Hit the Spotlight
Is video unfamiliar territory for your company? Perhaps now is the perfect time to explore. Statistics have shown that video is an effective marketing platform for more than just YouTube stars—with no signs of slowing down. According to Forbes, “75 percent of business executives watch work-related videos at least weekly.” Additionally, the Web Video Marketing Council found that “96 percent of business-to-business (B2B) companies are planning to use video in their content marketing over the next year.”
With video continuing to surge through 2016, it’s important to understand the basics of creating a successful campaign. Knowing where to begin may feel overwhelming, but with the right tools in your back pocket, you can become a production powerhouse. Here is what the video-marketing experts had to say.
1. Develop a video-marketing strategy.
Much like anything else, the first step is always the most difficult. With video marketing, it’s important to start with a strong foundation and a well-thought-out strategy. Ken Burke, chairman and founder of Petaluma, California-based MarketLive Inc., recommended implementing a “crawl, walk, run” strategy, meaning, “take 5 percent of your products and begin the strategy and test them. Get them on the site, promote them via email or on the website, and check the conversion rates.”
In terms of specifics, Stephen Gardner, president and executive producer of Toronto-based Gardner Productions, offered a formulaic approach. Depending on which narrative direction you opt to take—a product demonstration, real testimonials or something more creative—it’s important to tell a story: Why is your product special?
“Using elements of the story, you would build an outline and a storyboard that helps tell visual aspects of the story, and a good narrative that runs parallel to the visuals,” he said. “Whether you are using actors or real live testimonials, the narrative aspect must also speak to the visuals that you are implementing.” Although this process can seem time-consuming, Gardner assured it will make the production and post-production process flow smoother.
2. Decide the level of investment.
One of the most fundamental keys to a successful video-marketing campaign is a firm understanding of the monetary investment your executives are willing to contribute. Without the executive buy-in, you’re going to have a tough time getting started. Gardner stressed the importance of the financial commitment. “You get what you pay for, and if you can’t embark on a project the right way, don’t do it at all,” he said.
Burke agreed that it’s important to get “strategic buy-in up and down your organization because video can be very expensive,” so make sure your executives understand the level of investment involved. Burke also pointed out that video requires a large investment of time. Make sure that everyone is on board from the start so you don’t run into snags later in production.
3. Choose a direction.
A common mistake that B2B companies make early on in their video-marketing strategies is being too product-centric. In order to be effective, Burke encouraged marketers to think like their prospects. Is your video something they want to watch? “Decide what your approach is, how professional the video should be, how much content orientation will it have, like non-product-specific versus a how-to type of video,” he said. “There’s very specific product content and then there’s what I call value-added video content.”
But if your videos aren’t pushing your product, what is the benefit to even creating them? Burke said to look at the bigger picture: Think about your brand. “You don’t want to become a video channel, but [...] you [do] want to become a purveyor of content that supports your overall brand lifestyle that can be communicated through your website in the video,” he advised. “All of that content is going to drive those brand impressions—it does nothing but help your business.”
4. Film and edit succinctly.
Once you’ve decided on the right direction for your video-marketing campaign, the next step is obvious: Film. However, if this is your first video-marketing campaign, you might be worried your production efforts are missing the mark.
To avoid this problem, Burke advocated a more authentic approach. “The videos can look too professional, too polished and too produced,” he said. “Most customers will respond to more real, more amateurish—but nice—videos. Customers are more skeptical on the video side, and more raw videos are more believable.”
The length of the video also is a crucial component to your post-production efforts. Gardner knows the sweet spot. “[Videos should be] no more than 90 seconds in length, and two minutes maximum,” he advised. Burke agreed that one of the most common video-editing mistakes is video that is too long. “There’s research all over the board that supports that a five-minute video on a product is most likely not going to be watched in full.”
5. Promote effectively.
A successful video-marketing campaign does not stop once the video has been published—you’ve got to promote it. This requires more effort than uploading a video to your site. “You’ve got to have a commitment to share with the user that you have this,” Burke instructed.
But what types of promotion work? For Gardner, there are a few options. “Certainly blogging and going the organic route via all the media channels is one way, but also public relations and getting write-ups with online magazines [are] very important as well,” he said. “A good mention with a publication will do wonders and also really legitimizes the cause.”
Your video promotion should extend to all of your media outlets—print included. Even better, video can be the ideal way to bridge the gap between the print and online space, according to Gardner. “We live in a wonderful age when a video can serve as a teaser for an article and all you have to do is click to find out more detailed information,” he explained. “The video is the sizzle and the print is the detailed background. Both work symbiotically together if done right.”
And then there’s social media. Although Burke admitted that social media is not good for conversion, he explained that it’s good for your brand. He shared a few tips. “Tweet out any interesting videos or post to Facebook for anything relevant,” he suggested. “I think if it’s too highly promotional, it won’t work on social media. Lifestyle content videos do well on social channels.”
6. Keep an editorial calendar.
Now that you’ve figured out how to promote your campaign effectively, it’s just as important to keep the momentum going—you need to stick to an editorial calendar. This might seem time-consuming, but Burke said you easily can combine your future videos into the workflow. “I would work video into my entire product stream, even before the product becomes available to consumers,” he explained.
7. Test effectively.
In order to get backing for more videos going forward, you have to prove that your videos are working to generate sales—that’s where testing comes in. But how do you test your videos? For Burke, analytics are the key. “Monitoring analytics is incredibly important,” he said. “Length of video, conversion, watch-to-convert rate—all these analytics are critical.”