A Business Perspective on the Impact of Production Quality on Video Advertising

A compelling story is far more important that shinier production quality.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The adage, “you get what you pay for,” doesn’t always hold true. When it comes to video advertising, Wistia, a video software company, found other factors drive impact more so than the production cost.

In their recently released report, “Does Production Quality Matter in Video Advertising?”, the Wistia team concluded that large and small businesses alike need to consider more than price before they assume video advertising exceeds their market budget.

Research Method

Wistia wanted to answer the following question: Do companies have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on video production to get a return or can they use something as simple and low-cost as an iPhone to create compelling ads that engage viewers?

To find out, they worked with Sandwich Video to create three two-minute videos for Wistia’s video creation tool, Soapbox. They used similar audience targeting and ad copy for each and launched the ads on YouTube and Facebook. However, each of the three videos was produced for a very different price: $1,000, $10,000, and $100,000.

The research focused on two key performance indicators (KPIs). There were Cost Per Install and Cost Per 25 percent View. These KPIs provided a way to calculate the return on investment (ROI) as easily as possible plus directly relates to a company’s bottom line.

The advertising budget for this study was split across three ad types that included direct response video ads, sequential ads and video carousel ads. For example, with sequential advertising, a person viewed the $1,000 ad, then they would be shown the $10,000 ad next, and so on. They also used the Facebook carousel ad format, which allowed all three videos appear at once so that viewers could watch and compare each one.

In terms of targeting, Wistia used two core targets on Facebook, which were lookalike audience based on a customer match and an engagement audience targeting those audience members who tended to watch less than 75 percent of another video.

With YouTube, the targeting strategy varied from the one used for Facebook due to the more complex nature of this video platform. The focus was in-market audiences who previously searched for advertising, marketing, or video software in Google; custom intent based on non-brand search terms; topics related to marketing, sales, and video software; and remarketing in terms of those audience members who previously interacted or watched a Wistia video on YouTube.

Related: The Future of Video Advertising Is Artificial Intelligence

Key Findings

Here’s what they discovered after conducting the research:

Storytelling means more: Results showed that the $10,000 video performed twice as well as the other two videos. The Wistia team thought originally that the $10,000 version had the best narrative and product alignment. According to viewers, the $10,000 resonated the most in terms of feeling authentic and meaningful versus the $100,000 ad that appeared to be “too polished.” According to one viewer, the most expensive ad felt more like a company was selling them something versus the other ads that felt more like a small business who wanted to connect with them.

Just recently, two UK ads for the holidays demonstrated a similar result. More people connected with a John Lewis ad made for 50 pounds (about $65) versus the Elton John ad that cost more than seven million pounds (about $9.1 million) to produce. Although numerous viewers found the Elton John ad to be emotional, more were touched by the other ad because they could relate more to the person in the ad than a celebrity.

In returning to results from the Wistia videos, the $10,000 video delivered the best performance across all factors, including targeting, advertising type and ad copy. For example, the $10,000 video had a Cost Per Install on Facebook fo $23.57 versus the $100,000 video which had a Cost Per Install of $77.54.

Video production doesn’t need to be polished: The results showed that the iPhone ad performed just as well and sometimes better than the video that included Hollywood actors and film crew.

For example, Wistia spent $1.09 on Facebook to get one viewer to watch 25 percent of the $1,000 ad and $1.53 to get the same impression for the $100,000 ad. Therefore, the average Cost Per Install for the $1,000 ad was 30 percent less than the $100,000 ad. There was a slight advantage for the $100,000 ad on YouTube. The conclusion was that there isn’t enough return on the investment to necessarily justify spending $100,000.

What this means for businesses of all sizes.

The good news for small and large companies alike is that they don’t need to figure out how to create a huge budget for their video advertising campaigns. Overall, the $10,000 video performed the best, and there wasn’t much difference in results between the $1,000 and $100,000 videos. Instead, all businesses should focus on developing compelling stories for their target audiences versus production quality.

This is especially positive for small business owners who previously assumed video advertising was not financially feasible. And, the lesson here for big companies is that throwing money at a marketing tactic isn’t the best solution.

Related: 4 Keys to Creating the Video Ad Your Business Needs

Key recommendations for video advertising in 2019.

With that in mind, Wistia shared some advice for how to approach video advertising in 2019:

  • Start with a small video advertising budget and focus on creating the content over the production cost.

  • Consider hiring an in-house video producer who can manage the video advertising process and own a company’s brand voice.

  • Split test variants rather than just the variables that deal with targeting and ad copy support.

  • Look at video as a mechanism for driving more action from prospects, leveraging direct response, conversion-focused video ads.

  • Create a series of video ads to take advantage of Facebook’s sequential ad and video carousel formats.

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The Importance of TAM, SAM, and SOM in Your Business Plan


Having viewed several business plans over the years, a common (and very important) item missing from most plans is a breakdown of the company’s TAM, SAM, and SOM in the marketing section of their plan.

Wondering what these acronyms mean? Well, you’re not alone—many entrepreneurs are not familiar with these terms.

Here’s a quick explanation of what they mean, followed by an example:

  • TAM = Your Total Available or Addressable Market (everyone you wish to reach with your product)
  • SAM = Your Segmented Addressable Market or Served Available Market (the portion of TAM you will target)
  • SOM = Your Share of the Market (the subset of your SAM that you will realistically reach—particularly in the first few years of your business—this is your target market)

Identifying your TAM, SAM, and SOM requires some market research (levels of research vary depending on your product and market potential), but once you gather the research through your market analysis, you’ll have a better idea of the percentages that coincide with each area.

Identifying your SOM, or your target market, is an important step because building a marketing plan around your TAM—in other words, everyone—is a huge waste of resources. Figuring out who exactly you think will actually buy your product will help you focus reach.

Hear more about market research and your target market with Peter and Jonathan on the twelfth episode of The Bcast, Bplans official podcast:

Click here to subscribe to The Bcast on iTunes »


Here’s an example:

You’re starting a concierge service in your city that focuses on doing tasks/running errands for busy people, and people who need additional assistance (the elderly, individuals who are handicapped, and so on).

Your TAM (total available market) would be all busy people, elderly, and handicapped people in your city. If your town has 150,000 people, you may find (through market research) that total possible demand for your business in your city is 15 percent (or 22,500 people).

Note: If you have a competitor in your market, your TAM would be smaller, since you will be sharing this market with another company.

Your SAM (segmented addressable market) would be the portion of that 22,500 whom your current business model is targeting (this will be outlined in your business plan). For example, your business model is being set up to service 7,500 people a year who are ages 35 to 55, with small children and disposable income who live or work within a 2-mile radius of downtown, this means your SAM would be 33 percent of your TAM (or 5 percent of your total city’s population).

Your SOM (share of the market) would be the portion of your SAM that your business model can currently realistically serve. For example, you may only have three employees (yourself and two others), so realistically what percentage of your SAM (7,500) can you reach in the first 2 to 3 years?

Let’s assume your company can effectively provide concierge services to 100 people a month or 1200 people a year. This means your SOM is about 16 percent of your SAM (or around 5 percent of your TAM, or a little under 1 percent of your total city’s population).

If you’re seeking funding, savvy investors will ask you for these items in your business plan, and they’ll want you to be able to back up your numbers. This is why conducting some market research up front is important—and even advisable before you begin writing your business plan. It gives you the validation of your market potential.

Hopefully, this clears up a bit of the market reach acronym soup!

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Caroline CummingsCaroline Cummings
Caroline Cummings

An entrepreneur. A disruptor. An advocate. Caroline has been the CEO and co-founder of two tech startups—one failed and one she sold. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs realize their full potential and learn how to step outside of their comfort zones to catalyze their growth.

Caroline is currently executive director of Oregon RAIN. She provides strategic leadership for the organization’s personnel, development, stakeholder relations, and community partnerships. In her dual role as the venture catalyst manager, Cummings oversees the execution of RAIN’s Rural Venture Catalyst programs. She provides outreach and support to small and rural communities; she coaches and mentors regional entrepreneurs, builds strategic local partnerships, and leads educational workshops.

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The Secret Weapon to Experiencing Explosive Business Growth

Clarity provides the power to build relationships and achieve goals.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It’s the middle of the night and you have to use the restroom. It’s pitch dark when you get up. You know your bedroom but navigating in the darkness you stub your toe and are using choice language to describe how frustrated you are. Just a few seconds in the darkness affected your path to successfully accomplishing your middle-of-the-night goal.

It works the same way in our lives and business. That “darkness” takes a different form but it has the same effect. We “stub our toes” in many different ways when we lack clarity. If your business is not achieving explosive growth right now, it’s more than likely that your lack of clarity is the culprit.

There are many factors and parts to growing a business but not being clear is the cause. If you’re going to make this a year of reaching new milestones, make sure you have clarity in these three areas of your business.

1. Get clear on why you’re building a business.

The idea behind entrepreneurship is appealing. You can be your own boss and set your schedule. You can generate an income doing what you enjoy doing. So, you start a business but you may not have a major why behind the business.

You look for what will make money and then get to work. After a while, things just don’t seem to be working the way you’d hoped. There was no why driving the business. That lack of clarity leads to you building a job. Your business should be started and built around a topic and mission you’re passionate about.

The why is your road map and the fuel to help you keep driving towards your goals. Even if you have been in business for a while, it’s important to take a step back and reconnect with your why. Get very clear on the overall strategy and not so much the tactics. With a clear main strategy, the tactical everyday pieces are easier to implement.

Related: Clarity on Your Goals Is Key to Growing a Business That Attracts High-End Clients

2. Get clear on whom your business caters to and how you speak to your customers.

You’ve read more than a few articles about the need to find your niche and for good reason. You can’t reach everyone and you shouldn’t try. You need clarity in who your business helps and what it helps them do. A passion for wellness and desire to teach people how to be healthier is too broad. You can niche down and teach people how to use food as fuel. It works the same way with all topics.

When you have the clarity of the niche audience you’re targeting, you can find where they are and the best way to reach them. You can talk to them in their language and use the messaging they understand and respond to. The more you reach them and speak with the specifics of that tribe, the more your business will grow. Even in your free content, you should be demonstrating that clarity and speaking to your niche.

If you look at big brands and companies, you’ll notice how they cater to their specific target customer base. It’s the reason high-end brands don’t have sales — that’s not what their target customers expect or respond to.

Related: Find Clarity About Your Life’s Purpose With This Simple Exercise

3. Get clear on where this is all going. 

In the same vein as getting clarity on your why, you should be clear on where you’re heading in your life and business — they work hand-in-hand. If you don’t have clarity in your life goals, it will be hard to focus on building your business. You started and are building a business to create freedom and financial security in your life.

What does your dream life look like? What would an ideal day look like if money were no object? Let your mind visualize where this is all going. To get anywhere, you have to see what the destination looks like. Take some time today to get clear. If you have that clarity, take some time to reconnect with the vision.

Clarity is power. You can help you build successful relationships, goals, wealth, and your dream business. When there are 100 things to do, our focus tends to be on what needs to get done. Change your mindset. Think like a leader. Get clarity on the strategy and how it all connects together. Then, map out the tactics and take action. You can experience explosive growth once you get clear.

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KFC Enlists RoboCop to Protect Secret Recipe in New Campaign

Colonel Sanders’s newest incarnation is fiercely defending the fried chicken chain’s 11 blends of herbs and spices.

2 min read

KFC — back at it again with the eccentric Colonel Sanders incarnations. 

In the past, the fried chicken chain’s founder and mascot has been portrayed by comedian Jim Gaffigan, WWE star Dolph Ziggler, actor Vincent Kartheiser and a whole host of others. But in Kentucky Fried Chicken’s newest ad campaign, Colonel Sanders is brought to life by none other than RoboCop — yes, the droid police officer portrayed in the dystopian 1987 film of the same name. The character in the ad is voiced by Peter Weller, the original RoboCop actor.

The newly-minted “RoboColonel” appears in a few different ad spots. In one video, KFC hires RoboCop to protect the chain’s famed secret blend of 11 herbs and spices by safely transporting it to an underground bunker in Switzerland. Other ad spots include RoboCop demanding a family to comply and try KFC’s $20 Fill Ups meals; answering a question about the secret recipe with, “If I told you, then I’d have to kill you”; and scanning the streets for fried chicken and hungry consumers.

We’d buy that for $20. (My editor assures me, a RoboCop noob, that this is a good joke.) 

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These 6 Coffee Marketing Tricks Are a Perfect Blend for Your Cannabis Brand

Cannabis brands can learn a few lessons from the love between customers and specialty coffee

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Green Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Cannabis and coffee are similar industries in many ways.

Both markets grow from a strong love for a plant (cannabis/coffee beans), both have developed a multitude of processing options (THC activation methods/roasting levels) and their customers enjoy a wide variety of consumption methods (flower, concentrates, etc./espresso, drip, cold brew, etc.).

It’s natural for these industries to blend well. Cannabis brands including Willie’s Reserve and Jane West have launched lines of CBD coffees. Investment groups including Canaccord Genuity believe beverages infused with THC and CBD have the potential to become a $600 million market in the next four years.

Savvy cannabis brands should take note of these six artisan coffee branding practices to generate buzz around their cannabis business.

1. Get nerdy about your product.

There’s a pretty good chance that what excites you as a cannabis geek will get your customers geeking out, too, so let your geek flag fly on your menus, website and packaging.

From the plant species to the growing conditions to the harvesting process, coffee and cannabis users alike love to learn more about the plants they cherish. 

Brandywine Coffee Roasters, like many craft coffee brands, inscribes on their packaging every delicious detail of their products, from the farmer’s name to the altitude where the beans grew. Eager readers devour it.

Telling customers the time of harvest doesn’t directly make for a better blunt or cup of coffee, but it creates a connection with the source of the product that enhances the consumer’s overall experience. Whether you grow, process or dispense cannabis, tell the story of how it is crafted for quality and potency.

Related: Do You Drink More Coffee Than Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Other Creative Leaders?

2. Guide your customers to better consumption. 

No matter if they are talking with a budtender or barista, no one likes being clueless about what to order.

Counter Culture Coffee has made coffee education a key component of their brand to save new customers from feeling like idiots. Across the US, Counter Culture cafes feature Training Centers for lessons on home brewing, cupping fundamentals and the long history of coffee culture. Coffee lovers leave confident and Counter Culture Coffee got to be their hero.

The innovative cannabis industry is always exploring new ways to consume the plant, from new processing methods to techy tools like Pax vape pens. Longtime cannabis users may be unaware of innovations that might enhance their established ritual. Think about what they may be missing out on but don’t know to ask about. Listen to your customer and be ready with both answers and suggestions.

3. Create a like-minded community.

As legalization and consumption of cannabis grows across the US, brands need authentic ways to get involved and make a difference. Make it easier for yourself by finding a few collaborative partners — iife and business are both better when you surround yourself with awesome people. The team at Stumptown Coffee in Portland, Oregon, are experts at co-branded collaborations that expand their brand beyond the coffee shop.

Stumptown partnered with Jacobsen Salt Co. to develop a line of coffee salted caramels; blended their cold brew into Mast chocolates and Tillamook ice cream; and went so far as creating a coffee-stout cheddar (yes, cheese!) with Rouge Creamery.

Co-branding introduces a brand to new audiences who may never otherwise learn about them. While cannabis has restrictions coffee roasters don’t need to worry about, there are still plenty of ways to get creative on partnerships with local artisans. 

4. Stand for something more.

Activism is the heritage of the cannabis industry. It’s also common to find roasters driven by more than just profit. Many are cognizant of the environmental and socio-economic repercussions of the plant they love so much. For some, business practices that make a positive impact are integral to their brand identity. 

Grounds & Hounds Coffee, with blends including Morning Walk and Sit & Stay, donates 20 percent of profits to animal rescue groups. Birds & Beans coffee helps to set aside bird-friendly habitats on coffee farms. Turn to your brand values to find innovative ways to make an impact that is true to your brand and will connect with your audience.

Related: Stand Tall for Your Values and Your Cannabis Brand Will Stand Out

5. Stay true to your style.

Finding your own style while staying true to your story and mission will be the foundation of a strong brand in the fast growing cannabis industry.

Celebrate the individuality behind your brand. Feel like waking up to beautifully vivid illustrations? Since their launch in 2015 Brandywine Coffee Roasters has painstakingly screen-printed new artwork onto bags of their coffee. Inspired by their brand theme of “artfully sourced” ingredients, and their close location to the Brandywine School of Illustration, each illustration doubles as an up-sell with designs available as t-shirts, mugs and art prints.

Chicago-based Dark Matter Coffee has taken a different approach to their packaging artwork. Each month, Dark Matter commissions a different artist to develop a bag design. Their colorful, anything-goes approach has resulted in a brand style that delivers instant recognition on retail shelves as the wildest thing in the coffee aisle.

The best way to create a distinct visual style that sticks with customers is to know what your brand stands for and who it is speaking to. After all, your brand design is there to give a warm and friendly Oh hey! to your core audience and invite them to share the wonderful experience your business is hosting.

6. Keep your brand uplifting and energizing.

While society perceives and regulates these two mood-enhancing, benefit-rich plants differently, the passion and celebration behind cannabis and coffee make the growing merger of these two industries a new frontier of possibility for brands.

The growing cannabis industry offers many opportunities unavailable anywhere else. By learning from other industries, and learning from their mistakes as well as their successes, smart cannabusinesses can build their agility to navigate the unique challenges without losing momentum.

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Industry Analysis: Know Your Industry Before You Start Your Business

Know Your Industry Before You Start Your Business

This article is part of our Business Startup Guide—a curated list of our articles that will get you up and running in no time!

I bet you agree: You need to know the industry you want to start a business in, and the kind of business you want to start, before you can start it.

Industry analysis is part of good management. That’s not just for the business planning, but rather for business survival, beginning to end. Most of the people who successfully start their own business have already had relevant business experience before they start, most often as employees.

But in this article, I focus on how to consolidate and formalize that industry knowledge into a formal business plan.

Although all business owners need to know their industry, the documented details and explanations are mainly for when you’re writing a business plan you need to show to outsiders, like bank lenders or investors. You’ll need to do some industry analysis so you’re able to explain the general state of your industry, its growth potential, and how your business model fits into the landscape.

And if your business plan is more of an internal strategic roadmap, you should still be very sure—whether you have to prove it to others or not—that you know your market, even if you don’t do a formal industry analysis. Whether you’re a service business, manufacturer, retailer, or something else, you want to know your industry inside and out.

What to cover in your industry analysis

Whether you write it all out in a formal business plan or not, when you’re doing your industry analysis, you’re looking at the following:

  • Industry participants
  • Distribution patterns
  • Competition and buying patterns

Everything in your industry that happens outside of your business will affect your company. The more you know about your industry, the more advantage and protection you will have.

A complete business plan discusses:

  • General industry economics
  • Participants
  • Distribution patterns
  • Factors in the competition
  • And whatever else describes the nature of your business to outsiders

A note on finding industry information

The internet has had an enormous impact on the state of business information. Finding information isn’t really the problem anymore, after the information explosion and the huge growth in the internet beginning in the 1990s and continuing in the 21st century.

Even 10 or 15 years ago, dealing with information was more a problem of sorting through it all than of finding raw data. That generality is truer every day. There are websites for business analysis, financial statistics, demographics, trade associations, and just about everything you’ll need for a complete business plan.

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Industry participants

You should know who else sells in your market. You can’t easily describe a type of business without describing the nature of the participants. There is a huge difference, for example, between an industry like broadband television services, in which there are only a few huge companies in any one country, and one like dry cleaning, in which there are tens of thousands of smaller participants.

This can make a big difference to a business and a business plan. The restaurant industry, for example, is what we call “pulverized,” meaning that it, like the dry cleaning industry, is made up of many small participants. The fast-food business, on the other hand, is composed of a few national brands participating in thousands of branded outlets, many of them franchised.

Economists talk of consolidation in an industry as a time when many small participants tend to disappear and a few large players emerge. In accounting, for example, there are a few large international firms whose names are well-known, and tens of thousands of smaller firms. The automobile business is composed of a few national brands participating in thousands of branded dealerships, and in computer manufacturing, for example, there are a few large international firms whose names are well-known, and thousands of smaller firms.

Distribution patterns

Products and services can follow many paths between suppliers and users.

Explain how distribution works in your industry:

  • Is this an industry in which retailers are supported by regional distributors, as is the case for computer products, magazines, or auto parts?
  • Does your industry depend on direct sales to large industrial customers?
  • Do manufacturers support their own direct sales forces, or do they work with product representatives?

Some products are almost always sold through retail stores to consumers, and sometimes these are distributed by distribution companies that buy from manufacturers. In other cases, the products are sold directly from manufacturers to stores. Some products are sold directly from the manufacturer to the final consumer through mail campaigns, national advertising, or other promotional means.

In many product categories, there are several alternatives, and distribution choices are strategic.

Amazon made direct delivery a huge competitive advantage, especially in its earlier years. Doordash and competitors chose to be intermediaries between restaurants and customers, and several businesses offer prepackaged meal ingredients delivered with instructions for finishing the preparations in the consumers’ kitchens. Now major grocery chains offer grocery delivery. Red Box made a strategy of DVDs in kiosks. An entire industry of food delivery options gives consumers choices like restaurant meals or fresh meals ingredients being delivered. Many products are distributed through direct business-to-business (B2B) sales and in long-term contracts such as the ones between car manufacturers and their suppliers of parts, materials, and components. In some industries, companies use representatives, agents, or commissioned salespeople.

Technology can change the patterns of distribution in an industry or product category. The internet, for example, changed options for software distribution, books, music, and other products. Cable communication first, and more recently streaming, changed the options for distributing video products and video games. Some kinds of specialty items sell best with late-night infomercials on television, but others end up working on the web instead of television.

Distribution patterns may not be as critical to most service companies, because distribution is normally about physical distribution of specific physical products such as a restaurant, graphic artist, professional services practice, or architect.

For a few services, the distribution may still be relevant. A phone service, cable provider, or an internet provider might describe distribution related to physical infrastructure. Some publishers may prefer to treat their business as a service, rather than a manufacturing company, and in that case distribution may also be relevant.

Competition and buying patterns

It is essential to understand the nature of competition in your market. This is still in the general area of describing the industry or type of business.

Explain the general nature of competition in this business, and how the customers seem to choose one provider over another:

  • What are the keys to success?
  • What buying factors make the most difference—is it price? Product features? Service? Support? Training? Software? Delivery dates?
  • Are brand names important?

In the computer business, for example, competition might depend on reputation and trends in one part of the market, and on channels of distribution and advertising in another. In many business-to-business industries, the nature of competition depends on direct selling, because channels are impractical.

Price is vital in products competing with each other on retail shelves, but delivery and reliability might be much more important for materials used by manufacturers in volume, for which a shortage can affect an entire production line.

In the restaurant business, for example, competition might depend on reputation and trends in one part of the market, and on location and parking in another.

In many professional service practices, the nature of competition depends on word of mouth, because advertising is not completely accepted. Is there price competition between accountants, doctors, and lawyers? How powerful are the insurance decisions in medicine, like in or out of network? How do people choose travel agencies or florists for weddings? Why does someone hire one landscape architect over another? Why choose Starbucks, a national brand, over the local coffee house? All of this is the nature of competition.

The key to your specific industry analysis is a collection of decisions and educated guesses you’ll probably have to make for yourself. There are few pat answers. Maybe it’s easy parking, a great location, great reviews on Amazon or Yelp, or recommendations on social media. You can’t necessarily look this up. It’s the kind of educated guessing that makes some businesses more successful than others.

Main competitors

Do a very complete analysis of your main competitors. Make a list, determining who your main competitors are. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

Consider your competitors’:

  • Products
  • Pricing
  • Reputation
  • Management
  • Financial position
  • Channels of distribution
  • Brand awareness
  • Business development
  • Technology, or other factors that you feel are important
  • In what segments of the market do they operate? What seems to be their strategy? How much do they impact your products, and what threats and opportunities do they represent?

Finding competitive information

Competitive research starts with a good web search. Look up competitors’ websites and social media, then search for mentions, reviews, announcements, and even vacancies and job search information. An amazing array of competitive information is posted in plain sight, where anybody can find it.

From, there, for a good review of additional sources of information, I suggest Practical Market Research Resources for Entrepreneurs, also here on Bplans.

Competitive matrix

A lot of businesses organize competitive analysis into a competitive matrix. The standard competitive matrix shows how different competitors stack up according to significant factors.

For more on that, you’ll want to refer to How to Use the Competitive Matrix to Explain Your Position in the Market, also here on Bplans. Or you can take the basic idea from this illustration:


Some people also use a SWOT analysis to think about competition in terms of opportunities and threats, the “OT” of SWOT. Opportunities and threats are generally taken as externals, which would include competition, so it’s valuable to run a SWOT analysis on your business to help figure this out.

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How to Land the Digital Marketing Job of Your Dreams

The ‘Marketing, SEO & Affiliate Marketing Super Bundle’ is your guide to digital marketing in 2019.

4 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Whether you’re looking to jumpstart a new career or take your current skills up a notch, the Marketing, SEO & Affiliate Marketing Super Bundle will give you the tools you need to become a digital marketing pro. With nine jam-packed courses and 57 hours of instruction, you’ll be well-versed in the top marketing tools and skills of 2019, including Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, MailChimp and more. Here’s what’s included:

MailChimp 101: Learn Email Marketing

MailChimp has proven highly successful in helping businesses build their brand and engage with audiences online. This course will teach you how to optimize content, build your email lists and A/B split test emails, all of which are desirable skills on your resume.

Facebook Ads & Facebook Marketing Mastery Course

Master one of the most important advertising mediums used today and you’ll be in a position to take the job market by storm. In this course, you will learn how to create different Facebook ads, optimize them for increased conversions and decreased costs, and grow your Facebook likes and post engagement.

The Ultimate Guide To Google AdWords

Every day people use Google to find new products, which is why knowing how to optimize an AdWords campaign is a vital marketing tool. This course will teach you how to set up your AdWords account from scratch, select and use keywords to your advantage, and structure campaigns that will drive high-quality traffic to your website.

Retargeting & Remarketing: The Ultimate Guide Made Easy

Retargeting is an effective marketing strategy because it targets people who are already familiar with a brand and have recently demonstrated interest. In this course, you’ll learn how to drive traffic and get the most out of that traffic and also dive deeper into content marketing, AdWords and targeted display.

Build The Perfect SEO-Optimized WordPress Website from A-Z

Web design is a sought-after skill these days and WordPress is no exception. This course will teach you how to build an SEO-optimized site from scratch and how to repeat the process quickly. Through step-by-step instruction, you’ll learn how to set up domain registration, site hosting, the back-end, and more.

The Complete SEO & Backlink Master Course

SEO is more than a fancy buzz word that employers like to hear, it’s crucial to optimizing a blog or website. This course lets you explore keywords, on-page optimization and takes an extensive look at backlinking, so you can learn how to use quality links that will boost your site’s search ranking.

Amazon Traffic, Sales and Marketing for Sellers & Affiliates

If you’re interested in learning how to sell tangible products as either an Amazon FBA seller or an affiliate, this course will teach you everything you need to know, including how to market your Amazon FBA listings & Amazon affiliate links.

SEO Affiliate Domination

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If you’ve been considering a career in digital marketing, this super bundle is a must-have and right now you can get it for a steal. The entire bundle is valued at $1265.95, but it’s on sale for $37. Also, with lifetime access, you’ll always be able to refer back to these courses, should you ever need a refresher.

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How to Take Advantage of Interactive Marketing Right Now

Brands effectively using interactive-content marketing enjoy a steadily growing customer base.

8 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Interactive content is highly effective because it connects users with a brand on multiple levels. Interactive marketing provides a creative and unique experience that is personalized to each user — this means it keeps their attention longer, it increases excitement and they’ll be more likely to seek it out.

One defining element of interactive marketing is that it gives users some control or influence over their experience, making this content more personal and memorable. Today, many brands are offering interactive-content marketing campaigns that seek to enhance customers’ experiences, boost their engagement, gain more followers and ultimately grow a brand’s customer base.

So how exactly do these tools work and how can brands take advantage of these strategies? Here are five interactive trends your brand should consider using, and some important tips to keep in mind as you plan your interactive marketing strategies for 2019.

Assessments, quizzes and calculators

Interactive assessments offer people ways to give feedback or get more information about your products or your company. Quizzes and polls are also a form of interactive assessment, and can be highly entertaining. People love filling out online quizzes and then sharing the results on social media.

They can be a great way to prompt people to visit your website or social media page. BuzzFeed is well known for their quizzes, and you can hardly scroll through social media without bumping into a few. Quizzes can also be used for more serious topics and can help people recognize the need for your service or product.

Calculators allow users to input information to create numeric answers. These tools are frequently used by companies and brands to help customers estimate and compare the cost of products or features and evaluate the benefits of these options.

Related: How to Use Quizzes for Your Marketing Strategy

Interactive, gamified video

Videos don’t have to be a passive, one-way broadcast, but can be a truly interactive experience. The interactive video has been around for several years, but many users are still unfamiliar with this medium and brands are still figuring out the best ways to harness this trend. For users, gamification appeals to the reward-seeking mechanism built into our brains; thus, it can work well in organizing contests, giveaways or interactive video stories.

For an added bonus, try using a gamified, interactive video for a quiz. Combining an interactive video with a multiple-choice quiz can be a great way to capture attention because it turns passive viewers into active ones. Facebook’s announcement that it’s introducing new features to their video platform to make video content more interactive should encourage more marketers to consider how they can use this medium.

Facebook is using polling from both Live and on-demand videos, as well as gamification for Live, as tools to add new interactive features, such as polls, quiz questions and challenges.

Related: How Gamification Can Improve Customer Loyalty Programs

Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) has become a buzzword in the world of games (think of the bestselling mobile game Pokémon GO), but AR has potential that goes far beyond gaming. Brands like Amazon, Ikea, Wayfair, Starbucks and Volkswagen are already utilizing AR technologies to increase customer engagement. Coca-Cola has used AR in several of its campaigns, including one with Alipay to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

As with many marketing trends, AR includes various elements to create interesting and engaging products. AR may incorporate 360-degree video and other interactive elements. Take, for example, Oreo’s 360-degree interactive AR video, which allows you to scroll around and see different views as you cascade down an animated river of milk while Oreo treats are being manufactured in a playful, fantastical self-propelled factory.

AR has also changed the way customers approach products in online stores. A 3-dimensional view of a product lets you see it on your own terms. AR apps allow customers to see what products will look like in the real world, giving them a better feel for the product and how it will fit in the home, office or elsewhere. For example, Amazon has introduced its AR view app, so you can take a picture of a room and see how a product will look in your kitchen or living room before you make a purchase.

AR is a great way to create an engaging and memorable marketing experience. It can help encourage sales, but often it’s most effective in building brand awareness and excitement surrounding a product.

Related: 10 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019

360-Degree Video Content

Many brands are turning to immersive or spherical videos, which are 360-degree videos captured using an omnidirectional camera or a series of cameras. These 360-degree videos allow users to click and drag or move their phones around to explore a virtual space and become immersed in that virtual reality.

This content is powerful because it can combine two routes into immersion and engagement. There’s the first-person exploration, where users have the ability to change the angle or view of what they’re seeing, but there’s also amazing storytelling potential here. As a user navigates a 360-degree video, they’re primed to listen to a backstory about what they’re exploring, or simply hear the sounds that relate to what’s going on in the video. Either way, users are completely immersed and have stronger emotional connections to what they’re experiencing.

Some examples are Google Arts & Culture, which invites users to step into the action of performance and stories, and the New York Times, which is using this medium to give readers an up-close-and-personal view of visually stunning stories.

But this medium also works well for travel-related industries, which is all about the promise of transporting you to a new, exciting place. The Royal Caribbean offers users 360-degree videos in which users can stand on top of one of its largest ships and check out some of its amenities. Another example is Marriott Hotel’s development of “The Teleporter,” a booth that combines virtual reality and 360-degree video streaming to give users an immersive 4D experience of traveling to the far corners of the world.

The 360-degree trend will continue to be adopted by more brands in the coming year, especially those that sell large items like furniture, cars and homes.

Voice-activated technology

Whether they’re playing music, answering questions or setting timers, customers are loving their smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, Google Home or Apple HomePod. These voice-activated speakers are also changing the way people buy products and services and interact with news and information.

But the true “brains” behind the smart speaker are the virtual assistants inside the device. Alexa, Google and Siri are now household names, and people are using them for more than just checking the weather. These voice-activated platforms allow customers to browse and purchase items.

But how can brands create ways to ensure they get noticed in the world of voice-activated technology? Take, for example, how HBO has been working to create applications (known as “skills” on Amazon Echo devices) to promote its shows and characters. It introduced Westworld: The Maze, a choose-your-own-adventure style game for fans of the show “Westworld.”

Brands should be looking for ways to make use of voice-powered technology in their content marketing. Find out how your customers are using their voice-activated assistants. How are these devices making customers’ lives easier? This will help shape effective strategies for using this technology in a way that’s meaningful to your customers.

Also, make sure you optimize your content so that virtual assistants can find it. For instance, when people ask their voice assistants questions, they typically use short phrases like “Mexican food restaurants near me.” Make sure to incorporate similar phrases throughout your company’s content.

Tips for getting the most out of your interactive marketing

This coming year, we’ll likely see more interactive marketing utilizing all of the above mediums. What will set the effective campaigns apart from the mediocre ones will be the ability to create an immersive experience in which users feel engaged, transported and emotionally connected to the brand.

Brands should endeavor to keep their messaging exciting, engaging and focused on the experience they are creating. Sharp, crisp storytelling is a must for grabbing and holding the customer’s attention. These interactive campaigns work best when they incorporate a multimedia approach. The more ways you can engage a person’s senses, the more immersive the experience will be.

Interactive content is especially effective in creating a buzz around a brand or company. It can be incredibly effective at increasing awareness and interest in what a brand is doing. Always consider how you can personalize each user’s experience, whether it’s through quizzes, gamified videos, interactive tools or user-controlled 360-degree video.

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SWOT Analysis: How to Identify Your Strengths – Bplans Blog

SWOT analysis

You’re invited to take the SWOT analysis challenge—see if you can complete all five steps in five days or fewer! Then invite your network to do it too. Share this article on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter and use the #SWOT hashtag.

If you’re looking for the rest of the steps in the series, find them here:

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you want to know your business inside and out so you can make informed, money-making decisions.

A SWOT analysis is a great tool that makes it easier to think through every aspect of your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The point isn’t just to make a list—it’s to use that list to help you start thinking through what you can do to amplify your strengths and opportunities, and mitigate the risks associated with your weaknesses and threats to your business. 

Click here to download our free SWOT Analysis template

We recommend that you invite others into your SWOT process—your business mentor, partner, and your team. As a founder or owner, you probably know more about your business than anyone else. But the deeper you get, the more likely it is that you have a few blind spots. Bringing others to share their point of view is a good way to make sure you’re not missing anything important so you can put together a strategic plan that really works.

Here are a few tips to make the process simple and productive.

1. Use the SWOT matrix framework

A SWOT analysis is usually completed using a four-square template—a matrix. There’s one box for each of the four elements: strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats.

In this first step, identifying your strengths, you’re only working in the strengths square of the matrix. We offer a free, downloadable SWOT analysis template to make it easy to get started, and here’s a quick example of what a completed SWOT matrix looks like:

SWOT analysis example

2. Review a few SWOT examples

Before you get started on your own strengths analysis, it’s a good idea to review a few SWOT analysis examples from other businesses, just to get oriented to the kinds of things you might include or questions you might ask yourself.

3. Meet with stakeholders, mentors, and your team

To conduct a thorough analysis, ask other people for their perspective.

People do SWOT analyses for a number of different reasons. Maybe you’re putting together a plan for strategic growth, or to scale your company quickly. Maybe you’d like to include a SWOT in a business plan you’re putting together to seek funding. Or maybe you’ve encountered one too many surprises lately and you need to help your company refocus on your mission. Whatever your reasons, don’t just do a SWOT once.

Think about revisiting your SWOT with your business mentor or strategic advisor a few times a year at least. One approach is doing your whole SWOT analysis in a week, doing one step each day. You can do the whole thing in an hour or two, but you’ll probably learn more from the exercise if you give yourselves some time to really think deeply about each aspect.

4. Write down bullet points

During your brainstorming session, you’ll ask each person to supply one bullet point for the category they are working on. For today, each person will share their perspective on of your company’s strengths.

Be sure to write them down, or use Post-It notes and collect them all at the end. Don’t go overboard. Keep each bullet point to a single sentence, and if people have trouble distilling their ideas down to a single statement, take some time to work through that.

If you find weaknesses, opportunities, or threats emerging too, write them down if you must—but wait to discuss them separately. For now, just focus on your strengths.

5. Think about different types of strengths

Before you start listing your business’s strengths, let’s define the parameters a bit. Strengths are positive, internal (meaning within your business) factors that are within your control.

Think of the experience and resources that are available to your business. We’ll cover the external factors in the step on opportunity.

Here are a few strengths categories to think about:

  • Financial resources like revenue streams, investments, diversified income, and grants.
  • Physical assets like buildings and equipment.
  • Intellectual property including patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
  • Human resources such as employees, volunteers, mentors, and so on.
  • Key players, or the most vital members of your team.
  • Employee programs that help your employees excel.
  • Company workflow, or the work practices and processes and how things get done.
  • Company culture, or the values and environment that your company has created.
  • Company reputation, which might include reviews, repeat business, or churn rate.
  • Competitive positionwhere your business is poised in the marketplace.

6. Ask strengths questions to keep ideas flowing

To help you lock in on your company’s strengths, we’ve created a list of questions to help. The questions are broken up by the categories that we just went over. Keep in mind, some of these questions may not apply to your business. If so, skip it and move on, or modify it so it does apply.

Remember, you’re only looking for strengths here, so if you end up with a negative response, hang on to it until you’re looking at your company’s weaknesses or threats. Also keep in mind that your strengths include the things you have already set in place. In this step in your SWOT analysis, try to avoid leaning over into the opportunity section—or talking about the external things that might be of benefit to your business, like an emerging trend in an area that makes your product or service more relevant.

Starter questions:

  • What does your business do well?
  • What do you do that your competition can’t?
  • Why do customers come to you or stay with you?


  • What kind of financial resources do you have?
  • Is your revenue diversified?
  • What kind of investments do you have for the future?
  • How’s your cash flow?
  • Are you meeting your sales forecasts?


  • What kind of assets do you have?
  • What are the benefits of your company’s space and building?
  • What kind of equipment do you own?


  • What kind of intellectual property do you have in your business? List trademarks, patents, and so on.

Human resources:

  • Who are the key players on your team?
  • What do you have in place to attract and retain top talent?
  • How’s your staffing turnover?
  • What kind of professional development opportunities do you offer?

Company workflow:

  • What kind of processes do you have in place that makes your company efficient?
  • Have you been able to save time or resources with a new tool or approach?
  • How good is your team at delegation?

Company culture:

  • What kind of working culture has your company created?
  • How are your company values visible to customers and your team?

Company reputation:

  • How does your clientele or community view your company?
  • How did you achieve your reputation?
  • How are your churn rates, or what is the average lifetime value of your customers?

Competitive position:

  • Does your company have an edge in the marketplace that your competitor doesn’t?
  • What plans do you have in place to improve your market position?

Growth potential:

  • What plans do you have for growth?
  • Do you have the potential to grow in certain sectors where your competitors don’t?
  • What’s the main reason you’re able to grow?

7. Keep your SWOT team on track

Before you sit down with your team or stakeholders, set some ground rules for yourself, as the moderator of the discussion, and for your team, as active, constructive participants.

  1. Be truthful. It probably goes without saying, but if you’re not truthful during this process, the entire analysis won’t be effective.
  2. Allow for feedback. As you’re brainstorming strengths, make sure your employees are comfortable offering their feedback. You may not agree on some strengths, but it’s best to talk them through.
  3. Stay focused. You want to hear many viewpoints, but when you get several people in a room, time can get away from you. Keep the group on task.

Keep your list of strengths handy as you work through the rest of the steps in your analysis. You probably already identified some weaknesses as you thought through the question list. Keep that list close by—especially if the answers to some of them didn’t fall into the strengths category. The next step in your SWOT analysis is to identify your weaknesses.

When you’ve worked through all four areas, the final step is to develop actionable strategies and tactics to take advantage of what you’ve learned. Read more about that here.

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Lisa Furgison
Lisa Furgison

Lisa Furgison is a journalist with a decade of experience in all facets of media.

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Exactly What You Can Do to Define What Makes Your Brand as Unique as … M&Ms

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

“Melts in your mouth, not in your hand,” the slogan for M&M’s candy, was trademarked as far back as 1954 and is one of the best-known ever. It’s cute. It’s memorable. And it’s helped make M&M’s brand the success it is today — and not just because the phrase is catchy.

Related: Shark Tank Star Daymond John Says This Is the Biggest Branding Mistake of All

In fact, the slogan, when introduced, actually helped set the company apart from all other companies slinging sweet treats. It made the brand different and was, and is, its unique selling proposition (USP).

Every company needs a USP in order to stand out from the crowd. But many business owners fail to come up with one that sets their brands apart. If you’re an accounting business, for instance, what could be different about you versus your peers?

Defining your brand’s uniqueness and USP, then, isn’t as simple as stating, “Our product is pink and the rest are blue.” It needs to be more meaningful and to originate from that sweet spot between what you do and what your customer needs. So, how do you find it? Here are some ways to do that.

Research your competitors.  

No business is completely and utterly unique. You’ll always have competitors who’ll be doing something similar to what you do. Most of these companies will have a unique selling proposition in order to attract consumers. This isn’t a disadvantage for you; it means there’s already a market for your business, a fact which can actually help you discover what makes your brand unique.

Take a good look at a number of your biggest competitors. Look at what they’re offering, whom they’re marketing to, what marketing messages they’re using and so on. By comparing what they’re offering with what you offer, you can find out what you’ve got that they don’t.

Related: Why ‘Make America Great Again’ Beat ‘Stronger Together’

This strategy might have been how Tattly discovered its uniqueness. Tattly makes temporary tattoos. But instead of being made for children as most other temporary tattoo are, Tattly’s product is marketed toward adults, making its brand more unique.

Image credit: Tattly 

You can easily discover a hidden edge to your company by looking at what else is out there already. You can’t beat ‘em if you’re the same, but you can come out on top if you’re doing things differently.

Look closely at your buyer personas.

Next, you’ll want to take a close look at your buyer personas. A “buyer persona” is a fictional character created to represent your ideal customer; and you need one. A detailed buyer persona can include basic demographics like age and gender, but it can also include the goals of your ideal customer, his or her motivations, occupation, personality traits, frustrations and more.

Looking at these factors can help you discover something really unique about your brand. For instance, if you’re making pizzas, and one of the frustrations listed in your buyer persona is “lack of gourmet ingredients,” you may have just found what makes your pizza unique.

If you haven’t created a buyer persona for your company yet, get started now. There are tons of free templates online to help you create a detailed buyer persona that will aid you in determining what makes your brand unique.

Pinpoint your differentiators.

In trying to find what makes your brand unique, you should pinpoint everything that makes your company different. So, make a list of those differentiators. This list can be anything big or small about your product/company and anything that’s tangible or represents a feeling or belief — it makes you you. Write that down; just remember to be specific.

If your biggest differentiators are the features of your products, don’t choose just a feature as your unique selling proposition. Your audience isn’t as impressed or swayed by features as you might think. They’re more attracted to how your business or product can change their lives.

So, define that feature as something meaningful to your audience. Successful products usually solve a specific need for consumers and that need is communicated to customers in their own words. For example, when the Apple iPod was introduced, ads didn’t talk to customers about the number of gigabytes; they said “10,000 songs in your pocket,” which was much more meaningful. 

Image credit: Swoop Agency 

Related: Why Weight Watchers’ Name Change Will Fail, But Dunkin’s Won’t

Over to you.

Don’t just define what makes your brand unique and leave it at that. Use your unique selling proposition in everything you do.Splash it across your marketing, sprinkle it throughout your website and incorporate it into your company culture; you’ve got to fully live it. Once you’ve defined what makes your company unique, you won’t just have a few casual customers, you’ll form better connections with them; and consumers will flock to your brand to become loyal customers.  

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