“Work in the movies,” they said. “You’ll be a star.”
Films, flickers, talkies, cinema—whatever the name or the century, from the moment it was first recorded, people have always loved video. So it’s no wonder that with the growth of technology, we’ve found a hundred and one new ways to create, share, and interact with a medium that used to be constrained by reels of film and pounds of celluloid. But is it possible for marketers to have the same video marketing strategy that they do in Tinseltown?
When I first began working as a marketer, I found myself at an advertising production company doubling as a scriptwriter. The position held all the allure a college student could hope for: the chance to work with big brands, weeks on-set in exotic locales, the chance to see your material on TV and the Web. I expected a life filled with the occasional furious week of script writing, dominated mostly by the constant adventures of set.
I was so very wrong.
The pervasiveness of video content today can give the impression that quality video is easy and fast to make. But the reality—both at my production company and for marketers at large—is that truly good material happens in an arduous three step process: Pre-production, production, and post-production. The reality of my job was that for the months of planning in pre-production and editing in post-production, I usually only ever found myself on set for two to three days. While this scale is certainly larger than most in-house marketers need to consider, the ratio still remains much the same—preparation, by far should take the most of your time, while cutting together a clean product at the end should be meticulous and time intensive. Playing with cameras is fun, but it shouldn’t take anywhere near most of your time.
Step 2: Learn, Revise, Repeat
The best video marketing strategy in the world will fall apart if the content it’s pushing isn’t good.
YouTube is typically the go-to for marketers to host video content, and with good reason, given the clear search advantages of YouTube over the closest competition. But if your brand is experimenting with video for the first time, or if you’re considering branching out into new styles of content, then it can pay to try “soft-releasing” material with the intention of getting feedback. YouTube, while full of users, is also full of horribly inane video comments. Vimeo, on the other hand, is the perfect platform for releasing content to a small initial audience and asking for feedback. With a community primarily comprising other filmmakers, commenting tends to be more constructive. It’s also an incredible resource for connecting with professionals if you have gaps in your video-making mix that you need to fill.
Step 3: Tell the World
So now you’ve crafted the perfect narrative for your video, have done your diligence in the production process (including pre and post), and got some feedback from filmmakers for edits to make. You’re ready to pull the trigger and release your video to the world, right?
Sure. If you’re satisfied with a weak release.
A stronger way to build your video marketing strategy is to mimic the same production cycles that pulls in millions for Hollywood blockbusters every year. Not every project will necessitate each step, but as a general outline the cycle looks like this:
- Dedicated space
- Trailer or behind-the-scenes
- Broad Promotion and guest appearance
Teaser: Teasers are short (five to ten seconds) clips that are aimed at evoking a mood more than saying anything about plot or content. For blockbusters, it might even just be as simple as a single, recognizable symbol or sound. For brands, it serves to have just one line and an interesting visual. The primary usefulness of trailers from a marketing standpoint is that they can serve as a way to test your target audience. Broadly promote your teaser with some low-spend social campaigns, and see who responds—that’s the audience you want to reach when you release the full video.
Dedicated Space: If you’re a Hollywood studio, dedicated space often means the release of a website one day after your teaser release. For a brand looking to promote a small short however, this is perhaps too much effort and with too few resources. Pinning video related material to the top of your social media, or making a separate page on your website can serve a similar purpose. Use this space to expand a bit more on the ideas, emotions, and tones of the content you’re releasing, and see if you can capture some initial interest in an emailing list to retain those viewers later. The goal is not to funnel toward this form, however. Generating traffic, interest, and laying the foundation for a community are the goals.
Trailer or Behind-the-Scenes: Longer form trailers are awesome tools for ninety-minute films. Sadly for marketers, a trailer of a one-minute video would be…well…your whole video. If you’re seeing enough interest from your teaser and dedicated space, shorter form videos can skip this step. Alternatively, if you plan right, you can have someone shoot behind-the-scenes content of your video, and use this BTS material as a way to continue building interest in you larger project. Take this great example from Guinness following up on its wildly popular “Sapeurs” campaign:Broad Promotion and Guest Appearance: Two weeks before a theatrical release, you might notice a headlining star making a load of “junket” appearances on daytime television and news. This comes as part of a broader marketing push right up before release that keeps the film fresh on people’s minds. For marketers, this translates to pushing for guest blogs, backlinks, or other mentions a few days before release. Call in favors, send cold emails, be tenacious. This is where your real momentum is built, and these efforts can be maintained once the video has been released as well.
Welcome to Stardom
Chances are you aren’t going to win any Oscars for your video marketing. That’s okay. While the promotion cycles for Hollywood can help marketers better push their videos, it fundamentally is built around a different goal: Hollywood drives sales; marketers use video to build aesthetic. If nothing else, this is perhaps the most important element to remember through your video creation and promotion process. Video will not be a magic tool for generating leads (or if it is, it won’t be a sustainable tool). It can, however, be the perfect way to draw people in, engage them in an experience, and more authentically welcome them into your brand’s story.
Film has been moving people for a century now, and marketers will do well to focus on continuing that tradition themselves.