show it to me

Sandy shedding some light on the internets.

a friend pointed some research out to me… The Nielsen Norman Group, a consulting firm whose founder was deemed by the New York Times to be “the guru of Web page ‘usability,’” has done extensive research into what makes websites successful:  1)nothing higher than a sixth-grade reading level on the home page;  2)more “scannability” — highlighting, color-coding, bullet points; and  3)one idea per paragraph.

but maybe the most interesting bit was if you’re trying to reach young people – they don’t have the reading ability, patience or research skills to successfully complete what they set out to do online. kids now-a-days have a very different learning style. they don’t read, they watch – tv, youtube, web video.

my take-way (from reading all those words): the best way to reach your online audience? VIDEO.

no one, if you’re 8 or 80, wants to spend tons of time wading through a boatload of verbiage.  get my attention, get to the point and don’t waste my time.

we tried this experiment with the tweedee productions website. instead of a bunch of words, we did videos, lots of videos. we kept them short, interesting (in my opinion) and entertaining. we tried to eliminate as many written words as possible.

some of our clients have seen the light. they’ve started doing video newsletters instead of emailing newsletters full of words, articles and clip art. the vnl allows them to highlight their important industry news and map out articles of interest that drive clients to their website for all the details.

with the holiday season upon us…. instead of bogging up your snail mail with cards you’ll toss in the trash, we’re sending out this video greeting. no natural resources wasted. its short, sweet and filled with the spirit of the season.  happy holidays.

now if you’ll excuse me, i have to get back to my youtube.

It’s the people, stupid!

We just had an excellent initial meeting with a potential client here at Tweedee Productions.  As our meeting went on, I began to realize what a great team of people I work with.  I also realized that I didn’t have to do much during the meeting.  I was free to relax, listen to our new friends, react when I needed to, and not think that I had to “make” the sale in the end.  As many small business owners know, this is not always the case.  Usually the owner has to make the sale, perform the work, and then take out the trash at the end of the day.

When I first started out in business 12 years ago, I often thought that being a product driven business would be preferable to a service based one.  I thought that by selling a product I would see immediate results.  How many widgets did we sell today?  How full is the cash drawer?  How many customers came in today?  Immediate results.  Buy product – resell – buy more – repeat.  But, as we all know, selling a product is not always a guaranteed success.  Remember Circuit City anyone?

Tweedee Productions is a service based business.  As such, I’ve finally come to realize that what we sell (or what our customers buy) is “us”.  They buy “us” because we provide a unique service that’s not widely available for one thing.  They also buy “us” because of our unique talents and abilities.  But most importantly, I would suggest that they buy “us” for who we are as people.

It’s interesting to note that our potential client never asked about our technical capabilities – apparently not an issue for them.  I believe that first and foremost, they liked us as people.  Sure, we can provide whatever technology they need, that’s the easy part.  But the most important thing to them was working with a company that can tell their story.  That’s what we do best.  We are a company of individuals with strong storytelling skills and decades of combined video production experience – things that you can’t learn from a book or acquire from a software program.  We are also good people.  A big “thank you” to all of my co-workers for being as talented as you are.  Now it’s time to take out the trash.

The Tweedee Team

Gregg Schieve, Founder, CEO and guitarist, Tweedee Media Inc.

The Tweedee Players Present: It’s a Wonderful Video

“You’re right to say he’s no businessman, Mr. Potter!” -George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

I think we sorta knew that it was a crap shoot. We wanted to give every person/business a chance to work with us. We put together one of our little movies about creating Holiday Video Greetings. It was a pretty horrible idea.

We are offering Holiday Video Greetings for $249.99. We put it out there just in case somebody wanted to make movie magic. In fact, we’re probably losing money by creating these. Worst business decision ever.

BUT, it is an offer made to you because we want to work with you. We love what we do and we’re looking for opportunities to work with a wide range of clients in a wide variety of ways. This was another way of trying to work with you. We want to help you see how fun and effective this work can be.

Was it a great business decision? No. It was a good idea because we’re always trying new ways to bring you here to try to put video to work for you, like it has for dozens of our clients.

We want to be remembered the same way George Bailey remembers his father. As the guys who made a fun, effective project possible. It’s not exactly the Savings and Loan business but we’re trying to make video accessible to all.

Just a minute – just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You’re right when you say my father was no businessman. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I’ll never know. But neither you nor anyone else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was – why, in the twenty-five years since he and Uncle Billy started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn’t that right, Uncle Billy? He didn’t save enough money to send Harry to school, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what’s wrong with that? Why – here, you’re all businessmen here. Doesn’t it make them better citizens? Doesn’t it make them better customers? You – you said – what’d you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they’re so old and broken down that they… Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you’re talking about… they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn’t think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they’re cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you’ll ever be.

-George Bailey, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

What are you waiting for?

Watch Tweedee Video Holiday Greetings!

Steve Donovan, Senior Editor, 19 time marathon finisher, 39 time Christmas Celebrater

this is cool – part 2

check this out – tweedee productions has its own bar code! yes – bar code! if you use an android smart phone, you just scan this bar code (called ZXing) and it will take you magically to the tweedee productions web site. google came up with this cool idea. you can make a ZXing code for just about anything you want to share… we are placing our code in conference print ads, on envelopes  – it has a ton of possibilities. check out the google ZXing site for the details…. and get scanning!

sandy thinks honesty is the best policy.

sandy is trying to stay trendy.

this is cool!

sandy - keepin' up with the trends....

this is so cool, i may even capitalize my sentences…. ok, maybe not – but check this out. its the tweedee productions daily newspaper! here’s how it works: paper.li gathers all the twitters we follow, sorts them (the ones with video or pictures get a priority) and arranges the stories into our daily webpaper.  i’ve set up an auto alert that goes to all our twitter followers when a new issue is published.  the great part, for me, is i can catch up on all the visual and interesting tweets without having to read a long twitter  list at the end of the day. it was super easy to set up. and its free! give it a look, it may be a good fit for you or your business.

The Virtual Company

We have a tradition here at Tweedee Productions.  Almost every day at about 2:30, a small group of us will walk down to Ground Zero Coffee Shop for an afternoon shot of caffeine.  The short walk gives us a chance to talk about things outside of the office.  Our conversations range from our families, to the Packers, to the latest Hollywood movies – conversations that usually have nothing to do with work.  I appreciate these walks and talks, and realize the benefits they have for the rest of the Tweedee team.  Which brings me to my point in a round about way. 

I just finished reading an article in the April issue of Inc. Magazine titled The Office Is Dead, Long Live The Office (I know, I’m a little behind in my reading!).  For those of you unfamiliar with the magazine, they pride themselves in writing about up and coming companies, industry trends, and various business models that make some companies seem all too cool.  So the editorial department at Inc. decided to live out a concept that it would typically write about – the virtual office. 

For those of you over 50 (like me), a virtual office or company is one that exists without formal headquarters.  Its owners, executives and employees all work in separate locations, many times from home offices.  They stay connected via a myriad of cool electronic devices, web cameras and free software.  And many of these virtual companies, as reported in the Inc. article, are multi-million dollar virtual companies.  

So after working as a virtual office for one month, the Inc. team produced a 10 page article about the pros and cons of virtual companies.  Pros and cons like less overhead, more individual freedom, confused family boundaries, more legal costs, and a seemingly cooler work vibe.  But what I found most interesting was the effect that the virtual office had on the Inc. staff.  Some people loved it – working at home in PJs, working from a coffee shop, coming and going as they pleased.  Others not so much – it was easy to become distracted from work, and mostly they felt lonely and disconnected.    

That last notion hit home with me and was summed up by the comments from Inc. Magazine photo director Travis Ruse.  His reaction made me appreciate what we have here at our non-virtual office.  Travis said, “My job really became just about my job.  I missed the distractions and surprises that my co-workers bring to the day.  Part of working is the social aspect of doing something collaboratively.  I missed that very much.”    

I started Tweedee Productions 12 years ago in a home office.  That lasted less than 6 months.  I needed a place – an “office” – and much like Travis, the collaboration of working with and bouncing ideas off of my office mates.  I would have trouble working in a virtual company today no matter how cool of a trend it continues to be.  Here at Tweedee “world headquarters”, we have the freedom to set our own hours.  We are very generous (by American standards) with vacation time.  Yet we all come together at a specific place, at a somewhat specific time and make good video.   How much cooler can that be? 

Gregg Schieve, CEO and Founder Tweedee Media Inc.    

Sandy Kowal and Steve Donovan on the Tweedee coffee walk.

the perfect client plans ahead

it’s probably pretty obvious, but i think video is the best way to tell your story…

sandy kowal - trying to stay on top of things

but before you come in to chat about your production here are six things all clients need to think about:

first of all, who is your audience and how will they watch it? is your production something the whole world will potentially watch on the internets or is it for a more local audience? do you need a TV commercial or do you want a DVD to hand out to your clients? there may even be ways to make your project multi-purpose… we can help you brainstorm all the options.

#2: what’s the focus of your story? will you need scripting help or will you provide the script?

#3: where will we shoot your video? do you have a location or do we need to find one for you?

#4: what style are you looking for? do you want an active documentary style story or something more highly produced? will you need a green screen? if you’re not sure we can provide some direction for you.

#5: will your production need graphics? will you need graphics that are animated? are you able to provide us with your graphics? we’re more than happy to help if you need some creative input.

and, finally #6, what is your budget? some of the stuff we’ve already talked about will have an impact on your bottom-line. it’s a good idea to come in with a general idea of what you’d like to invest in your production.

congratulations!  you are now the perfect client and we’re ready to give you the perfect production… let’s get started! we’re ready to help you tell your story.