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How does small business compete online?

Before the age of the internet, marketing and advertising for small businesses was difficult. Commercials were expensive to produce and airtime was at a premium, as larger competitors saturated the signals. In the last decade, we have seen juggernauts such as Google and Facebook make advertising more accessible to the mass market. With a few minutes of forethought and some new age tools, any business owner can create an advertisement and target their key demographics (location, age, interests, etc).

Even here in Edmonton, you can advertise across the planet with just a click. Sometimes the response is great and other times a complete failure. So why does one advertisement succeed and the other fail?

It comes down to creativity and quality.

Creativity is important. With the right message, you will have a positive outcome. With the wrong message you could have no outcome or even worse, you could have a public backlash.

In the days when traditional media ruled the roost, advertisements needed to be generic enough to appeal to all segments of the population to improve reception. In the days of digital advertising, messages can be custom tailored and delivered to only those who are most likely to respond. This is the reason why I receive advertisements for beard oil and my wife does not.

The “big players” are constantly battling in the marketplace with creative ways to communicate their products and services. They spend significant resources to develop and market test ideas even before they commence video production or purchase ad space. They have standardized the process and created a semi-scientific process to marketing. The great thing about marketing, however, is that the rules are constantly changing as new technology and creativity interrupt the status quo.

In 2015, 2016, and 2017 Nordic Media partnered with the City of Edmonton to promote their “Front Yards in Bloom” campaign. You likely saw this advertisement at the movie theatres and online. In 2016 Edmonton won 1st place out of all international competitors in the large city category.

 

Quality is the second component. With the age of Facebook and YouTube we have become accustomed to seeing a viral video shot from cell phones garnering millions of views. Many of us think we can replicate the viral video concept and even apply it to our business

If you are thinking this way, then I commend you, as you are ahead of the game. You understand today’s audience wants entertainment mixed in with their advertisements: they want to laugh, cry, and be motivated with your message.

What comes next is usually the part that fails: the execution. Out comes the cell phone video camera, along with a script that no one else vetted. Maybe the script wasn’t as good as once thought or maybe it is just too long considering anything over 45 seconds is going into the “danger zone”. Attention spans are incredibly short in today’s world. That small cell phone microphone was not invented to pickup audio from across the room.

Did you know even in Facebook Advertising each advertisement gets a relevance score? If your score is low, you are paying many magnitudes higher for every engagement you get. Facebook doesn’t want poor ads clogging up their news feeds, so if they are forced to show a low quality advertisement, they will charge a premium for it. A good advertisement should be costing pennies per engagement, while a poor advertisement is costing dollars.

In short: good creative and a quality production is actually pretty tough to master. It does not matter if you are hiring a professional company to do your marketing or if you are doing it yourself. You must research, get critical feedback on your ideas, and produce quality content. Quality marketing doesn’t just help keep market share, it grows the base by attracting new eyes to the business.

In this example the advertisement received a relevance score of 8, meaning the advertisement is having a strong clickthrough rate and the content is resonating with the demographic we targeted.

To finish answering my original question: small businesses compete online through good ideas and quality content. Anyone can have a website and a virtual presence instantly, but getting people to give you their time, attention, and money is much harder.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original Conan the Barbarian (1982)

From our favourite Disney stories to the horror flicks that sent shivers down our spines, movies are constantly being remade and fans everywhere have something to say about it.

Maybe for you its just a money grab, or maybe you’re excited to see the latest one in theatres. Either way you slice it, there’s just no denying that remaking classic films has become a pillar of modern film.

There exists no industry in which the wonders of technology are so apparent and numerous as in the world of film, where every day, reality walks a fine line between science and sheer magic.

The films we love carry us off to a fantasy world, so a lacklustre production can taint that experience for audiences when it doesn’t deliver the adventure. We love to see our favourite actors on screen and it’s tough accepting someone new in their roles. We see re-makes that miss the point of the original story, or changed it so much it became it unrecognizable.

Some re-makes definitely fall far short of expectations. 

If you saw “Clash of the Titans”, you know what great visual effects can do for a feature film without a strong plot line. 

Not much.

The remake of the original Clash of the Titans in 2010 was not well received. It scored 28% by critics on Rotten Tomatoes

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” really made sure to drive this point home as well.

Nobody talks like that.

Not ever.
Not in the history of talking, OR real life.

And Karate Kid?

Wow.

I didn’t think Jackie Chan could fumble a martial arts movie, but there it is.

Jackie Chan was involved in the 2010 remake of the Karate Kid

Wax OFF, Mr. Chan.

Relief only came from knowing I wouldn’t have to suffer through co-star Jaden Smith attempting a British accent until his later work.

While entertainment changes with the times, classic films often reveal social issues we once faced. They let us travel back in time and get insight into what our society was, is now, and where it’s headed next. These stories are full of wisdom, but fall by the wayside in favour of more visually stimulating productions.
This is to be expected with so much technology, but many films out there today are actually being praised for bringing classics back to life. 

True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges as “Rooster Cogburn”, is considered better than the original by many and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards.

Jeff Bridges in True Grit (2010) was well-received scoring 96% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Ocean’s 11 is another top notch remake. The stylish cinematography, ostentatious wardrobe, vibrant soundtrack and charming cast wowed audiences. Witty dialogue and a well constructed plot put the icing on the cake.

True Lies, with Arnold Schwarzenegger was re-vamped from an obscure french film, “La Totale”. It is the quintessential 90’s action film, wherein Arnie delivers sarcastic one-liners, flies a fighter jet AND dances the tango. 

I’m serious. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger dances the tango with Tia Carrere. Watch it if you haven’t already.

Advances in technology allow for greater excitement and the creation of storytelling techniques which were previously not possible. Now we can take the elements of great storytelling and weave technology into the fabric of our work— exciting the senses and the imagination at the same time with stunning visuals, plus great stories that hold powerful messages to captivate and inspire audiences. By combining these two key elements we build on the great legacy of film over the last century.

So do we really need all these re-makes?

I think so.

We need today’s actors in great roles, growing into tomorrow’s Academy Award winners. We need modern writers to understand the classics, applying their own creativity— making stories interesting and accessible for younger generations. We need audiences to treasure and celebrate the achievements that lead the film industry to this point.

We all need to remember where film came from and not leave important truths behind. Remade films are a pool of wisdom where we reflect on what we learned from the past.

What opportunities lay still untapped for us tomorrow?

-Andrew O’Laney

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