• Judging the Cost of Advertising

    This blog was originally published on December 9, 2017



    I can't say I have a scientific principle to use in this area, although I suspect we could find some ideas on judging the cost of advertising in some biz textbooks.  What I do have are some common sense ideas that worked for me over decades of running my own businesses, as well as a method for break-even points developed over years of planning my ice hockey schools and clinics. First, my way of arriving at that sometimes elusive break-even point...


    I won't list all my costs for putting on something like a summer hockey school, but the biggest expenditures would usually go something like this:

    - costs to rent a facility (or our ice costs);

    - costs to hire a coaching staff;

    - costs for brochures and other advertising;

    - costs for individual student jerseys; and

    - costs for award certificates and trophies.


    Of course, a lot more goes into running a hockey school than just those things.  In fact, a lot of items we dealt with in another budget, because they'd get used over and over -- like pucks, other training gear, and the fancy warmup suits like I'm showing off above.  Still, that list gives us a chance to zero in on the so-called break-even point.  For, you see, no matter how many times I plugged my costs into a very simple formula, I always arrived at the same answer:

    In my attempts to arrive at a break-even point, I actually played and replayed with numbers.  In other words, I'd test the students' cost of a camp to see if the break-even point was fair to my company, and I'd adjust the break-even number of students to see if the cost to them was fair.  So, back and forth I'd go, until I arrived at the fairest number for both sides.

    Cutting to the chase here, I never ran that formula (over like 45-years) without arriving at the same outcome.  Ya, the best situation had me charging a fair amount for a camp (maybe $350 in the early years), and expecting that 22 students would get me to my break-even point.  If I got one kid over that amount, my cut after paying out all my expenses was $350.  However, as time went along -- and my program's reputation spread, I could often turn people away and pocket over $6000 per week.

    That 22 student break-even point never changed over the years, either, whether I was running a much more expensive camp or even a lower priced clinic that included far less overhead.


    Did I eventually make that 22 number work for me?  Kinda, I guess...  After quite a few years, I started trusting it -- just testing to see if my newest expenses worked, and then usually running with the new cost per student.


    Now, about my title, or about judging the cost of advertising... You might have noticed that I "gave away" a hockey shirt to every student who attended one of my programs.  In total, those shirts were expensive, coming in different colors and with my logo screen printed on the front.  In fact, I'd have to always over-order so as to have plenty of the various colors (like red, white and black) plus all the various sizes expected to be needed for a time...


    There were tons of benefits to giving out those shirts, though...  In this day and age of security concerns, it helped a lot that my staff and I could always immediately recognize our students as opposed to anyone just drifting through the rink.  The color coding also helped in the teaching process, because we could easily hold scrimmages or work drills between various colored players.  And, maybe best of all, those shirts acted as walking billboards when my students left a program and returned to their home rinks around the country.  Ya, I can't tell you how many times I've spotted one of my students -- in one of my jerseys -- hundreds of miles from home.


    Now, I can envision some folks wanting to do away with something like those hockey school shirts when it comes to judging the cost of advertising (penny wise and pound foolish?).  But, like a big-time brand would suggest, they were "priceless" in my ad campaigns. So were the certificates and awards we gave away at the end of each hockey school, if to a lesser degree.  No, they didn't get worn everywhere, but I know that friends and family usually saw them, and I've been told that some former students (or their parents) still have their very old hockey school mementos. My advertising certainly didn't stop there, either.  Naw, back in the days when newspaper, magazine and Yellow Pages ads actually mattered, I spent plenty of money on those.  And I even bought some costly spots on the major Boston sports radio station.


    Truth be told, the latter purchase kinda scared me, because it cost a LOT of money, and I really worried about whether I'd effectively written those ads.   Unbelievably, though, my phone rang off the hook almost as soon as those ads started running, and I easily made back the kzillion dollars ( :) ) I'd spent.


    Of course, few visitors are looking for hockey school advice.  Yet, I think anyone in business could borrow from the way I put things together, the way I arrived at a break-even point, and how I went about judging the cost of advertising. As a matter of fact, I'd like to focus on those radio ad spots briefly, in hopes it makes sense to some of our Local Video Marketing friends...


    It was a long time ago, so I'm just going to grasp at those ads costing a little over $1000 to run a few weeks prior to one of my summer hockey schools.  Then, from what you know about the way I set prices back then, I'd only need to attract something like three or four students to balance that tab.  Better yet, I can tell you that the extra young people I drew to that school -- and even to subsequent ones -- surely increased my profits.  (Yes, even though some responders to that ad didn't join us that summer, several of them came over the following years.)


    And that's what I'm ALSO getting at when it comes to us judging the cost of our Local Video Marketing services. Actually, I think one has to look at those offerings in two ways:   1) having to do with how your business is affected in the here and now, and then 2) how your advertising efforts might keep sending you more customers -- over the weeks, months and years ahead. Anyway, looking for something we could study together...


    I happened to jump over to our "Services" page and grab the pricing on one of our offerings -- a Logo Design costing $325 US* (installed on your Facebook business or fan page).


    Of course, what a client reaps in return for our services or products will have a lot to do with how fast he or she might recoup the cost of advertising.


    If you're selling $5 items, I can see it taking awhile to make the $250 back.  Still, items like that tend to go out the door a lot quicker than do highly priced yachts -- :) .  As for my hockey school example from a little earlier, one might see how only a single sale would put me in the black, and any subsequent sales would look pretty nice on the company books.


    For sure, we each have to look at these things differently.  However, if I was running a beauty salon, I'd be looking to add more and more help, until we're turning people away.  If I was running something like a small construction, automotive repair or painting business, I'd be looking to overload our current schedule until it became possible to add another (and another?) crew, thus freeing me to work even more on growing the business.    If I was running a professional service -- maybe like a law practice, a medical or dental or vet service, or some sort of high ticket sales, I'd call this kind of decision a "no-brainer". In the end, I have to refer back to something I've written several times before, in that the typical business owner is usually awesome at working "in" his or her business, and only struggles when it comes time to keep the bottom line growing (and growing and growing).

  • Our New Local Video Marketing YouTube Channel

    This blog was originally published on August 22, 2017


    This one might be up for debate but...  My understanding is that we only get a one-time try at starting a new YouTube channel properly.  Sorry for not divulging my sources on that one, dear readers, but that's why our Local Video Marketing channel sat in hiding for better than a month.


    Then, something kinda laughable...  A little research shows that I was dragged onto YouTube on June 10, 2011, by a long ago techie partner.  At the time, the subject of that video ("Balance In The Forward Stride - with Coach Chic") was pretty controversial in ice hockey circles, and it got me bashed more than a little.   Fast forward to about 5-years later, though, and my thesis has been accepted and supported by scientific journals and most top hockey skating specialists.


    I only resurrect this story about my first-ever YouTube experience, so I could draw some important comparisons between then and now.


    My partner led me to believe that anything I had on YouTube.com back then put me light-years ahead of other hockey coaches (and I suspect that was so).  It wasn't long after, that I started slowly adding new videos onto my own "hockey channel".  In fact, I dribbled different kinds of videos into that channel with little regard for search engine optimization, keywords, or whatever.  I also cared less about "Likes" or "Subscribers", but mostly about whether hockey folks from around the world enjoyed or learned from my random posts.  Oh, well...


    Oh, man, did Brenda and I do a lot of research before pulling the trigger on our new Local Video Marketing channel.   And, not only did we pick the brains of all the top YouTube gurus, but we also armed ourselves with some (rather expensive) programs that promised to boost our videos and our channel beyond most others. What we chose as our first entry was titled "Why Use Video For Your Business - 2017", that just shown below... 



    Now, if you watched that, you might appreciate why Brenda took a little negative criticism from a lady over in one of the Facebook networking groups.  The lady's complaint had to do with my video not including all the dazzling things I'd hinted at in the video.


    I just sat there shaking my head, as Brenda told me what the lady had said.  The best I could do, though, was to explain myself to Brenda.  I mean, I have already produced dozens (upon dozens) of videos for this Local Video Marketing site, each one in some way or another showing off all the bells and whistles I have at my disposal.  Ya, I've shown several different ways of using whiteboard (or blackboard) drawings in my videos, I've had things spinning in and out of scenes, and I've used all sorts of transitions, special effects, intros, outros and more.  But, no, for that first video I didn't want a single distraction -- and I made it just about the facts.


    One thing I could have told that woman was that my first simple video was sent out to nearly 60 other video hosting sites within seconds of posting it to our YouTube channel.   Not noticed by the naked eye was that it also contained certain hidden properties that I doubt many others would know about.


    And that brings me to a few social media friends asking me recently if I'd give them some feedback on their YouTube channels.  Of course I'd take a look but, it wouldn't be my job to say much more than a brief compliment or two.

    In each case, I was able to offer a pat on the back for the pretty good video production -- I mean that.  What I didn't have the heart to suggest was that it didn't look like much had been done towards getting lots of views down the road.


    Please -- please -- please...  Do not take that last paragraph as a real negative.   No, don't forget that I hadn't a clue about SEO and other special video posting tricks until that became a big part of what I do.  Same thing with Brenda, in that she's had to cram like crazy to become familiar with new software and new programs that aren't always that easy to grasp. Please don't let me discourage anyone, either.  As my long ago partner might suggest, maybe something on YouTube is better than nothing.

  • A Sample Sports Program Ad

    This blog was originally published on dated June 10, 2017


    Now, let me start by saying that this being a "sample" sports program ad might be a stretch to some.  In other words, I created the following video in 2009, or at a time when online video had to be in the old 4 by 3 aspect ratio, and it was in was rendered in the faster loading FLV format of that time.  So, as you watch the following, please allow for the graininess, etc...

    Please notice that I did dub this post a sample "sports" program ad, because I know it could be used to promote or recruit for any kind of sport.  I played baseball and football through semi-pro -- and I coached them some, too.  So I know I could have created just as good an ad, if I had the necessary video footage or photos. As much as I apologized because of the old format, understand that my video pulled a ton of students.  I mean, I had to turn people away, for a lot of years, and for a lot of reasons...

    Sure, my reputation around the Massachusetts and Rhode Island areas -- and word of mouth -- helped plenty.  However...

    a sample sports program adIf you think about it, that video was out and working for me around the clock.  And, I have no doubt that the action clips and the included information caused many parents to return to and watch it a lot more times than just once.

    Knowing the sport as I do -- a lot like you might know your sport or business, I could focus on the things that really tend to matter with new hockey parents.

    Yet another beauty was that I always prepared this kind of sports program ad far, far in advance of a clinic's start.  My brochures were out in local pro shops early, and they included a link to the site where that video could be found.  My fairly large emailing list also contained a link to that site, as did all the snail-mail we sent out.  Better yet, my secretary had the luxury of pointing telephone callers towards that video in any way they preferred.

    All that said, I wonder if you might be envisioning right how you'd put together a similar kind of sports program (or business) video.  For sure, anyone producing such videos nowadays can do them in hi-res and in the new 16:9 ratio. I had the luxury of many years worth of video footage, but anyone could create just as stirring an ad using great photos.  (I'm picturing right now an automotive repair shop, a hair salon, different kinds of professional offices and more.

    Just because I mentioned photos up there, don't start thinking what I often label a "snooze fest", or a static website.  No, moving the pics along quickly to some fast paced music and a narrator's voice is a lot more exciting and attention grabbing to any site visitor.

    In closing, I hope I've provided enough advice to help some visitors create their own sports or business promo video.  I don't mind sharing what I can, while I still stand waiting, in the event you'd like me to create a similar kind of video for you.

  • If You Run a Hockey Organization

    This blog was originally published on June 9, 2017.


    I know I've previously mentioned being an ice hockey coach for 45+ years, and that I started working with video way back in 1979 or '80.   And, while i used it to analyze players and teams in the earliest years, it wasn't long before I started making my own instructional videos.  Not long after that, however... Ya, not long after that, I realized that video could be an unbelievable recruiting tool, be it for my weekly clinics, my summer hockey schools, or my college team.

    As an aside here, I came to Florida several years ago to be a part of a new        Junior hockey league that ended up failing before it ever got underway.  I knew what I was doing when it came to recruiting, however, and my team had close to a full roster before the rug was pulled out from under us.

    Folks missed the best of what I'd planned, though...  For, I'd spent as much time recruiting my future teams as I did my current one.  I mean, I was collecting video footage whenever I had the chance, initially grabbing clips of our home rink, the city, as well as the nearby attractions Central Florida had to offer.  What I never got to add to that collection were clips of our practices, our locker room, our bus trips, and special game action.

    I'll get back to that stuff in awhile.  For now, however, I'd like anyone who runs a private school, Junior team or league, or minor pro league to take a look at the following video.  I'll add more on the flip side...

    I created that fictitious "Whitman Warriors Hockey" logo just for fun (making those are easy for me). Most of my best video footage is stored with my super-professional studio more than an hour away.   If I had my druthers, though, I'd have included some travel footage, more game action, and some intimate stuff.  (Can anyone envision the bus scene and theme song in the movie Slap Shot?)  And, of course, if I created a "trailer-type" video for your organization, it would be far more personalized.

    As yet another aside...  I had some interviews a few years back with the possibility of being a Junior league's commissioner.   I knew that some forward looking organizations within those leagues would have their own recruiting videos.  Still, what I also wanted to create was something that highlighted the league's members, league activities, etc.   Was it a good idea?  Ya, I think so.  And, it could only help -- everyone.

    As other "hockey nuts" can imagine, I could go on and on with this theme.  However, let me end for now with a reminder of some things I did and didn't mention in the above video:

    Kids (of all ages) love fast action and music to match.  Hey, they've been brought up on digital media.

    Hockey parents need to be assured they're making the right choice when it comes to picking a given team or league.  And, I think the right kind of video can accomplish that.

    It's hard to explain many of the things that can make your team or league different, but it's easy to show viewers with photos and video.

    Or, as I said at the end of that short movie, "Video is worth more than 10,000 words" -- much, much more.

    So, please complete the Contact Form off to the right, so we might talk about working together.