5 Reasons Video Is Essential For Your Marketing Strategy

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By Keith Jolie

This past weekend I was busy volunteering with the annual Polar Bear Dip for Habitat for Humanity in Toronto. Amid all the interviews, media interactions and watching around 700 people run into icy cold water,  I was struck by the prevalence of video at the event.

One of my interviews with a larger news media company was via Facebook Live, and many of the dippers had GoPros strapped to them as they ran into the water. Those videos, shared by a significant percentage of the participants, have allowed the event organizers to market the excitement of the event to a very large audience and to grow the event year after year.

Video has grown to become in many cases, the linchpin of a successful content marketing strategy. While content marketing is a bit of an overused buzzword, the concept is sound.  Marketing your business or organization involves engaging several channels in order to attract customers and as with traditional advertising, mediums like search engine marketing ( SEM ), social media marketing, and email marketing all rely on quality content to entice the customer to engage with the medium and for you to meet your marketing objectives.

If you’re not already using video as part of your content marketing strategy, here are five reasons why you should give it a second look:

1 – Critical Mass

Recent statistics gathered by Google pointed out that 53% of consumers on mobile feel more favorable towards companies whose websites feature video content. Video more than ever has reached a critical mass.  It is expected by your customers, and much like a business or organization that doesn’t have a website, not having video content will soon be seen as a sign that your business or organization isn’t professional.  

2 – Distribution Options Abound

There has never been a better time for businesses to embrace video as part of their content marketing efforts, and with both free and paid distribution options it also has never been easier.  Any business can easily (and for free) create a YouTube channel to feature video content and videos can easily be embedded in your website, sales presentations and used as part of conference displays. About 100 million hours of video are watched every day on Facebook.  With both Facebook and YouTube (Google Adwords) offering complex targeted distribution through their paid advertising models, more than ever you are able to direct your video content to the most appropriate audience and measure the results.

3 – High Definition and High Speed is Everywhere

In 2017, high speed data is a reality on even the most basic of mobile networks and most newer mobile phones now feature high definition displays and sound that would have been unimaginable even a few years ago.  This advancement has caused the global audience for video to grow exponentially. While high quality video looks best on the big screen, it is superbly suited for mobile consumption because it requires no user interaction and it can be shared easily.  Video allows a mobile user to take in a large amount of information without having to scroll through lots of text or click through from page to page and the audience is definitely there.  On mobile alone in an average week, YouTube reaches more 18+ year-olds during prime time TV hours than any cable TV network. (Google Think, 2016)

4 – It’s a Supercharger for your SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a constantly moving target with search algorithm updates being released frequently. Recent observations by SEO professionals agree that the inclusion of video on your website continues to have a very positive impact on how frequently your website appears in related search engine results pages.  The benefits come from a few specific traits of video. First – multimedia content, and graphical (picture) content has for a long time had a positive impact on page SEO. Second, video content is sharable and social media shares are metrics that feed back positive SEO signals for your page. And third – properly embedded and encoded videos with script information expand the relevant keyword possibilities for any page that includes them.

5 – Buying Decisions Are Heavily Influenced By Video

The buying decision process in both the consumer and business to business markets has undergone a massive shift in recent years.  Product and service information that was once only available from sales staff can now be readily accessed from a wide variety of sources including review sites, best of lists, and industry publications. For businesses and organizations, ensuring that your content is front and centre during that critical research stage of the buying process is more and more important. With 68% of YouTube users (70% in Canada) indicating that they watched YouTube content to help them make a purchasing decision, the importance of ensuring that it is your message that they receive in that video becomes even more magnified.

While video isn’t the only element of a content marketing solution a business needs to employ, there is a strong argument to be made that most businesses should be prioritizing video as part of their marketing strategy. To find out more you should also check out our video called “Why Video”.  

Double Barrel Studios can offer your organization guidance as you consider video – give us a call, and let’s get talking.

Put Your Best Flick Forward

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I was so thrilled to be asked to participate in Donna Papacosta’s Digital Communications Strategy class this past weekend at University of Toronto, Mississauga.

The students were enthusiastic, engaged and above-all-else excited to produce video pieces and test out their movie-making mettle.

I gave a presentation that went through the top tips I’ve gleaned over the past 14-or-so years of producing content, sifting down my time in print, radio, broadcast and digital to highlight some of the pitfalls and best practices to follow when determining your digital content strategy. In this case, focusing on video as a delivery medium.

From the Twitter discussions afterward it seems the class enjoyed my chat – so I decided to reprint those tips here for either students who missed marking them down, or for you – dear reader, should you be interested to find out more about how Double Barrel does what we do – and how you can implement some of those strategies in your own communications.

Enjoy!

  1. VOICE attracts AUDIENCE.
    Develop your brand’s unique identity and voice early on – then use that to speak to folks who are interested in what you’re offering.
  2. Controversy is GOOD.
    A little bit of shock value can be a good thing. People are inundated with information and grabbing attention by shaking the tree a little can be  a good thing.
  3. Editorial is EVERYTHING.
    When it comes to video – determine your editorial strategy early. Then use that strategy to ensure your dollars go as far as possible over the course of your year. Video is expensive to produce but it doesn’t always have to be – small pieces done effectively and consistently are just as useful as one $15,000 project a year.
  4. VOICE & ENTHUSIASM trumps EXPERIENCE.
    Getting into a new communication medium can be scary. You may feel unqualified or that you don’t understand enough about the production process to be effective. Stay true and hold fast to your own personal brand voice and enthusiasm will make up for the inexperience.
  5. TALENT is CRITICAL.
    From the outset of your project, reach out to the best talent you can afford. Finding great people to make something sing will pay off in the end, we promise.
  6. Comedy is HARD. But HUMOUR goes a long way.
    The pull to produce comedy is a tough one to ignore – especially since comedic videos do so well online. A badly done comedy segment, however, could harm your brand reputation. If part of your communications strategy includes making people laugh – refer to number 5 when it comes to casting, writing, filming and editing. You’ll thank me later!
  7. DIGITAL is NICHE.
    You know how there’s a million different kinds of toothbrushes at the grocery store? The same applies to content. Remember that the internet is not like broadcast. You can reach out to very specific niches and provide content that speaks JUST TO THEM. Done well, this means that you can target with pinpoint accuracy your ideal viewer. Don’t be afraid to dive deep on subject matter.
  8. KEEP it SHORT.
    Online attention spans are.. well.. fleeting. If you made it this far I’m impressed. Be ruthless in the edit suite.
  9. BUILD on EXISTING AUDIENCE.
    Lastly – when developing content look to people within your organization that already have a social media presence for talent. Are they active on Twitter? Do they blog? Do they have an active Facebook page? These are the things to focus on. Online content is churned more quickly than your stomach on the Tilt-A-Whirl.. you’ll need all the help you can get to reach as many people as possible when it comes to distribution.

 

Jumping Back into the Judges Chair

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I was so thrilled to be invited to sit as a judge on the panel of last year’s Economic Developers Council of Ontario Awards. It was a great chance to get an inside look at marketing, branding & advertising campaigns from all across Ontario. In November, I’m headed back again.

Categories that I adjudicated for last year’s competition were mainly advertising and branding related, and consisted of everything from simple awareness raising campaigns to complete brand overhauls for economic development regions.

Of the 20 entries I had the opportunity to look at and judge, some clear themes emerged in terms of what is being done right in the industry, and what needs some major rethink when it comes to marketing/branding your latest initiative.

A few of my do’s and don’t’s from last year’s experience.

DO your research. I was shocked to see how few departments actually conducted research prior to spending tens of thousands of dollars on marketing outreach. Too many organizations are diving into big spends without considering one of the highly critical marketing ‘p’s’ – people. Who is your audience? What are they interested in? What things do they enjoy? Everything from imagery to fonts to colour schemes should be based on what you feel will best relate to your audience. Too often marketing initiatives are based on what a particular committee thinks is great with no real thought to what your potential client or customer needs to see. Demographics should be your very first stop in determining any brand campaign. Be clear about WHO you’re targeting so that you can create the best campaign to reach them.
DO spend money on good graphic design. So many entries were conceptually great but suffered from graphic design that did not evaluate the audience or give it the respect it deserves. Many organizations look at having in house graphic designers create branding elements as a cost cutting measure – this is a big no no. If you’re planning to spend any amount of money on marketing your new initiative make sure it’s rock solid out of the gate – and that means clean, clear, legible design that invites your audience to look closer – doesn’t turn them away.
DO NOT use dated photography or video in your brand-spanking-new campaign. Many initiatives had beautiful new branding elements. Logos, websites, YouTube pages. These suffered due to the incorporation of photography & videography that was done 4 or more years ago. Technology moves fast, nowhere more so than in the world of cameras and online video. Image quality has gotten consistently better year over year. Make sure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot by incorporating photography or videography that was shot more than 3 years ago.
DO NOT blow the bank. Spending large amounts of money on a flashy bus campaign or large advert in a well known paper does not marketing success make. Creativity and talent is what counts.
DO the math. So many initiatives were thwarted by not having the proper analytics in place to gauge metrics on campaign success or failure. How will you ever know you succeeded if you don’t have benchmarks to measure against? Use free technology like Google Analytics to tackle web hits and easy measurements like in-person surveys to clock uptake from your intended demographic. Marketing’s a game – make sure you’re making educated guesses.

This year’s awards will be handed out in Hamilton on February 12th. See you there!

Let’s Cut the Cheese

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How to Battle the Cringe in your Communications

One common mistake communicators make is in their overuse of the ‘earnest’ in content. This often comes across as that ‘this is cheesy’ feeling we all know so well when watching a piece of video or reading a story.

My 15-year-old son has a better term for it. He calls them ‘Cringe’ videos. Consisting largely of people being overly earnest and generally just trying too hard, a Cringe video is recognizable by its ability to make the viewer feel uncomfortable.

While in some cases making your viewers squirm can be a good thing, most clients we’ve worked with are aiming to inform and educate rather than shock and awe. If you’re looking to get your message across in 3 minutes or less it’s probably best not to make your audience wish they’d never looked.

What exactly is it about a piece of media that causes this feeling? And how does it cross the line from being authentic to overly earnest?

We spend a lot of time thinking about this type of thing at Double Barrel, because ultimately we want to produce the most effective video we can for your organization. In that spirit we’ve put together a list to take into your next video production process. Voila!

HOW TO CUT the CHEESE in your communications

  1. Hire the best talent you can afford. Nothing makes your viewers cringe more (and ultimately does more damage to your brand) than rough camera work, bad audio, editing, graphics and lighting. When choosing your team for video production make sure they have top-notch talent filling all of these roles – it’s critical to producing a professional end product.
  2. Pre-screen your talking heads. Spend some valuable pre-production time to choose representatives from within your organization that come across relaxed and professional on camera. While any production company worth their salt will be able to get the absolute best out of whomever you provide to speak your company’s message, if you start with the best – you’re guaranteed the best. It’s that simple.
  3. Avoid the urge to over-script. The role of a communications professional is to ensure that company messaging is coming through loud and clear. However, if people are being scripted within an inch of their lives and are not allowed to speak in their own voice, unless your talent are master communicators and VERY comfortable on camera, scripted lines will not come across as natural. This will cause exactly what we’re trying to avoid with your audience – CHEESE. While it’s fine to provide talking points, you’re always better off to do the work in pre-production when it comes to selecting talent, and then trust them to do the rest.
  4. Don’t overstay your welcome. While a picture is worth a thousand words – video is definitely not a medium where a thousand words is necessary. We constantly strive to have our clients let the visuals tell the story – but the knee jerk reaction to video communication is to have as many people on camera talking as possible. This leads to bloated run times in your final piece which allows more opportunity for the cringe-factor to encroach. Be ruthless in the edit suite. Don’t let anyone say one word more than they need to.
  5. Use humour only under supervision. Some of the most cringe-inducing videos are the ones where people head in with the best of intentions – to make their audience laugh. Unfortunately badly written and filmed comedy is akin to a frat house movie – and nothing will alienate your audience faster. At Double Barrel we’ve traipsed into the genre of comedy for a few projects, but only when they’re written and performed by people with the chops. If you feel humour is the best vehicle for your next communications project, get in touch and we’ll help you build a killer comedy team.

 

~ Roz Allen is a Producer & Director at Double Barrel Studios

Pressure Cook Your Way to Great Content

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Real artists ship.

This maxim, attributed to the late Steve Jobs, revolves around the notion that creation of great creative work depends upon the ability to overcome obstacles and come up with the best possible result. Ideally (in the context of video production) – a piece that will in some way emotionally resonate with your audience, given a limited amount of time.

Content creators can empathize with this quip. ‘Shipping’ (or in our world, ‘producing’) requires said producer to weigh messaging and artistry against obstacles to produce a piece of communication that will resonate with a wide & varied audience. Usually needed by, like, yesterday.

Judges

Last week I sat on a small panel of industry judges for McMaster University’s second annual 24-Hour Film Competition – a fantastic local event, held inside the Joey & Toby Tenenbaum Pavilion at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

These competitions are a crash course in the ‘real artists ship’ mentality, as students race against the clock to develop their original stories into fully fledged short films in just 24 hours.

Sitting in the centre of the crowd at the jury table, I felt an immediate kinship with these students. Double Barrel evolves into a kind of 24-hour film crew on each production we undertake, paratrooping into storytelling situations and determining obstacles – developing the best way to get a client’s message across in a limited amount of time. In our world that’s usually about two months from script to screen, nowhere near the suffocating 24 hours of the festival.

Similarly, marketers, brand managers & professional communicators are consistently hit with this same challenge when trying to get their messaging across to a wide demographic. Especially via video.

The winner of this year’s McMaster 24 – the giddy, oddball short ‘What are you STAIRING at?’ quickly emerged as the best film of the night. Its creators – McMaster alums ‘Mobhouse Crew’ won over the jury  due to their ability to incorporate the unique messaging (one line – “do you want some more of that? I don’t think so”) with locations and props required by the film fest (a chair and a set of keys) while still taking us, the viewer, on a full circle ride complete with understandable arc and well thought out ending.

The audience gave four minutes and forty-four seconds to the filmmakers, and they rewarded us with a cleverly scripted film complete with original musical score and tight ending.

So – what can marketers/brand managers and content creators learn from this mother-of-all meat grinder of creative production? Three things.

1. Determine your constraints and work within them.

As any 24-hour film fest-er will tell you, it all starts with the script. Getting real with your limitations and having fences around your ideas actually allows you to be free creatively once you’ve determined what they are.

Are you tight on locations? Budget? Actors? Does the video need to be a certain length? What does it need to get across and to whom? On what distribution platform? These are all constraints that will ultimately make your production that much better once you’ve figured them out. Make sure you’re clear and honest up front with the things you have to achieve (and the limitations you have) in order to make the production process smooth and satisfying for all involved.

2. Be laser-focused in your vision.

In the world of 24-hour film, there’s no time for distraction. Once you’ve determined constraints, go after your story. Full throttle. It’s easy to fall prey to fun and flashy, so stay true to a ‘Top 3 List’ of focus points and messages. If your finished piece doesn’t clearly communicate a message and have some sort of story arc that your audience can follow, it’s not going to get you on the podium.

3. Stick the landing.

This is the absolute without-a-doubt most difficult part of a piece, and also the most rewarding when it’s done well. This year’s winner “What Are You Stairing At” absolutely sold us with a perfect ending. I’ve heard that people only remember the last thing you’ve said, so keep that in mind and go into your production with a firm sense of what you want the ending to be and make sure everything else lines up.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Roz Allen is a partner and director at Hamilton’s Double Barrel Studios.