Video in the marketing mix

During the Covid-19 lockdown there was an explosion of video content from professional services firms. There was also an increase in content (some through webinars and a lot through video!) about producing and distributing video content. Over the last year, I too have been experimenting with video in my marketing mix. So I thought I’d summarise some of the best ideas from others as well as share some of the insights I have gleaned on video in the marketing mix.

This article has the following parts:

  • Expert views on video in the marketing mix
  • My own observations on video in the marketing mix

Expert views on video

Let’s start with some nuggets of video wisdom from the experts:

Growth of video

Forecasters said that by 2021, 82% of all content consumed online would be video or animation. I’m sure Covid has increased that percentage. And while it is often thought that it is just for the younger generation, research suggests that 72% of people prefer video over text. That may account for why YouTube is the second most visited site and the second most popular search engine. 65% of people use YouTube to help them solve a problem.

Videos increase social media and digital engagement

Research shows that including video in a social media post generates 12 times more shares. Video in the subject line of emails increases the open rate by a factor of five. Explainer videos increase conversions by up to 86% (For example, Mishcon de Reya included a short (2.5 minute) video animation on “Brexit: The new framework for trade mark and design protection” in a mailer in February 2021).  The increase in the retention of information in a video is 95% compared to just 10% using plain text. Video campaigns on LinkedIn have 50% view rates.

Use videos for storytelling

The most effective way to communicate material is through stories – whether these are personal anecdotes or case studies. Stories enable you to make an emotional connection with people. There’s more on storytelling techniques here  and I have reviewed some books on storytelling.

Use professionals for video production

If you are unfamiliar with video then it would be good to invest in professionals who will know how to design, script, light, shoot, edit, caption and distribute your videos. There are video agencies that specialise in working with professional service firms and video marketing:

Develop a content management plan

Don’t just consider producing one video. Develop a concept for a series within a campaign. Use your marketing and/or communications plan to incorporate your key messages so that the video content becomes an integral part of your communications content.

Create a content placement plan

It’s not enough to simply produce great videos and stick them on your web site. You need to have a strategy for getting the videos onto the right platforms and through the right channels so that the right people can see them.

It is easy to set up and customise a YouTube channel. Naturally, you will also use social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get videos out. Some videos you may want to fix to your online biography or social media profiles. But think about ensuring that everyone in your firm or team shares videos produced by others in their own feeds – to extend reach and support cross-selling. You can also develop email campaigns that send links out to people.

Use subtitles and captions

Research indicates that 85% of video content is consumed with the sound turned off so you need to use either captioning and subtitles.

Use analytics

There are a host of analytical tools to help you understand who is watching your videos – on which platforms and for how long. YouTube Studio has a great app that shows detailed information.

Video marketing guidance 

In a guide on “10 video marketing tips that drive results” Wordstream advises the following:

  1. Make good content (that nobody else is making)
  2. Think in terms of series, not individual videos
  3. Familiarise yourself with YouTube SEO
  4. Link up with other content creators
  5. Use cards and end screens
  6. Write a blog post to accompany each video
  7. Add time stamps to your video descriptions
  8. Get the word out on social media
  9. Don’t skimp on your thumbnails
  10. Think hard about your titles

Learning from producing my videos

At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown I decided that it would be a great opportunity to develop my understanding of video marketing and so I embarked on a huge learning curve as I planned, designed, scripted, filmed, edited, captioned and distributed my video series. You can see all of my videos on the Kim Tasso YouTube channel  – and you can see how they have developed over time.

Integrate with your marketing strategy and communications campaigns

Naturally, you need your video content to integrate into your overall marketing, communications and content strategies and campaigns. This means that you have to plan the messages and content of your videos carefully.

A typical planning process might include:

  1. Review your overall business, marketing and sales objectives
  2. Identify your key markets/audiences and the platforms they use
  3. Research the key needs and interests in your clients’ buying journey
  4. Explore what and how your competitors are communicating (and differentiate)
  5. Define your key messages (relate to your key value propositions)
  6. Develop your sales process (calls to action, other content for the buying journey etc)
  7. Plan your communications – including where video content is to be used
  8. Develop metrics for video – views, duration, click throughs, engagement etc
  9. Produce your video content
  10. Distribute your video content
  11. Analyse the analytics and refine the overall process

There’s further guidance on planning a campaign.

I adjusted my content strategy to look at developing three key themes using video from all my communications (articles, blogs, podcasts etc) – and emphasising the topics on which I am most requested to assist on learning, development and training programmes:

  • Strategy and leadership (Guidance and inspiration)
  • Marketing and selling (Explainers)
  • Psychology, change and relationships (Practical skills)

The themes were chosen as they are evergreen subjects – I am likely to refer to the ideas and videos a lot in many other communications and training. I aim to include one or two practical tips in each video so that viewers get some immediate value from each video and the benefits are mentioned in the first few seconds to encourage viewers to continue watching.

Video production

I learned a lot – from formal tutorials, from watching others and pure trial and error – about the practicalities of producing videos:

Lighting – Most experts advise you to have windows in front of you so that there is the right level of light on your face. However, that didn’t work for me as my main filming area has a large window behind me. So I invested in large lights for upwards and ambient lighting and also smaller spot and ring lights that people often use for their Zoom and Microsoft Team calls to highlight my face.

Format – You need to consider the channels where you will be placing your video content to choose the correct format – square, portrait or landscape.

Framing – Most people advise you to be positioned centrally in the camera frame. However, I knew that I would be using props in my videos and that also I would want some white space around the edges where I could drop in captions and links afterwards. So I sit off centre with a plain white wall to my right.

Eye contact – It’s fiercely difficult trying to talk into the camera and not let your eyes wonder to prompt notes or other things that you can see. You need to achieve eye level with the camera so that you are not looking down your nose at the viewer as this may convey the wrong impression. Many people comment that I look up at the camera – that’s intentional as I don’t want my viewers to think I am looking down at them!

Minimise noise – Even in warm weather it’s a good idea to close the windows, take land line phones off the hook and turn your mobile devices to silent. I also learned – as a dog owner – to ensure the dogs were in a safe environment and where they wouldn’t be tempted to start barking at squirrels, foxes or other garden invaders.

Autocue – There are some neat apps for smart phones that scroll your script across your screen if you are speaking to camera. Unfortunately, that’s not the way I make my videos so I have had to adapt to a different method that involves developing a script, lots of rehearsals and then attaching prompt notes near the camera so that I don’t break eye contact too often.

Length – Attention spans are short. You are generally advised to keep videos to a couple of minutes. And the general advice is to focus on one key idea in each video. But that is a real restriction if you have complex ideas to convey or stories to provide illustrations. Most of my videos are between five and 10 minutes long. From the analytics the shorter ones do not appear to be more popular – I believe it is the title and topic that draws and retains viewers’ attention.

Consistent branding – The RedStarKim brand colours are red, black, grey and white. I decided to film most of my videos in my home office which is predominantly red. That means that I have to choose what colour I wear carefully otherwise I can just merge into the background – so I’m usually in black or white outfits. I also had series of short (5-10 second) animations which give some energy to my brand name and business at the start and end of each video. I end each of my videos with the sign-off tagline (as I used to be a Star Trek fan) with “It’s training Kim, but not as we know it”.

Something a bit different – As my training style is generally fast and light-hearted, I adopted the same style in my videos. They are usually shared as a “Fun Friday Video” on social media. I always have an image of one of my dogs in every video (that’s Bertie who is black and white – so he is on brand!). I try to always use props (mostly fluffy animals) to aid memory retention and activities such as writing and drawing to keep viewers engaged. I get bored just watching a talking head or PowerPoint slides so I avoid this for my viewers.

Live events – I haven’t experimented with live events using video. However, where I have done live events on other platforms – such as in webinars – I have recorded the sessions (see, for example, this webinar extract on marketing strategy for accountants) and placed edited highlights as videos. In these events, I often use PowerPoint slides and there is a thumbnail camera image of me speaking. I am interested in the potential for using AR, VR and XR in the future.

Invest in a photographic screen – I haven’t used green screen facilities yet to drop in a really different background. Zoom and Teams allow me to use a virtual background and I use my red star branding there. However, I did invest in a photographic screen with both white and black backgrounds for some videos I plan that will need a plain background though. I also invested in a white room divider for when I don’t want to use a virtual background and I don’t want people to be able to peer into the depths of my (often untidy) home office.

Use a professional video editor – I use a third-party video editor to clip out coughs and errors, to add captions and annotations and incorporate still images and graphics. If you are making a long video or have both studio and outside footage you will need someone to blend the videos together. I also had some funky designer intro and exit animations developed. We have looked at embedding interactive links to videos – but haven’t quite mastered that yet.

Video distribution

YouTube – My videos are uploaded to my YouTube channel. YouTube Studio is a neat, free system to help you organise your videos – adding descriptions to support search engine optimisation (SEO) and allowing you to do things like alter the thumbnails used.

Web site – I embed each video into a blog on my web site – with the script. This means that I can use SEO to ensure that key phrases and words are tagged. I also link key ideas in the script to other content on my site.

New content – Nearly all of my videos have evergreen content – they have a long shelf life and don’t go out of date. So in all other communications activities (articles, blogs and social media) I provide links to relevant videos. I also incorporate links to explainer videos in my training courses for delegates to consult after the event if they require additional explanations or examples.