Is Everyone in Showbiz?

It’s funny when you think of the archetypical story of people who wanted to be in movies, TV, or radio. They had to pay their dues to reach that dream. But it seems anyone can make that dream come true now. All that’s needed is a video camera, a little time and gumption, and an Internet connection. Anyone can be a star.

Does this mean anyone who is enabled with the digital tools is his own star, agent, and promoter? Is this showbiz’s new triple threat?

This may mean nothing to a business trying to make the most effective use of the Web. Then again, it might mean a lot. Especially when you consider you can be any size and use this growing cauldron of ideas to get a marketing message across to the public.

Think of the barriers of the producing your own video content to sell your product. There really aren’t any. So why don’t more SMBs (define) get in on advertising content and start shucking their wares?

Because they limit themselves.

Our process-driven, interdependent business system doesn’t run well on one engine. Yes, every once in a while the CEO has to drive the delivery truck, but that’s not an efficient way to do things. You may say Richard Branson is a best exception to this rule, but he’s a well-supported self-promoter and he’s already rich enough to take a chance.

There’s a lesson in that example. The challenge is in having a great idea in the first place, then having the courage to make it into something people can understand. Try testing your approach by emulating someone else’s advertising. See if it works for you.

And don’t limit it to advertising in the common sense of the word. You can make a corporate business-to-business (B2B) video or a consumer-facing product demonstration. There’s no limit to what a few talented people can make that’s unique and so remarkable you’d love to see it and share it again and again.

But at what cost? For one, you could make a fool of yourself. And maybe you get a lot of video plays but don’t sell a thing. Look at it one way, you’ve made a laughingstock of yourself to millions and without a dime to show for it.

But look at it another way, and a failure isn’t your “Gong Show” moment. In fact, it can be something to use repeatedly. You really didn’t spend that much to find out if you could do it, so think of it as an advertising genius test.

There are many ways to slice it. Thinking about online advertising’s newest wunderkind, self-generated video? Don’t go into it thinking you’ll outdo Ridley Scott or win a Cannes Lion for your efforts. Set the bar low and learn as you go.

Brandishing the large, ugly sword of online can cause a lot of indirect damage. And if you’re really trying to measure success, video isn’t a robust measurement medium. Play, repeat play, audio off, and close window elements can’t tell you as much as a Flash ad unit can.

In the end, you may choose to follow traditional, safer, measurable forms of advertising and learn something. Taking a chance with a homemade video spot posted to the Web may seem uncomfortable today, but that chance is only a perception. In time, for most online advertisers with the right digital tools, it will be a reality.

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