Oct 8, 2018 11:42 PM
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...
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).
Oct 2, 2018 11:19 PM
This blog was originally published on October 15, 2017
As I kick this off, I think I might preface the main topic with some personal stuff (trust me, that it'll eventually impact on that thing about an important Local Video Marketing thumbs-up and thumbs-down problem)...
In later life, I thanked my lucky stars for a lifetime spent in sports. It all started at age-10, it eventually had me playing three sports to a fairly high level into my 20's, before I transitioned to 40+ years in coaching (mainly in ice hockey).
Some might think that sport successes build character, but even the greatest players don't get to be successful for very long. So, I'm sure that most athletes and coaches who lasted any length of time would tell you that it was their ability to fight through tough times that led to their true growth.
I laugh and joke now about overcoming adversities as a player -- like enduring broken noses and broken fingers, torn ligaments, probable concussions in a day when no one cared about such things, and double-session football practices in 100-degree weather in a time when taking a drink of water was seen as a sign of weakness.
If you haven't been around team sports that much (beyond the youth level), you might not realize the mental abuse an athlete can face -- some of it intentional, and some of it just being the way things have always been. Everyone generally gets their turn as "It", being dressed down and raked over the coals -- in front of teammates, or even in front of onlooking fans . Ya, you either go home crying at such things, or you suck it up, and grow some rather thick skin. (Little wonder I'd laugh half the time years later as an Army NCO thought he was going to get under my skin -- nope, I'd already been blasted by some of the best!)
You'd think that would all end once a guy switches to coaching -- ya, you'd think... But I could go on about my experiences with this. The great Paul "Bear" Bryant explained a coach's working conditions best, though, when a college professor complained about The Bear's high salary (I'm paraphrasing here)... "And how many people sit and watch as you conduct a final exam?" :) No, I never coached before the 55,000 who usually watched Bryant coach, but I can tell you that any of us who have worked at a fairly high level have endured similar highs and lows, including the cat-calls, boos, and even profanities directed from above. And it can sometimes be worse, as the press shoves a microphone in your face after a disappointing loss.
Phew. Sorry, but I did feel the need to mention all that, just to let visitors know that I'm not your run-of-the-mill marketing guy. Naw, I make decisions differently than many others. Don't get me wrong here, because I'm not saying my decision making is better, only that it's different. And, of course, all the experiences noted above (and more) are going to reflect on the topic at hand, as in those thumbs-up and thumbs-down things. Okay, so while doing my usual daily research into the very latest about video and marketing, I ran across a new form of technology. This had to be about 6-months ago, with that rough timing being important to this discussion. As I read on about that technology, I noticed that it was being promoted by a guy (and popular MLM-er) I've followed on Facebook for quite some time. I mentioned the article to Brenda as soon as I finished it, right there and then letting her know about my thumbs-up and thumbs-down feelings.
My kinda outside the box approach to coaching had me keeping my mind open for a time, while it was easy to identify the thumbs-down aspects to that program. Number One on that list? How many people could actually be turned off if they were "targeted" by that new technology? Hmmmm...
As a thought for others who work a lot online, I keep a folder full of bookmarks labeled as "Wish List". Actually, that might be a good description for some items linked in there, but that folder also includes a lot of items I'd describe as "down the road". In other words, I'm not ready to deal with something right now, but I'd like to take another look at it "down the road".
Anyway, it's kinda comical that two things happened almost simultaneously within the past week...
Brenda mentioned to me that a women in one of her Facebook marketing groups was promoting the same kind of program I'd described to her months ago. I think the group's comments over time were mixed between thumbs-up and thumbs-down. And, while I'm not able to comment in that "women only" group, I'd have surely suggested there was no right or wrong in this matter -- at least just yet.
At the same time the most heated debates were taking place in the above noted group, I received a surprise in my inbox. You bet: it was about the latest seeming hot topic, with the sales info confirming a lot about the benefits it could provide to some of our Local Video Marketing clients. On the other hand, of course, there were the thumbs-down feelings Brenda has described to me, as well as some of what other detractors have mentioned in various groups.
Well, here's what your favorite outside the box marketing guy decided to do... I quickly put together and posted the following video in a number of Facebook groups, as well as in my Facebook stream...
Understand that the jury was still out for me, and the links to that new form of technology was still in my Wish List folder. That's why I was introducing the above video in numerous locales with, "If you run a Tampa area business, this video recently raised quite a stir in several biz groups: your thoughts?" If you get my drift, I was looking for more input, beyond Brenda's and my personal feelings, and beyond the comments I'd seen to that point in the above noted Facebook group. And, I did get a number of pretty good comments, from a few who liked the idea, and from a few who had serious reservations. Then... Ya, then... Something made me pull the trigger. I mean, I wrestled with all the thumbs-up and thumbs-down, and I rationalized that it wouldn't hurt a single bit for us to have such technology in our Local Video Marketing bag of tricks.
Speaking of our "bag of tricks" -- and explaining better my decision to buy that program... I ask the reader to take a quick browse down the list of options on our SERVICES page (you won't lose your place by going there). My hope is that a visitor can see that we're not a one-trick-pony, but instead we offer a growing list of ways we can help Local Video Marketing clients. As a matter of fact, we offer package deals within which we promise to use "all the right assets" suited to a given niche. Yes, as Brenda and I explain to prospective clients, no two companies are alike, and no two should follow the same exact marketing approach.
Okay, I'm showing you all the assets we currently have at our disposal for a reason (although that list of services will surely grow, based on the way I keep exploring new ideas with each new day). With that, notice that the so-called new technology is not yet listed in either of our groups. No, as anyone with a Catholic upbringing might appreciate, that program is currently sitting in our form of Purgatory, and awaiting further evaluation. On the one hand, I guess we'll have to keep watching that thumbs-up and thumbs-down thing, until we think it's swung enough towards a positive direction. In the meantime, we honestly can't see taking peoples' money until we feel all the kinks have been worked out. Then, even if or when we do advertise that product, it's very likely we'll only include it in a full marketing package. Of course, all along I'll be putting on and taking off my coaching hat, always looking for ways to help our clients win their games.
Sep 24, 2018 8:16 PM
This blog was originally published on October 5, 2017
Okay, I might have been a little over-dramatic in that title, because there isn't much either Brenda or I could complain about over our first few months of running our new Local Video Marketing company. The good parts of running things so far? Well...
Number One, I'll bet that Brenda would agree, that we've been dealing with some of the nicest folks in the world. :) I think many of them are a lot like us, and equally psyched about the prospects of their new business.
Number Two -- or maybe tied at Number One, is the fact that we love what we do. We're both creative types, who get extra excited at the prospect of designing a new logo or new video production, or guiding a client's company out of a cluttered field and into the limelight.
Then, there might even be a Number Three here, in our love of the lifestyle that comes with running something like our Local Video Marketing biz. Oh, for sure, working for oneself entails some looooooong hours. Still, having the ability to often choose our work setting -- from a nearby picnic table to poolside to our after church visits at a local coffee shop. Honestly, I've never understood how some folks can make their work a drudgery when it doesn't need to be that way.
Oh, ya, about the slight struggle we've had as a startup in a very unique kind of company... While some other business owners might suggest to the contrary, I'm saying right now that, there's no model for what Brenda and I have been building. Sure, some others offer video production, some others might design logos, yet others might offer to help with a client's marketing or SEO, etc. Yet, are any two companies really alike? I mean, really? Ha, hardly.
Okay, so here comes our main frustration... It's that the newness of our company brought about constant -- and I mean constant -- evolution. From Day 1, Local Video Marketing was built upon my decades of work in video production. Not long after, though, came our realization that video used within social media brought about a huge step in client visibility, and so did our newfound ability to create awesome social graphics. And so did our abilities continue to grow over a good many more months -- led by Brenda's interests in Facebook marketing and search engine optimization.
Of course, that was mostly good for our business, but it was super-difficult to keep up with in our own marketing efforts. I mean, as we increased our capabilities almost weekly, our advertising and this website fell behinder and behinder (LOL)...
With all that, maybe folks around Tampa heard a huge sigh of relief -- like "Phew!!!" -- a few days ago when we just about finished revamping this website. Actually, the windows shook a little -- :) , as Brenda and I both let go from opposite sides of the room. Not that our work will ever be done. However, our 'Home' page is now fairly organized and readable, we're ready to take off in this 'Blog' again now, most of our current 'Services' are listed under a new category (that's still growing). Are we feeling pretty good right now? You bet! And it's even nicer that new potential clients have been contacting us regularly over the past few days.
PS: Not listed as an offering (yet?), but nonetheless sprinkled above and used often in our own Local Video Marketing promos, are a bunch of memes and social ad pics.
Sep 20, 2018 8:13 PM
This blog was originally published on October 3, 2017
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