4 minute read

How marketers are drunk on video content and what to do about it

A video should be treated like a chapter rather than an entire book.

How marketers are drunk on video content and what to do about it

When we sit down to meet with a product manager representing one of our clients about a new “launch video” one Thursday afternoon, I can see the train wreck coming from a mile away.

"This video is going to be the key piece of my marketing plan and has to really sell the story of why we created this product,” the manager tells us. He came prepared with product documentation, communication goals, calls to action, and to our surprise, had even mapped out success metrics. He then proceeded to lay out what problems his target customer has, why the alternative solutions can’t compare, and the features and benefits of his new product, all with a level of understanding only a true expert could manage.

But this smart and determined marketer is about to walk into the same trap thousands of others will walk into this year; he’s about to do the digital marketing equivalent of cornering a stranger at a wedding and lecturing them on the impending education bubble.

Our conversation gets more intense when we ask things like, “What should the one most important message of this video be?” or, “Where does this fit in with the customer journey?”

This product manager thinks it is a sin to not stuff everything possible into this one video. It’s a video, after all, the high-caliber weapon of choice in the digital world. It is an attention-grabbing machine that can mesmerize and seduce potential customers in a single bound, or so it seems.

The statistics surrounding videos are mouth watering; 73% of brands that post video on Instagram see 1.2 times the interaction rate of the average brand post. By 2020, nearly 80% of total global internet traffic will be driven by video, and Mark Zuckerberg claims Facebook has moved from being mobile first to video first.

But what these stats don’t tell you is that videos are greatly ignored. Our team has generated millions of views with our videos and the vast majority get less than five seconds of view time, many of which are watched with the audio off. As the owner and chief strategist of a digital creative agency, my staff and I spend a great deal of time educating our clients on the perils of trying to accomplish too much with a single video.

When it comes to videos, we learned these are the reasons why marketers act like half-drunk second cousins at a wedding:

  1. They still see the world in traditional terms. The wedding that brings people together only once in a long while represents the traditional approach to marketing, where you have to make the most of infrequent encounters. Whereas in digital, the ability to create a sequenced and stepwise journey based on engagement behavior is one of the real revolutions.
  2. They are so caught up in their own story they forget it’s impossible to take someone from no knowledge to being a believer in one chronicle.
  3. They forget they should take the time to see if someone is interested before launching into a tirade of details.
  4. They are so excited and believe so much in their story they honestly think they can close this deal right now, even though you are at a wedding and have no interest in learning about the impact artificially backed loans have on the overall cost of education.

So how do we keep ourselves and clients from treating every video like a book rather than a chapter? It begins and ends with understanding where in the consumer journey your video(s) are being used. Just knowing is not enough; it has to be framed at the beginning of every creative, production and review meeting in the process. We need to constantly remind ourselves and other stakeholders of the specific purpose of each video, otherwise it will slip back to the broad narrative that is sure to dilute.

Here are a few questions we answer as a reminder to our internal and external teams before each strategy, creative or review meeting.

  1. Who are we targeting?
  2. Where are they in the buying process?
  3. What do they currently know about our brand, product or category?
  4. What do we think will take them to the next step in the buying process?
  5. What is the next step and how will we measure success?

This process allows you to laser focus on one part of the consumer journey. The key here is focus. Answer “the one thing only” for each video. Whether you have 10 seconds or three minutes, chances are many of your viewers will walk away with one thing. What do you want that to be?

Now that you have a well-defined target, a consumer journey map, and your "one thing only" statements, you are ready to engage your creative teams in producing content that will move people through your funnel more effectively.

Remember: Each video is a tool that has a specific purpose to a specific audience. Keep this laser focus and you will see much better results than taking a "wide shot" approach to telling your story.

No items found.

Jacob Johnson is a principal and co-founder of Gitwit, and a partner at 19days. Jacob studied business at the University of Tulsa where he helped co-found a center for creativity and innovation. He has led the product strategy for 15+ SaaS products, has invested in and co-founded multiple technology ventures, and has helped raise over $40MM in seed and growth capital.