Ecommerce and the Great Depression Lesson

The Great Depression is long past the memory of most individuals. So, for a brief history lesson this economic collapse happened in 1929 in the United States and took almost fifteen years to end.

In our recent economic climate there are many who wish to point out lessons learned from this event. Obvious lessons include the need to spend less than you receive in wages, save money whenever possible, use what you do have as long as possible and find ways to cut back.

The Great Depression is a historical monument to frugality. Many who lived through that era remained frugal throughout their lives. This is in stark contrast to the last few decades. We often want what we want when we want it and don’t mind using credit to get it.

I think one of the biggest lessons of this economic misstep is that we should not wait for someone to bail us out. We need to have a strong sense of self-reliance.

This is especially true of those involved in ecommerce. The growth of business online is staggering. It is something that is used by some as their sole means of income while others use it to supplement an income that may not quite cover all the expenses.

Face it; many people are looking for work. The Internet may actually provide the feeling of becoming a mom and pop establishment of the past in this modern age of fast page corporate lifestyles.

There are numerous couples who are turning to ecommerce and home-based business as a means of escaping the lack of job security in the general workplace. Many do this intentionally and others are introduced to the idea through necessity.

These individuals are not looking for a handout. They are striving to meet the needs of their customers, and their families. They are spending long hours in site maintenance, product fulfillment and marketing. What’s more they are loving every minute of it because for every hard hour worked they are finding great satisfaction in answering their own economic questions.

While others stand in long lines filling out applications that in some cases are being fought over by hundreds of other applicants these individuals are carving out their own way in an online environment. They are becoming their own boss and learning new skills that will allow them to care for their family over the long haul.

In the Great Depression men often had to travel great distances from their family in order to find work. The families they left behind were often evicted from their homes or worked especially hard to find their own way to raise money to keep a roof over their heads.

Those who figured out a way to pay their bills in these ‘worst of times’ were the ones who came out the other side with fewer scars and a greater attitude toward the days to come.

You, too, can get past the days we are currently in, but it will take hard work and it will mean relying on yourself more than you may have ever had to do before, but the good news is you can do it and an online environment is a cost effective way to build a business that will allow you to confront and conquer expenses.

How to Use Web and Internet Video to Market and Communicate

IBM Uses “Do It Yourself” Video to Communicate and Market

“No more long, cumbersome marketing documents – no more boring presentations. Video is how companies and business should communicate,” says Mark Leaser, Worldwide Offerings Manager, IBM Software Services for Lotus. “You can do it yourself and save thousands of dollars.

IBM Software Services for Lotus is using video in a wide variety of ways – for internal education and communications as well as for external marketing and customer relations.

Internally, Mr. Leaser and his department are using video for sales training, communication where they want to propose a particular course of action, and to provide training of their technical solution architects and solution specialists. They also are doing internal case studies – talking head interviews and lots of screen capture using their own LotusLive web conference solution and mixing it with live video.

IBM is also using video externally to promote and market their assets and solutions worldwide. The video messages are designed to help customers select, purchase and use the appropriate business solutions.

To speed up the production process, and to ensure a consistent look and feel, Mr. Leaser has developed an effective standardized format to deliver these external messages. These external communication videos usually start with a short teaser – essentially a one to two minute video introduction to a business solution then followed by an action step that is designed to steer viewers to specific online IBM landing pages with much more detail.

Combining the best practices from successful eCommerce and eTailing sites, these landing pages use even more video to further educate and market products and services. A typical video landing page will include links to additional content including additional video and product information. The landing page can also include “infomercial” type videos, as well as videos on how the products work and where to go for more info.

IBM uses video as a means of attracting interest in something that they are doing. The video segments have to be more than a commercial – they have to offer content with value, information of how their solutions will help their customers’ business, and tips for using particular solutions.

IBM Saves Money by Producing In House

Currently IBM uses outside production services as well as internal teams to create their videos. The customer case studies and/or reference videos are usually produced by an external company but increasingly, a larger percentage of the videos are being produced internally. Many of the videos are shot at tradeshows and events where IBM’s various technical and product experts are in attendance. Rather than hiring an outsider who charges $10K to $15K to produce a video, IBM found that they can do it ourselves, single camera, for a small fraction of the price, and it is just as effective. Over a year, they save hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Some case study videos are shot multi-camera but 90% of all productions are single camera. Most of the videos are captured using standard HD prosumer camcorders (recording onto 16 gigabyte SD cards) with flat lighting from a single large lightbox. For capturing audio, Mark uses professional Sony lavaliere microphones and Audio Technica shotgun microphones. Mark says, “Simple works. One of the most important technical details is to make sure we have clean audio.”

To improve the efficiency of the video editing and production process, the video is captured in a native Quicktime format and then inputted into Mac computers running Final Cut Studio. Mark has settled on h.264 and DVKitchen for compression and distribution over the company’s intranet as well as over the Internet. Mark usually compresses at the standard Apple TV settings (h.264 at 1280×720 with a 4800 kbps data rate) but DV Kitchen makes it simple to provide a variety of compression templates for various viewing and distribution options.

In many ways, their video production process is just like producing a document using Microsoft word. They use standardized formats and templates, and standardized technical specifications that allow a “producer” to easily cut and assemble a video without having to know a lot of technical details.

Once the video is done, the IBM team can share it in a variety of ways. For internal videos, they often use their own internal media servers or YouTube where the videos can be viewed using the standard YouTube video player.

However, for their external marketing videos, they were not satisfied with embedding YouTube in their public facing pages because there was too much clutter and not enough brand control. To give them more control and present a more professional look, they use outside video hosting companies and video platforms that can be customized.

Authoring video in house works for IBM because their current generation of IT decision makers understand the video language and often don’t have the patience to wade through a white paper or technical presentation. To properly reach them, information needs to be presented in a lively, colorful and high-energy mode that can only be conveyed via video.

SIDEBAR

Three reasons your business should use video to communicate

1. Use video – it works. The impact is phenomenal. Following the lead of the direct marketing industry which claims a 4x improvement in response in video versus text, Mark says that short videos with links is the most effective way for establishing powerful outward bound communications and building brand equity. Your audience expects video and you need to give it to them. An effective business presents information in a manner that is most receptive by their target audience.

2. Learn how to do it yourself. Modern video technology and solutions are easy to learn and very affordable. In many ways similar to cut and paste word processing, DIY video production has become the baseline for business communications and marketing. It is similar to the past evolution to word processing from executives relying on secretaries. The stratified and inefficient business architecture of the “Mad Men” TV show is long gone. Similarly, a new business communication paradigm is occurring now with video. Word processing is being supplanted by video. Long documents and boring powerpoint presentations are being replaced by video. Because DIY video is so efficient as a communications tool, it should be an integral part of your business.

3. Video is easier than people think. It is no longer some mystical technology. Yes, 20 years ago, video was complicated, expensive and required an advanced degree. However, with the advent of simple to use video nonlinear “cut and paste” editing programs and affordable high definition digital camcorders, high quality production is now attainable by almost anyone. You can hire someone out of high school who has all the skills. Remember – for business, simple works best. It is all about communicating ideas and information, not fancy effects or 3D explosions.

What You Need To Know About Ecommerce And The Future

Buying and selling over the Internet is a large part of what makes up ecommerce trade, but it’s only part of the story. This business is actually made up of all “transactions” conducted electronically. This includes exchange of information, online banking, emails and, of course, buying and selling products and services. Since this form of communication has connected the world on a global scale, ecommerce and the future look very bring.

Just within the past few years, business over the Internet has grown at an amazing pace. Many businesses have gone 100% virtual today and it appears that this trend will continue to grow. Although some of this is due to the need for ever sophisticated software and hardware, many retailers are now jumping on the bandwagon as the lower costs of running a business offsets the startup costs and higher cost of postage.

Business-to-business and business-to-customer forms of transactions are also increasing, but it should be remember that it takes time to establish. For example, Amazon was transacting business for 10 years before they began to see a decent profit. For those unfamiliar with this type of business, ecommerce is the sales part of the transaction and includes data exchanges which allow financing and payment for goods and services.

Many transactions include such things as meta-services that allow other forms of commerce to be conducted electronically. Digital content for immediate use and the buying and selling of traditional products and services are also included. For those who order from home over the Internet, they are also part of the ecommerce world. They may be doing online banking in the evening, looking for the best buy on college textbooks, or supplementing their income by selling on eBay. They are the newest members of this world.

Of course, security has always been an issue that companies take seriously. However, there are ways for individuals to protect themselves. One is to ensure that a fully protected payment system is in place before entering credit card information. One of the most common ways is to ensure individual computers used for this purpose utilize a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). When inputting information on websites, one will be prompted to enter an encryption code which ensures a private link.

Ecommerce and the future look bright as trends continue to expand the use of the Internet for various types of transactions. For those getting into the field they must realize that it often takes years to recoup start-up costs and see the type of profit visualized. For those utilizing the Internet for the purpose of transacting business, security should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. This type of business offers many more options than land-based businesses do, but it is growing at such a pace that caution must be taken in order to protect those conducting business through this means.