Monthly Archives: February 2012

Get Found Online: Maximizing Website Visibility

Does Your Website Hide from Google Search Results?

Does Your Website Compete?

There are many websites out there. Only 10-15 websites show up on a Google search page for a given search term. Does your website show up the right search terms? Does it show up for ANY search terms?

Online marketing can be a frustrating experience. Back in the day, when the Internet was just getting started, just having a website (even if it was ugly) was enough. Now the online landscape is littered with websites and even more spam. If online spam could be converted to canned ham, we could feed the world.

Is your website being given the cold shoulder by search sites like Google and Yahoo? Wondering why no one seems to find your site? Well I used to wonder as well. But my analyses over the past few years have turned up an interesting piece of the puzzle. There is a common weakness I have observed for most websites, and if you could turn that weakness into a strength as a solution for the visibility of your own website, you’d have more visitors.

The solution is inexpensive. It can gain momentum as a marketing effort. It can drive up customers over time while driving down advertising costs. Sound good? What is it?

It’s blogging.

Web plus Log is Blog

Online Journaling

“Blog” is really just slang for an online diary or journal. Ever hear of “World Wide Web?” Of course you have. Also known as “The Internet,” the World Wide Web (www – as in your website address) is so pervasive in our every day use, commerce would probably halt completely if we lost access to it.

Well, take the word “web” from “world wide web,” and add it to the word “log” (like a log book), and you have the word “web log,” the original word for blogging. Since saying “web log” makes people sound like they have a speech impediment (or perhaps are related to a species of frog), web log has been shortened down to just “Blog.”

But it’s just an  online journal. A self-published column of sorts. Yes, essentially you become your own journalist.

I’m not going to get technical on why Blogging is so important in today’s blog post. I’m just trying to get across that blogging is an effective way your site can get more traction online, and get found by more searchers who are looking right now for what you offer. Yes, social media factors in their too, but social media is less important than blogging in the long run. Here at The Association we implemented a corporate blogging platform and now at least half of our of Canon Boot Camp sign ups come from search traffic, with no extra effort on our part.

Blogging has some built-in hurdles. Similar to having children, there’s a learning curve (hey, it’s less than 9 months!) as well as a long-term investment in terms of time and commitment to success. It’s pointless to conceive a blog and then just let it sit unattended, orphaned by lack of time and/or content.

But like all problems, there is a solution if you look for it. I’ve already found the solutions to the above hurdles, and those willing to roll up their sleeves and learn some new tricks can overcome them easily. With a little coaching, you can learn to maximize the benefits of a blog, minimize the costs and time involved and reap the benefits for years.





Mike Valentine Visits the Canon Boot Camp Feb 25 – Rig Day

Our February 25th Pro Level I Canon Boot Camp may feature TWO guest speakers. It’s officially “Rig” day, as we’ll be focusing on rigs for the Canon DSLR 5D and other models. This is one Canon camera class you won’t want to miss! Both guest speakers will be covering rigs.

Our first guest speaker is Michael Valentine, AC. Michael has done TONS of work since graduating from the Los Angeles Film School in 2008. His resume features 15 commercials, 9 music videos, 3 fashion videos, 12 feature films and 15 short films. He’s worked with Polly Morgan, DP on productions like “Mobius” and Emmanuel & The Truth About Fishes (starring Jessica Biel), as well as a number of other DPs.

His digital skills include experience in Arri Alexa, Canon DSLRs, Canon C300, the RED EPIC  & RED ONE, Sony F35 and the Panavision Genesis.  Currently he’s the 1st AC for Polly Morgan, DP, and is doing a lot of filming with the Canon 5D as well as the our new fav camera, the Canon C300. Fletch Murray, the Chief Instructor for the Canon Boot Camp, will be interviewing Michael (and our other featured guest speaker) on the technical aspects of rigging cameras: car mounts, underwater, custom rigs, building rigs and adapting cameras to different situations.

So if you have any interest in underwater shoots or rigs for the Canon DSLR 5D/7D, don’t miss the first part of the Feb 25th boot camp! To find out more about our Canon camera classes, visit Availability of speakers is subject to change without notice and does not affect class cost.

The Best DSLR Workshop in Town - The Canon Boot Camp by The Association

Facebook Dominates Smartphone Mobile Landscape

Over Half of Smartphone User Access Facebook via Mobile

Mobile is an increasingly important aspect of an effective online marketing plan. It’s not enough to have an incredible website even if the content is optimized with long tail keyword research. It’s got to be mobile-optimized. What does that mean? It means it’s got to read well on a smartphone, iPad or other small mobile device. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean it shows up well on a mobile device.

If over half of US smartphone users are accessing Facebook on their phone, there’s probably a 50% chance that your customers are also trying to access your website on their phone. Can they? Websites that aren’t optimized for mobile are harder to navigate. Paging through the site is a pain because of the extra scrolling one has to do just to navigate the site.

It also just plain looks ugly when I access a site on my smartphone that isn’t optimized for mobile, as the elements of the site can move out of place instead of being laid out with some kind of sense.

So how do you know if your site is optimized for mobile? There are a number of apps available that will tell/show you the current state of your site’s “mobileness” online. I tried some out, and the one I liked the most was It gives a simple overview of where a site stands on mobile effectiveness, along with a list of where it needs to be improved.

If a site is fairly new, it’s probably on a platform that is already mobile optimized, but it’s worth checking out! Some may argue that most people still do their Internet browsing on their desktop. Stats on mobile usage indicate increasing usage worldwide. Still not sure? Well, how would you rank your own use of mobile? Is it increasing? Mine is. Sooner or later it’s mobile will be more mainstream than not, is my guess. Is your website going to be ready?

What does “Like” Mean to a Consumer on Facebook?

What Does "Like" Mean to a Consumer on Facebook?

Owners of Ecommerce sites are probably going to be more interested in this statistical set of information. For those not familiar with Facebook Business Pages (like a personal profile on Facebook, only it’s for a business), Pages allow businesses to create a version of their website on Facebook. Pages are completely indexed by search engines (unlike personal profile pages), and it’s an excellent opportunity to improve your search rankings online. For a full explanation of the “Like” feature in Facebook, read Exact Target’s excellent report (mentioned in the graphic above) HERE.

The search optimization part aside, if you’re going to have a Page for customers, best to offer something! There are a variety of applications and tools you can use to provide an offer. We used Constant Contact’s new Social Promotions tool to create a simple custom welcome page on our Facebook Page. It allowed me to quickly and easily offer a free downloadable article in exchange for “Liking” the page.

Email Marketing by Constant Contact also allows you to do the following:

  • Choose from more than 400 easily customized email templates—or create your own from scratch.
  • Create highly visual, professional-looking email newsletters and promotions in just minutes.
  • Drive more traffic to your website with focused, targeted email communications.
  • Build and manage your email list: import existing customer lists, add names individually, or capture contact information from website visitors.
  • Measure your email campaign results instantly-check click-through rates, review new subscribers, and see who opened and clicked on each link so you can tailor your follow-up communications.
  • Send automated communications to new sign-ups via our Autoresponder tool.
  • Communicate with your audience with confidence, knowing that Constant Contact will take care of getting your email delivered and keep you CAN-SPAM compliant.

Click on the link below to start a free 60 day trial.

Constact Contact Free Trial

For most business, there will be something they can offer that would give a new visitor enough of a reason to click “Like” and connect to the page. Test out different downloads, discounts or other offers and see what gets the most action.


Get Rigged for Canon DSLR 5D at the Canon Boot Camp

This coming Saturday we have a special treat for the attendees of our Pro Level I Canon camera class. Locally known as “Ping,” 1st AC and DP John Pingry is coming to visit during the afternoon session to chat about rigs, following Michael Valentine, 1st AC, who will be talking to the class that morning (also about rigs).

John knows a little something about rigs for the Canon DSLR 5D. The current McDonalds campaign featuring suppliers for McDonalds was shot by John using the 5D. He has a passion for travel, and worked closely with Eric Schmidt, DP who was our featured guest speaker for the January Canon Boot Camp. Eric and John shot I Melt With You, directed by Mark Pellington, entirely on the 5D and 7D.

Knowing how to set up rigs or even build your own rig for the 5D is a crucial part of getting the shot. Come get your questions answered by 2 experts in the area, and learn everything you need to know to get your own film work. Our hands-on approach to training will get you up and running in a few hours, even if you’ve never used a Canon HDSLR before. We have certified shooters on the Canon DSLR 5D, 7D, and the 60D so if you’re looking for Canon certification on these amazing cameras, come pay us a visit on Feb 25th.

Future Canon camera classes are listed on the right side of this blog, so check out our upcoming dates there, or visit for more information on the classes. Or just pick up a phone and give us a jingle. We love to talk about the Canon Boot Camp!

Below is one of the videos John shot for McDonalds. Stunning work. Come shoot with the Pros and book your own work with Canon DSLRs.


How Much Does Social Media Affect Buying Decisions?

How Much Does Social Media Affect Buying Decisions?

The research report (click on the pic above to access the full report) is very interesting and informative. While user-generated reviews have a strong impact on the decision making process, how they get to those reviews is a different story. Here’s an excerpt from the same report:

Where consumers start with their online research

The above chart seems pretty accurate to me. I generally start with Google no matter what I am researching. I know I am more likely to find user-generated content (also known as “organic”) in the search results. Often there are blogs and forum results (especially if you use the word “reviews” in the search request). Most of the time I ignore the manufacturer ‘reviews’ as well as any advertisements, which only have a 14% trust factor, generally speaking.

IF I think about it, I’ll ask my social network for their opinion. Usually that works well too, I just don’t always remember to ask.

So for an effective marketing plan, what’s the best course of action to take to maximize both aspects? Social and Search? I’m glad you asked. The simple answer for nearly every corporate social media effort is blogging.

Without getting too technical, blogs allow you to add 2 known “online visibility factors”: pages of content to your website, and backlinks. Google likes more pages, and backlinks (other sites linking to yours) gives your site more authority. Other sites will link to you if they feel your content is engaging and well-written. If you can solve problems for others (on your blog), your chance of engaging, lead conversion and customer acquisition increases over time. You future customer will appreciate your written efforts and recommend your content to others.

To add social to the mix, make sure to share at least some of your content to your social network. Most blogging platforms have that capability built right in to their system. If you have a newsletter already, it’s often a simple matter to re-purpose newsletter content into blog posts, saving time and money. To maximize your efforts, get a knowledgeable person to do long-tail keyword research and include those keywords into your content regularly. Over time you’ll see more and more results!

Facebook has the Connection Mojo for Brands

Facebook is the preferred social network to connect to brands

Is your brand on Facebook?

Well, if you’re still searching for a good reason to get a business Page on Facebook, the corporate version of a personal profile, the graphic above might be a good start. Are you where your visitors want you to be?

These days getting hip on Facebook isn’t as hard as it looks. There’s a fair number of template tools and companies ready and willing to get your page up fast. The problem has become, which solution is the best one to choose? An obvious answer is “the one that is the most effective!” I know, I know, which one is that? Unfortunately, one must try out different solutions and see what works best for your particular situation.

At the Association, we use a 1-2-3 punch approach. We create content on our blog, share it through social media, and also promote the same content through our Constant Contact newsletter. One of the reasons I appreciate Constant Contact is its consistent effort to provide value on the social media front. In addition to simple and easy to understand training videos about social media, their platform offers easy to use add-on tools that make creating a Facebook Page a snap. I’m not thrilled with the current templates for Pages, but I expect these will improve over time.

Meanwhile, it beats waiting for your IT guy to fiddle around with getting your Page up with some kind of meaningful call to action. If your company doesn’t have a newsletter, today is a good time to start. Most newsletter platforms have a free trial. Give them a spin, see what features you like or don’t like. Call their customer service and try it out. Maybe even ask for an extra trial month if you’re not sure. Once you’ve settled on a newsletter, use it to keep it touch with current clients, gather new potential customers by capturing email addresses, and drive blog visibility by promoting your blog content.

This kind of interactive effort can create an effective marketing plan using enterprise social media paired with your regular content creation. Good luck!

Shoot with us by candlelight in Palm Springs

Korakia Pensione: The Mediterranean Jewel of Palm Springs
The Association’s Canon Boot Camp travels to the Palm Springs Photo Festival April 3rd and 4th, at the picturesque Korakia Pensione, which Forbes Magazine called “one of America’s sexiest hotels”. The Korakia is a visual delight, and the perfect setting for our now famous Canon camera classes. While we’ll still be having Pro Level I and Pro Level II classes in Burbank, we couldn’t pass up such a sexy location and the chance to meet other like-minded industry pros.
Haven’t heard about the Palm Springs Photo Festival? Here’s a short blurb from their site about what they’ve got cooking:
Connect 2012 offers the opportunity for professional, emerging professional & serious advanced amateur photographers to study with legendary photographers, show your portfolios in our celebrated Portfolio Review Program, attend cutting-edge seminars / symposiums and enjoy evening projections by world famous image-makers. Check out the latest gear, network with the master photographers, industry insiders and your contemporaries at several great parties and enjoy the warm Palm Springs weather. Most importantly, we promise you won’t have more FUN at any other photo event. We are dedicated to providing a rich program intended to inspire, educate and instill or reignite passion for the art and commerce of photography. Come join the community!
On Day One we’ll be training on the 5D and 7D cameras’ setup and operation. Day Two will be a full-fledged shoot day with the Orchard House as our location. The Orchard House offers intimate settings for sensual lighting set-ups and we have planned to let our new graduates practice their skills with a live model.
Korakia PensioneKorakia - Orchard House Master Bath
We’ll shoot by candlelight, moonlight and through gauze overlays to exploring creative lighting scenarios the light-sensitive Canon HDSLRs love to shoot in. One of our recent boot camps specifically dealt with shooting by candlelight, the footage of which may be viewed below.

For a full explanation of what is covered in Day I and Day II, visit the Canon Boot Camp site and check out the descriptions of Pro Level I and Pro Level II (or Day I and Day II, respectively, for the Palm Springs Photo Festival). We’ll be delivering the same classes, it’s just a different location.
Join us in Palm Springs and enter the whole new world of shooting at ISO 1200 with the Canon DSLR 5D! Since we aren’t hosting this event, we aren’t directly registering participants, but you can call us for more specific registration information or just register directly by clicking HERE.


1 in 4 Consumers Want Weekly or Monthly Updates

How Often to Post on Social Media Channels Credit: The Social Media Data Stacks

Looks like the social media landscape is shifting yet again. While that’s probably not much of a surprise (Facebook à la the new Timeline feature), this time it’s on the consumer side of the spectrum.  Which is also not a surprise, considering the overwhelming amount of information pumped out by literally millions of social profiles.

Enter Social Media Spam. After all, how much information can we really process in a day? The above graph illustrates that our favorite consumer isn’t all that keen on getting updated every other day anymore. Probably this doesn’t apply as much to daily deal type sites, if someone’s really keen on a particular brand or loves to eat out. But I know I’m a lot less accepting myself of constant data streams as I just don’t have the time to read it all.

What does this mean for enterprise social media users? How does your average small business and large business translate their social media efforts into something effective without miffing their faithful consumers? First off, I would ask your social “constituents” how often they expect an update. They just might surprise you!

But over the long term, for most companies engaged in any sort of corporate social media program, keep in mind that many of your new customers are likely to come from Google searches. By establishing a blog and providing lots of great content, long term visibility will develop that just can’t be beat in terms of cost (very cheap) and ease of use. And ownership. Remember, you don’t own Facebook. But you CAN own a blog. Where do you want to host all your hard earned content?

Stay tuned for more information on blogging! I’ll be covering how to create great content to maximize your visibility online. After all, if potential consumers can’t find you, what’s the point of being online at all?


Speeding up Editing & Importing Video with the Final Cut Pro Plug In for EOS Users

editor_humerous_pic_what_i_really_doAll jokes aside, anything that can speed up editing and importing video is obviously a boon to the existence of any filmographer. If you have to render after every single cut or move, download the Canon plug-in for Final Cut Pro.
Canon’s plug-in for Final Cut Pro makes editing and importing video from EOS cameras a breeze. Well, it’s a smoother workflow for EOS users anyway.  According to Canon, the plug-in cuts conversion time in half to transfer as Apple ProRes 422 codec.  One of the capabilities of the software is the ability to use the ‘log and transfer’ feature in FCP for any of Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 7D and EOS-1D Mark IV DSLRs. The update also allows users to insert metadata into their clips while they’re still on the camera.
Of course, filmmakers can also add metadata while editing, including timecode, reel names, and other data. Import speed has been sped up significantly.

For the benefit of our Canon DSLR 5D and 7D users (not to mention everyone attending our Canon Camera Classes!), we have created a video to show you how to access the Final Cut Pro Plug in. Enjoy, and please let us know how you like the video or if there are other how-to videos you’d like us to create.

For the link to the article mentioned at the very beginning of the video, click HERE.

Using the Canon FCP Plugin from Fletch/The Association on Vimeo.