this relatively newcomer position in a different light.  I think it actually makes sense!

Most organizations are run with functional silos like sales, marketing, customer service, product development, research & development, and on and on.  In a smaller business you’ll surely have less silos like these (as you may be wearing all the hats!), but the ‘division of function’ is usually there in one form or another.

The issue can be summed up in one word: inefficiency.  No matter how well your organization does, it suffers to one degree or another from the inefficiencies caused by functional roles.  The sales people are responsible for driving sales.  The marketing people are responsible for driving consumer interest in your products/services.  The customer service people take care of things after the sale.  Great people within great functions but the difference is that they generally see into the forest but not over the trees.  Everyone is focused on making sure they do their part in the most optimized way but not necessarily able to see the big picture.

Even if all these functions run well, you can bet there are plenty of missed opportunities to drive revenues and profits higher.  Enter the Chief Revenue Officer whose job it is to find opportunities for increasing revenues by leveraging existing resources that are underutilized today.

Let me give you a great example using the newspaper industry.  Traditional newspapers are struggling mightily to figure out how to stay alive, let alone grow revenues.  Everyone is trying to bridge the gap between the printed paper and the digital paper and figure out how to make money at it.

With all that focus on trying to figure out what the business model for traditional newsprint media should be, little has become of it.  Instead, we see more newspapers and other publishers going out of business or into bankruptcy re-organization.  It’s a dire state of affairs not made any bit easier by this current economic downturn.

The print media is exactly where I’d want to be the CRO.  Journalists focus on the great work of producing excellent journalism, as they should.  Hiring a CRO who is NOT married to the sterotypes of traditional publishing is who you want. Why?  Simply because you need someone who can look over and into the entire organization and be able to QUESTION EVERYTHING.

Why?  What?  When?  Where?  How?

If I was a CRO of a newspaper publisher, my task would be to question everything.  I would look deep for resources that were underutilized across the organization, not just in one department.  I would look to connect the dots on processes that are unconnected and less effective at generating revenue.

As a publishing CRO, here are some places I’d start in an effort to improve and grow revenues for a traditional print media publisher:

Follow the People magazine and Harvard examples. People magazine popularized the concept of creating special ‘Year in Review’ issues are to this day one of their best selling issues even though it’s more of a soft cover book than magazine.  Did I mention that it’s very profitable too?  Their secret sauce?  They take the best and most exciting content pieces written during the year and re-package them into a ‘new’ content piece.

Harvard University has a extremely talented group of professors who are required to publish as a part of their teaching role.  Harvard Publishing takes those many content articles produced over the years and creates special edition books that focus one speciality area such as innovation or venture management.  What did they do?  They re-packaged content and distribute it on a wider and broader basis.  Very profitable business for them.

What does a newspaper produce every day? Content.  Tons of content primarily sold only in one way: through the daily or weekly paper.  Then it’s offered for free on their website the same day (with few ads either).  The content that most people like to see is local coverage of newsworthy events or top local issues of the day.  What are the most read sections of the paper?  Primarily the business section and the sports section.

Here’s the game:  How about re-packaging local sports highlights during the year and make it available to readers?  What parent wouldn’t want a copy of that to see a photo of their son or see their local team in print?  What about a special community ‘Year in Review 200X’ that was composed of some of the best local stories of the year?  Why not?  If you publish 365 days a year, you’re bound to have excellent content that people will have long forgotten except for a nicely bound softcover magazine that capture those fascinating highlights forever?  What about a series of business guides based on stories and columns written on a variety of business subjects during the year?

You get the picture.

I like the idea of hiring an unbiased, objective, question-everything Chief Revenue Officer.  What an opportunity to really be held accountable for producing new sources of revenue and increasing the profits from revenue streams already in hand!

More on this in an upcoming post.  Stay tuned.