Never Hire the Wrong Production Company Again

More and more businesses are using video to stand out in an era where consumers need more than just snappy copy to engage with companies. Video done right can lead to viral successes like HelloFlo. And video done wrong… well, that will never happen if you hire the right production company!

Some advice when you’re trying to find the right team to bring your video dreams into a reality:

Cheap video comes at a premium.Be wary when a production company offers its services at a rate that seems too good to be true—the production team may just shoot from the back of the room on a tripod and call it a day. But it’s more expensive to do it wrong the first time and have to redo it. So find out what’s included in the total package: Are edits included? What about music licensing? Or travel expenses? Watch out for those additional costs that can be thrown in at the end and bust your budget.

Read on for eight more tips for hiring a video production company that delivers.

The Secret to Attracting New Customers

Small businesses need to cultivate a strong customer base: one that includes returning and new business. Luckily enough, there’s a seven-step process that makes the task of attracting new customers seem more manageable:

1. Identify your ideal client. It’s easier to look for customers if you know the type of consumers you seek. Without a composite of your ideal customer, you probably wouldn’t know where to start looking.

2. Discover where your customer lives. Determine where your ideal customer is most likely to be found and then create messaging that targets them there.

3. Know your business inside and out. The people who would be interested in your offerings can see how knowledgeable you are and will seek your assistance.

Read on to learn more about how to find your ideal customers.

After 40 years in business on a historic shopping street, this antique store is going online to beat Brooklyn, New York’s rising rents and to give the owner a well-deserved rest.

What School Fundraisers Can Teach You About Business

Fun fact: School fundraisers are a $1.4 billion industry. (We know, we’re as surprised as you are.) 

So it stands to reason that school fundraisers—a business model in its own way—can be a good resource for business owners who have sales goals they want to hit, writes OPEN Forum contributor Geoff Williams. There are indeed a few lessons you can pick up from studying school fundraisers’ success:

1. Set a goal. “School fundraisers don’t usually last long,” Williams writes. “While you can’t restrict your sales period to several weeks, you can set short-term goals, which are likely to get you where you want to be faster than an open-ended mission.”

Read on for three more things you can learn from school fundraisers.

How Apple Watch Can Shake Up Your Business

Always a game changer, Apple’s latest announcement was an opportunity for the brand to not only unveil the newest iteration of the iPhone, but to officially throw its hat in the smartwatch ring. Apple Watch, expected to drop in 2015, will have a major impact on fitness tracking, the watch industry and small-business marketing:

…If you’re doing any sort of email marketing, email subject lines are going to be more important than ever. With room for about four to five words on the screen, you need to make sure you use those first words the best way you know how—or risk losing users, quick.

Read on for how Apple’s two other major announcements—Apple Pay and iPhone 6 and 6 Plus—will change your business.

What will the sharing economy—think Airbnb, Lyft, Uber and other companies that make it peer-to-peer sharing easy—look like in five years? OPEN Forum asked the experts, and they gave us their best guesses. 

Read more on OPEN Forum’s “Sharing Economy 2.0: Sharing a Peek at the Next Generation

Airbnb photo from Flickr user: Jay Galvin

What You Need to Know to Deliver a Great Speech

1. Deliver a performance, rather than a speech. Think beyond the words you’ll be saying to use performance tools such as inflection, gesture, tension, resolution and suspense.

2. Use the power of eye contact. ”Bill Clinton was a master of eye contact—watch any of his speeches, and you’ll see the master at work,” writes OPEN Forum contributor Mike Michalowicz.

3. Don’t hide behind the lectern. It’s a crutch, Michalowicz says. Moving around will keep your audience engaged, and will make you appear more accessible and open.

Read on for four more tips for effective public speaking.

Why Reading Fiction Is Better for Your Business

Reading fiction can be as valuable to your business as reading a business book. It can:

1. Inspire more creative thinking by introducing you to new ideas,

2. Boost your intellectual curiosity and

3. Help you refocus your priorities.

Read on for a few great pieces of fiction to add to your reading list.

Olive Garden Takes Customer Loyalty Programs to the Next Level

Buffets and all-you-can-eat specials have been a promotional standby for restaurants since time immemorial. But Italian food restaurant chain Olive Garden managed to bring a new spin to the business strategy:

Olive Garden introduced a new Never Ending Pasta Pass that, for $100 a pop, allows customers to eat all of the pasta, salad, bread and soft drinks that they can for the next seven weeks. … the chain will sell 1,000 of these passes on its web site. The special promotion is tied to Olive Garden’s annual “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” promo, which lets folks eat all the pasta they want in one sitting for $9.99 and runs from September 22 to November 9.

Read on to learn what this means for customer loyalty programs and small businesses.

Football fans’ prayers were answered when the NFL season kicked off last Thursday. But for employers, the return of the season brings a fair amount of angst as it leads to a marked decrease in focus on their teams. (By some estimates, fantasy football costs $13 billion in lost productivity.)
So what’s a manager to do? Embrace the season, and set boundaries (but not too many). 

If companies really want to retain their best workers, they should train themselves to embrace some of the personal interests of their staff. Any effort to outlaw such interests, like the use of company computers for fantasy football, is shortsighted. 

Read on for more on how to make NFL season a win-win in the workplace.

Football fans’ prayers were answered when the NFL season kicked off last Thursday. But for employers, the return of the season brings a fair amount of angst as it leads to a marked decrease in focus on their teams. (By some estimates, fantasy football costs $13 billion in lost productivity.)

So what’s a manager to do? Embrace the season, and set boundaries (but not too many). 

If companies really want to retain their best workers, they should train themselves to embrace some of the personal interests of their staff. Any effort to outlaw such interests, like the use of company computers for fantasy football, is shortsighted. 

Read on for more on how to make NFL season a win-win in the workplace.