A lot of organizations, marketers, consultants and creepy-human-at-computer's are wondering what the future of video looks like. We're not talking about what camera's will be used or styles employed, but pragmatically, how will video be used? More? Less? Online? Television? Great questions.
If you haven't noticed already, the world (and especially the world of marketing) expands quickly... but has never really changed. Advertising has always been and will always be about one thing: gaining advocacy for your brand and the products/services offered by it. To be fair, the expansion of digital and hyper-social media (especially paid) over the past few decades has been surprising and exponential. However, at it's core and behind the curtain is still the same wizard pulling the same levers as always.
WHERE WE WERE...
THE QUICK HISTORY OF VIDEO PRODUCTION
One of the brightest modern video minds, Jimm Fox of OMM, has this to say:
Back in the ‘big-iron’ days of corporate video you took some shots of the the corporate headquarters, threw in a couple talking heads yammering on about the company’s mission statement and their place in the universe, added in a whack of superfluous motion graphics and $25,000 later, voila! – you had yourself a corporate video.
Fast forward to just a few short years ago when Sony introduces the EX1 camera, shooters like Phillip Bloom start telling everyone their secrets, Canon accidentally turns their DSLR’s into fantastic little video cameras and you have the makings of a revolution. Today, everyone and their aunt is a video producer and… here we are.
...HERE WE ARE?
Yup, here we are. In what our children's children will remember as "The Digital Revolution". And before we jump into video production, a definition of what in the world that means is necessary.
The digital revolution has not changed what marketing is, just the way that we now can market. What does that mean? It means that instead of only creating general products for general audiences, we can now create niche products for niche audiences. And here's the kicker: we can target, track, and monetize them with custom campaigns that actually work. It's possible because the internet has very effectively transformed lack-of-proximity to your leads from an unscalable wall to a very manageable hurdle. EX: You can sell balloons to balloon-fanatics in Japan right here from you living room in Minneapolis... and make it work! And the best part isn't just that we can get over the problem now; it's that we can track and improve on how we did it and how we will continue to in the future.
Instead of only creating general products for general audiences, we can now create niche products for niche audiences.
WHERE WE ARE GOING...
SO WHAT ABOUT VIDEO?
And that brings us to video. If digital marketing is a hand, than video is one of many fingers (although we only use five in this example to avoid being creepy):
Fingers are really good at grabbing but the truth is, without a palm, they're effectively useless. The palm is your website. It's where you hold all of your information, prospects, hopes and dreams. That makes the goal of video -- and other "fingers of digital marketing" -- to grab prospects and bring them back to your website, or palm, where you can then get their contact information and work to convert them into a buyer.
Video works as the "first impression", so to speak, that your brand has with it's audience. It's power is invaluable and that is why we have already begun to see it's massive implementation into most major companies.
HOW VIDEO WILL BE USED IN THIS NEW ERA
So if we aren't in the "Iron Age" of video production as Mr. Jimm Fox so eloquently put it... where are we? We are in the digital age of video production and that has changed a lot. Here is what you need to know to make educated decisions about where and how to invest in video:
- Having a Marketing Approach to Video Is EVERYTHING. Because video production isn't just about your toys anymore, it is now more important than ever to create excellent content. Think about this: video has grown, almost every company and individual has a YouTube channel -- and here it is -- they are using them! There is SO MUCH VIDEO ON THE INTERNET. The point? Having a camera that can capture X quality doesn't make you a video producer any more than owning a pen makes you a professional writer. The key differentiator in video production isn't your equipment (although that is important, more here) it is your approach and execution.
The truth is the majority of video content published on the web is only achieving one purpose: clogging up searches. If you want to create a video that will have effect you will need to invest time and money into crafting your message. Businesses will continue to create their own video because they can and because, for some projects, it actually makes sense to go that route. However, in the words of Jimm, "Those same businesses will also experiment and waste time and resources on more complex video projects that they will ultimately out-source but, like a petulant toddler, they'll have to make these mistakes and suffer through the pain in order to learn".
- Specialization in a vertical or style is everything. Generic solutions already get lost in the new digital marketplace thanks to the digital revolution... so why would video be any different? It won't be. And that specialization will only get stronger and stronger. However, there is a uniqueness with content creation that deserves some mention: specific business verticals (ex: medical, real estate, banking, etc) are not necessarily what you, Marketing Director, should be looking for from your video production company. You should be looking more for specialization in a type and/or style of video. Think about Sandwich Video (recognizable style), 2minuteexplainer.com (generic explainer video) or Variable (consistent high quality).
The truth is, there is NOT, regardless of what anyone tells you, a "one-size-fits-all" video production package. And that's because your organization is unique... and that's good! That's why buying a new camera doesn't change anything. But telling a client how video can solve their business problems... that changes everything.
- Consistent integration of video within social platforms and the greater marketing mix. Currently video is a bit of a stand-alone activity for most businesses and that is quickly going bye-bye. Not only was 2015 dubbed "the year of video" by Marketing Profs because of the amount of spending into this category, but the analytic side of the business has finally "caught-up", so to speak. The best indication of that "arrival" as a mainstream business activity is the fact that news articles and video producers have finally stopped mentioning this months YouTube upload figures. We don't need to "prove it" anymore to businesses and business leaders, it's hear, it's known, and you're behind if you're not jumping on board.
SO WHAT NOW?
Glad you asked. Here are three quick recommendations for what to do to prepare for the next-gen (or now-gen) of video and marketing:
- Start finding a production team that is capable of crafting and executing the types of project you want. Remember, just because you're a medical company does not mean you should be searching for video production companies that do medical video. Instead, you should be identifying the style and message you are working to create and aligning yourself with a production team that can execute on that.
- Don't be swayed by promises of "Viral Video!" or "X Return On Investment!". Not only is it illegal to promise, but it's also just a flat out lie. No one can garuntee any return for certain or recommend X% of a budget be spent on this that or the other thing. You are being lied to in an effort to create a key differentiator for their business when a true one doesn't exist.
- Research what different levels of production cost so you can plan accordingly. Yes, there are different levels of production. Just like buying a car, you can spend in a plethora of ranges when creating unique video content. Take time to educate yourself on what you're buying and how to read proposals back so that you are able to compare apples to apples when you are ready to pull the trigger.