Video Is Important To Small Business Marketing: Why?

Video Is Important to Small Business Marketing! 

When I owned a gift shop in our small tourist town, I learned a lot – making all of those “new business owner” mistakes.  I’d like to take some of those mistakes back!  We weren’t “Big Box” and most independent Mom and Pop shops don’t know how to market properly.  Potential customers don’t know who, what or where we are.  One of the most important things I learned, especially working in a multi-media industry, was that “video is important to small business marketing”.

Small business owners have a limited pocketbook for inventory. Add the overhead for advertising, promotion and marketing – it can break a small enterprise. We have one or two or maybe even a half dozen employees (most of them underpaid, or unpaid family). We are good community stewards and we have goals for our future, but to put all our ad budget into one ad campaign can be a lesson in futility or lost revenue because it just doesn’t work on a smaller scale.

So, that’s exactly why I learned how to effectively market using video (and audio), rather than expect the customers to come to me or to pay outrageous weekly and monthly print ad costs.  Print is, for my business, completely ineffective and budget suicide.

Video is important to small business marketing
Video is important to small business marketing

Make An Impression Fast And Make One To Last

Let’s face it, micro-businesses are small. Micro, even. We can support ourselves (sometimes), but occasionally it gets snug in the ol’ wallet, right? So, we have to make impressions. Lots of them — so people come back to us, keep them inquiring about what we have that they want, to keep them involved in our websites or stores, and to just stay on top of the game.

A business card is not enough any more. Local networking is great but it is time consuming and still impacts our wallets. Most micros don’t have the budget for television and even radio can be cost prohibitive, especially if you aren’t familiar with advertising, marketing or negotiating with agents in these fields.

The answer is video.  Because now we can create it quickly, distribute it freely, edit it on our own time and post it in a variety of online locations.  It costs zero – at least, it does after we have our equipment, website and software expenses covered. (By the way, don’t forget that when you do use this, you have great tax deductions! Be sure to check with your accountant for the details).

So, how do we use video and audio to promote and market our businesses and still keep it reasonable?  Also, what tools, exactly, do we need to put all this together?

Determine Your Target Market and Where You’ll Post

At the time I first wrote this post, live video like Periscope, Meerkat, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook LIVE wasn’t available.  You could live-stream, but it was more than a bit cumbersome for those who didn’t have a proper vehicle to work with.  GIFs were created by techies who “knew everything”.

Short of having a separate broadcasting unit attached to our cameras and integrated with our laptop, we didn’t have the option to go live from a cellphone, so in just 18 months, the playing field has dramatically changed. Determine where your video will be the most effective, get your conversions and sales, draw hits/traffic and views and that ROI is important.  ClGFTn_UgAAg3d4

If you already use Facebook and have a large following there, it makes sense to stick with it. Be prepared to do some follow up with Facebook.  Even though it is now open to pretty much everyone, you may still be required to verify your account, as you will on Twitter and others so they can determine that you use the service in a good way.  Otherwise, it has the potential for great misuse by the unscrupulous – which would not be a good!

Video Can Be More Cost Effective and Bring Greater ROI Than Other Media

What’s also important when putting video into play is consider when and how to create videos yourself or to demo your products and services.  After that, determine where to post and embed in an assortment of viable locations.

The Basics

Your laptop has a basic movie maker type program that you can use to create and edit.  If not, consider an app, or one of the programs I will discuss below.  Get a video editing program to learn and take your video up to the next level.

PC Mag and CNet each have handy guides to review different programs and many are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. Some programs are much more extensive and likely to require special training. Do your own “due diligence” and comparison shop.  Find a program or service to fit your needs and budget.

I have also included a link to  WeVideo (see the subsection below), so do check that out. As a cloud-based editing solution, it is more cost-effective and easier to use than installing and maintaining software, such as Cyberlink Photo Director, which I currently use to produce my videos.  You might also  use Adobe SPARK to make simple, but effective videos.

What Will You Need?

Start with the message you want to convey: what is it?  What is your story? When you write your script, do it free-flow so you can just pop ideas in.  You can whittle it down to an acceptable 45 seconds to 2 minutes afterward.  (Yes, you really can!)

I suggest you create your script as a word document first and practice it several times. Memorization is good, but it may not be necessary. Once you are comfortable with the script, paste it into a teleprompter and have a go at it.  A teleprompter, you say?

To Prompt Or Not To Prompt?

There are free teleprompters online you can use to insert your scripts into; my personal favorite is CuePrompter; another is EasyPrompter but there are others. The prompters are great to work with, and you can adjust the speed to match your natural speech pattern. Save the document along with your speed settings so you retain a record of your recording.  You can change and update your script periodically. Of course, you can spend a bit extra to get the upgrades but you may not find it necessary once you use these a few times. When you get the hang of using it, you become more natural.

Cameras and More

There are a variety of excellent digital video cameras or straight webcams you can invest in. If you plan to do most of your recording in a home or office environment be aware that you need a relatively soundproof area for audio.  Creating a video and then realizing afterward that you have a semi truck rumbling in the background is not pleasant

Prices for quality HD webcams run from the lower twenties on up to a couple of hundred (as of 2016). Or you can go top-drawer and purchase a quality HD digital video camera.  Be aware that most webcams don’t have great audio, so you may need to also invest in a good microphone and then sync the audio after the fact.

Consider if you need tripods or mounts and where you may shoot.  I do “on the street” reporting, “studio reporting” and in some heavier production efforts I use multiple cameras on occasion.  I still use cellphones for ease, comfort and to get more honest responses.  People are just not afraid of a cellphone – but if there is a microphone, they become quickly intimidated.

Logitech

As of this year, Logitech seems to have the best overall webcam in its’ HD Pro C920 model, with some of the highest ratings available.  Be sure to Google “webcams, by year#” when you’re ready since tech goes obsolete quickly.  Don’t check just one site though; check several, and read some of the online reviews of your personal top 2 or 3 models.  That way, you see the good, bad and ugly for all of them and choose the one that most closely meets your needs.

Mevo

For Facebook streaming, the brand new Mevo (use with iPhone) garners a lot of attention.  It has some edit on the fly options that might be useful for a quick on-site production and is winning awards for its’ usage and consumer interest.

Should I use a cellphone?

If you use a cellphone, don’t despair! Cell phone videos are among the fastest growing video products out there, and there are producers in Hollywood and around the world doing amazing productions with them. This gives them greater acceptance and working reputation.  Look for the highest megapixels (5 mpgs is better than 2, but 18 mpgs rocks!).  You can also purchase add-on lens that will offer greater wide angle and telephoto options – many of them between 20-50 dollars.

Try New Cloud Services:

You can also check out some of the newest cloud based platforms.  Cloud-based programs are fantastic because there are no downloads-you just click to access a dashboard to perform your needed functions.

Talk Fusion: An entire suite of marketing tools!

TalkFusion allows you to embed videos into email and newsletter templates.  This means you don’t  send potential customers to outside websites (sites that enable your customer to see your competition right next to you – who wants a potential client to check out the competition?).  There are no true video editing features-you are creating on the fly or uploading a precreated or edited video to your personal cloud-based library.

Once uploaded to your library, you have options to then upload your video to more than 300 sites world-wide with the push of a button, though you will likely prefer to pick and choose the sites you upload to; doing so will most certainly build your traffic and website SEO to a much greater degree.

TalkFusion also boasts the building of a brand new RTC (Real Time Communication) client in it’s “Connect” program-a technology that they believe will eventually disrupt or force Skype, Google Hangouts and others either out of the arena or find their way to the TF level of service.  In 2016, their Video Chat service was voted 2016 WebRTC Product of the Year Award from Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC), an online marketing leader with a 20-year legacy of honoring technology companies across the globe.

But isn’t that direct marketing?

TalkFusion has the option of being either a multi-level marketing program to build your own business or use it as a customer through an associate, making use of the multitude of templates in which to embed and send your videos out to the world (or to your potential customers).

Because it’s a direct marketing company, TalkFusion starts with a one time buy-in that increases depending upon the tier you want to start then has a monthly fee to maintain your services.  Or, for those that prefer to use the “customer only”  services without the ongoing “opportunity” pitches (as of 2016) you would contract with the associate and they produce the video then distribute it on any of the over 300 video source sites currently available.  You may not get a lot of business from Indonesia, however, so have them cherry pick your distribution points.

A Note About RTC

The big deal about RTC (Real Time Communication) can’t be overestimated.  How many times do you have a call that is staggered – where you start to talk when someone else does?  Or they interrupt you, and then you interrupt them?  So, to have a conversation in ‘real time”, where the lag is (almost) non-existent is a very big deal.  Let’s hope tech continues to improve in this area!

WeVideo: Editing Software For Everyone

Another interesting cloud-based video program which works hand-in-hand with video creation is WeVideo.  WeVideo touts itself as a powerful and easy-to-use cloud-based collaborative video editor. With a Free-To-Try option, it starts at that level with a 5 minutes per month, with 1 GB of storage, publishes only in 720p, and basic features along with the WeVideo watermark embedded. The next level is 30 minutes anytime, 2 GB storage, 720p publishing, some premium features and eliminates the watermark for $20.00.  Move up to 1080p and it will cost you $39.00 for the entire year, will get you 20 GB storage, but only 5 hours edit time (for the entire year) along with some (not all) of the premium features.  The final level at $69.00 per year will allow 1080p, unlimited storage and unlimited time. (You might even get a better deal during holidays, so pay attention to specials from this company!)

Levels 1 and 2

WeVideo‘s first two levels allow you to publish to popular forums: Vimeo, WeVideo, YouTube, DropBox, Facebook, Twitter, Google Drive, DailyMotion.  Their upper levels will allow you to publish to WeVideo, Vimeo, Google Drive, FTP, DailyMotion, YouTube, DropBox, Facebook, Twitter, Box, Wistia, and Vidcaster for a few additional options.

Music Library and other Goodies

The online music library available is 22 songs for the free version, and paid versions have a 100 song library to choose from.  Finally, the 3 lesser versions of WeVideo don’t allow for some of the best functionality.  In the $69.00 per year version includes Custom Branding, Call-To-Action, Redirect (Sales Funnel) Landing Page, Priority Processing and even Multi-User options.

To have a tool like WeVideo available, rather than constantly upgrading complex video editing software every year might be what you and your business need.  And with a tag-line like “Full creative control-no experience required”, WeVideo has an immediate “like” factor for those who might be intimidated with actual edit processes (and the Ick Factor of annual software upgrades).

Enterprise Version

Finally, WeVideo offers one last service to be aware of: Enterprise.  The Enterprise version offers Scalable Storage and Publish Time, Customization and Branding.  It includes Onboarding and Account Management not available at the other levels.  Integrations, High Availability and Premier Support are added (and who doesn’t like being treated like they’re better than everyone else! This level requires a little extra effort on their part, so call for a quote.

Contracts or No?

There are no contracts, so you can cancel without notice. Be aware though, that at the lower levels, you can create and publish, but if you go over publishing time limits, you will need to pay to upgrade.  Also, even though additional users are supported, they do need to get their own “license”. Check all the fine print, talk to their customer support for more details.

Who Else Might Help You With Video?

If you don’t want to go through the process of learning the software or purchasing the hardware (or using your cellphone battery up constantly), consider going to your local college and discussing with the instructors of graphic and digital design or other video classes to see if they can help you create what you need: perhaps as a class or group project. Just keep in mind that it will be more of a one-time thing and may not meet your future needs and not all college classes may allow it.

Local Community Cable Options

Community video services may be available in your area and allow you to produce and self-promote your own local “cable” show. Equipment stays in house, and volunteers man the hardware.  It may not all be free the way it used to be, but if you locate sponsors to help you with the overhead for an event or program like this, you will benefit financially as well. Check Wikipedia for a full list of community communication councils in your area with public access and training. Most are now integrated with YouTube to ease the burden and overhead of a large studio and broadcast expenses.

Stream Online – LIVE

You can also consider live streaming online – we enjoy using Livestream or Ustream for our broadcasts, but like many folks, have gone over more toward Facebook LIVE due to its’ simplicity and built-in following. Be sure to learn how to record and access the shows after you cast so you can repurpose them on your website or in emails.  Build up local sponsors who will pay you – and then you pay for an upgraded subscription.  Other small businesses will work with you when you provide more online and on-air shout outs about their businesses, or include them as guests from time to time — or if you, as the local celebrity do voice-over ads for them.

So then what do I talk about or do?

When you’re the local expert, you can talk about pretty much anything you want and if it promotes local business or charitable events, you can build a nice following.  That said, if you plan to include music, be VERY careful.  You MUST obtain the appropriate rights to use, or you can be held liable. Fines for copyright infringement are not likely to be easy on the wallet, especially if it winds up in court.  Review usage and rights on the BMI, ASCAP and SESAC websites.  A discussion about scripts and “what to talk about” on your program will be discussed in another article.

But I don’t think I can do all that!

If all else fails and you just don’t see how you can do it all, get out your wallet. There are plenty of companies out there who can provide you a valuable service, get you the return on your investment and get you started on the video marketing road to success, many at very reasonable prices.  Just don’t jump on the first one.  Review their portfolio and determine if they actually created it.

How long should my video be?

If it’s a GIF style, your message may only be seconds long – usually no more than 10-15 seconds, so you have to be very precise.

Depending on your message and location of your video, your video length will vary greatly!  When creating a Facebook video, and it isn’t going Live, then keep it to about 1-2 minutes. Videos that are of something very specific, timely, noteworthy or just a lot of fun the 2 minute mark is gold.

If you are creating an entire program to air on public access, be sure to market it on all your social media pages.  When you do a long program, plan it out.  Advise your viewers that the video will be longer. Plant a few teasers in the social media market you are targeting and be sure to give a link back to the source page.  Have them “Friend” or “Follow” your page so when it goes out, they will get the message first.

So, who says this is important for my business?

Interactive video is the wave.  Check the statistics and  you’ll see that you need to invest in video. Review the facts at MediaBistro.  See what’s happening on many of the major social networks.  As a  small or micro-business owner, it won’t pay to ignore what’s right in front of you.  And with so many low or no-cost options, why would you even want to?  Just tell yourself “video IS important to small business marketing”!

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Connie Dexter Spicer is a Vero Beach Florida geek and multiple business owner, dedicated to encouraging micro and small business owners to step outside their normal routines and take a chance on new technology and knowledge. Connie coaches local small businesses and speaks publicly on such topics as: “Marketing on a Shoestring Budget”, “Building Your Business with Technology”, and “Video and Your Business Website: Why It’s A MUST”. Her interest in music brought her and husband David Spicer into the mobile DJ industry where they also produce video and audio for business websites and perform at many specialty and charitable events.
Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and more under handles Connie Spicer, DJ; CN Starz Entertainment; and @cnstarzchannel.

Cost Remediation Saves Business Big Money

Don’t Bleed Money

When looking into most businesses, especially those with 20 or more employees, there are certain things that are clearly evident — costs are sky high and benefits are low.  So, how do businesses improve on their bottom line without bleeding out?

piggy bank

I did a radio spot the other day and, among some of the events and businesses I was promoting, I mentioned that I represent a company that does cost remediation audits. Afterward, one of the guys looked at me with a very droll look and said, “I can’t believe you said you do cost remediation. That’s terrible!” When I asked him what he meant, he stated that all he heard when I said that was “people were going to get fired” and lose jobs, “and that”, he said, “was a very bad thing to promote”.

Since it wasn’t my primary topic for the show, I hadn’t thought about how it might come across to someone else, but to be clear, cost remediation covers an entire spectrum of events in business, not just staffing and personnel choices. Our company prefers to leave your personnel to you, the business owner and to look at the processes you already have in place that are costing you more than necessary – maybe even tens of thousands or more than you were expecting. Wouldn’t it be nice to get some of that back? And wouldn’t it be even better to have a structured plan in place to prevent it from happening again?

What is Cost Remediation?

Let’s look at this logically: what is cost remediation, to begin with? In our case, cost remediation is the act of determining where a financial issue is within a company, determining the root causes and then making it right (remedying the problem) so that the business is moving toward or enhancing profit, not adding to a loss. When a remediation audit is performed, it is a discovery process, designed to look into your business systems to see what you’re doing right and what needs improved to save you money.

There are processes every day in business that can be checked for improvements. If you have looked at your bottom line before and reviewed your cost sheets, then you know certain things are going to cost your business money — but through remediation, it may not cost you as much AND you now know what to look for and how to fix it yourself, so going forward, you can realize a greater savings.

Go ahead. Get out your profit/loss and look at all those expenses you have and ask yourself, “can I (or can someone in my business) reduce these expenses? Which expenses do you look at and groan about? Worker Compensation? Health insurance? Maybe it’s a retirement program or business or commercial property taxes that has your stomach in knots. There are more than 20 different areas (besides personnel) that can be causing your business to lose big, and reducing your overall profitability.

Pull your cost sheets. Material costs? Labor and other overhead? How do you reduce what is there? Now that you reviewed your largest company dollar eaters and determined that, yes, you might be able to save some money, then what? Do you have time to sift through the available resources to resolve the issues you see and to correct, change or eliminate the cost-mongers altogether?

One Big Waster

Some big cost categories can be huge wasters, especially the bigger the company. I’ve heard many times how often CFO’s complain about the staggering costs of Worker Compensation — but what they don’t know is that more than 70% of companies are actually overcharged (yes, 70%) by their respective insurers.  Auditing Worker Comp can bring huge dividends, not just because the audit can fix it for you this year and moving forward, but because the audits can go back up to seven years in some states, bringing your business potentially thousands, or tens of thousands in refunds.

If you can’t (and most folks can’t because you’re running a business, not trying to put out fires) and your staff is already inundated with their own responsibilities, it may be time to have someone else have a look.

Most remediation services are there to streamline processes, not to axe your staff and create a fearful work environment. Don’t let terminology bog you down from saving your company tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted, unrecoverable expense.

#cost #remediation #financial #businessprocesses #workerscomp #savings #bottomline #profitloss

4 Tips To Posting In Facebook Group Pages – For Small Business

Social media interaction

Do you know how to drive people to your pages using a Facebook group post? Here are a few tips that might help bring you some interaction and drive more traffic to your page or to your business website.

Make sure you have a BUSINESS page to promote

Many small and micro businesses make the mistake of using a personal page for their small or home-based business. The problem with this is that they keep the page private — or at least too private to get business except from their friends. Start by building your “business persona” by creating and building a business page. This page should be integrated with your business website or personal blog. It will help drive traffic when used properly.

Don’t make another personal profile. You want your personal and your business persona to be linked so you can easily work in between the two pages. Keep your personal stuff personal and private. But if you want to do business – do business. Anything less is throwing money and professionalism away. If you’re playing at business, people will figure it out and they’ll go to someone who means business.

When you post to a group, courtesy and common sense should prevail

A) Don’t overdo it. (admins don’t have that option – they are trying to oversee the group!). Posting too often comes across as spammy and pushy.
B) Don’t underdo it. Posting once and then ignoring the group isn’t real effective either, especially in most business-oriented groups. Be involved enough to learn who you’re doing business with and interact with them. This goes for ANY social network, not just the Big Three.

If you post pictures or video, you want to drive traffic to your page and website, so do it right!

A) Don’t post a ton of pictures to the group page, because no one will want to look at them all on a group page. But

B) DO create and post a photo album to your OWN business page. It can be as many pictures as you want — but if you’re promoting something specific, stick with that item or that event; then:

Go to the group page, post your Facebook business page link in the first open thread with the comment to “see the photos (for your awesome event or product or service), click on the link just below”; then:

In the comment beneath that, post the album link. Make sure your photos and your business page are PUBLIC. If they are not public, who is going to see them? The answer is “no one will see them”, your link will get ignored, and few comments will be made about your business.

If you’re posting a video, you still want to post it beneath your Facebook page link, although I prefer to have folks interact directly on my page, it really depends what I am posting about. Again, if you are the page admin, the rule might work a bit differently; video is much more personal and interactive.

(BEST PRACTICE-posting your business page link first means that people will see if they have already LIKED your page or not, and they will be more inclined to do so, especially if they think they may need your services.)

Finally, learn how to use the “Save this Link” feature on many pages so you can go back to it and review it later

This only comes up if the post has an external link to another website, blog post, or a video or photo album. So, use these options if you don’t have time to review a post or you just want to get back to it later on. And if you want people to come to your pages, Give them links to click. Posting a single (as in one) photo is fine-it helps drive the traffic too, but use a one-two punch to do it.

Making use of the group pages to which you belong is important for driving traffic and building that all-important SEO… but more than that, the more time you take to learn simple best practices with any social network, the more effective your in-house marketing efforts will become and the more conversions you can expect.

 

Connie Dexter Spicer is a Vero Beach Florida geek and multiple business owner, dedicated to encouraging micro and small business owners to step outside their normal routines and take a chance on new technology and knowledge. She has been blogging for many years, and currently maintains 3 websites and a number of social network pages. She has been coaching local small businesses for the past several years, speaking publicly on such topics as: “Marketing on a Shoestring Budget”, “Building Your Business with Technology”, and “Video and Your Business Website: Why It’s A MUST”. Her interest in music brought her and husband David Spicer into the mobile DJ industry, where they now produce video and audio for business websites, and perform at specialty and charitable events.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and more under handles cjspicer1, Spice of Life Studio or CN Starz Entertainment and cnstarzchannel.

Patchington Holds Benefit Party For SafeSpace

Patchington’s holds awareness campaign

In order to bring awareness to the difficulties faced by those in partnerships and marriages where there is domestic violence issues, clothier Patchington’s, an up-scale boutique with 24 stores along the east coast and Florida, held a series of events to encourage locals to donate their gently used clothing and items. These items go to organizations that each of the Patchington stores choose to benefit.

I interviewed Janet Farnan-Dyer of Safe Space who filled me in on how much impact events like these are for women and children in need of protection. Safe Space is more than an organization, it’s a hidden haven for those who might otherwise not survive an attack by a significant other and, often with nothing but the clothes on their backs, women and children have to start over. Safe Space provides shelter, clothing and all the basic necessities most of these folks will need to get back up on their feet, and move on to a better life situation.  Be sure to check out the video interview:  Safe Space

At the boutique on Ocean Drive, Vero Patchington‘s representative, Pamela Bennett, had local vendors in to showcase their wares over 3 days’ time.  Many encouraged friends and family to attend and donate as well as shopping at Patchington, who offered significant discounts on many of their store items.  The organization they are sponsoring, SafeSpace, runs up and down the Treasure Coast, offering help and support for literally thousands of women and children since its inception 35 years ago.

Vendors at the event included Angela Speck of Speck Interior Design; Crystal Ploszay from “Your Personal Artist; Robin Patton of Florida Event and Wedding Planners; Nancy Johnson, the Plan B Laughing Lady and, of course, Ms. Vero-Patchington herself, Pam Bennett, who also brought the SeneGence line of products into the store event.

Singing Contest at Blue Star Wine Bar Benefits Healthy Start Coalition

Blue Star Wine Bar, located in Vero Beach is holding a “Voice” style singing contest to benefit Healthy Start Coalition of Indian River County.  Three local celebrity judges will be kept from viewing contestants, and will only be permitted to listen to their vocal performance.

CN Starz Entertainment will be providing the sound, master of ceremonies and more.  Contestants will be recorded for podcasting and each nights’ event will be Livestreamed on the CN Starz Channel at Livestream.com.

The contest is slated to start on February 4th, 2014 at 7 pm until 8:30 pm.  Grand Prize winner will win $250.00 cash, a singing gig at the Blue Star Wine Bar and a chartered cruise aboard the Moonraker catamaran, captained by Vero’s own Bruce Jackson.

Blue Star Wine Bar and CN Starz Entertainment to hold benefit singing contest
Blue Star Wine Bar and CN Starz Entertainment to hold benefit singing contest for Healthy Start Coalition

For more information or to enter, contact the Blue Star Wine Bar at (772) 231-3338 or CN Starz Entertainment at (772) 501-3836, or connect to their Facebook pages.

#HealthyStartCoalitionofIRC #singingcontest #BlueStarWineBarVero #CNStarzEntertainment #karaoke #Moonraker

 

CN Starz Entertainment’s Connie Spicer Interview For Thumbtack

We recently joined a new service and I was fascinated by the questions posed.  As a DJ, it is so important to be looking out for our clients and to provide the very best we can. Here is part of our interview with them: 

T: Why does your work stand out from others who do what you do?

C: We treat our clients and potential clients as if they are our best friends, but we do all we can to show them value and professionalism in all we do for them. We work with them from day one to make sure questions are answered, that we know the playlists, that we have everything in place to meet your needs and to back up our promises to you.

T: If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?

C: Thinking back to before I was into this business, I would ask what was the worst thing to happen to the DJ’s I came in contact with.  Most of them answered the same as I will: when people overimbibe, they do careless things, say mean things or can put you in difficult situations.  That carelessness can cost money, so it’s very important to have the appropriate insurance in place to be able to care properly for all your equipment.  The rest of it, you just have to try to maintain, or get the client to take matters into hand to protect you.

T: Do you have a favorite story from your work?

C: We did a really amazing 50th wedding anniversary several years ago.  The people were  so sweet and wound up keeping us all day.  It was a long drive, but they took good care of us, and we did the same for them.  Their granddaughters were our “starz” and we worked with them to create a little series of performances for their grandparents after dinner.  It was so much fun, and the kids were adorable!

T: What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?

C: I wish customers were aware of all the pre-work we do to bring them an event that will be memorable.  When they fail to plan, they put their event in a precarious position because we don’t know your tastes unless you tell us.  We don’t know if there is something special, something that speaks to you, that you want included unless you tell us.  We are excellent at what we do.  We will go far beyond exceeding your expectations when you help us even the smallest bit with your special event planning.

T: Do you do any sort of continuing education to stay up on the latest developments in your field?

C: We are largely self-taught, but that doesn’t mean we are lacking in skills or knowledge.  We are always learning new technology. For example, we don’t just work with wifi subscription services, we can also play from your iPod or other system.  Of course, we still can, and do, play our full disc library!  There is nothing wrong with kicking it old school.  We are firmly commited to learning the best and newest techniques and technologies, and in working with our own equipment–what it can or can’t do, and how to achieve the best sounds possible in the environments in which we find ourselves and now in working with the streaming technologies and what it can do for our clients.

T: What are the latest developments in your field? Are there any exciting things coming in the next few years or decade that will change your line of business?

C: I believe that streaming and podcasting are going to be the next big thing.  For weddings/receptions and more where guests can’t afford to attend or that have a scheduling conflict that prevents them from attending in person, Livestreaming and podcasting makes the event spectacular in a brand new way.  Podcasting the event creates a new nostalgia that a couple can use — along with their event photographs and video from streaming — to bring back the joy and happiness of that occasion.  I think we will see more and more of this, with multiple streams in different locations at a reception.  We’ll see more Facetime and Skyping at events; it’s not just for teleconferencing any more, it’s for everyone.

To see the rest of the interview, please check us out on Thumbtack.  If you have used our services before and you would like to offer a review of us on Thumbtack, please click this link: Thumbtack: CN Starz

Karaoke Experiences: Please Share

In and around our business, we run into issues and answers of all kinds, and we like to hear from you too.  So, I’d like to start with an easy question, one everyone who sings karaoke has at least one answer for, and that is: What are some of your best and worst karaoke experiences?

In the more than 20 years that I’ve been singing karaoke, I’ve seen a lot.  I’ve seen club owners stiff KJ’s (and been one of those stiffed slobs back in the day), I’ve seen people butcher music and fall over equipment because they couldn’t hold their beer in their hands, let alone keep it in their bodies any longer.  We’ve seen Karaoke Jocks who can’t or don’t do their job well, who give those of us who work hard a tough row to hoe because they aren’t professional. We’ve seen folks help other folks overcome a fear of performance and learn to enjoy being in front of a microphone, whether or not they sing well – at least they are having a good time, and have accomplished something they might never have before: to perform in front of others.

Frankly, we do it because we love it.  And we love the vast majority of those out there who perform, who are gentlemen and ladies about it all.  We love those who need a pick-up to get up on stage (hey, it’s tough for many-and you really have to have some stone to get up there), and we love it when someone who has never before gotten up to sing, does so and knocks it out of the park (along with those who can’t carry a tune and STILL knock it out, their own way!)

So, take a minute, fill us in, and tell us: What is the best and the worst experience you have had at karaoke?  It’s OK, you aren’t on stage here.  Smile

Karaoke Etiquette

Also known as the Cardinal Rules of Karaoke or Karaoke Kommandments (among others) it’s always good to be kind to your KJ and they will be kind to you. So, let’s cover a few situations that we have faced and seen at shows throughout our career and offer up a few do’s and don’ts for karaoke protocol…

Is this your first time? It’s all very simple — most KJ’s have books listing the music they carry. Often they are in 2 sets of books — by Artist and by Title. Many KJ’s have envelopes in front of their books or on the tables with request slips and pens to write up your song request. We need your name, the song title and the song number as it is listed in the book. Just write it up and drop it off to the KJ table. Say hi and let us know you’re a newbie. If you need any guidance or support, please ask us. That’s what we’re here for! Now for some tips:

DO #1… feel free to tip the KJ for the privilege of singing. While it may not be necessary for you to tip in order to actually get to sing, it might get you moved up on busy nights, especially if you haven’t had the chance to sing yet! It’s always nice if you tip your server, so why not the Karaoke Jock?

DO NOT #2… be a jerk and laugh at or ridicule people who don’t sing well. Especially if you aren’t planning on getting onstage to sing for yourself, and especially if you can’t sing either! Karaoke is about having FUN — not picking on, bullying, deriding or otherwise abusing others. At our shows, if you show respect and kindness, that’s what you’ll get back. Oh, and bullies are sometimes removed from our shows. Why? Because we have the right to provide service to anyone we choose. Be nice. Singing quietly along with the singer from your table is fun and can encourage others to participate. But deliberately singing louder than the performer is one of those demeaning things we’d prefer you don’t do. So, don’t do it. While in this same line of thought, DO NOT EVER EVER INVITE YOURSELF UP TO SING WITH SOMEONE ELSE without previous permission. I have been crashed by drunks more times than I can tell you, and it is ugly, when singing some heartfelt song and some drunk is trying like heck to stick their face into your microphone. Not pretty, not welcome, not at our shows. Please be nice. Have fun. Drink — it’s a bar after all.

DO #3… respect our equipment. We have paid a price for quality equipment and we would rather not have to replace blown speakers (from drunk people screaming into our mics), busted microphones or stands (from drunk people throwing, twisting or twirling them) or try to conduct a show without our tv monitor, especially if it happens to be the only one in the establishment! Also, and this is not negotiable, NO DRINKS ON THE EQUIPMENT or our tables. They’re electronics, people. We know you think of this when your sober, but your friends might not if they aren’t! Yes, we’ll kick you to the curb for this one too! We have insurance, but we also have deductibles, families and regular expenses, just like you. Let’s not even go there! If you must have your drink close by use some other table or, if you are sober enough still, hold it yourself in the NON-mic hand, please.

DO NOT #4… jump around on the staging area, especially if you’ve had copious amounts of alcohol to drink. We would like to see you a second time. And a third! Falling down and breaking things is not normally the end of a good time. It’s normally the start of a bad time! Plus, getting yourself tangled up in our wiring or equipment makes us really grumpy, OK? By the way, Bohemian Rhapsody is fun but you really need something to hold on to when you’re headbanging…The mic stand is probably not the best support for that. Yes, I know from experience.

DO #5… Pay attention to your spot in the rotation of singers. At our shows, we try to let you know as we call people up who is “on deck”. Please be ready to go so time isn’t wasted and everyone gets their fare share of turns. It’s much more fun that way!

DO NOT #6… add singers to your song choice just so you get to sing more often with all of your drinking buddies. We know they’re scared to sing sometimes but abusing their naivete’ so you sing more is not only not acceptable, we just might lose your slips. Permanently. But feel free to refer to “DO #1″… A tip can heal many wounds but a shortcut to poach singing time is bad form! A duet is a duet. Love Shack is a group effort. Adding more than is called for is undesireable. Plus, we might not have enough microphones for 8 and random rotations of the same people is just wrong. And your friends just might not want to sing with you this time around!

DO #7… tell your KJ that you like their sound (especially if you really do!) We do requests, we like to sing with you and we might reward people who act as if they think we’re important. Hey, we like ego strokes too! Also, requesting songs that we may not have in our library is always nice, if done properly. Please don’t say “WHY don’t you HAVE this SONG? I DON’T believe you don’t HAVE it?” What will work better is this: “I’d love to perform “XYZ” by “THIS NEW ARTIST” because they’re so awesome I can’t live without trying it. Do you think you might get it in soon?” And the likelihood is that we’ll write it down and really try to have it in within a show or two. Our philosophy is that you’ll catch more flies with honey, Honey.

Do NOT #8… Microphone tips: Don’t point the microphone down or at the speakers. This causes bad feedback and headaches to everyone. Be sure to hold the mic in front of your mouth, about 3-6 inches away and slightly below mouth level. We will work with the sound levels to get the best sound. If we indicate to you that you need to hold the mic closer to your mouth, hold it closer. If you have the voice and modulation of Pavarotti, we may have you pull the mic back a bit. If you decide to keep the mic in the stand and you want it adjusted to fit your height please ask for help if you haven’t done it before. DON’T turn the mic OFF when you’re done, don’t play with the switches (or battery covers if it is a wireless mic) or try to force it into the mic stand clip at any point. Mics are very easy to attach if you take just a moment to figure out how they work (normally they slide through the top or gently clip into place). If you can’t do it quickly, hand it to the KJ or hold it and pass it to the next singer. Yes, we’ll be nice and let you do that.

DO #9… Applaud. Applaud loudly and often. Whistle and cheer your favorites. Whistle and cheer your not-so-favorites and be sincere. The shows that are the most fun are the ones where people are really enjoying themselves whether they are singing or not. Be sure to support the establishment and the servers because without them AND you, we don’t have a show and drinking water doesn’t pay for my bill. If you would like more karaoke purchase something!

DO NOT #10… Please, do not smoke anything at the microphone. No, it probably won’t damage the mic, but it can make it difficult if the area is smoky, especially, to catch your breath and sing properly. I’ve been in places where the smoke was so thick, not only could I not see the screen, I was tearing up from smoke irritation. Keep it at your table and we’ll all get along.

Other notes: Many people who sing karaoke don’t have a big song list that they perform. I try to encourage people to sing more than 2 or three songs because you grow your performance list. I don’t like singing the same thing show in, show out – and I would think most people would get bored as well. Now, we understand that you really like to sing Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page”, but sometimes someone else might enjoy giving it a go. If you “possess” a song, it can become less fun to have it sung by someone else, but they may not know that you consider that “your song” to sing. Be nice and try to enjoy sharing your favorite song. By the way, have you looked at our song list? We have thousands to choose from, and I would bet there are more songs there that have your name on them, just ready for you to try out.

Along that same line, if you become a regular at our shows, we keep your slips on hand so you don’t have to constantly re-write up your requests. Since our primary song list is published here on our website, you can browse it and then check out songs on YouTube to practice with before you even come to our show. This is really a great way to build up that performance list and grow your confidence.

Our shows start on time, barring emergencies or owner changes. If you show up the last hour we play, you may only get one turn to sing. Sorry, that’s just the way we roll. Our rotation starts when we start, and it only changes as people leave or come in. Refer to “DO #1” if you want to get moved into the rotation sooner than the “last person on the list”…

The last, really, final “rule” of karaoke is this: Have fun. Consider that many people are either really nervous and not used to using microphones or performance, so it’s supposed to be fun… Not professional-leave that to us.  We want you to enjoy yourself!

Now, who wants to sing?

Videos From CN Starz Events

Videos From CN Starz Events

Watch live streaming video from cnstarz at livestream.com

We will be adding videos and montages from our events, tourist localities and featured businesses.  Please stop in and visit! We’ll let you know when we get the channel up and running. As always, thanks for visiting!

 

Video produced and edited by Connie Spicer