Storytelling was a new concept to brand marketers (and video storytelling was not even on the radar). Most marketers were yet to focus on what their customers wanted to know or do, instead considering only what their brand wanted to share. Many had meaningfully underestimated the resources required to create great experiences for their customers. Very few had invested in systems that allowed them to tell stories at scale, or measure the impact of those stories on driving their customers toward purchase. As a result, these brands struggled to launch compelling blog experiences in their first year in the market.
Fast forward to almost-2015. An increasing number of brands are driving measurable ROI from their content investments, reaching customers organically in search, social, and retention marketing, plus, increasingly, through effective paid amplification. Skilled brand storytellers know that successful content marketing requires exceptional, original storytelling, but also demands stories be produced regularly to engage a marketplace with a short attention span. And so marketers have been investing in the art (creative pools, editors, producers) and science (platforms for content creation, creative management, optimization and review, and measurement) they need to create stories that connect with their customers. Brands like IBM, Purina, and New Balance are seeing the fruits of that investment.
Enter video storytelling, and let’s dust off that 2011 approach. The market is evolving quickly, and the direction is clear. Mary Meeker made news earlier this year when she shared that people are already consuming more content via mobile devices than desktops. Marketing investment will shift accordingly, with mobile-focused spend exceeding desktop spend in late 2016, according to eMarketer. Video is, by far, the most effective way to reach consumers on mobile and social platforms. This shift will accelerate as tens of billions of television dollars seek a new home and consumers continue to shift video consumption to ad-free platforms like Netflix and HBO GO.
But marketers should expect disappointing results from video in 2015, because many are taking the same approach to their first year in video that they did their first year in blogging. They are focusing on creating a place to host videos, allocating modest dollars to occasional video creation, and expecting to test video engagement in the coming year. Those that choose to just dip a toe in the water with video storytelling will find they end up with little more than a wet toe. A satisfying swim requires a plunge, and marketers who want to break through ahead of their competition should take a different approach to video than they did their initial foray into storytelling and dive in.
By now, we have learned the new rules of engagement in digital marketing: Discover what inspires your audience. Create stories that connect with them emotionally. Inspire your team and your customers to think differently about the relationship between brand and customer. Amplify your reach by investing to carry your stories to wherever your customers are—and elevate their thinking with a moment of inspiration. Tell a story that sends your customers on a journey and changes their perspective. These basic principles work and deliver results when applied effectively on sustained programs.
Innovative marketers won’t need to repeat the past. Instead, they will apply three years of learning in content marketing to dive boldly into video. After shifting some underperforming television dollars into video storytelling (the cost of a couple television spots will do), these marketers will begin to create at least one video story each week using the art-plus-science approach mentioned above. And they’ll dominate video content marketing for years, while the rest of the market parades around with wet toes.
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