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(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
by, Lesa Seibert, President, Xstreme Media

As we have looked at over the past couple of weeks, the case for implementing multimedia into your marketing, sales or advertising is clear. What can your business or non-profit do to cut its costs? The first method involves separating the development of the creative (the message, concepts, and storyboards) from the production (design, animation, and sound production), or at least finding ways to control it.  The creative time spent by designers and project managers, as the most expensive factor of production.  Therefore, if a business has already developed a detailed creative concept, storyboard, schematics, or other documentation of what needs to be done, it can reduce the total cost of producing multimedia by utilizing a small design firm or freelancer. Costs are cut because the time and skill spent on one creative is replaced by an in-house team. Of course, to ensure success, only those small businesses who believe they possess strong creative assets (with professional advertising or marketing expertise) should attempt this approach.

Once you select a company for your creative and production, make sure that the creative team understands the message you need to convey.  Prepare as much information about your target audience, goals, customers, products and services as possible. Develop a few rough concepts of your own, in-house, to help orient the creative team. Finally, discuss these endeavors with your chosen company up front and negotiate a reduction in fees if you both agree that the information you provide is helpful.

A second way to cut costs is to ask for fixed price development. This direction can mean losing some flexibility in the design of your site. However, the tradeoff can be worthwhile if you are able to exert self-discipline. For that reason, when choosing fixed price development, be limited with revisions, as you only get a few as part of a fixed price. Avoid common mistakes such as being unsure of what design direction you desire or being unsure of your marketing message. Carefully consider each deliverable in order to provide all your comments in as few phases as possible - take a couple of days, at least, to do this.

Finally, when working with a firm, make sure that you provide them with only one point of contact so they don't spend additional time coordinating between people in your company - although seemingly amusing, that mistake is quite common, especially so with growing businesses. Requiring your designer to handle internal coordination of ideas leads to dramatic extensions in project timelines, so be sure that you appoint someone internally to act as a point of contact and clearinghouse of internal discussion. Another way to save on multimedia costs is by concentrating on developing powerful ideas while keeping implementation simple. When too much time is spent on design and not enough on concept, you will waste production money and effort.  Work with the designer to simplify the production process by brainstorming easier ways to animate key concepts, and be open to using less labor intensive "vector" animation rather than 3D animations or video production. When it comes to sound, seek out talented and "undiscovered" freelance musicians or voiceover actors working from home who can provide original audio that will cut licensing costs.

The best choice for small businesses is a design company employing a hybrid approach, where creative development and high level design is handled by professionals that you can meet and build rapport with.  Sometimes a less polished approach for video is a perfect fit, especially when you are doing how to's or testimonials.

By controlling the costs of multimedia your business can afford a highly effective communication tool that can gain site visitors' or ad viewers' interest. Remember these key points:

  • Think "simple" when it comes to producing animations - focus on strong ideas instead.
  • Be disciplined with your revisions to avoid charges for many rounds of changes.
  • Take over creative development and let your designers simply produce your vision when your in-house creative is strong.
  • Small firms can be great partners, as they usually spend more time with their clients and produce more wanted results.  They are usually also less expensive.

One never needs to cut out quality while cutting costs. Strong concepts and ideas will make the biggest difference in your presentation's success at the end of the day.

by, Lesa Seibert, President, Xstreme Media

The Effectiveness of Multimedia

Last week we looked at the component that affect cost.  This week we will look at the effectiveness of your multimedia production(s).

Most Multimedia presentations are very effective at getting people's attention.  Multimedia results in a higher retention of marketing information by viewers or more enthusiasm for an offer than print/text.  When compared to static text, graphics, or even audio, multimedia is simply more compelling due to its ability to trigger multiple senses at the same time.

According to DoubleClick, multimedia ads have a 71 percent higher impact than their static counterparts.  The California Community College system implements a test design to assess the effectiveness of multimedia technology as a non-traditional form of instruction.  Surveys taken after the test determined that 40 percent of the students felt that multimedia improved their understanding and 73 percent found it a positive addition to the course.

A study published in the Journal of Management Information Systems determined that multimedia facilitates the retention and subsequent recall of information.  The study consisted of two groups - one group processed information through a text based system and the other through multimedia.  The subjects who were tested with the multimedia system scored twice as high as the text based group.

Sharing videos over the Web is another great resource for small businesses and non-profits in establishing a social media presence, particularly because of how many people are tuning in. According to a November 2009 survey released by comScore, a digital marketing research firm headquartered in Reston, Virginia, Google's many video sites accounted for 12.2 billion videos viewed that month, including YouTube, which accounted for nearly 99 percent of the total.

Webcasting is essentially broadcasting a video or media file over the Internet using streaming media technology, which can be distributed to many simultaneous viewers at once. Done the right way, webcasts, also called video podcasts, vblogs, videocasting or Web shows, can be effective promotional tools. "It's a cool opportunity to take people behind the scenes of a business," says Dina Kaplan, co-founder and COO of blip.tv, a four-year-old Internet TV network. Her network airs video podcasts from hundreds of companies as diverse as the New York City Ballet to the crafter website Etsy, which broadcasts online classes. "It's been interesting to watch, especially in the last year, how many businesses have created Web shows to promote their product or gain exposure for principals," Kaplan says.

The case for implementing multimedia into your marketing and advertising is clear.  Next week we will look at how to cut costs for multimedia development.
(1 vote, average 5.00 out of 5)
by, Lesa Seibert, President, Xstreme Media

In this four-part series, we are going to look at the costs of multimedia and how they can be affordable for Small Businesses and Non-Profits alike. 

Components That Affect Cost

First, we need to understand the components of professional multimedia production which include:
  • creative development
  • actual production
  •  and various revisions.  
The bulk of multimedia productions costs typically originate from the creative development.  This is often the most discussed line item as business owners think this should be part of the design or production costs.  As with designer clothing, where your choice of designer adds to the cost of the garment as much or more than the actual material or sewing, so can multimedia costs depend on the creative input.  For example, if you hire a designer with more experience or with a track record of creating unique, catchy concepts, then your creative development costs will be higher.  Of course, you may end up with a stronger product, but not always.  The solution is not to pick the least expensive creative professional, but rather to understand the process in order to help speed up production (thus reducing cost).

The second component is the design and production of the piece itself.  This part typcially requires less guesswork in terms of defining the cost.  The cost per minute of production depends on parameters such as the complexity of the animation, the length of the video and the quality of the design agency selected.  This also involves is this going to be a highly produced piece or a more grass roots simple piece.

The third component is client revisions.  The more you revise the more it costs.  This lends itself to the fact that you must be prepared when you are ready to start work.  Have a clear focus in mind, a script that has been proofed (if necessary) and a decided target market for your piece.

So after reading this you wonder why you should consider them if they are costly?  Are they effective?

Next week we will explore how to cut costs on multimedia productions.
(2 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
by Lesa Seibert, President, Xstreme Media

Multimedia is everywhere on the Internet, whether it is in the form of floating ads, streaming video or animated presentations. There is a good reason why multimedia has become an important part of the web experience: it is an effective tool for capturing attention or engaging visitors to buy or contact the site owner. For these reasons, many educational institutions, businesses, and other organizations desire multimedia presentations.

At first glance multimedia often appears prohibitively expensive for small businesses and non-profits. In our 4 part series we are going to look at a number of ways to control the high cost that typically accompanies multimedia production without losing quality.   We will look at:
  • Components Affecting the Cost
  • Multimedia Effectiveness
  • Cutting Multimedia Costs
  • The Best Choice for a Multimedia Plan
Join us next Wednesday for the first discussion on the components affecting the cost of multimedia.
(4 votes, average 5.00 out of 5)
by Lesa Seibert, President, Xstreme Media

In Part I, we looked at optimizing Flash and Flash video files for Internet search.  So what about videos?  Will search engines ever index them?  The answer is yes, and it has been happening for a couple of years.  The first thing indexed was speech within a video that came with the launch of Google Audio Indexing (GAudi), which lets Google index spoken works (audio) from videos.  Think of it like closed captioning for search engines.

In its first experiment that involved the YouTube Political Channel, GAudi was able to index and rank videos based on the relevance of spoken keywords, YouTube Metadata, and video freshness.  While there is lots of work to be done, the results are promising.  So, should you start today?  Yes.  Start changing your processes by incorporating keywords and phrases in your copy writing. 

Create Your Video Optimization Plan

The official launch of GAudi is still unannounced, which gives you plenty of time to update the copy writing plan for your videos.  In the current model, it is the page that the video is on that is optimized.  The title tag of the page, description and any relevant metadata along with introductory copy should include keyphrases.  You will also want to include corporate keyphrases into the voiceovers of your videos.  Some easy ways to include keyword mentions are:
  • Use descriptive keywords - although keyphrases are generally nouns, the can vary from broad to specific.  Instead of using generic terms like laptop computer, use something such as Dell Inspiron Laptop computer
  • Place keyphrases near benefits statements - GAudi will take viewers to the exact place within a video that includes a searched keyphrase.  Stating benefits in association with keyphrases will give the viewer an immediate, positive impression of your product or service. 
  • Position keyphrases within relevant quotes - Because GAudi will most surely become a favorite tool of bloggers and the media, you will want to arrange your keyword-rich quotes within your video scripts.  

While many of your competitors will continue to see Flash and Video as rankings killers, you will be way ahead of the game by optimizing your multimedia content now.  You will learn the ins and outs and be gaining ranking improvements more and more as the technology develops. 

*Resource - Website Magazine, March 2010

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