It was 2007 and after years of working at the studios in Hollywood and consulting on various digital projects, I finally had the guts to leave a cushy full-time corporate brand marketing job to launch my video production company.
I was energized by the fact that for the first time in history the playing field for content creators like me was level.
It took me two more years to really get the business off the ground by focusing on great storytelling via our commercial film work (mainly TV spots and web video) and original programming (short-form and long-form shows developed for broadcast and online).
Flash forward to today. While you may not invest thousands of dollars in lights, sound and camera equipment like me, I feel 100 percent confident saying that if you're not thinking like a publisher or production company and creating video content that pulls-and taking advantage of how easy it is to publish online (not just ads or campaigns that push), you're missing out.
In a recent stat I heard, "61 percent of all business will be done online" yet marketers on average are still only spending "less than 20 percent of their budgets" there. You're potentially missing 40 percent of the revenue, earning potential -- or at the very least attention and engagement. If a picture is worth a thousand words, think about the power of a great video.
As someone who creates (video) content for a living, both for myself and for brands, I often wonder if this space has become too crowded.
Is now the best time or actually the worst time to create video content?
It's a little like A Tale of Two Cities:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way...
I think the right answer about timing is it depends...
First of all, let's make a clear distinction between "marketing" and "advertising" because they are two different paths. Advertising is a function of marketing and traditionally designed to create awareness that eventually leads folks down a funnel to purchase. You spend $175,000 on that full-page print ad in Fast Company magazine and expect a certain return on the investment, right? I hope so...
Like anything, there's a time and a place for advertising-even traditional stuff where it make sense. The fundamental problem with most ads I see is that they are interruptive, out of context and pushing us to "buy now." We are becoming conditioned to ignore this, no?
Here's my personal opinion on a few do's and don'ts to create compelling video:
I would opt for a "content strategy." One that includes video and ideally ties in all the other marketing activities you're doing into one (or many) cohesive program(s) with clarity and continuity.
Focus on storytelling not F&Bs (features and benefits).
Experiment and take calculated risks. If I were managing the P&L of a brand I would allocate at least 10 percent of my marketing spend to experimental video. Not to make cat videos, but to tell stories around my customers, products or services.
Remember, Youtube is the number two search engine in the world...
Don't shortcut production. Do it right yourself or hire a pro. You'll do more damage than good to your brand if you screw it up.
Don't spend a lot of money at first. You probably won't get it right the first time so don't go out of the gate and spend a ton. Carve what you can out of the budget and try stuff. Be willing to fail until you nail it. Then chase the success with more $.
Here are a few brands that I think are doing it right:
Redbull has literally taken video content as a strategy to a new stratosphere.
GoPro -- do I need to explain?
Ford -- in collaboration with creators like me.
What do all of these have in common? Great content that pulls people in to watch, engage and share.
Tweet me @BryanElliott or leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you.