Video Killed the…Blogger
Cisco tells us that 80% of total Internet traffic is video. Jason and Jeff discuss what’s driving the video explosion and the 7 types of videos firms need to market themselves successfully.
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Jason Mlicki: Hi Jeff. Are you sitting down?
Jeff McKay: Yes. Jason, I’m sitting down.
Jason Mlicki: I want you to be sitting down. I want you to lean back. I want you to take it easy, because this is all about passive content. So we’re going to talk about video today. And really what we’re talking about is just this migration that we’ve talked about from what I call lean-in content to lean-back content. And so the idea is that what we’re seeing from our research and certainly from our own experience, is that if you’re going to be really successful with thought leadership marketing and successful, really, as a firm marketer, you are migrating from written articles, blog posts, research reports, to recorded audio podcasts, video, things that can be passively consumed in a lean back fashion. So my hope is that you’re relaxed, you’re leaning back, you’re ready to go.
Jeff McKay: Nope, I’m a type A. I don’t lean back. I lean in and I can’t believe you just said that. It cannot possibly be true. You probably thought MTV would reshape the music industry too, didn’t you?
Jason Mlicki: I mean, the whole title of this episode is Video Killed the Blogger. So, yeah.
Jeff McKay: Yeah, we’ll have to put Video Killed the Radio Star somewhere in here. We’ll probably get in trouble for doing that.
Jason Mlicki: Probably already have.
Jeff McKay: Yes.
Jason Mlicki: Thanks a lot. Way to go. Way to expose us to trademark violations.
Jeff McKay: All right, so we’re talking about video. You mean marketing hasn’t ruined video yet?
Jason Mlicki: Oh, I’m sure they totally have, but once I go there today, we’ll never get back on track.
Jeff McKay: All right, so we’re talking about video. Hey, does that mean if you’re a thought leader and you have a face for radio, that your career in professional services is over?
Jason Mlicki: I don’t even know. That’s a big question.
Jeff McKay: We’re going to have to answer that, because-
Jason Mlicki: Yes. I’m just teasing. I have no idea.
Jeff McKay: … I have that question in my own mind. So yeah.
Jason Mlicki: Yeah? Are you worried that you’re doomed?
Jeff McKay: Yeah. Yeah, I have a face for podcasting. All right, so let’s jump in. Let’s jump in. Let’s talk about video.
Jason Mlicki: Well when we planned this out, I think we both came at it from different places. And you suggested rightfully so, that we talk for at least a few minutes, why is video exploding? Why is video taking off? I mean we know, and I won’t kill everybody with statistics, but one of the statistics I think is relevant here is that Cisco tells us that 80% of all internet traffic is video right now. So basically the vast majority of information flowing across the web is video content. So what is going on? Why is that? What made that so? I’ll restart it. I’ll go back in time because it’s sort of interesting.
When I was in business school nearly 20 years ago, I did a consulting assignment for a Silicon Valley startup that wanted to internet stream extreme sports. So they wanted to be the ESPN of the web for extreme sports. And they asked us to do this whole analysis around what they were doing and would it work and all this stuff. And in the end we said, “Yes, except you’re a decade early.” There was no technology in 2001 that would enable you to stream content the way they wanted to stream it to enough people to make it a business. And the thing sort of went away. And now of course here we are today and clearly that is a business, a huge business. ESPN makes a fortune off it, right? So let’s talk about all the dynamics that played out to make that so.
Jeff McKay: There are people so much smarter than me out there. And I know that was a softball for you, Jason. So thank you for not hitting it. But I remember the day, I think, the scales tipped and that’s when Google bought YouTube for … I don’t remember what it was, $1 billion, which just seemed so outrageous given what YouTube was at the time. Gosh, who’s going to watch these people doing their own videos? And it’s just exploded from there. We are visual people. Our preferred channel is video. It’s the closest thing to human interaction as you can get. And so I’m not surprised by it at all. I think the infrastructure, the technology infrastructure needed to catch up, whether that’s bandwidth or having a phone in your hand that can stream that content. But all of those things converged.
But I just think it’s a human being’s preference to engage in video over any other medium. I think it’s kind of disappointing, but it is what it is. You probably see this too, my kids are older than yours. Oh my gosh, if it’s not a video, they have absolutely no interest in it. Maybe if it’s a real funny picture they’ll get into it, but everything is video for them, which tells me this is a marketing trend that is just simply not going away. It’s how you’re going to exploit it.
Jason Mlicki: Yeah. I mean I can’t put my finger on, and this is a fairly obvious comment about the research, and it was a speaker I heard somewhere at some point who just said, “Really if you want to understand how we retain information, we retain 3D movement first. Meaning the idea of someone standing in front of you talking and interacting, you’re going to retain that better than you would that same person doing that in 2D on a screen. And then that in turn better than you would, a one-dimensional experience where you’re just reading something. It’s like tiers of consumption in terms of just, like you said, I mean human behavior is that we’re social beings, so that’s really why that’s happening. You’re right, it’s not … I think even calling it a trend is really kind of silly. I mean it’s just the reality.
I think if you fast forward five, 10 years, we’re probably going to laugh at the notion that we used to pour so much time and energy into long form written articles and blog content the way we do. Not saying that stuff will entirely go away, but just saying … Usually right now if I think about how we often think about it, it’s we’re outlining a piece of content that’s going to be written and then we’re using video to either replace that or augment that. You’re going to start with a video script and then you’ll think about how to use written content to extend that. So it’ll just be a different way of looking at it. And we’ll laugh that we ever looked at it the other way. In fact, there’s probably people listening right now that are already laughing, saying, “You guys are crazy. I’m already doing it that way.”
Jeff McKay: Yeah, yeah. I mean all marketers are going to be Steven Spielberg, right? To be successful. I mean, you have to-
Jason Mlicki: It’s a pretty big ask. One of the greatest movie makers of all time…
Jeff McKay: I mean really, yeah, I guess there’s two … Well I guess I would say three roads for marketers to go down nowadays. We talked about behavioral economics, I guess I would say sales is another one. And then the third one is just going to be digital and that’s going to be primarily video. So get a cinematography degree, start producing marketing.
Jason Mlicki: Well the fascinating thing about that is that the democratization of video, right? And you talked about it, why video is taking off, opening of the channels, all those things, has really made the storytelling skills that people like Steven Spielberg and the greats developed accessible to anyone. I’m pretty sure there’s an expert’s class taught by Spielberg. You can pay for it online and you can basically interact with video content. He talks about how to break down stories and how he does it. You can go on Khan Academy for free and learn the storytelling animation models that Pixar uses. Right? So these things that when I was growing up 30 years ago were people inventing them, now are free or inexpensively accessible sources of learning for everyone behind, certainly behind me and you, that are coming up. So to your point, I mean I guess the ability for there to lots of people that can produce commercial stories, the way that Spielberg does is probably much more realistic than it was 30 years ago. So your comment maybe not be as far off as it sounds.
Let’s shift gears because you suggested we take a moment and just talk about B2B versus B2C video, because obviously most of our listeners are professional services marketers, B2B marketers, software SaaS marketers that are marketing to businesses and enterprises, not retail or consumer goods marketers. So what’s the difference here? There’s no doubt that video in the B2B community was slower to catch on. I don’t think the impact of YouTube hit everybody as quickly as it has in the consumer world. So what are some of the nuances here that we want to highlight and share that are worth noting?
Jeff McKay: Man, this is probably five podcasts in itself. At the highest level, I guess the difference for me is B2B is about demonstrating understanding of an issue and sharing an idea about how to solve that issue. Where B2C, I guess is more about influence and this sense that I want to be like, fill in your influencer, Taylor Swift, or Bono, or Will Smith, or some celebrity that you have this part of you that you want to connect with them. And you absorb those videos for that reason. The content can be as vacuous as it wants to be. You just want to connect with that person. I think in the B2C. Now those are black and white. I know they kind of cross over. If you have an influencer who has a beauty product or something and shares how she uses it, then yeah, you’re sharing some useful information to maybe address some kind of makeup issue. But I see them as very different. One might be really light and comedic, and that’s not to say that you couldn’t do that in B2B too, but I think that’s the basic difference between the two of those.
Jason Mlicki: So I like to think about it as if you take … Imagine taking a really long piece of ribbon. It’s a flat piece of ribbon, you pull it out across your body, your arms left to right. And you twist that ribbon in the center. At the left end is entertainment at the right end is education and it’s sort of a seamless continuum from one end to the other. The B2C marketer tends to be further down the left-hand side of the entertainment spectrum, and the B2B marketer tends to be down the right-hand side of the education spectrum. But when you do this exceptionally well, you find a place in the middle where you entertained and educated all at the same time. And I do think B2B marketers can do that.
In fact, I would even say for the people that read our blog, our creative director, when he writes something and he puts a video out there, he’s so energizing and entertaining to watch just on screen, that the information he’s giving you is entertaining, even as the information is as valuable. So I think there’s a lot of examples in there. On the B2C side, the one that jumps out to me, and I don’t know if this falls into the entertaining category, but I always thought that Dove’s Real Beauty campaign was one of the greatest works of advertising ever produced. Where they took you behind the scenes of how advertisers make women look the way they look on a billboard, and they break that down. And it’s really, really fascinating how they do it. It’s entertaining and educating all at the same time.
I totally agree that the B2B marketer tends to be more on the education side and the B2C marker tends to be more on the entertainment side, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t find some perfect marriage of the two. And actually, I would argue that’s what you almost have to strive to do if you’re going to cut through the noise right now, is you have to … Look at our podcast. Our goal is to educate, but we also hope that we entertain now and then. And we hear people say, “You made me laugh.” Or whatever, and I think that’s a big piece of it.
Jeff McKay: That is the challenge for marketers and thought leaders as well, is finding that balance. And that’s where the effort and the understanding really needs to be homed in on, because you’re not going to know and you can operate on some assumptions, but you need to test them, and you need to just test and learn and move quickly. But most importantly, most importantly, and this kind of goes back to earlier, kidding around about if you’re good at video or not. If you have a face for radio. You have to be true to your personality. Just be who you are, and don’t try to come off as Walter Cronkite if you’re not. You have to be who you are. Don’t try to be somebody else. When you first get going, you’re going to stumble. You’re going to have problems.
I remember when we started doing videos, I was at Genworth. That was almost a decade ago and I thought we would have these great people that would just be naturals on camera. They really struggled. Other people I thought, “They might have a rough time.” They thrived. So you never know. But everybody just kept getting better the more videos they did. So I think what’s important is, and you’ve said this many times as well, just in terms of thought leadership in general. It’s not the shtick, it’s not the channel, it’s not how you try to game the system. It’s are you putting out quality ideas that people want to hear? And if you’re doing that, the rest will take care of itself. But if you try to get too gimmicky or compensate, you’re going to run into problems.
Jason Mlicki: I’ve never used the word shtick in my life. But I agree wholeheartedly with what you said.
The one cool thing about this before we move on is, we’ve talked about storytelling, we’ve talked about storytelling frameworks, and we’ve talked about the importance of that. And of course that’s really the one thing that video lends itself to better than any other platform in existence. It’s just a great way to tell stories. And from what we know about how we retain information, we just retain stories way better than we retain data. If I had to wager people remember the story I told about the startup, more than likely than they’ll remember the data point I shared on web traffic that is video. So to your point, that’s really what we want to lean into, is how do we use video to tell better stories so that we can really get our clients to learn and act and behave on the things that we’re hoping that they’ll move on.
So let’s shift gears again, unless there’s more that you want to say on the B2B to B2C front. One thing I would add that I think is really interesting is that … It’s sort of a simplistic statistic, but I often find it startling when you really spend some time on YouTube the following that certain people have been able to develop, or certain entities have been able to develop. Individual people with 20, 30, 50 million followers. And I think for the B2B marketer, the only reason I share that is you think about the contrast for that. You have World Wrestling Entertainment I think has like 35 million followers on their YouTube channel. If you search for big media B2B topics like digital transformation or concepts that consulting firms want to take ownership on, most of those videos, whether they’re good or bad, might have 50,000 views at best, right?
Somebody will have 2000 views, so you’re dealing in much smaller numbers in this universe. It’s fairly obvious, but I think we also need to be realistic with ourselves and say, “Well, we’re not going to suddenly wake up and have some massive YouTube following. Chances are good, that’s not going to happen, but don’t make that the goal. I guess those are vanity metrics for the most part.
Jeff McKay: They are. You’ve said before, fall in love with the problem. Try to help clients out or prospects out and build a relationship, the rest will take care of itself.
Jason Mlicki: All right, so let’s talk a little bit about our journey on this. So Jeff, as you know about a year and a half ago, I said, “Man, we are going to go all in on video.” And we made a lot of investments both in training and technology to really make that happen. And as we’ve unraveled that we’ve really determined that at least from what we see, there’s at least six or seven different types of videos that we think firms should be using in their marketing efforts. So let me take you through those real quick and then we can talk about some of the lessons we’ve learned in producing that video.
The first we talk a lot about is just a high level brand video. This is not anything new, but it’s just this idea of having a macro video that just captures the firm’s purpose, its intent, its positioning, its belief systems. It’s really the two minute summary of the firm and what it’s all about that could exist on an about page, on a homepage, but it just introduces the world to the firm. A video that’s certainly been around for decades and used to cost hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to produce depending on how you went about it, I guess.
The second layer, we’ve talked a lot about are summary videos. We’ve been using these a lot. These are really interesting. We use them on thought leadership pages, so when we produce a thought leadership article at the top of the article, we’ll pair it with a summary video from the author, where the author just explains what the article is about at a high level. Sometimes it directly replaces the content. It’s a one for one. Other times it’s just a snippet for a longer form article and offers some direction as to where to go to read it. One one of the interesting things about those videos as we’ve introduced them is that we’ve seen massive jumps in page view time from those. So if someone’s interacting with an article for two minutes, an article with a summary video, they’ll spend five minutes. So you’re just getting way more mindshare on a topic.
The third type we’ve talked about is explainer videos and these are videos that we’re using with clients on service pages, practice pages, expertise pages. Things that describe the problems that you solve and the solutions that you have to solve them. So replacing that long form problem, solution benefit framework of content that we use on those pages with a video that follows a similar framework.
The fourth, and stop me anytime if you … I can get through all of them or you can stop me. Before the promo videos, we’ve been using a lot of promo videos. Obviously LinkedIn opened up a native video feature where you can publish a video right in the stream and we’ve been using those as 30 second intros to a thought leadership article or a piece of content to promote the content and push someone to where the content is, whether it’s on LinkedIn or it’s on a blog, wherever it is housed. And we’ve seen those get three to four times the interaction rate that you would get on a standard LinkedIn share post.
And then testimonial videos. That’s another big piece which is just you think about the role. We’ve talked about this on this podcast and other episodes, the role of case studies in marketing the firm, and just taking those written case studies and turning them into video content with the consultants, with the subject matter expert, with the client talking about the impact of the work. And we’ve seen our clients do it and we’ve done it in both ways. Either the firm talking about the work or the client talking about the work. Ideally both.
And then the last grouping is just all of the video advertising that’s available out there that not many firms are likely going to invest in because not that many firms really invest in that much advertising. But there’s in stream advertising, out-stream advertising, in-banner advertising, all different ways you can use video. And you see them all the time in your daily lives you just don’t always pay attention. At a high level summary those are the six types of videos that we’ve been incorporating both into the marketing of the agency and the marketing we do for our clients. Let me just stop there. There’s a lot in a very short amount of time.
Jeff McKay: There are a lot there. I like that categorization. I wonder if our listeners are going, “Oh my gosh, how could you make that many videos? I don’t have time for that. I don’t have budget for that. I don’t have enough people to do that. How could I possibly get all that done and do it like Steven Spielberg? Oh my God, that would eat up my entire marketing budget and team.” And I think that’s one of the drivers of the use of video is this evolution of distribution networks, but the low cost of production has led to the ubiquity. And there’s definitely a continuum of quality. Just like there was a balance of entertainment and education and people that should be and should not be. There is a balance of the types of videos you should produce and what’s the nature in terms of production quality and speed and cost associated with them. But I think these are all great examples and we should probably put a link in the show notes so people could see some of these examples as well.
Jason Mlicki: Yeah, we will. And your point is really well taken. You look at promo videos, most of the promo videos you see on LinkedIn a lot of times are people, maybe their independent consultants or micropreneurs, right? And the video is just shot right off their laptop camera or their desktop camera, right? So their production quality is very minimalistic and that’s worked quite well. At the other end of that spectrum, as you said. I mean, if you’re even a reasonably sized firm you’re going to produce a brand video. I don’t think you want to do that with your iPhone solely. I mean you want to put more production quality into that, including music and after effects and all kinds of different things. So there’s a continuum there.
Now, of course the good news is I’m not a video expert by any stretch of imagination. But I think about when we used to do video as an agency 20 years ago, just the cost of the equipment that was associated with producing something and bringing the production house in was staggering. And to your point, a lot of this video now can be shot, really, with much less expensive gear. We shoot all the videos we do on our site and we do for our clients. We shoot with a handful of pretty straightforward gear, a handful of digital cameras and some audio recording equipment and some good lighting. And obviously the talent of our creative director to bring all that together. But it doesn’t … Doing that 20 years ago would have been way more money than it is right now. All right. We’re about out of time. I can share some quick lessons learned that we’ve had on this, if that’s helpful?
Jeff McKay: Yeah, I think that would be good. It’s nice to see that you’re actually learning something.
Jason Mlicki: I’ll let you know. You tell me. Probably the biggest one that we’ve learned the hard way, both in working with clients and ourselves, is everyone thinks they’re a natural presenter. Everyone thinks that they can take a bulleted outline and step up to the plate and deliver a great talk. And that may be true when the talk is a half an hour. But when you need to produce a video in two minutes, it’s not true virtually for anybody. You’ve got to have a script. I mean, we’ve had some of our clients on camera that are very accomplished, seasoned expert speakers walk on without a script and we end up with an 11 minute video and everybody drops at two minutes. So you really have to have a script. And I’ll say, I’ll be the first to admit our team taught me that, because the first few videos I shot, I didn’t work from a script and they ran four or five minutes long. They really didn’t work. And it wasn’t until we really-
Jeff McKay: I can empathize.
Jason Mlicki: Empathize having to listen to me? And then we’ve paired that with a teleprompter, you know? So these days you can just get an app on your iPad and you can drop the content in and it’s a voice activated teleprompter and it’s pretty good. I mean, you can read it and it will follow along pretty well and recognize your voice. And it’s the cost of an Apple app, right. I know for us the biggest things we … I mean just investing in good lighting, cameras, recording devices, splitting the recording from the video. That’s a big deal. If you really want to get good, high quality audio. Light dampening, sound deadening, all those things to basically give … I mean even when you look at some of these seemingly homegrown YouTube channels that have millions and millions of viewers and you think that this thing has a really low production point. “Oh, they shot that on their iPhone.” When you really get into video, you realize usually that’s not the case. It’s been custom designed to look that way because they’ll capture very natural light sequences, multiple camera angles in a very tight space. You cannot do that with an iPhone and without proper lighting and equipment. They’re doing it to look that way, but it’s not. So we’ve learned the hard way that that’s really important if you’re going to do something of even just reasonable quality. Multiple camera angles, high quality audio, controlling the lights, all those types of things.
And the last thing I’ll offer is … I have more, but I’ll stop here. Is just invest in graphics and music. You and I talked about this in one of our podcasts about how most firms will never really do any audio branding. I think that was our villains podcast. Well, this is actually the one place you can. I mean, you can do some visual and audio branding. You can create some audio tags because you’re going to reuse these over over again. And why not? Why wouldn’t you? So take the time to do that. So you start and close your videos in a unique way that’s entirely yours. Those are my three or four tips.
Jeff McKay: I think those are really good and there’s so many resources available. If you’re going to do this yourself, you can. On the flip side of the production lessons, I think professional services marketers and thought leaders have a softer dimension to this. I’ll throw out a couple of things just to keep in mind as you do this. The first one is, not everybody’s going to be a video star. Some of your video stars are going to need encouragement to get going. Others are going to think they’re really good and they’re not. So you’re going to need data to back up performance on some of these. Your job as coach, if you will, is to give people the confidence to perform onscreen and to share. Content is king, to use a trite statement. If the content isn’t good, the rest doesn’t really matter. So get the content right. Tell the people on the screen to be yourselves.
And then this is a lesson that I think is really important no matter what channel you’re using, you have to be consistent. You have to show up regularly for your audience. I’ve gotten multiple emails or phone calls from listeners to the podcast. It’s like, “When you starting up again?” I mean we just took four weeks off in the summer and people are like, “Come on, get them going again.” People are waiting for that and you’re going to hit and you’re going to miss. You want some volume to compensate so you have to consistently show up to build and retain an audience. And Jason, I thought you said it really well. You’re not going to build a huge audience with this stuff, but you want to build a loyal one and consistency, and high quality, and demonstrating that you understand them as human beings and their issues will go a long way for correcting a lot of other problems with this channel. Just like every other channel, just keep showing up.
Jason Mlicki: You know Jeff, I’ll never really understand you. I think we’ll wrap right there. All right man. It was good talking to you.
Jeff McKay: All right.