SWOT analysis

Well… so much for daily blogging. In any case things have been moving along and it’s so easy to fall into traps. One of the things I haven’t done with my latest project is a detailed and strategic business plan including a SWOT analysis. I’ve always been a big fan of SWOT – it’s basic, simple and clearly defines the scope of the business.

So many biz plans that I’ve seen focus on financials and research that bores the heck out of me. It’s hard to forecast sales for a business idea that has little to no history. A disruptive idea is blazing new trails. Some of the past can be included but for the most part creating new concepts and putting them into action requires a different set of skills and a different view of the world than just starting a business in an existing space.

What I like about SWOT is the process in thinking about the various items in the quadrant. The outcomes are easy to carry around in my head and can be used to make decisions on a daily basis. I like it alot and it when used in previous ventures it has proven to be reasonably accurate and powerful. So… with that in mind I need to sit down and create a SWOT and use that as the first step in formalizing my biz plan or something like it.


A new name for something that I’ve been doing for years

No, not that…but this…

Brand Journalism or Content Marketing . . .

Over the past few days I’ve heard the term ‘Brand Journalism’ at two different meetings. That’s good. For me at least. We’ve been practitioners of the fundamental tasks supporting Brand Journalism and Content Marketing for many years now. We haven’t called it that but that’s what we have been doing in some form or another. For one client back in 2008 it was almost pure play ‘brand journalism’.

Our client was an IT services and hardware company serving the B2B market. They operated out of three locations and though each office had their specialties to meet the local market needs they serviced businesses in the region. Their website was needing some attention and I was called in to assist in creating some content for the site. Instead of re-writing all the sales pitches on the site I took a different approach. Once a week I scoured the internet for news on tech products and the industry in general related to what my client offered to the market. Based on this research I would write articles which my client would use to help establish themselves as a thought leader in the industry and educate their clients with the latest in IT for business. The articles ranged from 250 to 500 words so they could be consumed quickly and even inserted into email newsletters. This was a weekly activity over a period of a few months. What was the outcome?¬†Feedback from my client’s customers was positive. They appreciated being informed about the IT business without being bored over overwhelmed with geek-speek.

How does that fit into Olds Community TV? Certainly we fit into brand journalism in a broader definition of the term. Our objectives are to tell the stories of our community without bias or point of view. As much as we can. Am I a journalist? A little bit. But I see myself as more of a documentor or recorder of the events around me. The story tells itself or at least is told by the people in the video segment. I like to give them an opportunity to tell their own story and they usually do.

BTW: the pc has come back from the shop and blue-screened overnight. Back to the shop. Maybe I’ll run the channel off of my laptop? What ever it takes.

Share and share alike

Thanks to Doug Wagstaff from the Town of Olds who dropped me an email asking for permission to post a video on their website. Since Olds Community TV is all about the community and high-lighting what goes on in the community, I said yes and also thanked him for doing this. The video was an event we covered in Olds regarding the Uptowne Olds Area Redevelopment Plan which has been many years in the making. Here’s the video:

Not only does this get us little more exposure by broadening the reach of OCTV it also indicates that there is some value to the work we do from someone’s perspective which helps affirm what we are doing. Cool!

Time to head off to a meeting regarding another community project we are working on – soon to be announced and video released.

Got the itch to create content

Creating content is what I do. Starting up the Olds Community TV project requires me to do a few different things. Right now I’m still struggling with a cranky PC. Meetings related to OCTV and other business activities and non-profit committees get added into the mix as well. Creating content, whether it’s audio video or copy, is what I live for. It’s my crack and I’m addicted to it. I do have an event coming up this weekend and there is an audio show that needs post-production so it’s not that I don’t have content to satisfy my need. But other things are taking priority right now.

Had a good meeting this morning. Many minds are thinking alike… we just need to decide what to do next.

Entrepreneurs in Olds and area – video profile project

Now that some of the issues have settled down (23 hours without a server crash) I’m thinking about content. While reading through twitter feeds I came across an interesting story from a local business owner. A young entrepreneur who shared her story about the how, why and what of her business. It made for interesting reading and gave me an idea of profiling her (if she is interested) from the perspective of a young entrepreneur. What struck me about her situation was that she is going through the challenges all new businesses face but there was a mission behind her operation that involved more than just making money. That was the emotional hook that caught my attention. Then in thinking it through a little further it occurred to me that a small series of profiles featuring other young entrepreneurs in the area would be worth pursuing.

Why spend time on something that wouldn’t generate a direct revenue stream for OCTV? Well… we are at an early stage of our business and need to prove that we know what we are doing. We want to tell the stories about people in our community and that includes all facets – non-profits and business would fit well. By doing it pro bono we can develop some traction and let them promote our brand while using the video to promote their brand. Free samples work but we need to ensure that we don’t give away the entire inventory.

By featuring these young entrepreneurs in our community we plan to go beyond promoting their business and feed into the economic development in the region. Our goal would be to show that Olds has a thriving business environment that can offer opportunities to new and young entrepreneurs. I’m thinking of a few other businesses that I know of who would fit into our model for the series but will also reach out to some folks in the community who would know of others. For instance: the Executive Manager of OI, the Chamber of Commerce and Olds College.

Can hardly wait to get started on this but still need to do a few other things such as attend the local Town Council meeting. According to our survey, local politics is high on the interest list from our potential audience/

OCTV – the start of a journey and the journal

Olds Community TV (you can find the website here) is our latest project. After spending many years lamenting the loss of local TV, I’ve decided to do something about it.

January 1, 2014 was the official launch of the project but there is still a lot more to do to get it to go live. We’ve seen a lot and been through a lot in the past few years. This very well may be my jackpot or my death knell but here goes. There is a lot to do and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s one step at a time. I have a plan and need to refer to the plan from time to time to avoid getting overwhelmed. There is a draft business plan for Olds Community TV but I prefer to follow the Lean Start-up methodology which is essentially throwing it out there and building it as we go with the pivoting and modifications being the plan.

Everyday brings a challenge or two and we need to just plow through it all and get things done. A simple problem can seem big enough to stop the project in it’s tracks but the big picture is what matters. The issue I’m dealing with now is a PC tech problem. The PC that is hosting the playout software is giving me grief. Sometimes as much as three times a day it will ‘blue screen’ and reboot, throwing us off the air. Reliability is a key and important element and this doesn’t help. The solution? Fix the problem and move on…but the solution is eluding me and the tech support crew at this point in time. A more active solution and part of the bigger tech strategy is a back-up PC. Redundancy was always part of the plan but avoided due to costs. But here goes another unexpected expense to ensure that the channel functions 7/24/365. Not a big surprise for a startup but a pain in the butt never the less.

The other issue I’m faced with is also technical but not a show stopper. The playlist/playout feature in the software we are using is in beta release and dosen’t loop properly. Not a big issue now, there is a work-around, but it could impact work-flow in the future in regards to adding and deleting video into the stream dynamically. The software developer is working on it and we will no doubt see a solution before too long. In the meantime ¬†– PlanB is in effect.