On Monday, October 24th, our founder Christina Skillman spoke at the American Marketing Association’s Fall 2016 Marketing Workshop at the Omni Parker Hotel in Boston. Christina is an expert in the field of marketing and her presentation titled “Optimizing Your Video Marketing Strategy – Stop Wasting Your Video Budget” provided many useful tips and techniques for improving digital marketing. Christina was selected to lead a discussion at this workshop because of her extensive skills and experience in the marketing world, she spoke about creating stimulating video content and how to promote it through social media, email marketing and SEO or “Search Engine Optimization.”
Why is Video Important
According to Forrester Research, one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words, that means that companies can package hours of reading into short video clips. 45.4% of Internet users view at least one online video over the course of a month. The average Internet user is exposed to an average of 32.2 videos per month. 100 million Internet users watch online videos every day. From a business standpoint, 90% of online shoppers reported that they find video very helpful in making buying decisions. Incorporating video into any marketing strategy is key because over 100 million Internet users watch video content daily. Video is easy for viewers to absorb and much more information can be shared in a much shorter time through videos. 59% of business executives would rather watch a video than read text, meaning that in order for a video production company to stay relevant, they need strong video content. All of these statistics argue the importance of video, but what Christina believes is really important is knowing how to take advantage of the opportunities that video presents in the market place
How do you define success? What does success look like to you? A successful video is different for every business, but all marketing videos should share the common goal of their video reaching the largest audience possible. Christina explained that video viewership can be increased through marketing tactics like enhanced SEO, increased social media engagement and informing the audience by telling your brand’s story! Different marketing strategies are looking for different reactions, styles and and video formats but, no matter what type of video, the most important thing is to tell your brand’s story. The most effective videos have a human touch, meaning that they make an emotional connection with the audience and this is usually done through captivating and relatable stories.
For Bond Brothers construction, Skillman Video Group produced this scripted video that displayed just how many individuals work for Bond and showed that Bond cares about their employees.
This unscripted video produced by SVG for Arianna Skincare tells a story rather than describes the product. The viewer feels an emotional connection to the company and really gets to know and understand the life of the founder.
In this video for TimePayment, Skillman Video Group was able to make something that can be considered dry and boring, funny. Humor is used to communicate the goal and services offered by this financing and equipment leasing company. This video is scripted and filmed using paid actors and a studio set.
The Creative Process
When in the initial stages of planning your video content the production team is faced with many tough creative decisions. Christina summarized her experience with the creative process into three simple questions to help guide videographers through these early stages.
- What graphic style do you prefer? (Remember: the style of your videos should be aligned with the style of your brand, branding should be constant in all digital content)
- What do you want your video to look like? (it is helpful to find inspiration from outside sources, for example look to other successful brands and marketing campaigns to help develop your ideas)
- What kind of energy should it have? (the energy and tone of a video is conveyed through the music, lighting, color palette and editing style)
A pro tip in both video production and storytelling is to always understand “the why” and “the what.” This simply means that your content should have a purpose. Why should people be watching this? What should they care? What is it about?
Christina ended the creative process discussion by talking about authenticity. The key to successful video marketing is to be authentic because people hire other people that they like. This means that the best thing a video production team can do is be themselves!
The full written transcript from the first half of the presentation is provided below. To watch videos from both segments of Christina’s presentation (part 1 of 2, and 2 of 2), check them out on Skillman Video Group’s Youtube site!
“I’m just going to tell you a little bit me so you know why I’m here; why they asked me to come talk to you. Actually, my first job out of college was working for a cable access TV station, so my background is in non-profit. I made a documentary over in England in 2002. I was a young, twenty-something kid, got grant money, took a cameraman over there. I wanted to have my own business in video production since I was 15, so I literally made no plans for my life except to do video – which is a good thing, because I went to school for it. That documentary won a National Award in 2003, and the following year, I decided I wanted to have my own business in video production, and so I went ahead and started it. I literally went to Target, bought a desk for one hundred dollars, came back home, set it up in my bedroom (I had roommates), and I started posting to a website called “craigslist” – is anybody here familiar with that? [laughter] I had no website, I didn’t have any equipment; I just had my desk. I started posting and managed to convince the first few people to hire me. I took out a credit card with zero percent interest, and worked part-time for two years while working a full time job on top of that.
So, really, Skillman Video Group was born in 2005. And, little notes to me that same year, YouTube was also born – very good timing. YouTube happened to completely revolutionize the way people can communicate, not least of which they had developed (or really forwarded) a video playback system called “flash” – have you guys heard of flash? It’s now, of course, passed – do not do flash, it’s evil, it’s horrible [laughter]. Before that, if you had video on your website, you had to have a Quicktime player, or Windows Media Player. It was really clunky and awkward. It made it possible for a young woman, who started a business out of her bedroom, to even have a chance at starting a business from nothing.
I went full time in 2007; by the end of that year, I had signed “Yahama” as a client, one of the largest music companies in the world. The only way I was able to even get a chance at that was because of the internet. It is the greatest democratization device out there for anyone who’s willing to have their story be told. In 2009, there was the stock market crash; the economic crisis – it was a great time to be working for yourself [laughter]. In the marketing sphere, in particular, it just so happened that my background in documentary production was very relevant to online video marketing. It’s all about story telling; less about “selling” and more about “telling the story”. It was kind of a natural gifting for me, and that’s just the way my business organically flowed.
If you think anybody was spending money on video in 2008, 2009, or 2010, they weren’t. Life got really hard, but I invested at the time in a new website called “WordPress”. I serendipitously met with someone who did SEO; hopefully some of you just attended his workshop on SEO, so you’re familiar. He thankfully needed someone to do video work. We partnered up and started doing a lot of the techniques we will be talking further about this afternoon. We started blogging, we started doing landing pages, we started creating video content for ourselves. I can tell you that, by the end of 2011, we had our best year to date, even when the economy was crap. But, by putting ourselves out there on Google, I stopped having to wait for the phone to ring. It allowed more people to find out that I existed. We had our best year ever last year, and we’re going to guarantee we’re the best year ever today.
[Our success] is in large part because people find out who we are because of this little thing called the internet. Of course, they know you, they hire you, they refer you, and then they hire you again, so it’s a great way to organically grow your business. But why is video so important? Why are we doing so well today?
Have you guys heard of “Forrester Research”? They do research of video on the web, and one of their reports says that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but they take it one step further and they actually said that “one minute of video is worth about 1.8 billion words”. That’s the equivalent of 3,600 typical white pages. How many of you do SEO? If you’re doing SEO, which I strongly suggest that you do it, that’s a lot of pages for you guys to be writing. That’s 150 days of writing to the impact of one minute of video. This is 45.4%, that’s the percentage of internet users who view at least one video online over the course of a month. Average users view 32.3 videos in one month. 100 million internet users watch online video everyday, and if you’re marketing towards consumers, that’s particularly relevant to you. 90% of online shoppers at a major retail website find video helpful in making shopping and buying decisions; I personally find it really helpful. 75% of executives told Forbes that they watched work related videos on business websites at least once a week. According to Forbes, over 59% of those [executives] would rather watch a video than read text. That’s a really large percentage. 65% visit the marketer’s website after viewing a video. Of those visitors, 50% look for more information, 45% report that they contact the vendor after seeing an online video ad. 50% of those who viewed an online marketing video went on to make a purchase for their business. Those are some pretty compelling numbers – if you have video on your site, people are going to watch it, and they’re going to take action after they finish watching it – much more so than if you just put a bunch of text on a page, right? Other reports say that you have five seconds once somebody lands on your website to know if they like it or if they don’t like it. If they don’t see something that’s going to catch their eye, they’re going to bounce. The best SEO plan in the world only works so well if they’re coming to your website, and they’re not finding content that they like. So, these numbers suggest that if you have a video on your website, they’re probably going to stick around to watch it. Which is what you want; you want people on your site for as long as possible.
So, we’re going to talk a little bit not about content strategy because we just gave you some really compelling numbers as far as why video on your website should be really important. But, too many times, companies start to throw out a bunch of videos and they don’t really take the time to do the prerequisite soul-searching to understand why you should be doing video, what your target should be, so really taking the time to understand the end from the beginning is going to really set your company up for success with your video marketing campaign. You’d be surprised how many times people call me and say “we want a video”. That’s great, but what do you want it to do for you? Defining success for you is hugely important because success will look different depending upon what kind of industry you are in. If you’re marketing towards consumers, if you’re marketing towards a business, what are you looking for? Are you looking for engagement? Are you looking for social media life? Are you looking for forwards? Are you looking for people to pick up the phone and call? I think you and your marketing team need to have those conversations and say, “when people are done watching this video, what do we want them to do? What do we want them to say? How do you want them to feel?”
[Question from an audience member:] How detailed does that need to be? Because one of the struggles I’m having is that they want a full story board from start to finish before they agree to do a video; I’m finding that extremely difficult. They tell me to be more detailed, or to find somebody else. So how detailed should it be?…
[Skillman:] …It depends on what kind of video production company you’re hiring. Some people just want to do video, right? They don’t want to have to understand the end from the beginning. They want YOU to understand the end from the beginning and they just come in and do it, right? I would never ask someone to do a story board. I would ask you to show me a bunch of links to videos that you like online. What that tells me, as a creative, is who are you? What do you like, as the business owner? From there I can say, okay, to give you a video that looks like “this”, it’s going to cost you approximately XYZ. From there, we kind of develop the pitch together. I think it’s helpful for you to have an idea of what you want the video to look like. I don’t think it is unrealistic to me for you to know how to get there okay. But if you don’t even know what you like, then we’re going to end up throwing a bunch of stuff up on the wall hoping that it sticks, and you’re just going to be like “I hate that, I hate that, I hate that…” So, style-wise, we will talk a lot about the creative process too, but a great first step for you is to look what your competitors are doing; understand who your audience is. I think that’s another important piece that people forget; at the end of the day, as marketers, we have to know its not about us, right? It’s about our customers, what they say or they don’t say. So, who are they? What’s their demographic? Where are they hanging out, which social media sites are they on? What kinds of videos are they watching? That can also help us backwards-engineer the kind of content we should be doing in the end. So, when I do say this, and I talk about success, I’m not actually asking you to have a clear script yet for the video (though that can be helpful for us). But, you should have a vague idea of what the message should be.
A lot of times, people aren’t even sure of what their story is. You know, this is sometimes surprising to me too. Or, they get so caught up in how great their product is and what it can do, and I think there’s a time and place for content that’s really technical, or really procedural, or informational like that, but I don’t underestimate the value of what your story is, because really, at the end of the day, people are going to hire you or not hire you because they like you or not. They want to know that you can do the job, they want to know that you’re professional, they want to know that you’re an expert, but if you can add that human touch to your website, to your marketing material, the ideas that they get to see themselves in your story, and I think if you can have an emotional connection, not just an intellectual connection but the emotional connection, they are going to be much more likely to want to engage with you, to pick up the phone and call you. The goal of any kind of online marketing scheme, the best SEO in the world, yes, they’re coming to my site. They have to like what they see, they have to trust that we know enough, they’re going to pick up the phone and call. After that, its still on me. So, you’re never getting away completely from the emotion of the human connection, but all you can do is give a really great first impression that’s going to convince them that you’re an expert, you’re really good at it, and that they want to do business with you; at least enough to talk to you. Examples of potential goals might be for your P, and these are important for you to know because this will impact what types of video we want to do.
Enhancing SEO; how many of you guys are doing this? We’ll go into different video types in a little bit, but if your goal is to boost SEO, that’s going to completely change what kind of video content you should be doing. If your goal is to increase social media likes, engagement, if you want people to share it, sometimes people get really hung up on this whole “its gotta go viral” thing. I’ll tell you straight off the bat, that’s really hard to actually pull off; I’m not saying its impossible, but any company that can guarantee that for you is probably lying to you. The idea being that, if you’re just doing it to get some social media mentions, that might be entirely different content that you want to be creating and that’s why, for the [BFC people], that would be definitely speaking to you because consumers have much different viewership habits than [BNB people], than an executive would, okay? So, maybe the point of your video is to just inform people about very specific technical aspects of your product, and I think there’s a time and place for that. I’m not saying across-the-board there’s ever a video that should never say this, or no video should ever say that. I don’t ever believe that. I think there’s room for all types of video, including videos that you guys make yourselves with your iPhones.
I just think that people should be doing video, I believe in video. Sometimes its appropriate to have really technical video products too, if whatever piece of equipment you’re selling calls for that. One of the most important things that they will always be able to start with is, of course, the “brand story”. Who are you? Everyone can find out what it is that you do, but who are you? What makes you different? What makes you unique? Why are you so passionate about that? What I think is so cool about video is they’re not just reading “we are passionate about what we do”; they’re seeing your eyes as you talk about it, like there’s a fire in your belly. There’s something that the video medium communicates so much more so that photography even; its certainly front of page.
The Creative Process: I’m going to show you this video later, this is just a little preview, we just did a shoot with things that were actually blowing up! Yay! [laughter]. The “creative process”. I just want to say this about the creative process. A lot of times we do stuff for businesses, and everybody is used to the spreadsheet mentality where everything is linear. I just want to say that if you guys work with other creatives, graphic designers or whatever, the creative process is not always a straight line. You have to be comfortable with that. I trust the process as long as you’re hiring a creative person that you like their aesthetic. Again, you liking something is extremely important. If you do not like their past work, do not hire them because that is what you’ll be getting, right? I think you have to trust them, I think that you both have to be committed to completing the project, and I think I prefer at least when its extremely collaborative. I don’t like if I’m brought on, and I’m told “this is what I want, XYZ”, because then I’m just a body, right? I also don’t like when it’s the other extreme and people are like, “oh, we don’t know what we want. Give us whatever you think, I don’t care.” Because, sooner or later, like I said, you end up throwing a bunch of stuff up at the wall and it all comes crashing down and it becomes the project that should take three months but ends up taking six months.
There has to be that line between “this is the kind of video that we like, take a look at it”, and “understanding that your video is going to be unlike anybody else’s video because its your video, it’s your story”. I do think some basic concept of graphic style you like is helpful. Like I was explaining earlier, I don’t think its harmful to go online, look at what your competitors are doing, maybe even a totally different industry, but you’re saying, “I really love the pace of this video. I like how it was shot, I like the kind of music they used.” We’re not saying that so you’re going to have a direct rip-off of that, its just, again, telling us what you like. What kind of energy should it have? Do you want it fast-paced? Do you want it more slow? There is no right or wrong answer, guys. Just know that everything you do, everything, all of your content, this does not just include your video, but its communicating something about your brand. So, if you know its really fast paced like flashy graphics and music, you’re communicating something about who your company is, right? If its really slow and plodding, that might be okay – maybe you want more gravitas. Maybe you want that sense of seriousness. There is no right or wrong answer, but just be aware that everything that you do, everything you’re putting out there, is communicating who you are. So again, just to reiterate, take that time to bring your video crew to understand what you’re trying to create; why you’re trying to create it. “
Skillman Video Group, LLC specializes in Boston video production. Please call 1-800-784-0140 to learn more.