The Business Of Home Video

The technology of home video has it's roots in the mid 1970's with the advent of Sony's u-Matic video cassette system. What? Never hear of that? It's because it never found it's market as a home medium because it was too cumbersome and expensive. It went on to become the standard for industrial videos.

In the early 1980's, Beta and VHS were introduced as home video formats, with VHS taking a rapid lead. Even then, it appears mostly to time shifting TV shows, since the separate cameras and recorders with interconnecting wires and short battery life made portable video a chore.

By the mid eighties, camcorders had come to market, combining the camera and recorder in one compact unit (for it's day). Still rather large for most people to cart on vacation, entrepreneurs, myself included, quickly discovered a commercial use for the devices – filming weddings and corporate events.

In 1985 I opened my first video production business in Connecticut and within two years I quit my full time job in the computer engineering business and went full time into video. Back then, if you showed up on time, could hold the camera steady and keep it in focus, you could make a steady income in the video business. Camcorders were still rather expensive, and properly editing videos required equipment and talent beyond the realm of the average person.

By 1990, cameras became smaller, easier to use, and less expensive. Computer based non-linear editing was still the realm of the broadcast world, but more affordable tape based editing systems allowed event videographers to hone their finished products. No longer could simple basic skills keep you in business, you had compete with new video businesses in your market and polish your skills as an editor. Still, as the analog tape-to-tape duplicating process used for editing clipped away the undesirable footage, it caused an unavoidable loss of image clarity.

Digital video camcorders hit the consumer market in 1995. This allowed much clearer looking videos, and editing digital tape to tape avoided the loss of image quality associated with analog video editing. VHS was still the mainstay for the finished product, but now that product had the sharpness of a first generation VHS tape, and not a ragged edged copy as in the past. Computer based editing was still expensive, but was beginning to make it's way to the mainstream event video producers.

By the year 2000, cheaper, faster and less expensive computers had hard drives large enough to store feature length videos at reasonable cost. Non linear editing became the choice of nearly every video business. Clients were expecting far more from their finished product, and DVD was becoming the preferred medium for delivery of the final video. Even though videos were not yet high definition, the DVD made video look much better than VHS. More and more new event video companies were popping up as the prices of camcorders and computers continued to fall while their quality and ease of use went up. 2000 was a pinnacle year for wedding videos, as brides lined up in droves to have their weddings at the turn of the century.

By 2005, the camcorder had become so small, so easy to use, and high definition video produced such a great result it seemed that event video people were on every street corner. Anyone with two thousand dollars could start a video business and produce quality results, at least from the technical perspective. The real competition was beginning to come not only from other video businesses, but from former clients as well. Instead of continuing to pay a professional one to two thousand dollars to record their wedding video, some clients were buying their own camcorders for five hundred dollars and letting a friend or relative shoot the video.

Small, pocket sized high definition camcorders, high definition video in camera phones and free editing software on cheap, off-the-shelf PCs have diminished the client's perceived value of the professional video by 2012. The expectation of clients is that that video professional must Be able to replicate what the client sees in the movie theater or on television. Trouble is, studios still spend hundreds of thousands or more on lighting, sound and talent. Now matter how good home equipment is, or how polished the skills of a professional event videographer, a client's stingy three hundred dollar budget is not going to buy the results that clients see on TV. Not willing to pay thousands, many clients are satisfied with You-Tube style video clips taken with the camera phones of their friends – provided it's free. And a professional can not compete with free and stay in business.

Today, as a result of the amazing small, inexpensive and high quality camcorders and free editing software, the video business is far more challenging for the event professional. There is still something a professional can offer that all your friend's camera phones can never match. That is a video that truly tells your story or deliveries your corporate message as it should be, with the look and finish close to that of an independent film. In the end, it is the knowledge and experience that are worth the cost. You can not buy that with an iPhone in the hands of a close friend.

Race, Ethnicity, and Participation in Leisure Activities

In "Gender and Leisure" by Susan Shaw and "Ethnicity, Race, and Leisure" by James H. Gramann and Maria T. Allison, the authors describe major ways in which race, ethnicity, and gender influence access and participation in recreation and leisure .

While distinctions of gender are fairly clear in examining the differences between males and females, despite the emergence of a transgendered community, a key difficulty in assessing the impact of race and ethnicity is the way these are defined. That's because of a growing multicultural society in the US, Europe, the UK and Canada, which are blurring traditional and ethnic distinctions. But, putting those difficulties aside, this article first discusses the influence of gender and then of race and ethnicity.

As Shaw points out, there are three main ways in which gender has influenced leisure – in terms of activity participation, the gendered nature of leisure constitutions, and through gendered outcomes of leisure. The activity approach has shown that a number of activities are stereotyped according to gender, and that there have been differences in "opportunities, experiences, and a time for leisure." For example, as can be readily observed by anyone who goes to a sports event or visits museums, art galleries, and public lectures, as confirmed by the research, there is a greater participation by men in "sports and physical activities" and by women In "arts and cultural activities." Then, too, there is a gendered nature to passive leisure, which affects the books, magazines, and film men and women read and view, as well as the hobbies and crafts they participate in. While Shaw notes that little research has examined these differences, these distinctions based on gender can already be seen in the way marketers target certain types of books, such as those on self-help and relationships to women, and those on sports and business to men . Similarly, films dealing with romance and relationships are targeted to women, and films featuring adventure and action to men.

Also, confirming what has been evident to the general public, in modern industrialized societies, men have generally had more time to participate in leisure activities, because of what sociologist Arlie Hochschild, who I studied with at UC Berkeley, calls the "second shift. " This is because working and married women have generally taken on most of the household and childcare chores at home, so they not only have participated in the paid work, but when they come home, they work again. Meanwhile, since they have been less engaged than women in the household, the men get to enjoy additional leisure time, thanks to their women partners.

However, these studies cited by Shaw about women having less leisure time were done in the 1980s and 1990s. In recent years, this distinction between the leisure time for men and women seems to be changing, according to the popular media, in that men are more importantly involved in splitting up the housework and parenting. This shift is even reflected in the popular media, where the men end up with the kids and learn to enjoy being dads, such as Once Fallen. At the same time, successful women workers are hiring nannies to do the housework and care for their kids and even hiring surrogates to birth them.

As for constraints, these differently affect the opportunities men and women have for leisure. For example, the 1980s and 1990s research cited has shown that women are more constrained than men because of household obligations and family commitments, and because they feel a social obligation due to the "ethic of care," where women may feel an obligation to care For others, so they feel less free to enjoy leisure for themselves. Then, too, women may feel constrained from participating in certain types of activities, because of their fear of violence (such as in boxing and wrestling) or their concern with their body image (such as in swimming), while men may resist participating in Activities that seem too feminine and threaten them masculinity (such as ballet).

When it comes to race and ethnicity, it is more complicated to measure either participation or constitutions, because of the problems in classifying people by race or ethnicity. These classification problems have occurred because of ethnic and racial diversity and multiculturalism, so the old census racial classifications are breaking down, as pointed out by Gramann and Allison. But those complications aside, much of the research has focused on the different ways that different ethnic and racial groups participate in outdoor recreation, and the results have indicated that Whites tend to participate more in these activities than minority group members. While one reason that many minority group members do not participate is due to their marginal position in society, wheree they have a lower income and can not afford to participate, have poor transportation, or fear discrimination, another factor may be cultural differences. Certainly, marginality could be a factor for those with limited incomes, when they have to pay substantial amounts to participate in leisure activities that are mostly participating in by Whites, such as going to dinners in expensive restaurants or paying entry fees for theater and other cultural Events.

But another key factor, apart from income and social class is that the members of racial and ethnic groups may have their own "culturally based value system, norms, and leisure socialization patterns," so they have different interests. An example of this can be seen in areas of ethnic concentration, such as Oakland, where there is a Chinatown in the downtown area, African-American areas in Western and East Oakland, and Latin-American areas in the Fruitvale district. In each area, there are different types of activities that appeal to those in the ethnic groups in the area, such as the dragon boat races of the Chinese, the Kwanza celebration of the African-Americans, and the Day of the Dead celebration of Mexican -Americans. Also, members of the different groups may like reading books and magazines as well as viewing films that feature their own racial or cultural group, whereas Whites are less likely to be interested in these culturally-based types of entertainment. As Gramann and Allison point out, such racially and ethnic based choices of leisure may occur because they are "expressions of culture" or they may be an indication of "selective acculturation". Then too, these culturally-based forms of leisure could be examples of "ethnic boundary maintenance," where individuals individuals chose to engage in certain activities to highlight their ethnic differences, such as when Native Americans have pow-wows around the country to celebrate their tribal Identities.

Financial Strategies For Troubled Firms

There are strategies that troubled companies can use to save themselves from dire straits and regain their former financial success. These same sort of strategies are valuable for business owners and financial executives to understand how their firms can avoid financial turbulence and failure.

We must first realize that business failure or bankruptcy never happens overnight. Normally there is a gradual trend of financial deterioration that is sometimes exacerbated by industry troubles. No doubt in the current 2009-2010 environment the auto industry is a poster child for a troubled industry, as an example.

Naturally firms that are on the very precipice of failure or bankruptcy do not have many options or time left. It has to fix itself, or sink. No business owners or entrepreneurs want to face bankruptcy, liquidation, and other creditor issues.

Do financially failing firms survive because of a revival in products or their services, or have they in fact executed on improved financial management. This is a challenging questions, because the very financial problems that beset a firm hinder it in getting new sales, acquiring inventory, and regaining supplier credibility.

Also, lets be realistic, banks and other finance companies do not throw themselves at failing firms with financial offers of loans, lines of credit, etc. In fact what usually happens is that the company is forced to pledge some or all assets at much higher rates, sometimes simply accentuating the financial problems that were already there.

So what are the financial strategies that a firm can undertake to avoid financial failure when it has been losing sales, not generating profits, and generally traveling down a potential death spiral?

There are three or four solid strategies that can save the firm. The first is ‘ assets ‘. The second is liabilities and debt, and the third we will simply call ‘ maneuverering ‘.

Strategy 1:

Assets have value. They can be sold, re financed,, or pledged to secure new financing. This type of strategy works best when it works for all parties, the company and the lender, or the company and another firm. However lets be clear that this is somewhat of a one shot strategy. It either must work or it doesn’t. Asset maneuvers have 3 stages of success: assets can be used to get a new loan, assets can be sold, or they can, in somewhat of a worst case scenario, be liquidated.

Strategy 2:

On the other side of assets on the balance sheet is debt and equity. Debt can be structured properly to ensure the lender gets a reasonable reward, and the company is able to both repay and survive. There are too many types of debt to consider for the purposes of this article – suffice to say that creativity in debt is somewhat unlimited. A firm could issue debt, as an example, and repay only when the company is earning profits again.This would normally entail higher rates, but again, as we have stated, the transaction has to make sense both for customer and lender. A solid alternative solution is to simply re – structure existing debt at new rates and amortizations.

Alternatively to debt a company with promise can bring in new equity or ownership. This is somewhat more risk for all as dilution of ownership is usually significant when a company is failing and bring in new equity capital.

Strategy 3: A firm sometimes has to look to the outside for help. Since the owners and managers are often too close to the problem it is somewhat of a classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees. Outside consultants and industry experts can often bring a solution to the table. They have insights that management simply did not possess. These strategies include developing new sales and product strategies, bring in new management, or considering a strategic merger.

In summary, anyone who has worked through several business cycles over a number of years knows that companies can in fact be saved. Some go on to be the new super stars of their respective industry. The company must clearly uncover what the problem is, and then adapt strategies, financial or otherwise, to fix those problems

No Junk Mail – Inbound Marketing

Everyone would agree that marketing to your target audience is an integral part of building your business. Sounds simple enough, but when it comes to online marketing, the avenues are endless. New web applications and concepts are constantly being developed, and with the Internet ever evolving, some can get a little muddled in their advertising efforts and go about their marketing the wrong way.

Firstly, there are two major types of marketing – inbound and outbound. These are most easily defined by inbound being 'permission' and outbound being 'interruption'. If you think about these two words, one has an obviously more generally positive connotation than the other, and in this lies the secret to successful online marketing – inbound marketing, that is, marketing that is done with some level of permission and is usually specific , Is what works when you're trying to reach out to that massive online audience at your fingertips.

Outbound is on the way out

Outbound marketing is that traditional form of advertising that we all grow up with and that still surrounds us today. In fact, this type of marketing to the masses is everywhere. We all know that we can not walk down the street, open a magazine or switch on the television without seeing it, but advertisements accost us on escalator hand rails, inside golf holes, in public toilet cubicles, even on grocery registers. Every space deemed seeable to the public is strewn with advertising – and so it is no wonder that we have learnt to turn a blind eye to much of it; Which here lies the problem with outbound marketing. Not only do people grow annoyed by interruptive advertising, you are also less likely to find that one fish that wants what you've got if you throw a line out into the ocean.

Get found by the people that are looking

So what exactly does inbound marketing entail? In a nutshell, it is getting yourself or your business 'found' by people that are already out there searching for what you're offering. Through the Internet, you have access to millions of people worldwide, so of course (with the right strategy) you'll be able to find the group that is hunting for you. Inbound marketing also involves giving those potential customers what they want, in order to attract them to your business and brand.

Using digital media online is the surest way of successful inbound marketing. Social networking sites are great, as you not only establish your brand and place within the community, but attract those that are interested in what you have to sell or offer. And once those people are a part of your network, they are most likely there to stay, as long as you keep on giving them what they wanted in the first place. Take Facebook, for example. As people like what they see and join your Facebook group, or become your 'friend', you have a ready-made relationship with consumers that want exactly what you have. Pizza Hut, for example, has more than one million fans on Facebook – not only a testament to others of their popularity, but that is one million consumers that have a very high chance of consuming (pardon the pun) whatever new things Pizza Hut offers . That's effective inbound marketing.

Two-way = double the results

It is generally accepted that people do not like one-way communication on the Internet. With collaborative communication one of its greatest attractions, the World Wide Web has boundless opportunities for businesses to connect directly and personally with their customers, or would-be customers. Inbound marketing makes use of this in its two-way communication. Involving the consumer means the consumer feels good, and that's what you want. That way, your customers stick with you. Nobody likes feeling as if they're just a number. Say you're walking along and see huge billboard. You may like what you see, but then you walk away and may very well forget what you saw. Compare this to an online medium such as a forum, where you see others talking about a particular product, see good reviews, read the company's notes – you're definitely more more likely to get involved and become a customer, right?

Love the one you're with

So the idea of ​​inbound marketing is that you are reaching those that want to be reached. You have a better chance of building up a solid and long lasting relationship with the customer, so that when it comes to marketing, they do not mind you 'interrupting' them every now and again with special offers and new products. You've been quite willing to accept a call in the middle of a night from your mum or brother, because you'd assume it was important and necessary. Not so much if you did not recognize the number, though. The same works for marketing – being familiar with a consumer through two-way, online communication mediums means that your 'call' will be answered.

Perhaps you need to take a look at your current marketing strategy and see if there is enough inbound marketing. Remember, inbound marketing not only invites the customer 'in', building that relationship, but you become a larger part of that person's online life, and extremely lead to more a higher conversion rate.