Sunday, February 26, 2017

Five Questions to Answer When Creating a Video Campaign

Five Questions to Answer When Creating a Video Campaign

Video moves us. No other medium can elicit an emotional response quite like video.
Consider iconic moments in sports, history, or even television. We still get chills watching "Miracle on Ice," we feel heavyhearted reliving the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and we can always count on a good laugh from The Office.

It's no wonder brands and companies of all sizes are experimenting with video now more than ever.

What matters for marketers, though, is understanding how to use video in engaging ways for your company. Let's review the five key questions to ask yourself before starting a video marketing campaign.

1. What is the purpose of the campaign?

It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how often someone says "let's do a video," and the vision for it does not match the reality of the final product. Or the enthusiasm for the project gradually wanes as the objective and creative vision shift.
Video is not difficult, but it is different from other forms of communication, such as email and blog posts. With those, drafts can be deleted and revised as you consider the content in real time. For video, there is little room to think in the moment, unless you are Spielberg. Up front, you need to be certain of the purpose and the goal.
Here are some high-level types of video to consider:

  • Awareness: promotes the company brand, product or service, so prospects with a need are aware that your company has a solution
  • Engagement: used by Marketing or Sales in the pursuit of prospects
  • Retention: used by account management or customer success to retain customers and boost satisfaction
  • Product: demonstrates product capabilities
  • Support: helps prospects and customers to onboard with a service or offers solutions to minimize customer support requests
2. What is the content of the video?
Like any other form of content, video must be relevant to its target audience. For example, it may not make sense to send C-level executives a support video, unless you are certain those executives are also the users of your product.

Consider the story your video will tell. What is the beginning, middle, and end? What key messages do you want your audience to take away? Storyboard the video, so the narrative is clear.

Also, it is important to maintain authenticity. If a person is speaking in your video, do not provide a script. High-level talking points will do, enabling them to communicate key messages in their own style and to come across as more genuine.

Of course, maintaining your audience's attention is important as well. Your marketing video should probably be less than a minute long. We've experimented with several durations, some as short as 20 seconds and others that stretch beyond five minutes. Product or support videos may require more time, but for marketing-oriented videos, shorter is better.

3. What should the production quality be?
The answer is, "It depends." Consider the best option for your audience—DIY or professional production.

Modern mobile phone cameras are adequate for shooting very short clips (less than 20 seconds). We see success with this format when promoting a webinar or sharing a quick message to stop by our booth at a tradeshow. We also send company updates using this approach, and find information shared by video rather than email is much more engaging and measurable; of course, these videos are just for internal consumption, so we can get away with an unpolished quality.

Your choices are clear: Hire an outside party, or bring the production in-house. Each option has its pros and cons, and your decision depends on the investment you are willing and able to make with video, as well as the purpose you are fulfilling.

4. Where should I distribute my video?
Congratulations! You shot and produced your video. Now where do you publish it? Your website, YouTube? If it is an awareness-oriented video, the answer is simply "yes" to both.

A blended distribution strategy lets you capitalize on the benefits of YouTube's audience, especially when it's combined with the control and analytics that an online video platform can provide.

Also consider relevant social channels. If you are confident your target audience is watching videos via social, narrow it down to the most applicable channels and publish video there, too. Just make sure the video content matches the social network's audience and environment. (For example, post short videos on Twitter to be more effective, since quick, sound bites align with its style.)

5. What should I measure once the video campaign is live?
Like email metrics (e.g., opens, clickthrough rates), video has its own metrics that provide a performance update. Key metrics to keep top of mind are...

  • Impressions are the number of opportunities someone has for watching the video.
  • Views are the number of times someone watches a video.
  • Play rate is a measure of how engaging your video is (calculate by dividing views by impressions).
  • Engagement rate is a signal of when viewership drops off.
Engagement rate is especially important. This metric breaks up your video into 100 equal segments; if 80 segments are watched, for example, the engagement rate is 80%. If a video is 60 seconds long, an 80% engagement rate means it was watched up to the 48-second mark.

This detailed metric can signal when viewers are dropping off, allowing you to make adjustments. For example, if the engagement rate is 80%, the video could be too long, the content might not be matching viewers' interests, or the video simply isn't engaging enough to maintain attention.

Video campaigns have a lot in common with traditional digital marketing campaigns, so don't be intimidated. To organize your video campaign, ask yourself the above-outlined five questions before you start. You'll be able to produce quality content, build an engaged audience, and measure the results.

If you need help with your email, web site, video, or other presentation to promote your company, product, or service, please give me a call at 440-519-1500 or e-mail me at

X2 Media can help you target your content and get your message to the audience in a way that it is not only seen and heard, but remembered.

Until next month….remember, “you don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression”. Always make it a good one!

From X2Media I would like to thank you for your time.

John E. Hornyak

X2Media, LLC

Six Ways to Generate More (and More Creative) Ideas

Six Ways to Generate More (and More Creative) Ideas

Creative thinking is a skill, not a talent. With a few simple techniques, just about everyone can come up with creative ideas. And, as with all skills, the more you practice... the better you get.
Here are six techniques to help you generate creative ideas.
1. Deep-dive, then back off
Set aside a defined stretch of time to soak up as much context and details as you can about your topic or challenge. Also: clarify in your head what you want to achieve; review the main challenges or issues; and seek out perspectives from other people.
But don't try to solve anything yet. Just focus on absorbing the information.

Then stop thinking about it.
You've prepared the ground and planted the seeds, now you need to give them time to germinate.

2. Prepare your mind
Now you need to get into the right mindset to be open and receptive to new ideas. Your subconscious mind can do amazing things, but it needs free time and space in which to operate.

Think about your last really good idea. Did you have it while sitting at your desk working? I bet the answer is "no." Chances are, you were staring out the window on a train. Or in the shower. Or on a walk.

There is no linear "effort in/results out" relationship with creative thinking. Trying harder does not usually accelerate the outcome. In fact, the opposite might be true.
So relax, get into nature, do some exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Read some interesting or inspiring articles. Do things that you enjoy.

All of that recharges your energy and opens your mind to possibilities.

A bit of boredom is helpful, so switch off your phone and give your mind time to wander. Sure, it sounds unproductive. But behind the scenes your subconscious mind is busy connecting the dots, exploring patterns, and generating possibilities.

3. Capture the moment
At some point, you'll find that ideas are spontaneously popping into your head. Capture those sparks of inspiration immediately! Jot them down, together with any associations or context.

Some people carry around a notebook for that purpose. Others use an app on their phone. The method doesn't matter; just don't lose those moments of inspiration!
As ideas pop up and you jot them down, you'll often find that the simple act of doing so leads to even more ideas.

4. Provoke ideas with lateral-thinking techniques
You can also explore more structured methods of sparking new ideas. For example, by using the "lateral thinking" techniques of Dr Edward De Bono.

Traditionally, people rely on critical thinking, logic, and rationality to get to the "right" conclusion. But creative thinking is different. Our mind is a self-organizing system built upon associations among concepts. So a crazy idea can lead to another idea, and another, and another, until we arrive at a practical solution.

The following are among lateral-thinking techniques:
  • Challenge. Identify key assumptions or perceptions and ask "why." Keep drilling down by asking why again and again to each answer, and you'll likely get arrive at some useful insights.
  • Random entry. Take an unrelated input or concept, and use it to spark new lines of thought. For example, pick a random word (e.g. "egg") and try to relate whatever associations it generates (e.g., shiny, smooth, everything inside it) with the topic at hand.
  • Provocation. Take a concept to the extreme, reverse the usual conventions, or propose a radical alternative.
5. Direct your attention with frameworks
The logically inclined among us might try using structured frameworks to direct attention and spark ideas. Those frameworks can be your own creation, or someone else's. There's no "right" framework: its value lies simply in helping you generate more ideas.
A couple of frameworks I've found useful for idea generation:
  • Customer journey. What are all the stages of a customer's interaction with your product or service? What context and concerns do they have at each stage? Where are the pain points? What action do you want them to take?
  • Business-model canvas. What are all the pieces of your business model as it currently stands? What if you changed specific pieces? What alternatives are there? What flow-on effects would that have and what else might need to change?
6. Multiply your ideas with concept-mapping
Once you have ideas, concept-mapping can help you generate more of them. Take a specific idea and try to identify the overarching or more abstract "parent" concept; then ask yourself what other ideas fit within that concept. A mind-map can be useful to depict this process visually and make it easier to apply the technique at several levels.

For example, let's say you want to improve sales and you have a specific idea of a back-to-school student discount. That fits within the higher-level concept of "targeting students with relevant, time-limited offers." Once you recognize that, you can brainstorm a host of specific ideas by considering other key moments in a student's life. You can also repeat this process at different conceptual levels, say by broadening the concept again to "targeting different customer segments with relevant, time-limited offers." This leads to mapping out many different segments (e.g., small businesses, first-time buyers, pensioners, frequent users), and then brainstorming offers for each segment. Before you know it, you'll have dozens of campaign ideas to consider.

Everyone can be creative, because creative thinking is a skill—not a talent. That's great news: Even if you've never thought of yourself as particularly creative, you can get better at it over time.

So get out there and start applying the techniques outlined in this article. With a bit of practice, you'll soon be generating lots more creative ideas.