Live Streaming Video – Business Podcast – Web TV Consultant – Las Vegas, Nevada

The Vegas Video Network is Online

Hey everybody, just a quick post letting everybody know that the VEGAS VIDEO NETWORK is online!

The Vegas Video Network is an online broadcasting network that specializes in insider news and expert views about Las Vegas. 

We built the VEGAS VIDEO NETWORK to end the struggle of finding Vegas-related video that is centrally located, professionally-produced, timely and relevant. We’re driven upon three key principles:

  1. An easy-to-use website
  2. The sophistication and live aspects of Broadcast TV
  3. Las Vegas experts who promote the city and are actively engaged with their viewers

We had our Launch Party last Saturday.  Lots of folks in attendance, both at the studio and online (15 states, UK, Germany, Canada and Russia). It went out live (naturally) and the video of the festivities is now available as a video-on-demand file.

Please take a moment and visit the site.  We’ve got a bunch of great shows lined up on the network – something for everybody.

Our first show to go live will be “Pub Crawl”, which premiers this Wednesday (tomorrow) at 7:30PM.  Come by and see what we’re up to!

[VIDEO] What’s PodWorx Building? #001

For some time now, I’ve been working on a concept for a new type of offering from PodWorx.  It’s an idea that I’m very excited about and one where the technology has caught up with the vision.  It’s never been attempted here in Las Vegas and based on the feedback I’ve received from a group of very smart folks who’ve been briefed (after signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement), there’s a lot to be excited about.

To create the environment necessary for this new concept, I have to expand beyond my existing work environment.  As a result, I have found myself in the land of commercial real estate.  After a relatively-short search, I was connected with a great guy/landlord and a great space from which to launch this project. 

After securing a small amount of funds from outside sources, on August 2nd, 2010, I accepted the keys to my first commercial property!  A wave of excitement, fear, anticipation and the unknown washed over me.  I’m not a Builder-Bob kind of guy, so I was nervous.  Luckily, I have two GREAT friends (Rip and Wade) who are helping me build what I believe will be one of the coolest video studios in town.   

The video above is the first of several I’ll be recording during the building process.  We’re still in stealth mode but I wanted to share the process as best I can. Ten days into the project, I’ve learned a lot, spend a great deal of time at Home Depot and Ahern Rental, and feel as if my credit card is beginning to melt.

Stay tuned. . .

Embedding a YouTube Video on Your Website with AutoPlay (Yes You Can, Perhaps You Shouldn’t)

Because of its watermarked logo, I’m not a huge fan of embedding YouTube videos on a website. However, from a social media perspective (including the fact that iPad/iPods can view the video), I understand why some folks (including our own Living in Las Vegas Podcast) do so.

Besides the watermark, one of the other complaints about embedding a YouTube video is that when grabbing the embed code from the YouTube site, you can’t have the video start automatically–when the visitor hits the page. Now, to be sure, there are arguments for and against doing so. To really understand the value of autoplaying a video, you should do some A/B testing to see which technique helps best improve the results of your call-to-action.

The good news is that you can autoplay a YouTube video. And it’s very easy to do. Simply add “autoplay=1” to the embed code.  That’s it!  Easy, peasy, 1-2-Threesy. 

That’s the good news.  The bad news, as is demonstrated by the embedded YouTube video below, is that I cannot set the volume programmatically.  For me, I consider this a show stopper.  There is something to be said for autostarting a video, with the sound off, to create curiosity.  But, if I’m blasting audio to a visitor who did not ask for it, that’s a problem. 

Besides autoplay, there are many other parameters available for embedding a YouTube video.  For a list of all the parameters, go here.


(Speaking about iPad/iPod video delivery, my next blog post will likely be about that very subject. Specifically, what to use to deliver website video to the iPxx family of products without having to use YouTube.)

Using Website Video to Demonstrate Authenticity (and Motivate Viewers)

I think it goes without saying that web-based video has really begun to take hold in the business world.  More and more often, as we land on a company’s home page, we’re greeted with a video.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that most of these videos come across to me as a little too commercial-ish.  The scripted delivery, or paid spokesperson, or deer-in-the-headlights/teleprompter-reading presentation found in most corporate videos destroy any opportunity to demonstrate authenticity.

I wanted to share the formula for, and an example of, the type of video I like to see today.  One that does away with the overly-produced videos I see and focuses on what’s important to the viewer.

You Bond With People on Their Problems, Not Your Solution

When we shoot a Web TV show, develop a podcast episode, or shoot one of our Vid·EEE·o’s (a new example of which is below) for a corporate customer, we take folks through a simple story-telling process:

  1. What is the problem facing our customers?
  2. What are they doing to solve it (that isn’t working)?
  3. What is the solution that fixes the problem?

The acronym is P.A.S. – Problem, Alternative solution, Solution.

1. Problem

By beginning our video (or podcast or Web TV episode) with the Problem, we bond with our audience.  We help them understand that we know what they’re going through.  By doing so, we establish our credibility not by claiming it (“we’re a world-class service provider of. . . .blah blah woof woof”) but by demonstrating it.

The video below is for UpMo, a career-management service in the Bay Area.  The video begins with a brief review of the problems facing those looking for a job.

Video Time: 00:00 – 00:15

2. Alternative Solution

After the problem is addressed, we speak about the Alternative Solution.  There are two goals in reviewing the Alternative Solutions with our viewer;

  1. Prove we are aware of the viewer’s efforts to solve the problem (which, in turn, shows that I recognize we have competition)
  2. Subtly poison that competition

Video Time: 00:16 – 00:37

3. The Solution

Once we’ve established our credibility by reviewing the problem(s) facing a client, along with the efforts they may have taken to solve it, I’ve painted a relatively bleak picture.  To relieve that tension, I normally begin the Solution segment of my story with this statement:

“This is a problem we solve.”

Once I’ve said that, I am free to detail (in the short time allotted), how it is we solve the problems they face.

Video Time: 00:38 – 01:33

One More Step: A Risk-Free Call to Action

Once I’ve stated my case, I want to take a moment and invite the viewer to accept my Call to Action.  (Not doing so is a mistake, I believe.)

Now, your call-to-action could be as innocuous as inviting somebody to visit a certain section of your website.  Ultimately, the reason you do a web-based video (or podcast or Web TV program) is to either make money or motivate people to take action on your behalf.  Now is the time to make that happen.

With this type of video, I’m a big fan of the risk-free Call to Action.  It may be a bit hard to motivate somebody to part with their money after a two-minute video but, if you did a good job, you should be able to motivate a number of viewers to do something that will ultimately benefit them risk-free.

Video Time: 01:34 – 01:48

That’s it, basically.  Although there is a bit more to it, this is pretty much the process I go through for every bit of audio/video content PodWorx produces.  It appears to be very simple (it is) but is incredibility effective in differentiating yourself from the competitive herd.

I hope you find this “tutorial” helpful.  If you have any questions or comments give me a shout or comment below.

Here’s the video:

 

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Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce ‘Business Voice’ Article: Using Live Streaming Video to Increase Website Revenue

Some time ago, Carmen Gigar, the Director of Marketing for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, asked me to contribute an article to Business Voice, the Chamber’s monthly publication.  After some email talk about what I should write about, she was very enthusiastic about teaching the Chamber’s members about the potential of Live Streaming Video productions.

As a new Chamber member myself, I just recently received the March edition of Business Voice (my first!), which includes my article.  For those thinking about whether or not a Live Streaming Video production might make sense for you and your business, I’ve reprinted a copy of the article below.

Using Live Streaming Video to Increase Website Revenue

It’s interesting…websites have been around for over fifteen years…yet the websites of today aren’t performing any better than the websites of the mid-nineties. The reason? We’re still creating what amounts to a bunch of electronic brochures. And nobody cares about our electronic brochure.

Here’s the rub – the goal of every business website is the same: increase the probability of engagement with your visitor while at the same time reducing the risk of “exit” – leaving your website, and heading off to the competition. Unfortunately, the average amount of time somebody spends on a website is ONE MINUTE, and half those people leave in eight seconds or less. (Which is bad news if you have a story that takes more than eight seconds to tell.)

There’s another bit of trouble as well. It has to do with a company’s perceived approachability.

Most people think approachability is a big-company problem. And it is. But it’s actually a problem for ANY COMPANY that has a website.

Why?

Before you had a website, if I wanted to learn about your company, I’d pick up the phone and speak to somebody who had been taught how to help me understand who you are, what you do, and the problems you solve.

Today, your website acts like a brick wall. I never have to talk to an employee when deciding whether or not your business will make my short list. Instead, I’ll judge your company’s capabilities based on the 8-60 seconds I spend on your website.

It’s a Question of Impact

Instead of doing the same thing online as your competitors, ask yourself this question — Which do you think has more impact on your customers and prospects – reading about how great your company is, or seeing and hearing from the very people who make it great?

A Live Streaming Video Production (LSVP), when done correctly, delivers the kind of personal one-to-one (or one-to-many) experience that has been the cornerstone to effective sales. It will separate your company from the competitive herd and completely change your website from “brochure-ware” to a tool that accelerates the sales process.

Video + Chat = High ROI

To get the biggest return on investment, your LSVP should include both live video plus live chat. Offering both human-enables your website and breaks down the wall between you and your website visitors. Imagine how much more effective your website would be if you could interact with your viewers in real-time–answering their questions, providing advice, and establishing your credibility, not by claiming it but by demonstrating it.

LSVP: What Are They Good For?

There is a long list of ideas that would make for a great LSVP. Here’s a few of the 40+ ideas we give to our customers:

  1. Enhanced Webinars
  2. Seminars/Conferences
  3. Trade Shows
  4. Distance Learning
  5. New Product Launch
  6. Talk Show
  7. Tips & Tricks
  8. Customer Interviews

The Transformation

The transformation we see when producing a professional-level LSVP is amazing. A few examples:

  • Become Approachable Online: People want to buy from people they know.  A LSVP human-enables your website.
    • Accelerate the “getting to know you” phase of your sales cycle
    • Reduce the chance of being skipped in favor of a competitor due to a lack of “connection”
  • Extend Engagement Length: A LSVP gives you an opportunity to take your time and deliver a compelling, results-driven message.
    • Increase time to move people from a passive need to an active need.
    • Decrease risk associated with visitors only spending seconds on your website before moving on.
  • Establish Credibility: Claiming your own credibility is the weakest way to establish it.  A great LSVP allows you to demonstrate your expertise and credibility, the strongest way to establish it.
    • Enhance perceived expertise in the eyes of your customers and prospects
    • Lessen problems associated with trying to convince somebody they should work with you.

Ultimately, a great Live Streaming Video Production will allow your website to do one (or both) of the following:

  1. Make Your Business More Money
  2. Motivate Your Visitors to Take Action on Your Behalf

And when it comes to your website, wasn’t that the point in the first place?

Scott Whitney is president of PodWorx, Inc., an Internet broadcasting company that specializes in podcasts and live streaming video productions. Visit his website at www.PodWorx.com.

Getting Your Video Indexed by Google: Is YouTube The Only Answer?

Part of my online toolkit includes LivePerson, software that allows me to chat with people who visit our website.  LivePerson also provides a real-time view of who is on your website, and how they got there.

Many times during the day, I’ll catch somebody visiting the Living in Las Vegas Podcast website via a Google search for “Las Vegas Podcast”.  From time to time, I’ll check out that person’s Google search to see how we’re ranking. . .and what other sites are being listed.

GoogleVideo01 As I was checking out our ranking on Google this morning, I saw something fascinating. . .and VERY promising.  Along with searching the web for “las vegas podcast”, Google also initiated on its own a video search for “las vegas podcast” as well.  As the screen shot shows, Google found our latest video podcast episode, which is self-hosted.

This is huge.

I’ve experienced Google’s YouTube fixation.  I have other search engine phrases that I’ve previously been ranked #1, only to slip down a spot or two because a YouTube video uses the same keywords.  What I didn’t expect is that Google would be able to (or want to, for that matter) index a self-hosted .MP4 video.

 

GoogleVideo02When I clicked on the “Video results for las vegas podcast” link, I was further impressed.

For a select few videos, Google allows you to Watch Video Here. . .clicking it brings up the video on the right side of the search results, ready for play [see the graphic below].  Google also searches for other related videos and displays them as thumbnail graphics below the video being played.  In our case, if found related videos on YouTube, LivingInLV.com, Ustream.TV and MeFeedia.com. [As seen below.]

Again, very impressive.

My guess is that the reason we’re seeing this happen is because our self-hosted videos are MP4 videos.  We’re also using the jwplayer Flash player, which seems to be helpful as well.  Regardless, this is GREAT NEWS!  The fact Google is indexing this content demonstrates that when done correctly, embedded video does provide more content for Google to index.

What does that mean to you?  Well, it doesn’t mean you should ignore YouTube.  Google has much love for YouTube.  But it DOES mean you should recognize that embedded video increases your probability of being discovered via Google.

 

GoogleVideo03

Why That Corporate Video on Your Website is Not Helping Your Bottom Line

I subscribe to several marketing newsletter. And study after study report what is obvious to those of us who spend any time online. . .adding video to your website is becoming less of an option and more of a requirement. If done correctly, it’ll shorten the sales cycle and keep visitors on your website longer. Yet the vast majority of all these newly added videos aren’t really helping.

The problem with your typical corporate video isn’t with the technology. That piece of the puzzle is under control. No, the reason why most corporate videos found on websites today fail to shorten your sales cycle is because the approach towards creating a corporate video today is no different than that of 20 years ago.

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Which, as I like to say, is not a feature.

Take a moment and think about it.  When was the last time you watched a corporate video, including one of your own, where the video pulled back the curtain and gave you a real sense of what actually makes that company tick?

The scripted delivery, or paid spokesperson, or deer-in-the-headlights/teleprompter-reading presentation found in most corporate videos destroy any opportunity to demonstrate authenticity. And while the overly-produced corporate video, with its heavy graphics, impressive music, and beautiful “location” shots, may look and sound well enough, they create a distraction from the real people involved with the company and fail to deliver the reason behind any online marketing effort: to move your story forward by demonstrating the transformation you deliver to your customers.

A Vision That Mirrors What Your Customer Wants

As I spent time analyzing the current crop of web-based corporate videos, it reminded me that while nobody wants to be sold, everybody wants to buy.  In order to gain the opportunity to help a client solve a problem through the use of your products or services, you must first establish rapport with that website visitor. In sales, most professionals equate rapport with relationships. And while most will claim that the key to sales is relationship, very few can articulate what the key to relationships might be.

The answer is credibility.

Without credibility, you cannot sell a non-commodity product.

That said, the people who visit your website in search of help are constantly worried about two things:

1. Who can I trust?
2. How do I ensure I’m making the right decision (or not making a wrong decision)?

In other words, your website visitors WANT you to be the answer to these two questions. They hope that by finding themselves on your website, they’ve ended their search for what you deliver. All you have to do is demonstrate your credibility through an online video that is natural, unscripted and educational.

After a great deal of research, documentation and testing, to solve this problem. . .to bring our clients closer to their customers and prospects with a focus toward shortening the sales cycle. . .today I’m happy to announce PodWorx’s newest offering. We call it Vid·EEE·o

 

Vid·EEE·o – Authenticity-based Website Video

The video you see to the right is an example of a PodWorx Vid·EEE·o.

Instead of delivering another boring video, filled with corporate speak and void of any sense of who you are, what you do, and how you’re helping others solve their problems, PodWorx’s Vid·EEE·o for Websites solution changes all that. This is due to our single-minded focus towards making the process of developing great video content Effortless and Efficient, and ensuring the ultimate product is Effective in bringing your company closer to a business relationship with your website visitors.

It’s unscripted – there’s no pressure to memorize a bunch of words or try to read off of a teleprompter.  Instead, we simply shoot what feels like an easy-going conversation.  In truth, the questions being asked of the “talent” are purposeful and designed specifically to draw out your story in a compelling manner.

It’s natural – it allows your personality to finally shine through online.  Very few people can read and/or memorize a script and deliver it without coming across. . .well. . .“corporate-y”.

It’s compelling – The story that is produced, combined with the editing style and clean, white background, delivers a piece of media that immediately grabs the viewer’s attention. . .and keeps it for the entire length of the video (which is usually between 1-3 minutes). The call-to-action gives the visitor a logical next step.

It doesn’t require you to wear a mock turtleneck – It just looks that way.

Results – What to Expect

As with ALL PodWorx products and services, the deliverable isn’t the main story.  It’s the outcome that matter.  Here’s a few of my favorites:

  1. Become Approachable
    The PodWorx Vid·EEE·o moves you closer to human enabling your website. This, in turn

    • Accelerates the getting-to-know-you phase of any sales process
    • Reduces the chances of being skipped over due to lack of “connection”
  2. Extends Engagement Length
    Because great embedded videos keep visitors engaged, a PodWorx Vid·EEE·o gives you an opportunity to extend the length of time a visitor spends on your website.

    • Increases the amount of time you have to move people from a passive need to an active need (to effectively sell or motivate)
    • Decreases the risk associated with visitors only spending seconds on your website before “moving on”
  3. Establishes Your Credibility
    Claiming your own credibility is the weakest way to establish it. The PodWorx Vid·EEE·o allows you to demonstrate your credibility, the strongest way to establish it.

    • Enhance your perceived expertise in the eyes of your customers and prospects
    • Lessen the problem associated with trying to convince somebody why they should work with you

There’s much more to the Vid·EEE·o story than I can fit in a single blog post. I invite you to review the video on this blog post.  And then I’d suggest you give me a call (702.395.5268) to see if your’s is a story that can be told using our techniques and strategies.  If you recognize that your overall online efforts are not contributing to your bottom line as much as you hoped, and that demonstrating authenticity to your website visitors is important, we’ll help you do it right the first time.

Improving E-Mail Marketing Click-Thru Rates Using Video

The problem with many online marketing efforts is the difficulty determining the Return On Investment (ROI).  For PodWorx, our podcasts and Live Streaming Video productions are designed to help our customers do one (or both) of two things:

  1. Make More Money
  2. Motivate People to Take Action on our Customer’s Behalf

For our latest Live Streaming Video production (QBS Live Mondays), I wanted to see how (or if) the additional of this video offering would effect the performance of the customer’s email marketing efforts.  Specifically, I wanted to know if adding video would lift their email open and click-thru rates.

I compared the performance of QBS Research’s May 2009 Newsletter (emailed to their list on 5/5/09) with the announcement of the QBS Live Mondays show (emailed on 5/28/09). 

The company’s May 2009 Newsletter had a 17.6% open rate and a 11.8% click-thru rate.  The email announcing the QBS Live Mondays live show improved both measurements:

  • Open Rate: 22.9% (an increase of 30.1%)
  • Click-Thru Rate: 17.1% (an increase of 44.9%)

I should note that there were other links within the email other than to the video content.  Interestingly, the links to the video content accounted for 64.7% of all the click-thru within the email.  In other words, close to two-thirds of all clicks went to the video links.

As I continue to measure the effectiveness of our podcasts and Live Streaming Video productions, I’ll be sure to pass that information along to everybody reading this blog.  If you have any questions, please leave them as a comment below.

How Adding Video to Our Podcast Increased Episode Downloads by 50%

LiLVWebsite The Living in Las Vegas Podcast has been a testing grounds of sorts for PodWorx.  As a matter of fact, it was the early success of the Living in Las Vegas (LiLV) Podcast that brought about the launch of PodWorx in the first place!  (Having already proven that a podcast can help a company make money, as it did for GreatRelaxationMusic.com, the LiLV Podcast cemented the concept that a podcast, when done right, can influence listeners to take action on your behalf.)

Anywho, I’ve used the LiLV Podcast platform for other testing as well, most recently to answer this question:

 

What effect does adding video have on an audio podcast?

 

Forgive me Father

Because of my workload, I’ve not produced as many LiLV episodes as I (or our viewers/listeners) would like.  As a result, I was seeing an understandable decrease in the number of downloads per episode.  I was not too happy about the decrease. . .but again. . .I understood.  In appreciation to those listeners who stuck with the show, I wanted to offer up something new. . .an “inside baseball” look into what producing the LiLV Podcast looks like.  So, the last couple of episodes have been produced as a live streaming video production, with live chat. 

The feedback from the hundreds of people around the world who attended the live shows was gratifying. But what I was really curious about was whether or not adding the ability to download video on demand would positively impact the number of times a particular episode would be downloaded.

Measuring the Results

The answer, I’ve recently learned, is that adding video does increase the number of downloads per episodes. . .significantly.

Now, because the subject matter of every episode is different, some are downloaded more than others.  But when I compared that last two episodes we produced that did not have a downloadable video option (64: Dining at Wynn Encore, New Year’s Eve with 20-Somethings and 65: Living the Loft Lifestyle in Las Vegas) with the last two episodes that did have a video download option (66: Learning About the Origins of Las Vegas at Springs Preserve and 67: Southern Nevada Art Gallery in Downtown, Re-piping the House, Miss USA, Britney Spears), I measured a 50.3% increase in episodes downloaded.

There were three download options available for each show: mp3 (audio), flv (video) and mp4 (video).The breakdown of episodes download for the last two shows looked like this:

  • Audio Download: 33%
  • Video Download: 67%

I have to admit I was a bit surprised by these results.  I felt that video would certainly bump up the numbers but did not expect video to account for two-thirds of each episode’s downloads.

What This Means to Me (and You)

It is clear to me that in this Internet world of ours, even though we are all so easily connected, people want to feel a real connection with others during their online travels.  And adding video to your podcast (or adding video in general), when the video is well-produced (content+technically) goes a long way towards improving the approachability of your website and further humanizes what can be a less-than-human(y) environment.

This means that if you’re even remotely toying with the idea of adding video to your podcast as a means of driving more downloads and bringing yourself closer to your website visitors, I’d advise you to do so.  The increase in numbers is gratifying and besides, now your mom can finally see what you’ve been doing all this time!

By the way, for those who’ve recently added video to their marketing efforts, I’d like to hear what you’ve experienced.  Are you seeing an increase in downloads as well?  Is the effort the same, less, or more than with an audio-only show?  Let me know.

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Your Online Video: If the Sound Sucks, I’m not Watching

I’m pleased to see a measurable increase in online video.  I’m seeing them more and more in podcasts, embedded in websites, and as a means of driving traffic to your site through Video on Demand sites like YouTube.  We’ve begun using video to further improve the connection and approachability of PodWorx and as a means of creating a more intimate setting for out Living in Las Vegas Podcast audience.  This is a good thing.

In a business setting, a well thought out video will decrease the time to close a transaction with your visitor by accelerating the mandatory “getting to know you” phase of any sales cycle.  But with this exciting increase of online video, I’m seeing the same thing I saw with the initial wave of audio podcasts.

Terrible audio quality.

Those developing video content must recognize that the most important component to your video is not the video. IT’S THE ABILITY TO HEAR THE STORY BEING TOLD.  If I cannot hear the story being told, or if the quality is so bad that it is distracting, you’ve lost me. 

This means that if you’ve created this beautiful video, with clever transitions, lovely on-screen graphics, compelling on-screen talent, and story-enhancing music, but the sound coming from the talent is tinny, contains too much room echo, is too quiet or too loud and distorted,  I’m not going to spend the time suffering through it just to watch the talent be, well, talented.  Instead, I’m going to move on to the next item on my to-do list.

But here’s a hint – you already knew that.

Here’s why.  Look at one of the most impressive pieces of video/audio technology we have at our disposal today: Skype.  When using Skype to place a video-to-video call, what does the software do in the event the bandwidth available will not provide enough throughput for both the audio and video signal.

It degrades the video portion of the connection to ensure the audio is still as good as it can be.  The smart people at Skype know that if you can’t hear each other, being able to see each other clearly would only make things MORE annoying.

So, be Skypish with your video.  If you’ve done a great job with your audio podcast and you’re now bringing in a video offering, be certain the audio is at least as good with the video as it was with the audio-only product.  And if you’re initial go-to-market plan is using video, don’t skimp on the audio side of the story. . .doing so will leave your “talent” with nobody for whom to perform.

What say you?  Are you struggling to maintain great sound quality with your video?  Are you wondering how to do so?  Let me know.

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Live Streaming Video – Business Podcast – Web TV Consultant – Las Vegas, Nevada