The global spread of COVID-19 is changing the way businesses conduct their daily operations as employees are forced to work from home in compliance with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) basic protective measures. For those new to working at home, this can present several challenges.. As someone who has “been there, done that” for nearly two decades, I have learned a few tricks to stay focused and remain productive while working and living under one roof. Here are my seven top tips that I hope will help you successfully navigate working from home.
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace
In an ideal world, you would have a dedicated office with a computer or laptop, printer, file cabinet, and dedicated phone line. However, not everyone has a separate space that they can turn into an office. If this situation applies to you, find an area of your home that is relatively quiet, well lit, and away from constant family traffic where you can set up your temporary office.
2. Maintain Regular Hours
Set a schedule and stick to it. The more you can maintain regular hours, the more productive you will be. Furthermore, a regular work schedule will help you maintain a better work-life balance.
Should your employer requires you to track your hours, I highly recommend you download one of the several apps on the market that will automatically track your time. One of my favorites is Toggl. This app tracks your hours and manages your workflow. Such tracking lets you see how you spend your time and use that data to break down your hours by projects, clients, and tasks.
3. Set Boundaries for Yourself and Others
Treat your home office like any other work environment. If you have children at home, let them know that they are not allowed to interrupt you while you are “at work”. Additionally, avoid answering personal calls that can wait until after work hours. The same rule should be applied to running errands. If you don’t typically go to the dry cleaners or take your dog for a walk during your normal work day, don’t start now. It is easy to get caught up in these things and lose valuable productivity.
4. Work Smarter Not Harder
Try to plan your day around your biological clock. Some of us, myself included, are more productive in the early morning. You should find a schedule that makes most sense for you. That said, if you have a family at home, you may want to adjust your schedule around their activities to avoid unnecessary distractions.
5. Schedule Breaks
All work and no play can do more harm than good. Be sure to take the occasional break when you are feeling tired or overwhelmed. It’s especially important to take breaks when working from home. Try to get outside at least once a day, even if it’s to walk around the block. Not only will it break up your day, studies suggest that walking outside “opens up the free flow of ideas.”
6. Don't Hesitate to Ask for What You Need
Be sure to ask your employer for what you need to get your job done right while doing work from home. This might include a proper monitor, keyboard, mouse, chair, printer, software, internet speed and so forth. Organizations that are accustomed to remote employees often have a budget for home office equipment. If your employer cannot afford to purchase equipment, you may suggest renting or buying used equipment.
7. Get A Work Phone Number
Set up a phone number that you only use for work. It doesn't have to be a landline, or even a second mobile phone. Companies like Google Voice and Skype offer free VoIP service. Having a separate work number will help you identify important business calls and avoid the pitfall of taking personal calls while working.
One of the hardest things for me about working from my home has always been when to quit working. For those of you who are workaholics, easy access to files and everything you need to continue working may cause you to burn out, or even worse family problems. Remember, to set a work schedule and stick to it as much as possible. These are unique times that require unusual discipline, especially when working from home.
Best of luck!
In my last blog, I discussed strategies for making a great video which includes identifying your goal and intended target audience. Now comes the fun part, flexing your creative muscle.
The most effective videos are timeless and deliver instant association with the products or services such as Hershey’s Christmas ad. Many of us have grown up with the soft-sell ad featuring 11 chocolates “ringing” to the tune of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” Hershey’s has run this ad since its inception in 1989 and consumer’s don’t get tired of seeing it because it only runs for a few months out of the year. Furthermore, the product hasn’t changed which makes the commercial timeless.
Similar to Hershey’s nostalgia approach, ads with humor are considered soft-sell and are designed to get the consumer's attention without being too direct in the sales pitch. Beer commercials that feature humor are some of the more popular soft-selling advertisements on television today. Advertisers who use humor are looking to associate a positive feeling with their products. This approach is intended to entertain rather than make the viewer feel like they are watching a commercial.
The soft-sell approach works well for companies looking to increase brand recognition and create a rapport with consumers. On the other hand, a hard-sell approach is intended to create a feeling of urgency for the consumer. Car dealers are notorious for producing and running these types of ads.
In addition to nostalgia and humor, you may also want to consider other tones such as: cute, caring, or conservative/traditional.
Once you have decided on the tone of your video, you should decide on a structure. Without some preplanning and structure in mind before you start recording, it’s all too easy to ramble and get off topic. Think of your video as a short-movie. It should have a beginning, a middle, and end.
Below are some popular video structures to choose from:
Donut: This includes music and/or action at the start and close of the video with a very specific message in the middle. The structure makes it easy and more affordable to update your video message at a later date.
Dramatic: This approach attempts to create interest by appealing to the viewer’s emotional involvement. The primary purpose of the commercial is to create a feeling or mood. Hallmark Christmas ads are a good example.
Endorsement: Often delivered by a celebrity or authority who advocates or recommends that product or service but does not claim personal use or satisfaction.
Testimonial: These videos feature customer endorsements of a product and or service. They may include one individual or more than one person.
Vignettes: A series of two or more stories that can stand alone.
Slice of Life: An interplay between two or more people that portrays a conceivable real life situation with continuity of action. Insurance companies like Progressive, All-State, and Geico are great examples of this.
Surprise and Suspense: This structure is self-explanatory and a bit challenging for a novice writer or producer.
Regardless of which type of ad you choose to create, the true measure of success should always be based on consumer response. Thus, when it comes to commercial videos, you can expect Hallmark will continue to strive for emotional response while auto dealers continue to drive home their messages by using the hard-sell approach. As the saying goes, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Video marketing is a strategy that every small business owner should consider. Not only is it the most impactful and engaging form of marketing, if done properly, it can increase brand recognition and sales.
In today’s digital world, businesses can produce a single video for a multitude of platforms, including TV, websites, social media, and YouTube..
Depending on your audience, most consumers would rather watch an informative video about your company than scroll down a long page of text. Right now, digital video advertising is a top marketing trend with no signs of stopping.
If you are thinking about creating a video for your business, the following tips will help you get the job done right.
How to Make an Effective Video Ad
1. Know Your Audience
Whether you are producing a video for a TV ad or for the internet, it is important to know what type of video will appeal to your prospects. A video produced for children would not necessarily appeal to adults and visa versa. While an animated video may get the attention of children or millennials, adults 50 and older are more likely to respond to a slice of life video.
2. Make the First Few Seconds Count
The beginning of your video is critical and should grab your audience’s attention right away. For example: You could lead with a common problem and let your listeners know you have the solution. Another option to consider is to use a unique sound or unexpected visual element. Remember, whatever you decide, the first few seconds should engage the viewer to watch to the end.
3. Use a Script
Not everybody can ad-lib successfully in front of a video camera. Even the pros like Oprah and Flo, the fictional character in the Progressive ads rely on scripts. It’s essential to have well-written content in any format, but it is especially important when it comes to video. Along with the verbal content, be sure to include all visuals and sound effects in your script.
4. Make Your Message Clear
Let viewers know why they should choose your brand over your competitors. For example, you may want to share your track record for success, customer testimonials, or offer a discount to new customers. Avoid the temptation to cram too much information in a thirty second video. Stick to one or two main points. If you are doing a longer corporate video, break the “content” into sections much like you would a newsletter or book. It is easier for consumers to digest the information.
5. Time Your Script
Before you shoot a single frame of video, make sure you time the length of your script. Reading it out loud will help you get the most accurate timing. A majority of the TV ads and online videos are 30 seconds or less. Keep this optimal length in mind as you create your video script.
If you are using videos to position your brand, a longer video may be necessary and can be effective. Either way, it’s critical to eliminate unnecessary content so the announcer or on-camera personality can read the script at a comfortable pace.
6. Tell Viewers Why
Your video should tell viewers why your products or services are “the right choice”? Whether it’s quality, value, expert advice, the latest technology, or a superior warranty, you need to give viewers a reason to do business with you.
7. Create A Call To Action
Every advertisement should include a call to action (CTA). This should encourage your prospect to take some sort of action. The CTA can either be filmed, or added through graphics and text.
If you are producing a TV ad, the call to action (at the very least) should appear at the end of the video. Be sure to include your website address if your business is regional or national. You might want to use your phone number instead, if your primary business is local.
Keep these tips in mind as you plan and create your online videos. Whether your goal is to increase sales or brand recognition, you’ll find video marketing to be an effective strategy.
In my next blog, I will share with you tips for structuring a video. You don’t want to miss it.
Should you have questions or need help now with a video, contact me at Schoner Communications for a free consultation. I'd be happy to help you..
“We are all in this together” is fast becoming the catchphrase of 2020. Whoever thought we would have a pandemic of this magnitude that is slowing bringing the world to its knees. While this coronavirus is clearly a health crisis, it is also a wake up call, in particular, to small business owners. Times may have been tough before, but nothing like this. That said, if you love what you do, it is not the time to throw in the towel.
As a marketing consultant, the number 1 question I am being asked these days is “How can I make money during the pandemic?” The answer isn’t easy, nor appropriate for all situations. Oh, that I wish it were. But for those who have inventory to sell, or a service that can be provided online, there is hope. Here’s some tips to help your business survive the coronavirus attack.
Step 1: Use Social Media. If you already have accounts, make sure you are posting content at least once a day. If you do not have an account, start with one platform based on your customer demographics. If you don’t know who you customers are, take the time now to figure it out.
Step 2: Update Your Website. Make sure your website content is up-to-date. Delete any old information or products that you no longer carry. Add incentives for people to buy from you, either now or down the road. For example: Save 30% when you buy before April 15 or get a $100 gift certificate for just $85 with no expiration date. The key is to get cash as quickly as possible.
Step 3: Be Proactive. Think about ways you can save money. Yes, that may mean letting employees go. But before you start handing out pink slips to well-trained and loyal employees, consider reducing their hours or pay. Remember, the situation is temporary. Hiring new employees is time consuming and can be costly.
Note: Congress just approved $350 billion in emergency loans for small businesses — and borrowers who maintain or restore their payrolls won’t have to pay back the loans. Click the link below for an easy, step-by-step Small Business Coronavirus Emergency Loan Guide here:
Step 4: Create Content. Writing a blog not only helps create loyal consumers, it also gives them a reason to come back to your website. Furthermore, blogging improves your website search engine ranking. If you are not adept at writing, there are countless ghost bloggers who may be out of work and would love to work with you.
Step 5: Be Intentional. Now is the time to really think about what it is you have to offer consumers. Make sure all your content reflects your company brand and benefits. If you are using social media, don’t just focus on selling. By the mere name of it, social media is intended to create relationships. Think of what personal information you are willing to share so that your audience can better connect with you.
Finally, while you may be frustrated and have every right to be, I encourage you to try to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m pretty confident there is one. So why not use this time as an opportunity to tackle some overdo projects. I personally have spent several hours reorganizing my files. It felt good.
Hang in there. Stay healthy and contact me if I can help you.