Archive for July, 2014

Google and Twitch: Why You Need A Video Content Marketing Plan Now

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

google and twitch

Think you don’t need a video content marketing plan now? Think again. The recent development of Google buying livestreaming service Twitch for $1 billion is a red flag that video marketing is going to explode. So knowing that - Google and Twitch – what does it really mean for marketers? Let’s explore.

What is Twitch?

Twitch is a leading video platform and community for gamers, with more than 45 million visitors per month. Twitch connects gamers around the world by allowing them to broadcast, watch and chat from everywhere they play. While details of this livestreaming move by Google will likely be revealed in September, Google’s YouTube division is reportedly in charge of the acquisition.

So why does this merging of Google and Twitch mean you need to get a video content marketing plan in place now?

Livestreaming Is Advertising Gold

You don’t have to be a livestreaming gamer to realize the move to acquire Twitch is greater than a love for global game play.

As reported by VentureBeat’s GamesBeat, the Google and Twitch deal underscores the value of live Internet streaming and the rise of competitive gaming as a spectator sport — something that draws millions of viewers, offering prize pools that surpass pro golf’s marquee events, and providing a multibillion dollar opportunity for advertisers.

Mobile Advertising + Video Gaming + Livestreaming = Millennials

The youngest millennials (age 18-24) rated their mobile phones as indispensable to their day-to-day existence (96%), that’s way higher than TV (54%), Internet access (88%) or their even a toothbrush (93%), according to a study (PDF) from Bank of America on Trends in Consumer Mobility.

If a business wants to get noticed by millennials, positioning ads on livestreaming platforms is the way to go. Millennials are the masters of multitasking, so they can watch videos while surfing ads without missing a text.

Video Ads Are Skyrocketing

In a new report from BI Intelligence, a research service of Business Insider, online video ad revenue will reach nearly $5 billion in 2016, up from $2.8 billion in 2013, while TV ad revenue will decline by nearly 3% per year during the same time period. Video ad views exploded in 2013, topping over 35 billion views in December, averaging over 100% year-over-year monthly growth during the year.

If you want to get the attention of millennials, keep in mind millennials are more likely than any other age groups to use mobile phones as their only Internet-enabled device. According to stats from comScore, a leading Internet technology company that measures what people do as they navigate the digital world, 18% of millennials are mobile only Web users, compared to only 5% of people ages 35-54.

Video Content Marketing Is Happening – Now!

Waiting to get mobilized with a video content marketing strategy is a mistake. Video content marketing is happening now.

Video offers a spectacular way for companies to target messages to key groups fast, allowing everyone from game enthusiasts to Web surfers to engage with dynamic, vibrant, sharable video content. Whether creating targeted video ads for key gaming platforms or robust testimonials and tutorials for display on your website, video is the great wide open for advertising, marketing and branding campaigns today.

Exploring and determining the right video content initiatives for you is an exercise well worth embracing – now. There’s YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and more platforms to promote and share your message.

Video content marketing and effective video advertising is on the rapid accent – don’t watch it leave you behind.

Image: Twitch

The post Google and Twitch: Why You Need A Video Content Marketing Plan Now appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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Is Your Spouse Compatible with Your Business?

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

spouse compatible with your business

Is your spouse compatible with your business and entrepreneurship? Your startup? Your plans to grow your existing business?

No – it’s not a trick question. And no, I’m not an expert.

But my wife and I have been married 44 years, including more than a decade of scraping to support a startup, and sending five kids through college. So maybe I know something about this. But it doesn’t take 44 years’ experience to know that balancing building your own business and having a life while doing so can be tough. Even downright acrobatic in some cases. But it may be the most important acrobatic feat you ever accomplish.

Doing it successfully means knowing, or being able to quickly discern, answers to some key questions. Here are a few:

1. Does Failure Lead To “I Told You So?”

Comedian Rita Rudner says she never tells her husband she told him so. She adds, “I just hum it” and everybody laughs. Everybody knows that tune. Is that what you’re going to hear if you fail?

If so, that adds an order of magnitude to the risk of starting, running, or growing your own business.

2. Can Your Spouse Handle Uncertainty?

Before we go further with this, let’s clarify – waffling over whether you’re committed to a relationship isn’t an uncertainty anyone’s comfortable with. On the other hand, waffling over a new business, whether to start, when to pivot, how to grow. . .that’s everyday life with an entrepreneur.

We don’t get to know anything. We’re always using the best guess. We dabble constantly with failure, possibilities, and what-if. Uncertainty, the classic state of not knowing, can be a real problem.

How does your spouse feel about that?

For most of the 1980′s and half of the 1990′s my wife and I lived without knowing for sure where the money was coming from three months ahead. In our case, it was consulting, mostly, some early products. . .so we had to get used to the state of not knowing. As I look back, it took two of us together. We had mortgages to pay, and the kids needed shoes.

There is nothing wrong with being a security seeker. That need for knowing where the money is coming from is a legitimate need, stronger in some than in others. But it’s not compatible with building a new business. You live with uncertainty. And in a relationship – that’s two of you living with uncertainty.

Real-life logistics come into play here, too, in some extreme cases. Sometimes, pursuing a business means moving across the country, or around the world. It can mean uprooting yourself and your family for what can seem like little more than a wing and a prayer. If your spouse is a security-seeker, they may not deal with those seismic shifts well.

Looking at your partnership with some detachment at this point can be an invaluable attitude — and save you lots of fallout later.

3. Can Your Spouse Handle Being The Sole Breadwinner?

In the first flush of the excitement of falling in love — with a person or a business idea — most of us believe we can endure anything the fates throw us – literally. But living on canned soup and ramen gets old after a while (translation: a couple of days). And having only one income to carry the family can be a recipe for disaster, even if that income is steady and stable.

Some people are emotionally fine with being the one that everything financially rests upon, at least temporarily – and some are not.

There’s no denying, like it or not, that a spouse who doesn’t buy into the dream of entrepreneurship adds to the risk. And the last thing you want is to deliberately court additional risk.

If you start to get “vibes” that this is the case — that despite their best intentions, your spouse doesn’t want to be the “be-all and end-all” of your bank accounts for a while — take this as a prudent message of caution. Don’t leap off the “edge” too soon. Keep your job. (Gulp, if you still have one.)

4. Can You Consider Your Spouse Your Business Partner?

It goes without saying that the answer to this depends on whom you talk to. Some spouses take a co-owner role seriously. Some are creative energy sources for the fledgling startup. On the other hand, some mates keep a hands-off attitude and an arm’s-length distance. And more than a few entrepreneurs truly believe that their business is their baby, and will sink or swim on their efforts alone.

You’ll hear opinions that range from “sit down together every week and evaluate how things are going” to “don’t bother your spouse with all the grisly details.”

So what’s the answer for you?

Start with candid honesty as the default case, and then match the timing and level of detail to your relationship. Maybe you don’t want to torture your spouse with those massive swings of optimism and pessimism several times daily, as the future hinges on the smallest detail. But don’t let reality be a sudden surprise.

If the grocery cart needs to be a little thin this week (or this month or this quarter), or the savings account has to dip below your comfort level, both of you need to deal with it at about the same time.

Surprises heighten the negative. Yes, the emotions will still be there. Yes, there may be a few (or many) tough times of trying to eke out a decent life while trying to also run a decent business. But there’s a reason relationship counselors talk so much about communication – it works – and lack of it simply doesn’t.

5. Can Your Spouse Tell You When It’s Time To Fold?

Once again, this answer is different for every relationship. Entrepreneurs are our culture’s version of pioneers — the cowboys/cowgirls of this century. They’re romanticized as mavericks. They’re looked up to as the innovative, the brave, the ones who break “out of the box” and pursue their dreams no matter what.

But sometimes you can do everything right, and the business still fails miserably. Or maybe worse, it doesn’t fail, but it doesn’t really succeed, either. It bubbles and perks along slowly but without signs of imminent “takeoff” or of paying its own way in any foreseeable future.

So what then?

Yes, it’s wonderful if your spouse gives you carte blanche. It’s terrific if, as my wife did, they say, “Go for it.” But it’s also good to have a spouse who’ll be honest enough to tell you if things don’t look like they’re going to pan out. Or if the cost for this entrepreneurial freedom may be too high. As one of my colleagues said after walking away from a new opportunity after six months, “It’s much easier to get a new job than a new spouse.”

Call it a “make or break” factor – but ignore it at your own peril.

If you’re starting a business and living a relationship, it’s worth knowing where the “line” is. Know how far you and your partner and/or family should expect to bend before it’s too far, and you’re able to call a halt with a clear conscience. As the old song says, “Know when to fold ‘em.”

It’s a priceless form of success in itself. Don’t overlook this solid common sense attribute. It can save your sanity, your marriage – and even your life.

Spouse Photo via Shutterstock

The post Is Your Spouse Compatible with Your Business? appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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Investor, by their writedowns so shall you know them

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

The extent to which businesses recognise recurrent one-offs in headline profits was displayed amid a slew of results

improveit! 360 Serves Software in The Cloud

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

improveit! 360

If you’ve visited a home improvement site or done business with a home improvement company, you may already have experienced this company’s services. improveit! 360 builds customer relationship management (CRM) software for the home improvement industry.

At one time that software was actually installed into a clients computer system. Today it’s delivered via mobile apps and through the cloud. Read more about this 30 employee firm from Columbus, OH, in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

THE PRODUCT OR SERVICE THE BUSINESS OFFERS?

CRM software for the home improvement industry.

In fact, the company says it’s built its own business management platform. It’s based on Salesforce and it helps home improvement companies track leads, schedule appointments, manage jobs, and report on their activities. The software integrates with a client’s existing software whether delivered through mobile apps or in the cloud.

THE ONE THING THE BUSINESS IS KNOWN FOR?

More than just CRM.

While that certainly is what the company sells, their mission is whole lot bigger. The company also provides education to the company’s users and prospects to help them run their businesses better.

improveit! 360 Director of Marketing Justin Showers explains:

“We create content and distribute it to everyone with articles, blog posts, videos, webinars, and more on such topics as sales, marketing, business management, and operations. We give away what a lot of other companies charge for by taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience of our team. And we’re not a bunch of stuffy software developers – you should see our Meet the Team page or our Limbo contest video – we go the extra mile to give our customers what they need, make them smile, and help them succeed.”

HOW THE BUSINESS GOT STARTED?

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Basically, improveit! 360 is the offshoot of another successful business. When Big 50 Remodelers of Columbus, OH, needed a better system to run their business, the company created its own. The result was a CRM software product that worked so well, other companies started to ask whether they could buy it to manage their own businesses.

You don’t get a clearer signal than that!

THE COMPANY’S BIGGEST WIN?

Moving to the cloud.

It was 2009 when improveit! 360 said goodbye to physical software installations and migrated its software service to the cloud – and they never looked back!

Showers says:

“This gave us the chance to offer this solution to everyone with Internet access. With no software to buy or upgrade, i360 was easier to use, easier to update, and faster to improve. We take input from our users and apply the most popular changes several times a year.”

INTERESTING TIDBIT ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?

NERF battles!

Yeah, you heard us right. Hey, all that stress from making a popular software application has to come out somewhere, right?

Showers again explains:

“We enjoy our Nerf guns. Nearly everyone has a Nerf gun a collection of foam darts at their desk. It’s not unusual for a late afternoon battle to erupt and for darts to be flying through the air. And even if someone is in a meeting, a few darts might get launched over the wall, into the conference room.”

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Image: improveit! 360

The post improveit! 360 Serves Software in The Cloud appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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Afren suspends executives over payments

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Oil and gas exploration group says move follows a review by law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher on the disclosure of transactions to market

Eni boosted by gas contract deals

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Italian group’s operating cash flow is at its highest since mid-2012 as gas contract renegotiations offset weak demand and lower supplies from Libya

European groups warn on Russia sanctions

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Adidas, Metro, VW, Simens, Shell and others say the European Union’s sanctions on Moscow are hitting their businesses

Milford Haven sale saves 400 jobs

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Privately owned industrial investor Klesch agrees to buy the west Wales plant, which had been on the market for four years, from Murco

ExxonMobil profits surge as output falls

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Sale of power utility interests in Hong Kong increases net income by $1.2bn, while improved profitability gives an added fillip of $580m

Celtic Array axed in blow to renewables

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

The move to drop the offshore wind farm project comes as a fresh setback to an industry hit by engineering, environmental and financial concerns

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