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How to use LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business, with Mike Vannelli and Chaya Weiner

Use large lettering in your ad image. I know it might seem like a weird tip, but we found that most LinkedIn image-based ads are small, so when we were running ads with small lettering, people were not engaging with them, probably because they couldn’t read it! Then, once we saw another and that we […]


Use large lettering in your ad image. I know it might seem like a weird tip, but we found that most LinkedIn image-based ads are small, so when we were running ads with small lettering, people were not engaging with them, probably because they couldn’t read it! Then, once we saw another and that we couldn’t read because of the small text size, we realized we could make our text larger on the ads. Since then, we have seen a big boost in click rate.

As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike Vannelli. Mike is the Head Video Producer at a video production company and creative agency called Envy Creative (www.thinkenvy.com), in the Los Angeles area. Mike has been producing commercials and ads for Envy Creative for years and has produced over 1500 ads to date. Envy Creative produces video commercials for business, brands, startups, and products.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started my video career producing music videos for artists like Three 6 Mafia and Machine Gun Kelly. A friend from high school was working for Three 6 Mafia as an Engineer and reached out when they needed some new and fresh music video produced. I wanted to get more into commercial and film work so I phased out of the Music Videos sector. I started from the ground up, with some of the equipment I had, to start making commercials. In the beginning, I did a lot of different styles of videos and commercials, to see what style I liked and what I knew I could do well. Then, Envy Creative started getting attention. Companies, brands, and startups started asking us to make their videos and commercials. From then on, I have been making commercials, ads and startup videos, mostly for business, products, brands, and tech. Some videos we make are large-scale productions and some are smaller, to fit the budget of bootstrap startups, for example. To date, we have produced over a thousand videos.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

One really interesting story has to do with a commercial video we produced that had to take place in a BitCoin mining farm location. Well, we looked all over and made multiple calls to different places that had this. If you aren’t familiar, a BitCoin mining farm is pretty much a large server farm. After searching high and low, we could not find a location that we would be able to access that was “filming friendly.” The location owner either would not allow us to be on-site because of the proprietary hardware they had inside or they were not willing to shut down their hardware so we could shoot in front of it (since BitCoin farms are very loud). So, we ended up thinking outside of the box. We found an empty warehouse location we rented for the shoot that looked like the same style of location as you would see for a normal BitCoin mining farm. Then, we searched for scrap metal yards that had computer parts, specifically power supplies, that looked the most like BitCoin mining hardware. We purchased over 700lbs of computer power supplies. Then, we bought a lot of shelving units, small blinking LED lights and 500 yards of ethernet cable. We finally put all those together and we had, what looked like, a BitCoin mining farm setup. Once it was time to film, all we had to do is transport the prop set pieces we made to the warehouse location and set them up. The client loved the video and most people (from what we hear) think that it is an actual BitCoin mining farm, which means that we did our job. It goes to show you that in movies, there is always a way to make it happen.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There was a commercial video we did for a mattress company. The company wanted the commercial to take place outside, in the forest, since they were marketing to hikers. So, we found a location with a nice clearing in the forest and rented it for the day. We brought the mattress into the forest for the shoot, along with a boxspring-less frame, so we would not have to haul as much. However, with the boxspring-less frame, it had longer legs on it to hold up the mattress (which is usually so people can store things under their bed). So, the shoot went great, except for one part of the video where the actor needed to jump on the bed. Before setting up the location, we did not realize how soft the ground was under the bed and the frame. Once the actor started jumping on the bed in one of the shots, the frame started sinking into the dirt and it took all our crew to try and get it out and back onto solid ground. The lesson we learned from this was to always check our shooting location thoroughly and make sure you have tried to foresee any abnormalities or potential problems.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

We use a few social media platforms to advertise our business. However, the one we found the most return on investment from is LinkedIn. Although it is the most expensive one to advertise on, it definitely yields the highest results.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Sure! We mainly use LinkedIn for advertising our business, since we get a great ROI from it, so I am going to mainly stick to their Advertising service.

  1. Know ahead of time what kind of ad you want to run. There are different kinds of ads you can run like text-only ads, video ads, and photo slideshow ads. However, once you have an ad setup, you cannot change the style of the ad on the campaign. You need to create a new one if you want to do that. So, to save time, make sure you know what kind of content you have and how to advertise it best so you can choose the right style of ad.
  2. Start with a lower daily budget to get a feel for your audience. When we started advertising on LinkedIn, we decided to start with the lowest allowed budget for our ads, and we’re glad we did. This let us test our ads to see what ads were working and which ones weren’t. Then, when we saw which ones were working, we could optimize those specific ones. Eventually, once we started getting more clicks and return on the budget we were spending, we raised it to get more clicks and exposure. But, we’re glad we started low so we could test what worked and what didn’t before spending a lot.
  3. Use large lettering in your ad image. I know it might seem like a weird tip, but we found that most LinkedIn image-based ads are small, so when we were running ads with small lettering, people were not engaging with them, probably because they couldn’t read it! Then, once we saw another and that we couldn’t read because of the small text size, we realized we could make our text larger on the ads. Since then, we have seen a big boost in click rate.
  4. Put different ads on the same campaign and have them rotate. This is really helpful to see what is working and what’s not. LinkedIn has a setting where it can rotate between different ads and copy from a campaign. Then, you can see what ad is getting the most clicks and what isn’t. This will help you invest more in the ads that are bringing you the most business.
  5. Find out who you want to target. One of the reasons why LinkedIn is the best when it comes to accurate ad targeting is because most people on LinkedIn keep their job history up to date. This means, you can better target the people in certain companies you want. For instance, we create commercial videos and ads, so we mainly target the VP’s of Marketing and the Marketing Heads. This way, our name gets in front of them.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

This might be a worn-out saying, but just keep pushing forward. The video production space is a competitive one. It has been a long road to get where we are today. Envy Creative is a completely self-funded company. We have never taken out loans, giving out equity or borrowed money. For the first few years, almost 100% of our profits went back into building the business. We also made it a point to start out by producing specific kind of videos, then explaining from there. We started by only making videos and commercials for mobile apps. This way, we could hone our skills, style, and voice when it came to making videos. Then, once we got a handle on things, we expanded into making videos for any kind of app or website. From then on, we kept expanding and now we still making videos for apps and website, but we also make commercials for companies, brands, products and more.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have a private (or even public) breakfast or lunch with Conan O’Brien. I’ve always been a fan of his and his comedy. Plus, everyone I’ve heard from loves getting interviewed by him, being on his shows or being apart of his projects.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

Thanks for having me!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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