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Now it’s time to take everything we’ve been working on in this goal setting blog series and set a foundation for your continued progress. Without putting something on paper, your goals will easily become just another good idea that never comes to pass.

There’s a saying that goes: “When humans make plans God laughs.”   There is an element of truth to this. Often we make plans and, well, plans change. We need to remain flexible so that our plan can adjust to the the twist and turns of life, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make one. If you route your GPS to take you somewhere and a road block comes up, you just re-route. You don’t just avoid looking at the map all together! 

The 30-60-365 action plan is the tool we use to map our route to where we want to go. We start with our “big picture” goals that we wish to accomplish in one year (365 days). Then we work our way backwards to determine where we would need to be at a given time to be “on track” to reaching our goal. Notice, we only include a 30 and 60 day plan. The reason for this is that, predictably, plans change after about 60 days. By re-assessing our plans every 60 days, we give ourselves the commitment and accountability of a solid plan, but leave room for flexibility should life have something else in mind for us. 

Success is about creating a balance between commitment and flexibility.   In the worksheets that accompany this article that you will receive if you sign up to receive this blog, start by summarizing your dream—your larger, lifelong vision. This helps you remember why you’re doing all of this! Next, write down measurable goals that you wish to accomplish in the next year. Then, ask yourself what goals you would need to accomplish by the end of 60 days in order to be on track toward your year goal. From there, consider what goals need to be accomplished in 30 days, and finally, what needs to be done this week. Then, pick one to three actions that you can take RIGHT NOW.

Now that you have your roadmap, you’ll need to add a little more detail to your plan. Take a look at the 30 and 60 day portion of your goals and brainstorm as many of the tasks that will need to be accomplished in that 60 day timeframe. Come up with as many things as you can. Then, reorganize them into meaningful groups. Next, highlight or circle the items that are PRIORITIES—these are items that need to be done prior to working on other items. 

After assessing everything that must be done you’ll be even clearer what needs to be done in 30 days and what can wait until 60 days. Anything that seems farther off in the future than 60 days, make a not if there is any part of it that must be done sooner, and then take it off your list. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. 

One of the greatest tools and habits you can have is to commit to a weekly planning session. At the beginning of every week, or even on Sunday night, take a few minutes to determine what tasks you need to accomplish during the upcoming week to stay on track toward your goals. 

You will either need a notebook, a calendar, an online list, or a white board. Make a list of all of the tasks you can think of that you intend to do in the coming week. If items need to be completed on a specific day, note this. If items are priorities that absolutely must be completed this week, star or highlight them and focus on these first. 

As the week moves forward, it feels great to be able to cross items off the list. Keep them on your list, do not erase them. This helps keep you motivated by showing you what you've accomplished. Remember that sometimes life happens and not everything on your list for the week will happen. That's okay, simply move it forward to the next week! 

One of the biggest challenges that people find when working towards a goal is following through.   Accountability is a tool to help you keep commitments. It is about having a reason to push yourself to continuously be motivated so that you can meet your goals. You can find ways to hold yourself accountable by doing some of the things already discussed, such as having a Ta-Da List and setting deadlines. However, going at it alone can prove to be challenging. Having others to be accountable to keeps you on track and also helps you create the success you want.

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream you dream together is reality!” --John Lennon 
This does not mean that you have to go into business with someone to be successful. It does mean that you may need a network, or a couple of individuals, that can share your journey. It’s helpful to have an outside perspective from time to time, and it’s really helpful to have someone who know what you’ve decided to do and is there to follow up with you to see how you’re doing.

For example, when I first started this business I met a couple of other people that were on a similar journey as me. During that process we would share our experience with each other, including our progress, challenges, and intentions. I have got so much out of the collaborative piece, the group has served as a great support system and at the same time as an accountability group that helped me stay focused in the right direction and with the right frame of mind. Because of the support of like-minded individuals, we continued to move forward and maintained the belief system that anything that we could accomplish anything we wanted. 

Finding Accountability Partners 
Your accountability partners should be folks that can be counted on for encouragement and reinforcement of what you are trying to accomplish. These can be individuals that are friends, relatives, colleagues, or business acquaintances. These individuals do not necessarily have to be on the same path as you or share similar goals, but it does help to have at least one person that shares your interests and can better understand your challenges. You should think of at least three people that would be a good source of accountability, and make a commitment to share your goals with at least one of them regularly. 

Create a system where you can share your goals with your accountability partner and they can share theirs. The key is to meet or talk regularly. The purpose is to share your intentions and goals, and then because you know that someone is going to be asking you about how things are going on a certain date, it keeps you motivated to have something good to report back to them. You can share what you will be working on today, your weekly plan, or even your bigger vision. This does not mean that you have to talk to them every day, but you should at least have a weekly time that you discuss what is going on and what you plan on doing for that week. This can be done in person, by phone, or through email. Doing this will help you stay heading in the right direction. Some of these individuals may even turn into collaborative partners. 

A good example of an effective accountability partner is a workout partner. If your goal is to get in shape or work out and you’ve decided to exercise regularly, it’s a great idea to have workout partner to join you when you exercise. Then, on the days you may not be feeling motivated and feel the itch to bail out, your partner will be calling you asking “see you there at 5?” You can also play this role with them. If a physical partner is not a possibility, having someone who shares similar fitness goals whom you talk to on a pre-determined schedule will keep you going, knowing that on Wednesday you’ll be checking in with your accountability partner and you don’t want to report that you skipped aerobics class. This process works well for any goal.

Take Massive Action 
Many times when we are reaching for a goal or something new we are tempted to take a small step to get our feet wet. It’s a form of indecision. It’s almost as if we are preparing for it not to work out and so don’t really go for it so that we have an excuse to not truly commit. The reasons that small steps do not work is because they do not truly show us what is possible, they do not create enough momentum, and even if we fail they do not teach us enough to be able to do it differently the next time. In other words, if you are truly committed to your goals the best thing you can do is to take massive action to get the ball rolling. Taking massive action demonstrates to yourself that you have made the decision to be successful and are truly committed to achieving your dreams and desires. 

Two of the biggest lessons I have learned from my journey and from studying truly successful people are: 
Never leave the scene of a decision without taking action. 

Indecision is a form of self abuse. 

Make decisions quickly and then immediately take massive action in that direction. Don’t worry whether it’s the “perfect” decision or whether it’s the “right” direction. Taking action in any action in any direction get things moving. For example, if you got in your car and turned on the GPS, it may not initially lead you to the right direction if it does not recognize which way you are facing or if has not updated your location. However, as soon as your car starts moving it will get oriented and then tell you to go in the direction you need to go, even if it means turning around. The same thing happens when you take action in life. Getting started is the hardest part, but once you make a move—any move—it becomes easier to assess if you’re going the right way and what steps to take to correct your path. Whatever you do don’t get stuck in indecision. 
Ask yourself, “what can I do RIGHT NOW?” 

The perfect time to start is now! What can you do that makes you feel “invested”? This can mean investing in yourself and your goal financially, physically or mentally. Once you take a massive action, you feel more committed. For example, you can: invest into a program, buy equipment you may need, buy a book, start writing ideas, make a phone call, share your idea, do research and write what you find, or join a program. Think about it: if someone wants to lose weight or get fit they can think about it all they want or they can take immediate action by joining a gym right away, going for a walk, finding a workout partner, writing a schedule on their calendar, or doing all of these things. It’s vitally important to take the first step now. The bigger the initial action step, the better the results you will get long term. 

One common mistake that many people make is that they rarely asses their results. They take massive action and make a solid plan, but then they continue to take the same actions and follow their plan even when it’s not working. At that point, their effort is pointless. They need to assess what aspects of their strategy are working and make changes to both their plans and actions. 

If we take the time to asses the results of our strategies, we will be better able to adjust our actions, often finding that small tweaks create major changes in results. 

Every day, ask yourself, “what did I learn? What went right? What could have gone better?” The same thing can be done every week. Take a day to reflect on your goal strategy and assess what is not working, what is working, and what changes you can make. Then reassess again the next week. 

When working toward your dreams and goals, it’s important to stay focused on the OUTCOME without being attached to the means (the “how”) by which you get there. You want to be committed to your goal, but you also want to remain flexible. By assessing your progress and your strategies’ effectiveness, you stay heading toward your goals while adjusting and trying new paths along the way. There are dozens of ways to get there. Never give up, just try something new. When something’s not working, it’s not a reflection of you. But your willingness to acknowledge and address what needs changing says you’re committed to reaching your goals and you’re willing to do whatever it takes. 

Other posts in this Goal Setting Series include:
 
 
So far in this blog series you’ve already assessed what you really want. You’ve created a “vision”—a big picture, long-term vision of what you would ultimately like your existence to encompass—no limitations, just pure dream. But, sometimes this dream seems so far outside of your current reality that you can’t quite get yourself to believe it. Even after finding evidence that you can, in fact, achieve it, you still need to prove it to yourself by GETTING STARTED! It’s often that first step that’s the hardest part. The good news is that when the first step is onto a bridge to your dream, you can see right away that you will get there. 

We know this because we’ve experienced it. We’re really good at thinking big, without limitations, and really believing our dreams are ours for the taking. But, we’re so good at it that we find ourselves living in limbo—one foot here in the now and the other floating somewhere in the ether, trying to find firm ground in that dreamland in our minds. As you can imagine, this position can leave one quite unstable. 

So, the question is, “How can you take your dream out of the clouds and make it concrete?” as well as, “How can dreams be more believable and immediately attainable?” The solution is to break down your dream into more manageable chunks—separate tiers—creating a bridge between where you are and where you want to be.

Visions and dreams tend to be big-picture, long-term oriented. For them to feel attainable and for one not to get stuck “waiting” to enjoy life in the process, it’s important to build a bridge. The bridge consists of two parts, the beginning and the middle, where the “end” is your dream or goal. The first part is enjoying today. You “get on the bridge” by finding ways to make your life TODAY more like what you dream. The second part is getting prepared. This is where you work on YOURSELF along the journey to your dream so that you are who you need to be in order to be ready for living your dream. 

There is a worksheet available to assist you with this if you sign up to receive this blog.

Not all goals are created equal! Believe it or not there is a science to writing and creating your goals. Knowing how to create goals is one of the major differences between why some people are so effective in reaching their goals and why some are not. In fact, the “smart” goal principles have been popular for quite some time, first appearing in 1981 as presented by George Doran in a business journal. However, the principles behind “smart” goals can be found in books that are over a century old. Success leaves clues, and these goal setting principals have been proven successful. As you go through this section, take a look at your goals and make sure that they follow “smart” goal principles. If they do not, then make the necessary changes. 

SMART GOALS are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed. 

Specific: It is critical that your goals are as specific as possible. Many people set goals that are vague in nature and not precise. The problem with this is that it makes it hard to determine how to get to them and how to judge when we actually achieved them. For example, a statement like “I will be wealthy” or “I will lose weight” is too vague. Ask yourself, how will you know with certainty if and when you’ve reached your goal? In other words, you may reach your goals and still not know that you are there or you may find that you do not have the motivation because you really don’t know what you are striving for. Therefore, it would be in your best interest to have the goals say something specific like “I will lose 5 pounds in the next month” or “I will be making ten thousand dollars a month in a year.” At the end of the month or year it will be simple to take a look at your weight and look how much you are making and compare it to your goal. 

Measurable: As demonstrated in the above example, goals also need to be measurable. For example, if someone is going to school they may say, “I want to be more committed and involved in school,” but that may not be measurable. How would you be able to tell the goal has been reached? What is the criteria? This person could instead state clear objectives such as, “I will attend every class this month and study for an hour every day.” Another goal might be, “I will sign up for a student club or organization this week.” These goals are simple and concrete. Having goals that are measurable makes it easy for you to track your progress. 

Achievable: To build confidence your goals need to be reasonable and achievable. In other words, you do not want to set yourself up for failure, as it will not help you achieve your goals or stay motivated. For example, if a person is trying to write a book they may tell themselves, “I will start and finish the book in two weeks.” However, let’s say that the person has other responsibilities, such as a job, family, or life; is it reasonable for them to be able to write the whole book in two weeks? No. Especially if they’ve never considered all of the steps it takes. Instead, the person can take a look at their schedule, take all the steps required into account, and say, “I will write the outline for my book this week and dedicate two hours per day for the next two weeks. Then I will reassess my schedule and see how much more I have to go.” Again, it may be that the person finishes the book in two weeks because they get really inspired or ended up having more time that they initially anticipated. However, it is better to go above and beyond your goal than to make a goal that is not achievable and then have that demotivate you. 

Realistic: Another aspect of goals is that it needs to be realistic. With that said, we are big believers in thinking big and stretching reality. However, you do need to understand your capabilities and current abilities when you are making goals. For example, if your goal is to become a professional basketball player, and you're not currently playing on a team, never played a competitive sport, haven’t practiced very often and was not in the top tier of physical talent or ability, is your goal realistic? It is important to honestly evaluate yourself. Do you have the ability? Are you committed to making your goals a reality? Are you doing what it takes? Or can you adjust your goals to make them more realistic? Again, the point here is to build confidence and not set yourself up for failure. But, by all means, if you want to dream bigger and go for the “big time,” no matter what that is—then go for it! Just be sure you thoroughly understand everything it takes to be successful. 

Time Framed: One of the most important aspects of goals is to have a time frame. Having a set amount of time to achieve the goals gives the mind the structure that it needs to help you achieve them. For example, someone may want to change jobs, start school, or start their own business. However, if they truly look at it, they may find that they talk a lot about doing it, but never get anything done towards that goal because they have no time frame for it. For any goal to be effective it has to have a sense of urgency. Having a specific time frame gives you the motivation needed to get started and finish. For example, for a person that wants to go back to school, they may set a deadline for themselves to register for classes or for financial aid. A person looking to start a business may set a time frame for completing specific research, developing a business plan, and getting the business started. 

Remember, there are only two types of goals: the ones that we talk about but never do and the ones that we are truly committed to and will achieve. The difference between them is that the achievable ones are S.M.A.R.T. goals, while the other ones may just be a way of wasting time. 

Now take a look at your goals and ask yourself if they’re SMART! 

The importance of OUTCOMES 
When working on goals, there is a big difference between having a bunch of to-do’s and having a focus on outcomes. There are many people that stay busy, but are really not getting anywhere towards their goals. It’s like they have filled up their calendar but do not truly understand their direction or what is a priority. It reminds me of a hamster spinning their wheels and going around in circles. It’s not enough simply to do the motions—to make a list of tasks and chip away at it. Having a lot to do may make us feel busy and productive, but it can often be simply busy work and not productive towards our goals at all. What’s missing is an understanding of WHY you’re doing the task. 

What’s the OUTCOME you’re hoping to achieve? Simply a completed task is not the outcome. For example, if someone is in sales and tells themselves “I am going to make four phone calls a day this week” they may be able to make those four phone calls, but not actually achieve what they really wanted—which was to make two sales for the week. If the outcome is two sales a week, then that is his goal—and he’d probably need more than four phone calls. 

Here’s another example: someone is going to school and prepping for a test that has 20 words and definitions. They say their goal is to look over their words and definition every day for a week. However, that goal may not get them the outcome they’re looking for—an A on the test. It may serve them better if their goal is to memorize three words and definitions every day and review the ones that they learned the previous days so that by the end of the week they are guaranteed to know all the words. It may seem like a small change, but this small change can make the biggest difference on whether or not a person will achieve what they want. So, ask yourself are your goals focused on “busy work” or tasks, or are they goals that will help you create the outcomes you want?


Other posts in this Goal Setting Series include:
 
 
We all take the time to learn a new skill or trait, whether it is for work, school, or to pursue a hobby. We were not born knowing how to walk, tie our shoes, use words to communicate to each other, or ride a bike, but we are pretty good at those things today. So, how are those seemingly simple things different from the areas you want to work on changing now? They’re not. 

The process of change remains simple. First, recognize that there is something that you want to change. Second, recognize that you need to do something differently in order for it to change—such as practicing more—just like you did when learning to tie your shoe. Today you don’t have to put any thought into it. Your unconscious mind does the work. 

This is the way the mind works. When it learns and practices something new enough times, it develops implicit memory and the new behavior or response happens automatically. We won’t get into all the technical, psychological side of it here, but it is important to understand how your mind works, especially when you’re looking to make changes in your life. 

Here’s another example: have you ever driven home from work and spaced out, and when you finally got home you could not remember how you got from point A to point B?  What you experienced here was autopilot. This happens when your unconscious mind knows the way, releasing your conscious mind from having to pay close attention. This is happening all the time. Your unconscious mind quickly adapts to new, practiced thoughts, behaviors, and actions of all kinds. It’s why you brush your teeth in the same order every day (don’t you?). It’s why you can walk to the bathroom at night in the dark or with your eyes closed without bumping into anything. It’s why activities you do through your job or a sport you play are so easy—you’ve changed your mind by training it. 

All change eventually gets accommodated by your mind. Even scary changes will one day feel normal. What starts out feeling hard will slowly become habit, second nature. New ways of thinking and acting will eventually feel natural. 
And what does this mean? That change is only uncomfortable for a little while. Now, you just need to learn how to make it through that challenging period at the onset of change. You need to break the change cycle. 

Break Through the Change Cycle 
Nothing in life stands still. Science has shown us that the entire human body—every cell—completely regenerates itself within a span of about seven years. Brain scientists and psychologists have agreed that in each moment our brains are taking in new information and our minds are constantly assimilating this information into our neural network of thoughts, beliefs, and associations. 

You cannot have a new experience without it literally changing your mind, and life cannot exist without continuous growth and expansion. You are actually changing as you read these words. You are moving, growing, expanding, and changing. It is no secret that the world around you is constantly changing as well. 

We live in a time of unprecedented change, as technology expands our reach and capabilities and as global connectivity transforms our borders and cultures. There is no question: You are changing. The wonderful thing is that you have the power and ability to direct changes in your life. In fact, that’s what you’re reading this blog. Reaching for goals, by its very nature, means making changes. Even when you’re not actively working toward what you desire, what you feel, think, say, and believe about your life is constantly putting change into motion. 

You are creating your life as you go along, so you might as well create it intentionally. 

What determines your success or failure, and whether you direct your life’s change or feel like a victim of it, is a choice. YOU ARE AT A CHOICE POINT. You can choose to continue on with your life as you currently are living it, letting the external world and your past dictate what you experience, or you can choose to create your life to be everything that you dream.

Even if your gung-ho about transforming your life, there is an important obstacle you need to address in order to be successful. Most people find deliberate change to be a difficult process. Many well-intentioned people have changes they want to make in their lives and goals they want to reach, but they get stuck repeating the same “change cycle” over and over again. Below you’ll find this common cycle, and you’ll most likely find it to sound oddly familiar because most people experience this process of inspiration and resistance when they face a decision to change. 

1.  Discontent—You grow increasingly unhappy and discontent with an area of your life. You “hang in there,” tolerate, ignore, repress, or otherwise deal with the circumstance because it is comfortable and familiar, and you fear change. 


2. Breaking Point—Eventually your level of discontent builds high enough that you cannot take it anymore. You reach a “breaking point,” either through exhaustion or due to a dramatic event occurring that triggers the break. 

3. Decision—You decide you’re ready to change and declare that you will no longer tolerate the undesirable situation. You take the first step toward change, giving you a short-lived sense of hope. 

4. Fear—Usually, shortly (or immediately) after your feelings of empowerment, you encounter your fear. You become uncomfortable and anxious about the idea of changing. You doubt your decision. Both options look bleak. You feel helpless, empty. 

5. Amnesia—The fear of change grows strong enough that it makes the original situation look much better than you originally thought. You perceive the original situation as less anxiety-producing than the change. You’re used to it; it’s comfortable; it’s familiar. Plus, it has become part of your identity, so you resist letting it go. You temporarily forget why you wanted to change it so badly. 

6. Backtracking—Most people choose to go back to or stick with the item they wished to change. You essentially talk yourself out of changing. 

Inevitably, you soon will find yourself unhappy and discontent once again. Your level of pain will continue to increase until you reach another breaking point, this time even more extreme and more painful. This cycle will continue until one of two things happen: 

1. Extreme Pain: You have a breaking point that is severe enough to push through the change cycle. For many people, unfortunately, it takes an extreme circumstance to push them to evolve, such as major financial loss, job loss, loss of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, a severe accident, or a nervous breakdown. You see, your True Self knows what you truly want and will lead you to it. If you resist changing long enough, something will happen in your life that will put you in a position where you have NO CHOICE but to change. 

You do not need to wait until there’s a flood to move your home away from the shoreline. 

2. Self-Honesty: You have the humbling experience of realizing that there’s a part of you that doesn’t really want to change. You are comfortable with your habits, with what you know. You have a lot of fear that holds you back. You have many self-limiting beliefs. You receive some sort of benefit from staying where you are. You are unhappy because you want to be unhappy. You are addicted to the situation. You believe your pain is you; it’s your story. You can see your resistance to letting it go. Only after reaching this level of self-honesty can you truly choose to change.

Can you see how this change cycle has impacted your life? Are you ready for it to stop? Have you experienced change amnesia before? If so, you know that the more you move toward the changes you want the stronger your fear and resistance will become. Are you ready to swallow the pill of self-honesty, even if it is hard, because you are tired of being dissatisfied? Are you ready to take responsibility for your life and create the life you dream of having? Are you at the point where you will accept nothing less than what you truly want? 

Consider the following reasons you may have been allowing yourself to fall victim to this cycle: 

You don’t want to change. You don’t really want the thing you think you want. You may be trying to convince yourself to change to appease others or conform to what you believe you “should” do. If you don’t want to change, accept it. This is very common with people who say they want to quit smoking. They don’t really want to quit, they simply think they should quit. It never works. You have to want it. 

You don’t know what you want. You don’t know what you really want or you’re not allowing yourself to think about what you really want because you don’t think you can have it. So, you end up thinking you want things that aren’t what you TRULY want, and your True Self knows it. You’ll never feel inspired enough to follow through on change if it isn’t even what you want. Try imagining what you would want if time, money, and people did not limit you. 

Your dream isn’t big enough. The reward isn’t big enough. You aren’t excited. Happiness is excitement. Passion is what makes you willing to endure to attain a goal. What would you do anything to attain? 

You’re letting your fear be bigger than you. You don’t believe you can do it. You don’t trust yourself. You put everyone else before yourself. You’d rather tolerate severe pain than face temporary discomfort. Are you really willing to settle? Isn’t the fear of being stuck in a life you don’t want and missing out on your dreams more painful than the temporary experience of changing? 

You are attached to your problem. Your ego and identity are wrapped up in your problem, and you fear that if you let go of your problem you’ll have nothing to talk about. Who would you be? Would it be better? 

You’re benefiting from your problem. The benefit you’re receiving from not changing is bigger than your perceived benefit from changing. It gives you an excuse and something to talk about. It allows you to hide deeper issues from yourself and others. 

What are you holding onto? How does it benefit you to not change? Failure no longer has to be an option. Neither does doing nothing and staying stuck where you are. If you’re facing a potential change that’s nagging at you to be made, take some time in self reflection and be brutally honest with yourself. Is your desire for more, for fulfillment, for happiness finally strong enough that you are willing to encounter the obstacles and endure the fear? If so, congratulations, you will succeed—you are ready to break through!




There is a series of worksheet exercises and activities to help you embrace change that will be sent to you if you sign up for this blog at www.agri-marketingsolutions.com/thoughts.html.



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“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”  
-Henry Ford
Last week we discussed goal setting and deciding how to figure out what you really want.  Now in order to achieve your amazing goals you have to believe in yourself and your ability to achieve it.

When most people think about faith they tend to associate it with a religious believe. However, we neglect to think about faith as a belief in ourselves that is crucial for us to achieve our goals. 

Faith is the confident belief, loyalty, and trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing with strong conviction. 
Sometimes our goals seem improbable at best, if not impossible, because you just can’t wrap your mind around the idea that you can make this big thing happen.

If you’ve had a history that includes failure or disappointment, it is understandable that you may have doubts; however your past does not define your future. An important factor we must always keep in mind about faith in ourselves is that you don’t have to be 100% certain, you only have to have your faith overshadow your doubt. 

What if you could have a successful mindset even when you really don’t believe you can do what you want to do?

There is a series of worksheet exercises and activities to help you overcome doubt and have faith in yourself that will be sent to you if you sign up for this blog at www.agri-marketingsolutions.com/thoughts.html.

Many people that have gone from rags to riches will tell you that they had no idea how they would reach ultimate success, but they knew that if they just worked on their goal every day the right doors would open. In other words, you don’t need to see the other end of the tunnel; you just need to see the light that will guide you to the end. However, first you need to start building the tunnel! 

It is no secret that the things that we tell ourselves tend to create our reality. This self-talk is both internal and external. What we tell our self about our past, present, and future impacts our motivation because our beliefs can affect how we view our capabilities, what’s possible for us, and whether we feel we are worthy to have what we want. If we monitor our self-talk, as well as how we talk about ourselves to others, we can become aware of the beliefs that can be limiting. 

The trick is to be able to catch yourself in conversation (with yourself or others) and turn it around. A belief is just a thought you keep thinking, and so if we replace it with another, more empowering and motivating thought, every time we catch ourselves, eventually our belief will change as well. 

Think of it like a game and watch for opportunities to replace any negative belief with this new idea. What language is empowering to you? Find it and use it. Decide to choose attitudes, thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, opinions, judgments, and feelings that serve what you want to create. Research across the board has demonstrated that your viewpoint will affect your decisions and actions. Your attitude will determine what the outcome will be in your life. 

The power of belief can also be seen in one of my favorite books A Man’s Search for Meaning By Victor Frankle. This book described the experience of a psychologist who was in a concentration camp and his observation of the fact that a person's belief system about being in that camp determined how long the person could survive. He noticed that when a person lost hope they would quickly decay, but that a person with a great attitude could survive and thrive in these horrid conditions.

The content of your thoughts and beliefs exists mostly in our unconscious mind, beneath the awareness of your conscious mind. Think about your conscious mind as the captain of your ship and your unconscious mind as the crew. Even if the captain is not actively directing the crew, the crew is busy working. And what are they doing? Without the captain’s attention and focus, they’re on autopilot. They’re reacting to the world around them, listening to what the outside world tells them to do, and operating old, habituated thoughts and beliefs that direct your actions and ultimately create your life. It is important to take the helm of your ship and make sure your captain is directing its crew. 

A psychological term you may have heard is the “self fulfilling prophecy,” which tells us that we will end up creating exactly what we believe about ourselves because of our expectations. For example, if you continuously worry about an upcoming test in your life and imagine you will do poorly, you will do poorly because of the anxiety you produce and its interference with your cognitive functioning. At a scientific level, the command center of your brain, called the reticular activation system, ensures you’ll fulfill your prophecy by directing your focus toward what you expect. 

We are constantly surrounded by millions of stimuli at every moment. The reticular activation system limits your range of focus to a small number of stimuli—about 2,000 bits of information—to keep you from going crazy. By directing your reticular activation system to seek a solution by choosing to focus on something, you are directing your brain to focus those 2,000 bits on that specific request. What we think about, expect and focus on is what the reticular activation system will narrow our awareness onto. For example: Have you ever had a name of something you wanted to say, right there on the tip of your tongue, but could not remember, and then several hours later you are doing something else and the name suddenly comes to your mind? That happens because you had given a command, and your mind continued to look for the answer even though you were not aware of it, consciously. Or have you ever wanted or purchased a new tractor (for example) and then suddenly see that tractor everywhere? 

So, if the thoughts you’re thinking instruct your unconscious mind and your reticular activation system to be on the lookout, you want to choose your thoughts carefully. In fact, you want to stay focused on your goals, on the things you want in your life, on things that make you feel good. Why? Because you’re going to get what you focus on, whether you want that thing or not. If you focus on your failures, the things you don’t want, and things that make you feel bad, what will your reticular activation system be looking for? 

Don’t give up faith on yourself!  Rest assured that no matter what happens, you will be okay. Everything in your life has always worked out, fallen into place… eventually. Even when something bad has happened, you have survived it (you are here now, are you not?) and it has most likely lead to something good or helped you grow into the person you are now.  The parachute always opens.

Take this opportunity to remind yourself of the times your parachute has opened and prove to yourself that you have no reason to believe that it will not continue to do so! 

“Everything will be alright in the end, so if everything is not alright, it is not the end.” 
—The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
 
 
A wise rancher once told me, “A lot of people work hard in their business, but you have to work hard on your business as well.”

Working with clients recently, I’ve found that many farms, ranches or agri-businesses don’t have clear goals when they hire me, which makes my job much harder.  So I’ve decided to write this next blog series on goal setting for your business and life.

Without goals, your life will unfold by default. Your default will be to continue to experience the same old patterns and to allow the outside world—your family, friends and society—to influence your life path. Your business goals are the same and will only be effective if you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve, and how.

By not setting goals and allowing yourself to go for your vision, you give away your power. 

This blog series is designed to give you all the tools you need to set goals for yourself that inspire you and make your business fulfilling, to plan for success, and to follow through.  There is a series of worksheet exercises and activities that will be sent to you if you sign up for this blog at www.agri-marketingsolutions.com/thoughts.html.

Most of all, I hope it will help you know how to live life to the fullest and enjoy the journey. Achieving life goals isn’t about the achievement of the goal—getting there—it’s about the experience of reaching for the dream and becoming a better person along the way. 

This blog series will be organized into four sections, based on the 4 steps required for goal success, but may extend beyond four blog posts. 

4 Steps to Goal Success 
1- Decide What You Really Want 
When you ask most people what their goals are or what they want out of life, they often cannot answer. And when they do, the goals they say are often what others have influenced them to want. This course will help you determine what YOU really want out of life and for your business and how to make your goals achievable and inspirational. 

2- Believe You Can Achieve It 
Many people hold themselves back from the goals they really want because they believe they cannot have their true desires. Often people don’t reach their goals, or even try, out of fear of change or failure. Through this blog series, we will help you find evidence from your own life that you can believe in yourself and give you the confidence to know that you have everything you need to be successful. Anything you want is possible for you. 

3- Create a Concrete Plan for Success 
Even the most strongly desired goal cannot be achieved without a solid, actionable plan. Often, people get discouraged when goals are not reached or attempts lead to failure. This is most often because the goal wasn’t well thought through and an effective plan wasn’t made. This blog series will offer detailed, yet simple, strategies for planning a route toward your goal, while keeping you motivated and on track. 

4- Stay Committed and Motivated 
Even the best plan is ineffective if the person following it isn’t motivated. And, unfortunately, most people leave motivation to chance—waiting until the moment that they need to feel motivated and finding it’s not there. This blog series will help you prepare your mind state in advance so that your true desire and a big reason for reaching for your goals are strong enough to pull you through those times when doubt, discouragement or procrastination threaten to zap your motivation.

Identifying Your Goals 
Knowing what your goals are can be more challenging than you may think. Maybe this is why so many people don’t set them. You may have heard that most people don’t keep their New Years’ Resolutions, but did you know that most people don’t even make one? Less than half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. So, imagine how few people make goals the rest of the year, not many! A University of Scranton study found that, people who explicitly set goals are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t. 

A Staples National Small Business Survey found that more than 80 percent of the 300 small business owners surveyed said that they don't keep track of their business goals.  It also found that 77 percent have yet to achieve their vision for their business. 

Clearly only by establishing your goals will they be more achievable and effective.

The first step to achieving your goal is knowing what it is—so, what is your goal? What do you want out of life? What are your TRUE desires? I emphasize the word “true” because very often people’s goals are not their own, meaning they think they want what they want because they have been influenced by others. (You may also be interested in reading my other blog on this subject - Riding Into Your True Self)

Get Other People Out of Your Head 
Ask yourself, who do you allow to direct your life? Do you do what your parents or friends think you should do? Do you desire things because you saw them on TV? Do you limit yourself to what others will approve of? When’s the last time you asked yourself what YOU really want? If you are going to have any chance of accomplishing the goals you set for yourself, they absolutely MUST be YOURS. If you don’t even really want it, how do you expect to follow through when times get tough or the motivation’s not there? 

How Does It Feel? 
The most important thing to determine about your goal is how it makes you feel. Do you feel empowered by it or resistant? Does it feel exciting or burdensome? 

The reason this question matters so much is because if you really think about it everything that you have or will ever want in your life, everything, is because of the way you believe it will make you feel. Any goal or desire you have, don’t you want it because you believe you’ll feel better in the having of it? It will bring fulfillment, satisfaction, relief, pride, fun, a sense of accomplishment, freedom, joy? 

So, what is it for you? How do you want to feel? Sometimes considering this question helps you clarify that perhaps your goal isn’t what you thought. Or maybe it just isn’t specific enough. Perhaps there is more than one way to get what you want, which is to feel a certain way. 

Goal Setting 
So, now that you’ve considered the important questions regarding whether your goals are truly yours and the feeling behind the desire, it’s time to get your goals down on paper.   Writing your goals on paper is absolutely key. Not only do you then have a concrete object to return to in order to remind yourself of your goals and remain focused, you’ll also be sending a message to your unconscious mind that you mean business. 

It may be that you are entering into this process with a clearly defined goal already in mind. Or perhaps you’re only certainty is that you want to have goals and you need help identifying them.  But first, you want to make sure you are totally certain why you want to achieve these goals and are fully confident that you can achieve them.

Having a Big Enough Reason 
Right away it is important to get you to start thinking about what deeper motives are behind your goals. In order to succeed in life and achieve your goals, you need to know why you want what you want. And not only that, you have to have a big enough reason. If you're not motivated or haven’t followed through in the past, it may be because you need to DREAM BIGGER! You want your goals not to be just something you'd “like” to do... it's not a preference... it's not even a dream... it's a MUST! 

Always Ask the Greater Question 
I’m asking you to dig deep and make sure you have a true understanding of the real reasons you want to reach your goals. You’re not looking for the obvious or surface level reasons; push yourself to go deep!  Ask yourself why do you really want a particular goal?

Your Greater Purpose 
Your desires or goals are what you want; your purpose is why you want it. Some people feel purpose means that they have one ultimate, specific purpose, while others believe purpose means doing things for a greater cause or simply feeling passionate about what they’re doing. In either case, having a greater purpose behind what you’re doing will infuse everything you do with meaning. You find yourself getting excited, heated, or inspired when you think or talk about it. 

So, what ads purpose to your life? Perhaps you have a certain political, social, or religious belief that you care deeply about, or maybe you have a particular pastime or hobby that you do in which you find yourself in flow. There are also areas of your life that you may place a high value on, such as family, health, leisure, adventure, stability, or any other desire or need. Any of these things can be the greater purpose, the greater motivation behind what you do.

Achieving success can be challenging. It is your purpose and passion that will keep you motivated when you encounter fear or other obstacles that may get in your way. Having a greater purpose helps you commit to what you're doing, but it can’t just be because you want it, it has to be that you cannot have it any other way. That is what will get you through those moments when you face fear of what the economy’s doing or the environment around you or when you feel like the people in your life are standing in your way. Then it won't matter what’s happening around you, one way or another you’re going to get creative and you’re going to find a way to have the life that you want. 

Creating a Vision 
After looking at the greater purpose behind your goals, take some time to see and feel yourself living your dream. In the vision worksheet there is a short activity where you can take what you've put together and write a vision statement that really captures and helps you visualize the end goal you have motivating what you are doing. 

By setting your goals, you are ten times more likely to achieve them and you are well on your way to successfully achieving them!  Next week we will discuss believing you can achieve your goals.

Now it’s your turn did you find this post and the worksheets helpful?  What are your big goals?  Sharing your goals can inspire others!

You might also like to read:
“The future isn’t a far-off point, instead it arrives in daily doses that must be noticed and understood.”
~ Unknown
 
 
Once your phone’s pound sign, hashtags are now are the most popular way to categorize content on social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest, allowing your content to reach a larger audience and making it easy for you to find relevant content from other people and businesses. Hashtags allow you to connect with and engage other social media users based on a common theme or interest.

Hashtags make your posts more searchable, and easier for others to find.  Anyone will be able to find what you wrote by searching for the hashtag that you’ve used in your posts. On most social networks, you can both search for a hashtag, or click on one in a post to find all of the posts that have been marked with that particular hashtag.

Knowing how to use hashtags is fundamental to your success on social media. Here are a few suggestions to help you achieve that success.

Be specific when using hashtags
Hone in on passionate communities that shares an interest in one specific theme. The more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be—and a targeted audience generally means better engagement. Find one or two existing hashtags that really fit your photo, post, or tweet. Twitter has created this helpful infographic to help you choose the right hashtag.

Cater your hashtags to the social network you’re using
While hashtags on all social networks have the same fundamental purpose, the use of them still varies by network. For example, Instagram hashtags, are focused on the description of the photo. On Twitter, hashtags tend to be more focused a topic, or a group of people that you would like to engage.

Research your hashtags
It’s always a good idea to do some research to find out about the established hashtags on the topic of your tweet, Facebook update, or Instagram post. Chances are good that a social network’s community has already created a hashtag for the topic you’re posting about, and especially if you want to use a hashtag to get more people to see your post, it’s important to make sure that you’re using a hashtag that many users know or follow already.  The extra time you invest in research will pay off in engagement down the road.  Most networks will have guides for hashtag use and selection.

If you are a business come up with relevant, unbranded hashtags for your business
They don’t have to mention your business name, but should represent what your business stands for.  For example, a cattle feedyard may use the hashtag #wellfeed, with photos of their feedlot. Encourage followers to share their own photos using the same hashtag, which can start a growing movement to promote your brand. 

Hashtags shouldn’t be too long or too clever
In general, try to keep it short and sweet. Hashtags are supposed to make things easier to find and engage with, but long, complicated hashtags can actually be more arduous. Being too clever or offbeat will make your hashtag harder to search for and you want people to naturally search for your tag. 

Don’t use too many hashtags
Many consider it a hashtag “best practice” to never use more than two hashtags in a tweet or a Facebook update, since using too many hashtags may annoy or confuse your friends or followers.  On Instagram you can use up to 30 hashtags, but still be specific so your message isn’t diluted or comes off as being desperate for likes.

Don’t hashtag everything
Hashtags serve to make your content discoverable to a wide audience. If your Tweet, post or comment isn’t adding any substance to the wider conversation, you might want to consider leaving the hashtag off. For example, if you simply share an industry news update, leave the hashtag off of it. If you write a blog post that analyzes the impact of that news, then absolutely use a hashtag when you share it.

Using hashtags will allow you to make an impression on a wide social media audience. Make sure you’re sharing the best content, and making the right impression.

Just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s how you sound if you’re using hashtags the wrong way (I apologize in advance for the rude word at the end of this video):
 
 
Last week we discussed how to develop an awesome social media strategy for video.  As with all marketing it’s important for us to know if our efforts are worthwhile, or if we are beating our heads against a wall.  When it comes to video, what does "success" really mean? And what statistics should you be keeping tabs on to determine the performance of a video?

Beyond the number of views your video receives there's actually a lot more to be considered. Getting 50k views is great, but what did it really do for your business?  We will discuss several statistics that will help you find the true value of video marketing. 

Each social media platform can give you several pieces of valuable analytical information.  They can tell you how many people your video reached, how many views, and how your video rated among other types of posts.  This information is valuable in determining if your video is the right content for you audience.  You can also compare which video topics your audience likes best by looking at the engagement of your video.

Video Views
Obviously this is a pretty straight forward explanation here - video views are the number of people that click play.

Why It Matters
If you have a video on your website that contains an amazing message, but no one actually clicks play, no one will know that your business is super awesome. 

How to Improve Your Video Views on Your Website
There are several placement considerations of your video on your website including thumbnail selection, size, and where the video is placed that can affect your play rate. Experiment with different variations.  As a general rule of thumb, always use thumbnails with human beings in the picture, 400 pixels x 600 pixels is the ideal size of videos without overwhelming your web page, and placement of the video closer to the top of the page will help increase views.  You may also need to improve your video title or description.

Across all of your social media platforms, you will want to measure views over time, to help you determine the lifetime of your videos.  You may find that videos need to be refreshed every few weeks or months to stay relevant to your audience.

Audience Retention and Repeat Views
Do viewers watch all of your video, or do they leave before watching it in it’s entirety?  What percent of your video was actually watched?

Why It Matters
Research has shown that viewers who watched a video in it’s entirety are more likely to purchase the product featured in the video, and the higher the number of repeat views, the more engaged your video viewers are.  This makes audience retention and repeat views actually more important than video views.

How to Improve Audience Retention
There are several reasons why your visitors might not be watching the entirety of your video. First try making your video shorter.  Watch your video and see what’s going on in the video when most people stop watching it.

Also by paying attention to which portions of the video were re-watched, tells you which sections of the video are most interesting to potential clients.  People who re-watch your video are that much closer to being your next client.

Engagement Rate
Engagement rate tells you how interested your audience is in your company, message, as well as, how compelling your video is. To calculate take the number of views, and divide it by the total reach of your video.  Also break down your total engagement by likes, comments, and shares, to get a clear view of what works well for video content and what doesn’t.  Which will be valuable in helping you determine future video marketing strategies.

Why It Matters
Think about the last time you made a big purchase.  Did you do any research about the product before purchasing?
Did you read online reviews, or ask your friends, and co-workers.

When making a purchasing decision, 92% of consumers value recommendations from friends and family, over all other forms of advertising.  

Social media shares serve as the equivalent to a recommendation. Each time your video is shared, you've gotten a positive endorsement for your brand or product. 

How to Improve Video Social Sharing
Make sure your video is sharable by ensuring that the social share buttons are highly visible and easily accessible.  Also, don’t forget to ask your friends and fans to share your video if they find it valuable.  Use hashtags (which will be our topic of discussion next week) to reach a larger audience.  In your post or in your video, prompt viewers with a discussion question.

See Agri-Marketing Solutions previous blog post on creating engagement.

Conversion Rate
Whether it's subscribing to your video updates, liking or following your social media page, or calling your business to get more information, conversion rate refers to the percentage of people that follow through on your videos intended action. 

Why It Matters
Conversion rates are what drives real business. 

To prove the effectiveness of your video, it's important to keep track of the number of leads each video generates. With this information, you'll can tailor your future video format or content to help drive sales.

How to Improve Conversion Rate
Make sure you are including a clear and compelling call to action at the end of your video!  Make sure that your call to action is relevant to your video.  For example, if your video is about your stallion, maybe offer a discounted stud fee for those who follow the link from your video to your website.  Keep it simple, get to the point quickly, and use action verbs in your call to action like - start, stop, build, join, learn and discover.

Using video as part of your marketing strategy is not a one time, done deal.  As with all of your marketing efforts it is something to consistently measure and iterating on your ideas, formats, and promotional efforts, in order to get the most out of your campaigns.

We would love to hear how you measure your marketing efforts!  What have you found to be the most effective methods in measuring your marketing success?
 
 
Before you start sharing videos on social media platforms, you should have a plan that helps you achieve your marketing goals.  For example, if your goal is to get more people to download an ebook, you could create a short teaser or how-to video and post the full link to your website landing page.  

It is also important to understand what works best for each platform so that you can build a strategy for each.  Different social platforms come with different marketing strategies.

YouTube
YouTube is huge and the second largest search engine, after Google, which means it’s a great place to be if you want to expand your business ratings in search engines. It is also a great place to build an audience and establish yourself as an expert in your field, which can ultimately lead to increased traffic to your website.

What’s important to remember is that, on YouTube, viewers don’t want to watch ads, they want to watch videos that are useful to them. For this reason, creating a series of How-To videos and otherwise educational videos around your business can be a great way to attract new viewers.  It is also a great place for community development-focused videos like Q&As, contests and giveaways.  The key to building an audience is creating regularly scheduled videos to keep viewers coming back.

Vimeo
Vimeo’s audience requires high-quality videos that are edited and well-produced. The goal is to create video that impresses rather than to show off your skill with a webcam.  Vimeo screams professionalism in the same way that LinkedIn does. If you want to show your business off to people who pay attention to good film production, engage audiences on Vimeo.

Facebook
Facebook is the ideal platform for reaching and engaging with clients and encouraging them to share your content with their friends to help spread the word about your business. Because of the fact that video auto-plays in Facebook’s News Feed, it’s a great way to stand out and grab the attention of your fans as they scroll through recent updates. Additionally, it provides a great opportunity to show off your personality through behind-the-scenes looks into your business.  Facebook now also offers live videos are real-time video posts on Facebook.

Twitter
Twitter is the go-to social network for conversations, and video is a great tool for getting the conversation started. The most popular video hosting platforms, including YouTube, Vimeo, Vine and Animoto, will play directly in the Twitter feed. 

Because of the “right now” nature of tweets, Twitter is a great place for sharing current updates, which means that videos of events and special promos work great here.  Make use of the @ replies and # hashtags to bring your tweets to the attention of influencers and communities for increased engagement.

Vine
If you can keep your video to six seconds, you can upload it to Vine.  Vine is an app owned by Twitter.  Some of the best ways to utilize a Vine video is to show off behind the scene work area or features of any upcoming product that you are planning to launch or maybe giving your audience a sneak peek into an upcoming event.

Instagram
Instagram has a 15 second non-looping video service. It serves as a better advantage over Vine since, Instagram comes with editing capabilities and other features that help you share your posts across different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, etc.  

Instagram works best by using visual media for telling a compelling story about your business. It offers a unique platform to showcase your culture and people in addition to your products and services. The mobile nature of the app lends itself to quickly capturing moments, giving followers a chance to interact with your business in a way that can feel more casual and instantaneous than on other networks.  It is a great place to share company news.

Google+ 
Google Plus is similar to Facebook, but owned by Google, which owns YouTube, so the integration is seamless. You can either upload your own video or link to a YouTube video and it will be embedded right alongside your text.  Google Plus is a great place to network strategically within your circles of interest.  Don’t forget to use #hashtags here as well.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network online, with over 347 million members around the globe. It’s the ideal spot for business to business companies to reach professionals in their industries. Videos can be a nice, authentic way to share company updates, bring life to events and establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Snapchat 
Snapchat is growing by leaps and bounds with now more than two billion video views a day.  It’s also one of the only platforms in which you can draw creative on top of the video, making for some awesome Snapchat exclusive artists.  Most importantly, videos have a maximum life of twenty four hours, or less if the users choose to make it so. The urgency to see something before it disappears can be a huge factor. People respond to that urgency.  Gear videos to teens and young adults. It’s one of their main forms of communication.

We would love to hear what strategies you have used to share video on social media?  Stay tuned next week we will discuss how to measure your social media success.
 
 
There’s no doubt that videos are everywhere these days. Even the most seemingly uninteresting subject has a video.  With today’s technology, creating professional video is actually easier than you think.

If you are an Apple disciple like I am you can easily do it all on your Apple device.  The newest versions of the MacBook, iPad, and iPhone have a built in movie making app called iMovie where you can film 1080p, HD-quality videos and edit them.

I also use my DSLR cameras to film videos with both my Nikkon D5100 and my Cannon EOS Rebel.

There is nothing more distracting than a shaky video so before you start filming make sure you have a method of holding your iPhone, iPad, camera, or other smart phone steady.

I use a standard tripod that can be used with both of my cameras and if filming on my iPad I use a Makayama’s tripod mount.  You can also purchase tripod ready attachments for your iPhone or other smart phone.

Next your video needs great audio.  Viewers will watch a video even if the production isn’t great, as long as the video is interesting and they can hear the audio clearly. 

Don’t rely on the built in microphones on your devices, especially when filming outside or in noisy locations.  Living here in South Dakota the wind seems to blow constantly and can be very distracting on video.

Invest in a high-quality microphone that you can plug into your computer, phone, or iPad.  There are many options out there and your best bet is to do as much research as possible.  I use a lapel mic that I wish I would have done more research on and I also use my Sony digital recorder that I also use for magazine interviews.  I have also used another iPhone directly above my subject’s head and created a simple voice memo.

If you are filming indoors, create a space that will give you control over the lighting and noise to prevent creating a distracting film.  

Set up a dark solid colored backdrop with seamless paper from a photography supply store or with fabric.  Light colors can lead to nasty glare and reflections.

Filming with overhead lights can create nasty shadows on your subject’s face. You don’t need anything fancy.  I use the heat lamps we also use to keep newborn farm animals warm in the spring with a soft white 60 watt bulb or a flood light if I need more intensity.  I have also used our shop work lamps, but they tend to be very intense and often have to be pointed to a wall to let the light bounce off of.  Both of these can be purchased at your local hardware store.  Caution, they both can also get very hot.

The same principle applies to filming outside avoid filming at noon when the sun is directly overhead.  Early morning or evening is usually the best times, two to three hours after sunrise or before sunset.  A cloudy day is also good because the light is diffused as it comes through the clouds.

When filming inside control the sound by shooting in a room that has furniture in it to avoid your film sounding like you shot it in a tin can.  You can also deaden the room by hanging blankets on the wall.  Also, make sure you turn off the ventilation system in the room your filming in.

Now it’s time to create your video.  This is assuming you have developed a plan for your film, including - a purpose, a theme, and a target audience.  Otherwise, you risk wasting time and effort into something that could have been a successful online venture.  

It is well worth your time to do a little investigating. Thousands of videos are uploaded every day – and that’s only on YouTube. You want to stand out above the noise. So the first thing you need to do is research. What videos are your followers interested in? What have they watched recently? What kinds of videos are your competitors making? Spend a bit of time to get inspiration from what’s already working well.

Most videos that make it big contain real elements taken from everyday life. Tiny struggles, funny moments, valuable glimpses – these make content easy to relate to. The most effective way to make videos go viral is to add a human touch.  Make it entertaining, witty, emotional, informative, or insightful.  The trick is to create a video that can stand alone, but also hooks your viewer, investing them in your larger story.

Write out a script, which will keep your film production process organized and your message clear and concise.  Keep your focus narrow, covering too much information can be overwhelming for both you and the viewer.  Make sure you read your script out loud and rephrase anything that sounds awkward or doesn’t flow nicely.  Make sure to end your videos with a call-to-action and an opportunity to create conversation.

While shooting your footage, remember that we live in a widescreen world.  Don’t shoot vertical video with your phone or iPad, the film will look bad on your website, television, computer and your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Also, avoid using the iPhone’s built in camera zoom.  Your phone doesn’t zoom optically it only enlarges the picture digitally and will pixelate your video.  Your phone will automatically focus and expose your shot, which is great for photos but can complicate video quality and creating jittery footage.  To prevent this, use your phones exposure focus lock.

When filming with your phone or iPad remember that you are filming with a fixed lens.  In order to get a wider shot indoors or in a small space you will need to purchase a clip-on lens adapter.  There are several models available in a wide variety of price ranges.  Again, I would suggest you do your research.

There’s no need to worry when it comes to editing, there are plenty of free resources online.  If you are not using Apple devices you can edit your videos online on YouTube, WeVideo, Loopster, Magisto, PowToon, Wideo, Weavly, Kaltura, Mixmoov, Shotdip, or Video Toolbox.

Editing is what makes a video look professional. Standard streaming capabilities are such now that video for social can have exceptional production value. 

There are many apps available to edit video on your iPhone, but editing it on your computer will give you more professional results.

If you are using iMovie, plug your phone or iPad into your computer and drop your footage into iMovie.  You can easily add music or other special effects.

It can get tedious for viewers to watch the same static shot of you or someone else standing in front of the camera and talking. You can add stock video or images to help break up the monotony of the video, illustrate a point or create a memorable scene. Websites like Video Blocks and Shutterstock can help you create those types of effects.  Pricing can get expensive, so make sure you shop around multiple stock video sites for the best rates and options.

I also personally use Adobe Premiere Pro to edit videos which is also very user friendly.  

The product suggestions in this article are based on my personal experience. I’m not affiliated with any of these brands or products, and I’m not officially endorsing or suggesting you should purchase them over something else.

Your video length is incredibly important. When focusing on social media, “long” means anything over 15 seconds.  Videos longer than that can’t make it onto Instagram, Vine or Snapchat in their entirety. Don’t get carried away, however. Remember, the definition of long in this case is “greater than 15 seconds.” Best practices still dictate to keep video content as short as possible. 

Use YouTube or Vimeo for longer videos including short films, documentaries, and tutorials. On average, videos spanning three to ten minutes are best because they can be comfortably viewed on mobile or desktop devices.

Social media networks including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest require shorter videos.  Keep videos somewhere between six seconds to two minutes for maximum effectiveness (do take note of the different time limits for these social media platforms).

In my opinion making shorter videos are, in fact, more challenging thanks to time constraints. This is where creativity and resourcefulness play a huge role.

Don’t forget that on social media, sharing is everything.  Professional, strategic, on-brand content is only as good as its reach.  Your video is only valuable if people see it and share it. Make your video content shareable by adding links to post your content to viewers’ networks. More importantly, craft content that is innately shareable.

Anticipate questions that your users/followers will have, and create content that answers them. Identify trending topics relevant to your industry, and publish content that puts your voice in charge of the conversation. Encourage your viewers to interact with your content and even participate in the creative process.

What do you think?  Have you used video to humanize and market yourself or your business?  Are there other video related tools, tips, or tricks not mentioned here that you can’t live without?  If so, please share in the comments!

Next week we will discuss how to create and implement a video social media strategy.

 
 
Most elements of communication have moved in the digital direction. Video creation is no longer the complicated process it once was and offers big benefits in marketing your business.

The statistics don’t lie.  YouTube receives more than 4 billion views every day.  In addition, 78% of people watch videos every week, 55% of people watch videos online everyday.  Social media posts with videos in them boost view by 48%, and visual content on Facebook specifically increases engagement by 65%.  More than 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute.  This means more people seeing your content and going to your website just by adding a video.

All major search engines give a lot of value to videos.  Your video will rank higher every time than an article on the same subject.  YouTube is also the second largest search engine next to Google.

Here are some easy to implement tips for your business to integrate video into your marketing strategies:
  1. Potential customers or employees are going to go to your website to find out more information about you.  Often, websites undervalue their most important online real estate, as well as the time of those who visit their website, by having websites that are too wordy.  Tell your story by creating a short one to two minute video to explain who you are, what you do and why your business matters to your clients to put on your homepage of your website.  Video often can explain what your company does in a clear, concise and personable format, setting the perfect foundation for lengthier in-person conversations.
  2. E-mails with a video have a 53% higher click to open rate.  Even a 30 second video shot from your mobile phone can make a huge impact on getting people to read your e-mails.
  3. Use a video  posted on social media to promote your blog, e-book, white paper, or other content you’ve created.  Create a video that is not just promotional but also educational.
  4. Live stream events, podcasts, or start discussions.  Share thoughts you have about developments in your industry and get immediate feedback from you social media audience.
  5. Create video interviews or web series.  You might interview an expert or thought leader in your industry.  Or create a regular series in which your company answers frequently asked questions.  You can even syndicate the audio on iTunes and use the video on your blog reaching more people in multiple formats.
  6. A video review of your products can show things to the viewer that simply cannot be conveyed in writing.
  7. Use videos to guide your website visitors to different sections of you website making the experience similar to visiting an actual store. 



Video can turn heads and is a key component that shouldn’t be ignored.  Now, take these tips and apply them to your own business, considering how you might utilize video geared toward your specific market. Use video to breathe life into your products. Try something new. Have fun. Explore.  If you would like some assistance in starting your video marketing campaign, then consider putting Agri-Marketing Solutions to work for you.  Below you will see a video we produced for Plus One Manufacturing.

We would love to hear from you!  How have you used video to promote your business?

Stay tuned next week for how to easily create videos to market your business.

 

    Author Jennifer Archibald

    Reflections of life and lessons learned in the fields of marketing and agriculture.  A place to shout from the roof tops our clients success and keep you up to date on industry trends.

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