Video Production Costs – What’s the Real Deal and Outlay?

I don’t have to tell you guys about the importance of video in your marketing strategy. So if we are on the same wavelength you will attach some importance to video production costs.

But before we go into that let me tell you why video is very important now more than ever before. It is a well know fact that we are now living in an information age and as you can imagine there is a disease floating around called “information overload”.

As a result of this people are preprogramed to just scan articles and documents without actually fully reading them. Now if you are trying to convey a message to get people to take action and they are not fully comprehending your copy “its going to be a long way down Mr Bond.”

Now with video its a different story. Why? Because video entertains, inspires and compels the prospect to take action.

With video the prospect is using two sense organs to assimilate your message i.e eyes and ears but with plain text copy they are only using one i.e eyes. So which medium do you think will get the most prospects interested? I will leave you to answer that question.

One more reason why video is the all rage is the fact that videos rank higher in the search engines than articles and blog posts.

Now when it comes to video production costs a lot of people will say that it is too expensive. I say no its not. To create videos you don’t have to be a movie director or hire actors. You can if you want to but its not a must. When creating marketing videos for instance you don’t even need to appear in the video.

All you need is a free account with the top video sites like Google Video or YouTube. Then a Screen capture Software like Camtasia. This is a little expensive if you are on a tight budget ($97). Of course there are some free ones like Camstudio and Jing which do a great job.

You might need a webcam if you want to star in the video and you can get them for between $10-$30. You will also need a headset with microphone at you can get them for $30.

You will also need a presentation powerpoint software which you should get free if you have windows installed on your computer. That’s it really. Now if you want to really do a high budget video I suggest going to Google and typing Egghead Productions. They are a high end video production company that can create virtual spokespersons for your site starting off at $599.

Yes, You Can! How to Tame Your Product Costs

Does the idea of calculating your product costs set off your gag reflex? Almost everyone hates having to deal with the numbers part of our businesses, but it’s too vital to ignore. If you don’t know what it truly and completely costs to get your product to your warehouse – or garage, as the case may be – you’ll never know what you need to charge your customers to keep yourself in business. On the other hand, if you just take a little time and keep the following steps and details in mind, you’ll have taken a huge and important step on the way to success.

First of all, it’s vital to remember that the price you’re paying your supplier is only part of what your product’s actually costing you. While this may seem obvious to many, it’s amazing how many people overlook this important point, especially when they’re first starting out. You need to know how much it costs to get just one item – one of your T-shirts, for example – to you so you can then send them out to your customers.

Begin the process by creating a spreadsheet in Excel or a similar program in which you’ll list every single cost associated with getting your product to your door. What’s great about this virtual way of accounting is that you can create equations within the spreadsheet. This means that if, for example, the costs of your labels go up or your shipping costs change because of the price of oil, you simply plug in the adjusted cost and the software re-calculates everything else for you. How great is that?

So, along the left side of your spreadsheet, list all the different products in your line. Across the top, create column headings for all your different product costs – and this means every single one.

Start out with the obvious: How much does your supplier charge you for, say, one finished handbag? That’ll be your first column. Then add in the incidentals, like labeling. Do you have both a sewn-in label and a hangtag for each item? That’s another column. Do you include a little card that tells the story behind your product? If you’re making candles or lotions, is there a special box they go in? If your manufacturer includes all these extras in their price, then don’t worry. But usually these are separate charges and so you need to add them in too.

Remember those shipping costs? It’s amazing how much they can add to your product cost, especially if you do your manufacturing in another country. Find out how much it costs per pound or kilogram (remember the rest of the world’s metric) to ship your product to you. Determine how much an individual product weighs and then you’re ready to calculate how much it will take to get it delivered. Are you just starting out? That means you’ll have to estimate your shipping and freight costs. In that case, it’s a good idea to add about five to seven percent to this cost as a contingency, just to be safe.

If you’re importing your finished products, you’ll also need to have a column for duties and tariffs. They vary widely – from five percent to upwards of 25 percent – depending on your product and the material it’s made out of. Be sure to check out the US International Trade Commission website to find out how much you’ll be charged. If you’re using a broker or agent to help you overseas, you’ll need to add in their commission too.

Once you’ve entered all your costs, create a column in your spreadsheet that tallies them all up for you. Congratulations! You now know what it truly costs to get your product to your door.

Granted, it’s not the most fun part of the business. But think about it – by taking a little time now to set things up right, you finally know what prices you need to charge to arrive at the “promised land” of profit.

Virtual Working – Green Productivity, Cost Containment and a Morale Booster All In One

Is this yet another article about the sort of business architecture that discusses the construction of environmentally friendly, eco-efficient buildings that recycle their own waste for power and have vast acreages of grass for a roof?

Nope, sorry, everyone looking for that sort of business architecture article should stop here. Having said that, this business architecture article, as we will see shortly, does have an environmental message to share……only it has nothing to do with constructing better and more efficient buildings as such!

The focus of this article is on the use of business architecture as the unifying blueprint in organisational transformation initiatives (and similar), and how the productivity in ‘virtual’ working it helps enable reduces costs and work-life balance stresses in a VERY GREEN way. What does business architecture remotely have to do with anything environmental you say? Well, we are glad you asked.

Did you ever stop and consider just how much money, time and energy that business travel absorbs? All those things tied up in travelling to and from as well as staying, eating and entertaining yourself while you are there? Well, it won’t surprise you to know that the costs are quite considerable. In our own industry (management consulting) for example, common rules of thumb for travel related costs are:

* Domestic only travel costs are typically between 5%-15% of fees charged;

* ‘Light’ travel abroad (i.e. to a single regional destination per week comprising a stay of multiple days) are typically between 15%-25% of fees charged; and

* ‘Heavy’ travel abroad (i.e. multiple regional destinations or a single long-haul destination per week comprising a stay of multiple days) are typically between 25%-35% of fees charged.

We believe the above examples, citing illustrative costings related to a service like management consultancy, are particularly useful; unencumbered as they are with product-related cost breakdowns and all the additional cost factors that can cloud the apparent size of the travel budget……making it ‘feel’ smaller and less significant than it is.

With most services you are able to see the travel costs for what they are……a large expense which is often a significant percentage of total income.

And while the percentages noted above vary depending on whether you:

* Drive versus fly;
* Dine in local eateries versus quality restaurants;
* Stay in budget versus full-service hotels;
* Use a hire car versus taxis;
* Fly economy versus business class; and
* Use a higher or lower the level of fee rate as the basis for your calculations.

They DO NOT reflect the sort of extravagant ‘fat-cat’ spending you read about in the newspapers. ‘Fat-cat’ style travelling can easily top 50% and more of fee’s charged……the sky literally being the limit in that scenario!

Instead, what we are talking about here represents the normal, legitimate and ‘at reasonable actual cost’ travel expenses of individuals (like management consultants) who travel extensively for their work……and are sometimes also known as ‘road warriors’.

For those who would quibble about whether these figures are realistic….yes, we believe that they, in our not inconsiderable experience, are very representative. Yes, they are high, but that is the point of writing this article about them. And yes, it would be possible to do it a bit cheaper if those involved really tried.

But you also have to keep in mind that these are the sorts of people who routinely spend 2, 3 and 4 nights (or sometimes more) a week away. During this time they need to be highly available, productive and positively disposed to the people they meet and work with despite all the inconveniences and sacrifices involved.

And no, travel, when you have to do it all the time, is not fun or glamorous after the early novelty wears off……try a few months of it if you don’t believe us!

So these folks can’t realistically be expected to cut every corner on costs that might be possible if they were retired or just on holiday for the week. They have to be where they are needed, when expected and ready to work on what are often time sensitive matters……no excuses related to faulty alarm clocks, traffic congestion or missed connections please!

The essential point being made here is that business travel, extensive or not, is almost unavoidably WEARING, EXPENSIVE and often ANTI-SOCIAL……with negative consequences for productivity, the bottom line and staff morale.

Having hopefully succeeded in making the point that reducing levels of business travel is mostly desirable, there then remains the question of how do you achieve it in practice? Drum-roll, trumpet fan-fare, cue the use of modern technology to serve our cause!

Although many people still intuitively prefer face-to-face contact there is also an increasing acceptance that working ‘virtually’ can often be a sensible substitute for some business travel. Especially after the initial, sensitive stage of establishing a new relationship is past.

Email, IM, tele-conferencing and increasingly video-conferencing are now ubiquitous means of ‘virtual’ communications. Particularly as the available bandwidth grows even as the cost of a connection continues to fall.

And these technologies are just the beginning compared to what Web 2.0+ potentially has to offer us as it steadily marches forward. Driven by the availability of the technology, and the cost containment pressures of the recent global financial meltdown, new avenues for ‘virtual’ working are rapidly emerging into the mainstream, including online:

* Email, calendaring and office productivity tools;
* Interactive collaboration and project management workspaces;
* Continuous connectivity (e.g. public spaces, homes, trains, etc);
* Social media sharing (e.g. Facebook, Linked-In, etc);
* Virtual world environments (e.g. Second-Life, etc).

Clearly there are still many new routes open to all of us that will allow us to remain connected, available and productive without the need to actually travel for business. And with the potential for massive cost savings at stake there is the financial incentive too.

Obviously, less business travel also means less stress on the environment or on those doing the travelling. It is generally accepted that the environmental, financial and (personal) social costs of electronically interacting are a small fraction of those for being there in person.

But this is not an article dedicated to singing the praises of the available technologies as such. Rather its purpose is to showcase the potential advantages of ‘virtual’ working IF you can find a way to transition to it efficiently and effectively.

Unfortunately, as many have found, this is not so easy as just providing people with technical tools and training…..that part of it is almost trivial. More importantly and of much greater challenge is that it also requires new or stronger disciplines related to how we work as well. Often the lack of these holds back the adoption of ‘virtual’ working.

Although many of us may not consciously realise it, one of the chief impediments to effective ‘virtual’ working is the lack of the physical intimacy and coordinating social cues found in face-to-face environments.

People cannot so easily fall back on their usual meeting room antics in a ‘virtual’ meeting. To be effective such ‘virtual’ meetings must be well planned and attendees well briefed and prepared…..otherwise the result can be an unmitigated fiasco. A fiasco that cannot as readily be retrieved as when you are in a face-to-face meeting with the others involved.

If you get a ‘virtual’ meeting wrong the judgements about you and the effectiveness of your contribution can be both harsh and difficult to reverse…..there is no dinner and drinks afterwards to ‘win’ the attendees back over with your smooth manner and ready charm. The data point for most will remain related to your performance in the meeting!

Therefore, preparation and careful coordination are often the keys to the success of a ‘virtual’ meeting…..and that nicely introduces the role of business architecture in all of this.

We are not going to pretend that a business architecture speaks to all the reasons for business travel. Or that it can by itself cure all ‘virtual’ meeting ills, or precludes the need for all business travel even in those situations that it does relate to.

For a start there is obviously still a fundamental need for basic meeting disciplines to be observed; like having an agenda, specifying and doing attendee pre-work, checking that the supporting technology will work on the day, etc. If anything the need for observing these basics is even stronger in a ‘virtual’ meeting environment.

We also concur that sometimes, especially in important, non-routine or new situations, being there in person is by far the most prudent course of action. However, for much of the rest of the time, working ‘virtually’ makes a huge amount of sense.

As has already been mentioned, a major key to successful ‘virtual’ working lies in careful preparation and coordination. We would also now note that a significant amount of business travel is related to activities such as transformation initiatives, performance improvement efforts, M&A ventures, contracts agreement and troubleshooting, etc.

Each and every one of these are activities that a business architecture can speak to in strong and direct terms.

Business architecture is about providing a common, holistic, top-down and integrated view of how the People, Process, Technology and Infrastructure assets (existing or new) of an organisation will be structured so as to align with and achieve the objectives set out by its vision and strategy as well as satisfying nearer-term tactical imperatives.

Having an appropriate business architecture will by its definition represent a robust and agreed source of preparation and coordination for any and all work related to it. It becomes a common touchstone and language with which everyone involved can converse to test and synchronise their understanding of what is being done, by whom, when and why.

It is precisely the sort of guiding envelope that ‘virtual’ workers and extended team members need to align their efforts. Giving them confidence that what they are doing locally ‘offline’ is broadly correct and the ability to discuss globally ‘online’, in common terms, the things about which they still have questions.

In short, it provides the common focal point needed for efficient, effective and productive ‘virtual’ working; with all the environmental, financial and staff morale advantages that implies. For our part we fail to see why, for the types of work to which it is suited, you wouldn’t choose to use business architecture as an essential ‘virtual’ working enabler!