I couldn’t resist taking this photo while walking around in Manhattan. I’ll leave the company name out of it but this was their main marketing message on the front of the building. They may want to consider revamping their positioning a bit – or maybe the marketing department.
Disclaimer: I’m am not a professional video producer. If you’ve read my blog for a few years you’ll know I typically embrace the latest mediums in marketing, learn them, and implement them in my teams’ strategies. While video has been a part of our mix for a few years, I’m working to utilize it more as a strategic medium to display positioning and messaging. If you’re more advanced in video, some of these tips may seem a bit simplistic.
I’m a fan of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain on the food and travel channels. I like how their shows use unique camera shots and interesting script to make you want to jump on a plane to a new location or run out and try a new food. They’re storytellers. But, they have camera crews, the best equipment, $$$, and people to professionally produce these shows. Well, I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. I want to use video in marketing but I don’t have the budget dollars for a professionally produced video every time and our equipment comes in at around $1500 – $2000. I also don’t want to produce something that could negatively impact our brands due to low quality or that looks like it was produced in the basement. So, is there a middle ground?
Absolutely! Here are key steps you’ll want to consider as you get your start in producing video content:
- Have a Strategy: Why are you producing this? What is the end goal? Content marketing is not just a buzz word, but rather a necessary reality. Content is key and video is another way to present compelling content to your target audience. But, there has to be a purpose just as there would be a purpose to writing a white paper. Every aspect of producing this video should be done with your main strategy in mind.
- Know Your Equipment: Our equipment consists of a DSLR, a boom mic, portable light, wireless mics, tripod, and camera/accessory mount. We purchased quality equipment within our budget. We also got together as a team and shared what we know about the equipment. This was key as we wanted a systematic approach to shooting the videos as it won’t be possible to always have the video experts with us in the field as we shoot. Know your camera settings, how the equipment is setup, and know some basic sound and lighting strategies. (Yes, despite all this I still shot some key scenes without the mic on!).
- If All Else Fails, Revert to Simple: This is important – especially if you’re like me. In my mind, I was going hit the field and BE the Andrew Zimmern of corporate video. But, in reality, I quickly discovered my limitations – both on camera and off (those guys are very talented at what they do). Don’t let that stop you. Remember, we’re sticking to our goals which is to present content, messaging, and positioning for our brands. Sometimes, extravagance can draw the viewer away from the core purpose. I’ve found keeping it simple can produce the right result. Plus, trying to produce over what your capabilities actually are only increases the chances of a less professional outcome.
- Script It: This seemed both obvious and wrong to me. I certainly don’t want the people on camera to look like they’re reading or have memorized a script. I want to humanize our companies through personality and creativity in presentation. Not make us look like robots. But, without some outline scripting, we would be in trouble. There has to be a structure and boundaries to what is said on camera. Going back to building off of a strategy, you want everything said and done on camera to represent that core strategy. That’s why it’s important to lay out in words what you want to say and convey. Practice from those scripts until you and the team feel comfortable. Then, dump the paper script and be yourself.
- Storyboard It: Storyboarding is the funnest aspect for me as this is where you really start to feel like you’re producing a video. This is where you sit in the viewers chair and imagine what they want to see on the screen to stay engaged and absorb your content. If the viewer is going to take the time to watch your content, they’re going to want to watch a story unfold. This means shooting secondary footage – or B-roll – to show while commentary is in progress. This means showing the viewer how you came to be where you’re at and why you’re talking about the topic. We took out a large white board and drew little pictures that represented the scenes we wanted to produce. I snapped a picture with my Droid, sent it to Evernote, and I was ready to go.
- Be Flexible: Where you’re shooting the video will never be as perfect as what you draw up in your mind. You also don’t have an advanced crew going to stage the scene for you (if you do, you’re reading the wrong article). This is where you roll up your sleeves and turn the setting into what you need. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to practice the flexibility ahead of time and plan for anything and everything. For instance, I was in Florida recently shooting an introduction to one of our companies and we planned for the perfect opening set outside the front door framed with Florida-like trees and plants. What we didn’t plan for was the strong winds the three days I was there. The audio was going to sound similar to those crazy reporters that stand outside in the eye of a hurricane! Instead, we found a setting inside that helped support our goal which was to present the company as a high-tech company. We shot the opening in their state-of-the-art training facility which positions them as thought leaders and having the ability to train customers on their technology.
- Keep it Short: Attentions spans are shorter and your target audience has other pieces of their day demanding their attention. I typically find we almost need to cut in half what we want to convey in the video. Remember, you can always have a Part I and Part II. I think 3-5 minutes is pretty good for a corporate video piece. Depending on your purpose and intent, there are always situations where it can be longer.
There is obviously a lot more to producing a video and I plan to expand on a few of these points in future posts. But, this should give you some things to think about as you plan the plunge into video marketing. Also, if you have tips and tricks of your own, please leave them below. I’m sure readers would appreciate more insight!
Many of my readers are marketing professionals so stick with me on this post until the end. Although it looks like a post reviewing local dry cleaners it was actually inspired out of seeing first hand how performance directly impacts a brand image.
I despise ironing. There – I said it. I feel much better. I ironed my shirts for many years but as my use of button down shirts grew, it seemed like I spent most weekends ironing. I also dislike spending money on something I can do myself. But, like plumbing and electricity, I decided it was time to outsource. (side note: plumbing and electricity were outsourced as it was determined that I couldn’t do that myself )
My wife and I had heard that there were actually dry cleaners that picked up and dropped off at your home and after a quick price comparison we felt the few extra cents might justify the efficiency in this service.
So we searched for Minneapolis and St. Paul cleaners that delivered and we went with Total Care Cleaners. After a few months I was sold. The service was excellent. I put my shirts in a bag and hung them on the door where they were picked up. All the shirts came back in perfect shape ready for wear. We also found the customer service to be very good. No matter when we called or emailed, we always had a live response or one shortly after. Never a lost shirt and never a missed delivery.
Then came some tempting PR for a local competitor – Mulberrys Garment Care. They advertise 100% toxin-free cleaning. From their site:
“At Mulberrys, our award-winning dry cleaning and stain removal experts use pressurized, naturally occurring C02. The use of odorless C02 enables us to return your clothes cleaner and without the chemical smell. Also, because no heat is used, your clothes are finished without the fading, shrinking, pilling or stain-setting common to all other dry cleaning methods.”
We thought it couldn’t hurt to give them a try. I was sucked in by what came back on that first order. The shirts came back on nice wooden hangers and [drum roll please] they had collar stays already in the shirts. Wow! What a great perk for essentially the same price. Although my wife and I are loyal consumers it looked like we’d been lured and had found a new service for my shirts. This was just too good – they’re environmentally friendly and offer some nice value-adds.
Then, the wheels started coming off. First, it was a lost shirt then a lost suit and then a handful of shirts on one order. (Note: all the items were found and returned within a week). It wasn’t so much the temporarily lost shirts that bothered us as much as the lack of response to our emails or voicemails. We actually ventured into their store in a local grocery because we couldn’t get a response and we found chaos. There was no explanation or reason for the lack of response and we got vague answers as to the location of my shirts. For the record, all the people were pleasant and when they got the clothes right, they did it very well. But, we were using up the time we hoped to save by using this service in chasing down lost items.
We also found out they were expanding to other cities. What?! It seemed they were struggling to serve this city. That’s when the analytical business side of my head kicked in.
Total Care Cleaners understood the core needs of their consumer. Clean, pressed shirts delivered on time and the complete order in tact. Not only did they understand, but they did it well and delivered responsiveness when their customer needed it. No big value-adds – just dependable service. Mulberrys already had expanded to nice perks and value added features they knew their customers would like. But, they were missing that reliability and service that makes the extra features nice to have. In the end their brand is suffering because they haven’t mastered their core business the way the competition has.
Hopefully, we all supported Small Business Saturday this last weekend and we all got the chance to see some small businesses in action. I love to support small, local businesses that understand their target markets and the needs of the consumer. Who wouldn’t want to support that? Understanding your core business and executing on that before expanding is key in my opinion.
Any interesting insights around small business from this weekend?
I recently wrote about an experience I had in Europe staying at Ibis hotels. I was impressed with their marketing of their services and the backing of that brand marketing by hotel staff. The post was fun for me to write and discuss with readers as I end up staying in quite a few hotels throughout the year – some good and some…not so good. Traveling in the US is a bit easier on the hotel selection as the locations to which I travel are dominated by trusted (most of the time) chain hotels like Marriott or Hilton. But, internationally is a different story. The chains are there but often at a price that the corporate budget can’t handle or a location that doesn’t work for me.
Often, I’m faced with a decision process based on price, location, and a few pictures and amenities posted on the random hotel website. Not exactly reassuring when your worst nightmare is a dingy, dirty hotel room. Sites like TripAdvisor help in the decision process with customer reviews but what happens when there are only a few reviews and they could easily be from friends of the hotel owners.
So, I’m in the process of finding a room in Paris for a week this Fall and I came across this website with an interesting video feature. Before I dig in, check it out:
The video depicts a businesswoman utilizing the hotel amenities such as free wifi, breakfast area and conference rooms on site. It gives you an idea of what rooms will look like as well as other locations such as the hotel salon and bar. Obviously, this is professionally done and shows the hotel in the best light possible.
I realized after I watched this that video depiction of a hotel experience is a rare marketing tool. Admittedly, I found myself more inclined to consider this property after watching someone else go through their stay. So, it begs the question – Is showing an individual or group of people enjoying the hotel a good thing? Here are a couple of thoughts:
- You can tell this is professionally done, but likely on a tight budget. It’s quality enough that it portrays the hotel in a good light. I do think, however, that some boutique hotels could go low budget and perhaps harm the opinion of their property if the video is poor quality.
- This video portrays a businesswoman, but what if I’m a family considering that hotel in Paris for a vacation. Would the focus on a business person lead me to believe that children probably wouldn’t fit in? Of course, there is a chance that this hotel’s goal is to try and attract the business person.
- I think this is a strong tool for boutique hotels that might not get the large exposure of a bigger property or chain. I’m often most leery of these types of hotels because there aren’t many reviews and the websites are often lower budget. It doesn’t cost a fortune to produce this and it gives the website visitor more confidence in the hotel.
- This hotel “gets” marketing more than others I’ve seen. They’re prominently showing the video on their home page and advertising the fact they’re reviewed on Trip Advisor.
Overall, I’m a fan of this type of marketing and see little downside. Did I book at this hotel? Unfortunately, no. I went with something a bit closer to where I’d be spending a majority of my time.
What are your thoughts? Does video give you a unique perspective of hotel properties or would you pay little attention if one was offered?
I was recently watching the original Star Wars movies with my kids. An absolute timeless series, but it’s amazing how much more suspenseful that was when I was much younger. Graphics and special affects have come a long way.
But, one persona in the movie that portrays wisdom relevant in any galaxy is Yoda. Remember him? The little green guy in the swamp that guides Luke on his journey to understanding, “The Force”. One of Yoda’s lines in the movie struck me as extremely relevant in my profession – or any profession for that matter. Luke was having a hard time with something related to The Force and he told Yoda he’d try again. Yoda snapped back and said, “Do or do not. There is no try”
Brilliant! How many times have we heard, “we should give that a try” on our Marketing teams? I’m starting to see the word “try” as an out. When you’re “trying” something, failure to execute is understandable. After all, it was only trying. But, what about all the cost, resource, and time that went into that “try”.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for trying something new. In fact, I encourage innovation and “out-of-the-box” thinking in regards to how my teams market their companies. But, as Marketers we have 100 times the options available to us to connect with our customers than we did 10 or 15 years ago. The Internet, social media, podcasts, webinars, blogging, etc. are offering us bountiful options in which to proliferate and distribute our positioning and messaging. The myriad of choices is daunting for small business marketers and the temptation to dabble in a new medium or technology is great.
But, there is the problem – the dabbling. If you don’t draw up a plan, dedicate resources, and design intended outcomes you risk missing the boat on the new direction’s potential. Instead, follow these steps and put the new effort on the right path:
Article in instapaper that might be good reference
- Alignment with Goals: Alignment with goals is always one of my first thoughts when considering giving my approval for anything in Marketing. Is this new effort going to support a direction the Marketing team or the overall company is going?
- What’s the Plan: Simply trying can waste time. What is the measurable result you hope to attain? An “A to Z” plan should be clear so you can get to a certain point in time and analyze whether the intended result was achieved. Too often we get in the habit of giving something a try and seeing what happens rather than knowing what you want to happen first and implementing a plan to get there.
- Look for Other People’s Experience: A simple search can yield a plethora of perspectives. Perhaps someone else has some experience you can tap. Maybe there are pitfalls or better ways of implementation that you haven’t considered.
- Consider Resources: You’ve gotten your plan and feel confident that there is a measurable outcome. But, what are the opportunity costs of implementing? If you’re a small business you’re most likely looking at not applying your time to something else in order to implement this new idea. Make sure you have a full scope of what resources are needed and what may get dropped.
- How Much Will This Cost: This should be a no brainer, right? If your budget is tight – it better be. But, often we don’t consider “project creep”. What hidden expenses are out there that you haven’t considered yet?
As a reference point for some more information on a related topic, I came across this article which I think gives a good perspective on taking calculated risks:
I know there are a variety of perspectives and opinions on this topic so please chime in if you think there are other angles to this discussion!
Most of my viewing activities this weekend revolved around March Madness (best sporting event of the year), but I did manage to catch a YouTube video or two that caught my attention. Namely, a video created by Corning that has caught fire and defines the meaning of viral – without really being viral. Confused by that? Let me explain.
First, I’m a techie geek and admittedly, I’ve watched this one a few times. If you’re curious what our world in technology could look like one day, check this out:
Unbelievable, right? As a consumer I’m in awe, but I was also intrigued from a marketing perspective. Many of us dream about creating that piece of video content for our small business that goes global and is shared by millions of people and creates a swarm of interest around our products or services.
Well, that wasn’t Corning’s intent. The video was created to inspire and educate investors at a corporate investor’s day event. This wasn’t intended to be emailed, Liked, Tweeted, posted about, and spread globally – it was to show investors how glass will continue to increasingly impact our daily lives.
One of two things happened next: either someone at Corning decided on a whim to post it to YouTube for the heck of it, or maybe, as Rebecca Lieb points out in her iMedia Connection article, this was a strategic move to reuse a brilliant piece of content creation. Whatever it was, it worked – over 9 million people have viewed the 6 minute video (I’m three of those).
There are some good strategies around marketing viral videos with stealth, but I don’t think that was the case here. I think this was a well-produced piece of content that Corning will continue to get some mileage out of in other mediums. It isn’t exactly a small business budget that created it (I’d love to know how much), but it was well done and does show how important it is to proliferate content through various mediums and at different audiences.
Thank you for all of you that emailed me about the status of my site today. I appreciate you taking the time to do so. As many of you noticed the Lonely Marketer was down and out. Let’s just say it was a very bad day for my web host. They’re taking enough heat so I won’t pile on. They worked hard all day and all seems to be working fine now.
A few of you said you had thoughts and comments about my case study this morning. I’d love to hear them.
Please stop back by Brand Positioning Case Study: ibis Hotels and let me know what’s on your mind.
I was traveling in Europe last week visiting customers and partners and staying in a variety of hotels as it was a multi-country trip. Two of the legs of the trip were in Belgium and the Netherlands where I had the opportunity to stay at a couple of the hotels in the ibis Hotel chain. I certainly don’t claim to be an expert in hotel management or hotel marketing but there were some features of these hotels that caught my eye and made me think of a couple very important characteristics of a well-done branding campaign.
Thus, here is a small case study from my experience last week.
I’ve stayed in the ibis hotels a few times on previous trips to Europe and twice on this trip so my sampling for this study is not large. But, I have seen some similarities across the chain that led me to want to highlight them.
The picture to the left is a small stand-up display card located in both of my rooms. The message is letting me know that whatever the problem I may encounter, they will resolve it in 15 minutes or less or the room is on them. Their Quality Assurance page on their website shows the same message in English. In the Netherlands, I didn’t have a problem but there was a minor issue needing resolution. To me it was not urgent and would not have affected my stay, but an out-of-breathe employee was at my door with a resolution in under 15 minutes. He smiled and let me know he had it done in 12. But, the best part – he was proud of it and you could see that.
Other similar displays touching on their level of service were posted throughout the hotel and for each I could probably drum up an example of an employee backing up the guarantee. The advertisements and messaging were created in a main headquarters somewhere – but the execution and strengthening of the message on a daily basis is being carried out by the employees. This leads us to a very key point – a campaign or branding message is nothing without the proper execution of the customer facing employees.
As Marketers we brainstorm creative deliveries of key company brand characteristics but sometimes overlook the importance of making sure everyone understands what we’re trying to accomplish and say. Here are a few key steps in assuring all front line employees can back up your go-to-market efforts:
- Training: It doesn’t take too long to get key personnel in a room or on a webinar and present a few slides on your branding or campaign effort. The last thing you want is for them to hear of the campaign from a customer. If the customer feels a disconnect between the campaign or message and the employee to which they’re talking, the whole thing has a lot less weight in the customer’s eyes.
- Give Campaign Material a Dry Run: You’ve got the perfect graphics, presentations, advertisements, brochures, slogans, and imagery ready to roll, but why not take a step back and release it internally first. Yes, you may not hear exactly what you want, but the impressions and feedback from your internal co-workers can help fine tune the materials for the customer.
- Step Into the Interaction: I’ve made it a habit to travel with salespeople and present our positioning to customers and partners – or watch them do it. How comfortable are they with what they’re presenting? How is it being received by the customer? What questions are generated? It’s not that I don’t trust the feedback if I’m not present, but there is nothing like seeing it real-time.
Again, I’m not a hotel brand expert but the key message is the same across many industries – Employees need to reinforce brand positioning. Any disconnect will trigger a lack of confidence with the customer. I was curious if there was other content floating around about similar topics and there is quite a bit. Here were a few that caught my eye:
- Finding Your Brand Position: Fierro Hotel
- A Hotel Brand That Fits
- Top Qualities of World Class Brands
Any thoughts from you on this? Any positive or negative engagements with hotel brands you want to share?
Occasionally, I’ll come across a piece of advertising or messaging that strikes me in some way. Sometimes, I’ll be hit by how bad the advertiser or brand missed the mark and sometimes I’ll really appreciate how they connected with me. In this case, I was definitely impressed with the positioning and messaging presented by Lifetime Fitness.
Lifetime Fitness has built itself up in recent years to be the prominent health club in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. They build gyms that appeal to a broad base of exercise interests spawning generations – from kids clubs to seniors programs. My family belongs to Lifetime and actively use many of their facilities.
A few weeks ago as I was exiting the club I caught the banner – pictured here – out of the corner of my eye. The slogan, “I can do it all in my Lifetime” jumped out at me. My first thought was of the Lifetime Marketing team sitting around a table and having one of those “Aha Moments” when an idea or concept materializes. It’s one of those fun moments to be in Marketing. My guess is that happened here. It also spurred me to whip out a camera in a healthclub and take a picture. Probably not one of my better ideas but, oh well – this post wouldn’t be much without the visuals!
I like the concept, alot (the messaging – not me taking pictures in a health club). Two messages jumped out at me instantly. One, Lifetime Fitness is offering me the chance within their gyms to select from a wide variety of exercise options. This is also presented to me visually by showing a variety of options available to me that I may not be able to experience in my lifetime if I wasn’t a member.
But, I like advertising that could have double meanings and makes me think about what those are. This piece also stirred the emotion that if I utilize the wide variety of exercise options available to me, I’ll put my body, mind, and spirit in a better position to experience more out of life. I’d be curious to know from Lifetime if that was the intention or merely a product of me over-analyzing this.
From a campaign standpoint, it was well thought out as well. Below is what appears on their website and they’re also running some print advertisements with the same concept. But, I didn’t see much on their Facebook or Twitter pages about the campaign. It might have been a good idea to carry it through all mediums they’re using to reach out to their customer base. I’m sure it’s mentioned on a post or tweet but I think having the logos present on the social media presence would have carried the message through nicely.
But, overall, the message made me think and helped to position their brand in my mind – isn’t that what we’re all after with advertising and campaigns?