Should you market your brand during the Coronavirus Crisis?

28th March 2018

written by George Hughes

If you are worried about how to communicate with your customers and the wider world during this crisis, then you are not alone. It’s a hot topic right now for many brand marketers. A recent survey by Advertising Perceptions found that nearly half of advertisers have stopped campaigns already in progress. So should you continue your brand’s marketing during the Coronavirus crisis and if so, then how should you do it? 

 

A recent Endelman survey of 12,000 people in the world’s leading economies found that consumers are demanding that brands act and communicate differently during the Covid-19 crisis, with nearly two-thirds (65%) saying how brands respond to the pandemic will have a “huge impact” on their likelihood to buy their products. So it’s clear that the next few months will be an important time for brand trust. Yes, your actions are under extreme scrutiny right now but that doesn’t mean you should stop your marketing. Ask yourself the question, could inaction actually be worse than taking action?

My background is as a storyteller, a marketer and a content creator. Through 14 years in the TV industry and then building a content agency, I’ve learnt that the most important element of my craft is understanding the audience and putting myself in their shoes. This is what you must do now, as the way you communicate with your audience is critical. Remember that everything you do right now from a marketing perspective should be in the context of the fact we are going through a global crisis. And here are some of the most important things you should consider.

Be Sensitive

It seems obvious but this is one of the most fundamental elements to consider when communicating during this time. Remember that some people are going through hell. They are stuck at home with their kids driving them up the wall, they may have taken a hit to their income, are worried about losing their jobs or have already been made redundant. They’re worried about mortgage payments, rent or how they will pay their bills. They are scared for their loved ones, may have been extremely ill or had a friend or family member who has lost their life as a result of this pandemic.

You must put yourself in the shoes of your audience and be sensitive to the struggles that they are going through. Many brands have made the decision to pull advertising campaigns due to the current crisis including Cadbury’s Easter Egg campaign that showed a grandfather hugging his grandchildren and KFC’s “Finger Licking Good” campaign that had people licking their fingers. It makes sense that you should not be advertising using insensitive or inappropriate messaging that might upset people or send out the wrong message. 

Be Helpful

In this time, the best thing you can do is provide help, assistance and value in any form you can. When the dust settles on this crisis, we will look back and see how brands handled themselves. The Sports Directs and Wetherspoons of the world will be under fire for their response to the crisis where other brands will emerge with their hands clean.

What can you do to help your customers, peers and wider world? Some have formed partnerships with other brands to offer help, they are creating useful or entertaining content and shifting their focus or production onto altruistic activities.

For example, BrewDog turned to manufacturing hand sanitiser during the shortage. As a result they’ve jumped 4.6 points in consumer perception according to Yougov BrandIndex and are now top of the rankings for beer and cider brands for “buzz”. But it’s also worth mentioning that the “buzz” is a balance of negative and positive things being said as some people question their “agenda”. Which brings me on to my next point…

Brewdog Hand Sanitiser

Don’t be Disingenuous

Consumers are cynical. We’ve become mistrustful of brands “agendas” as we’ve been let down so many times in the past by marketers looking to capitalise on current events. Look no further than the Pepsi campaign with Kendall Jenner that trivialised the Black Lives matter movement and had to be pulled due to consumer backlash. We’ve become experts at spotting altruistic vs disingenuous behaviour.

If you are planning to offer help and assistance during this time, the best thing you can do is to take any type of hidden agenda off the table. Just put it out of your mind. If you start to think more altruistically then it will be easier to provide value to people without there being a backlash. Whatever you do, don’t try to exploit the situation by “jumping on the band-waggon” to your own benefit. I’d argue that Burger King are treading a fine line with this ad campaign in France that is advertising how to make your own Whopper under quarantine.

As Owen Lee, chief creative officer of FCB Inferno told the Drum “Brands are nervous about appearing to profit from this crisis. The conversation is being had in many client and agency organisations, but they have to be absolutely sure they are helping people [and] not just making money from it, or being seen to make money from it.

There’s some discussion going on right now in marketing circles about how many brands including McDonalds, Coke and Audi have created “social distancing logos”. Many argue that this belittles the severity of the situation. For more about how brands can build trust during the Coronavirus crisis, take a look at this interview from Ad Age with PR guru Richard Endelman.

Social distancing logos

Be Positive

The world is currently full of negativity and sadness. Flick on the news and it’s mostly doom and gloom. People are suffering from serious mental health issues as a result of this crisis and anxiety levels are through the roof.

Try to be as positive as possible (with the caveat of observing rule #1 of being sensitive). Give people hope. Give people inspiration. Show us all that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that in this period of desperation there is so much to be thankful for like community, family, relationships, endurance and human spirit. JC Decaux in Australia have just launched an out of home campaign to provide messages to frontline workers offering their support. How could you spread positivity with your brand? 

Don’t Brag

When I say don’t brag, I mean specifically in regards to the Coronavirus crisis. If you have a new product that was due to be released or a milestone in your company that has nothing to do with the pandemic then of course you should shout about it. A Kantar survey of 35,000 global consumers found that only 8% thought brands should stop advertising and 50% think brands should continue to talk in the same way they always have. 

What you shouldn’t do is tell everyone how well your company is doing despite the crisis, that you don’t know what everyone is complaining about and that business has never been so great. Some industries have not been as affected as badly as others but some, like the travel or hospitality industries are in utter turmoil. It’s insensitive to belittle the issues facing other people by talking about your success. Remember to strike that balance of being sensitive, but positive.

Certainly don’t follow in Kim Kardashian’s footsteps by offering a $1 Million donation to families affected by Covid-19 whilst also announcing the restocking of her shapewear line SKIMS. This unsurprisingly caused a backlash. 

Don’t Offer Medical Advice

Leave the advice and best practice to scientists, government bodies and the health service. Be extremely careful about sharing any videos, articles or other information related to the crisis which directly relates to people’s wellbeing. There is a lot of fake news doing the rounds and if you repost something that is inaccurate, you will become part of the misinformation problem that is costing lives. Check the source is solid before sharing any advice. And whatever you do, don’t share hearsay. Gossip spreads like wildfire on social media which is how everyone went into panic a little over a week ago when the “Army were moving into London to lock us down” which proved to have no substance. You can support government advice such as social distancing and other rules but don’t start offering your own.

Don’t Stop Marketing

It’s really important that life goes on in spite of the crisis. People expect to hear from your brand or business and an absence of comms could damage your image. With so many people at home right now and spending so much time online, you have their full attention like never before.

A recent Endelman study found that “In terms of communications, about 90% of customers expect brands to keep the public fully informed of changes to how they are now behaving and operating” and that “Eighty-four per cent of respondents now expect businesses to focus advertising on how products and services can help people cope with pandemic-related life challenges, while the vast majority expect brands to show they are aware of the crisis and its impact.”

Follow the steps above and think harder about what you are putting out there, but don’t stop marketing. Remember, people are scared. They are worried. They don’t know what the future holds. And you can help them. As time passes, we are getting used to this “new normal” and life will continue the same but different. So how will you adapt to the change? 

 

George Hughes is a former television Director and the Founder of video marketing agency Small Films. His company helps brands to communicate with a wider audience using strategic video content.

 

Want a professional hand in creating compelling, authoritative video content as part of your marketing? Get in touch today.

 

Youtube Marketing is a great tool for driving your business forward. So here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about why it works so well and how to use it…

Did you know that after Google, YouTube is actually the second biggest search engine in the world? With an average of 5 billions videos being watched on the platform every day.  

Its an impressive statistic and reinforces the idea that people love to acquire knowledge and entertain themselves through the medium of video.  Whether we are learning to cook, checking out movie reviews or laughing at funny cat videos, video offers an engaging and easy way to digest content.

With so many people using YouTube in their day-to-day lives, it offers businesses a fantastic opportunity to reach their customers and grow their audience.

 Why YouTube Marketing?

Many businesses turn to social media channels like Facebook or LinkedIn before they embrace YouTube marketing. They underestimate the potential that YouTube can offer.

 So how effective is YouTube Marketing and why should businesses be making more from this platform? Let’s look at the facts:

Put simply, YouTube offers you a way to reach your target audience in a way that other channels cannot.

Marketing on YouTube

 YouTube marketing is a deep subject which spans from the tiny details of profile optimisation to reaching vast audiences through running YouTube ads. In this section, we look at the fundamentals of how and why you should be marketing your business on YouTube. 

Develop Authority

Representing your business on YouTube offers an opportunity to build trust and grow authority by creating content that educates and resonates with your target audience.

The medium of video allows you to add a level of personality to your business that is otherwise very difficult to achieve outside of face-to-face meetings with clients. It provides a platform where your business can communicate their position and views in a concise and engaging way.

Remember that YouTube is a social media platform. Your content should provoke conversation and generate interest in your business offering.

Increase Reach                  

Given the stats we gave at the beginning of this article, it should be fairly obvious that your target audience is very likely to be using YouTube in some way. The potential reach is huge, but this doesn’t mean that you can simply demand attention.

By working on creating an entertaining, authoritative and engaging presence on the platform, you put yourself in the best position to earn your audience’s attention.

YouTube enables you to reach new demographics that you might otherwise struggle to reach.

Boost SEO

Producing high performing YouTube videos is a great way to get your business found on search engines. The first and most obvious reason for this is the fact that YouTube IS the second biggest search engine, therefore if you are ranking high on their search results you are going to see high levels of traffic.

In addition to this, search engines like Google know that video is the most engaging type of content and in most cases serves YouTube videos near the top or first in their search results (after paid ads obviously). Just look at the results for “How to make YouTube marketing video” below…

So, if you are ranking high on YouTube, you will likely rank high on Google as well.

YouTube Marketing: Top Tips

  1. Know your audience. Understand who you are trying to target and create engaging, compelling content that they would want to watch. Just using YouTube videos to highlight the benefits and features of your products and services will get you nowhere.
  2. Target keywords. Just like on other search engines, YouTube returns results based on user search terms and matches them with the most relevant content. Make sure you are using the best keywords possible in your title and descriptions.
  3. Keep it fresh. Just like on all other social media, posting regular, quality content is the best way to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more. It is also likely that the search algorithms on YouTube place importance on up-to-date content, so don’t shy away from updating older content when new information is available.
  4. Use explanative, engaging cover images. Imagine your video is like a mini advert in the YouTube search results. Your video preview should be highly engaging and help people understand what they are going to get. Check out the covers below to see how this is done.

Smart YouTube marketing can offer businesses a great way to reach their target audience in an authentic and powerful way. Getting started is as simple as creating a branded account, developing a strategy that aligns video marketing to your business goals and creating your first few videos.

Want a professional hand in creating compelling, authoritative content which can be used on YouTube? Get in touch today.

 

Of all the brands nailing content marketing right now, arguably Red Bull is the undisputed leader. These guys have transcended from being a single product, Thai replicated energy drink brand, into a world renowned and globally acknowledged publisher of media, TV, print and film. From their up-to-date Youtube channel, to their television broadcasting, sponsoring some of the world’s most famous sporting events and having their own Sky Channel, to magazine publications, journalism, radio channels and lastly, creating high-end documentary films. They are doing it all and they have us gripped. But how?! And what’s the secret to their success?

Red Bull was launched in Austria back in 1987 by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz after a visit to Thailand where he found the energy drink Krating Daeng. At that point, the idea of a carbonated energy drink in Europe had not been heard of nor thought about and the launch of Red Bull not only signified the beginning of a new product but also the beginning of a whole new drinks category. Now, Red Bull has the highest market share of any energy drink product in the world and sells almost 7 billion cans every year worldwide (wiki).

How, I hear you say? Red Bull found their audience and customers very early on. In 1988 Red Bull sponsored their first ever sporting event “The Red Bull Dolomitenmann” one of the toughest relays on the planet. They discovered that the extreme sporting industry depended a lot on the adrenaline, energy and excitement of all people involved, and that their product was perfectly suited for this type of audience, thus finding their “niche” and their ideal customers. They then began to market the absolute sh*t out of it, making a name for themselves in the extreme sporting industry and soon becoming the thrilling epitome of youth and sporting culture that we know them as today. Red Bull got their logo out wherever they could, on TV and at extreme sporting events, and promoted their energy drink to sporting athletes who would then promote the Red Bull brand. Not long after inception Red Bull had lift off. They already had 100% market share because no other energy drink had been launched in Europe at that time, so they were very exclusive and therefore very desirable. Soon, they were not just seen as a drinks brand but as a culture and lifestyle brand.

Red Bull now own multiple sports teams across the world in Europe, USA and Brazil. They sponsor incredible sporting events from Formula 1 to the Snowboarding Olympics, work with hundreds of famous athletes, have their own Red Bull sporting businesses like Red Bull Cliff Diving and, own two F1 Teams. They even have their own track racing game on Playstation 3. It’s safe to say that they have killed it! People follow them for their content and updates on their activities like a subscription for a streaming service. They have 8 million subscribers on YouTube, 11.1 million Instagram followers, 48 million likes on Facebook and 2 million followers on Twitter. Their videos on YouTube get ½ million views at least with their most viewed videos standing at 101.4 million, 44 million and 41 million.

The secret strategy? Well let’s start with Red Bull’s audience. They know their audience intimately and always put them first. Quite simply, Red Bull from start to finish have always put their customers at the heart of their business and focus on making content that they know their customers are going to enjoy. It’s not just about filming, sponsoring or hosting sporting events. For Red Bull it’s about creating moments and experiences they can share with their audience that are really exciting and very unique. They film TV content like this Red Bull Signature Series, host events like these every year, and make them accessible to everyone and anyone.

They film documentaries for their YouTube channel like “The Fearless Swedish Free-rider” that are interesting and enjoyable to watch by anyone.

But, their most popular content is stunt videos like the “Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Freefall” or their most viewed video from the free running series “Last Call for Mr Paul”.

Red Bull constantly go above and beyond (quite literally) and create content that is not only mind blowingly brilliant but also better than most of the content produced by major publishing organisations. By putting their customers first and listening to their audiences, they have become the most talked about brand of our generation. Where their customers go they go, from music festivals, concerts, art shows, to reporting on the latest and trending sports, skate parks to mountain biking, free-running in car parks and paint-balling – they’ve been everywhere and they’ve done it all!

Red Bull’s marketing strategy is to sell an experience, not a product, and this is something that any business or brand can do. Creating content that is for your customer and puts the audience first is a strategy that can work for any business. There are many other brands out there that have started to adopt this Red Bull method and become publishers instead of just selling “products”. Volvo is one such brand. They created a documentary series on Youtube titled Human Made Stories: Defiant Pioneers which features 5 episodes that look into different human stories like this one titled “Nemo Gardens”, about a man in Italy building an underwater farm.

Patagonia very quickly established themselves as a publisher on YouTube, uploading interviews, documentaries, short films and long films about the planet, sustainability and people. Patagonias Workwear series on YouTube has 27 videos and is still being updated today with new videos, these feature interviews with people who wear Patagonias workwear as part of their jobs.

Nike is another brand that is identified through their content. Yes they sell shoes but they also share experiences and promote a certain identity. Their YouTube channel also has a lot of documentary content going up onto it that is interesting to watch, like this Alex Roca Campillo – Dream Crazier which has 1.3M views.

More and more brands are implementing Red Bulls strategy, becoming publishers and creating video content for use online. However, no brand has or is doing better than them. They nailed this part of their marketing very early on and have set the tone for any brand to follow and replicate. But, looking at all the brands out there that are following suit, is a good sign that the Red Bull strategy is one that works. For businesses that aren’t implementing this strategy we would suggest starting small and working your way up to it. Start with some customer testimonials or behind the scene footage of your business and factory, documenting the way you do things and the way your products are made. Just get your content out there to the customers that want to listen and see how they respond. 

If you want to know more about audience first content you can read our blog: What is Audience-First Content?

If you want to know more about audience first video content and documentary filming you can visit our other blogs:
How Brands Can Use Documentary Style Video in Content Marketing.  

Blurred Lines. How Branded Content is Transforming Traditional Broadcasting. 

 

In a fast moving and crowded industry, food and drink brands need to find efficient, engaging and consistent ways to connect with their customers online and social media can be one of the best tools to do that. We see a lot of food and drink brands focusing a lot of their time, energy and resources on social media marketing in order to build a loyal community of followers who can spread a message about their products. But, if every other food and drink brand is doing the same thing, how do you stand out from the crowd?

 

One of the tricks to nailing a successful social strategy is to have a consistent stream of posts that encourage regular engagement. Text and picture posts can get great results but did you know that posts with video have 48% more views (HubSpot) and generate 1200% more shares than text and image content combined? (G2 Crowd).

 

As a food or drink brand, Twitter, Linkedin and Snapchat are great but Facebook and Instagram should be your bread and butter. Instagram in particular is highly visual so it’s great for showing off your products in the best light and acting as your virtual “store front”. Try to tell the story of your brand and your products with a variety of videos. For example, you can create simple, glossy, 10 second clips of the ingredients that go into your products or a quick time-lapse of a pop-up display being put together in a retail store. Do 1 minute interviews with members of the team or film with your farmers and producers.

 

Videos on social media add huge credibility to your brand’s identity especially when they are informative and educational. Viewers retain 95% of a message after watching it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text (Wirebuzz). Remember, 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound (Instagramso consider adding motion graphics or subtitles to make them stand out.

 

Instagram and Facebook are perhaps one of the most effective ways to create a deeper connection with your customers and engage them on a more personal level. Get somebody in your company to create a Live-stream broadcast taking your audience behind the scenes of your brand and give them insight into your day-to-day activities. These can be behind the scenes of a shoot, event or product sampling, shots in your office, a team outing or videos in your factory. This type of content will resonate with your audience because it’s personal, honest and will make them feel more involved with your journey. Also, because of the personal style of these videos, 47% of consumers enjoy watching adverts from brands on Instagram and Facebook Story (Animoto).

 

Think of social media videos as part of a wider ecosystem of content you are creating. Try to drive your audience from one channel to create better engagement with your brand. For example, if you have some great long-form content on Youtube (above 2 minutes) but don’t have many subscribers, then create short clips from that content and post it on your Facebook or Instagram page with a link to send viewers across to watch the full video on Youtube. If you are creating blogs or other pieces of written content, then you can create short videos summarising the main points from the blog. Post that video on social media and then encourage the viewer to read the full blog on your website by following the link. Not only does this technique help to give your audience lots of content to “gorge on” but it’s also fantastic for SEO.

 

Social media is a great way for food and drink brands to build their own tribe. It works extremely well at engaging audiences with relevant, interesting and exciting content about your brand, and by using video amongst your social media marketing you can find simpler, easier and more engaging ways to stand out online.

How Food and Drink Brands Can Use Online Video in 2019

The food and drink industry is one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the UK contributing £28.8bn to the economy and generating £22bn in export sales (FDF). In recent years we have seen new brands popping up left, right and centre, food networks dominating the online space and “How To Cook That” becoming one of the most searched phrases on Youtube. (OneSpot)

In 2019 food and drink brands should look enthusiastically to content marketing, and choose carefully the best avenues to take in order to achieve sales and growth. Amongst the many marketing opportunities available to food and drink brands, online video is consistently showing the best results and helping propel new brands into the spotlight. We’ve seen food channels like Twisted, Tasty and Tastemade take the industry by storm with their recipe videos. Also, with the popularity of online platforms like Youtube, Facebook and Instagram, it’s never been easier for brands to share content and spread their messages.

So, what are the best ways a food and drink brand can use video online?

Online Advertising

The great thing about online advertising is that it’s affordable, it takes advantage of the internet’s wide and global reach and can be accurately targeted when engaging customers and audience. According to Forbes, because of the visual nature, 80% of users can recall a video ad they’ve seen in the past 30 days. (Forbes)

Instagram and Facebook allow you to create sponsored or promoted video ads and carousels that can be targeted to only appear on specific audience’s news feed. These adverts can be targeted by demographics, geographical region, interests, job roles and lifestyles. So, you can produce a video that is specifically made, for example, for females above the age of 50 who work in London, and are interested in fine dining. You can then target these females with a promotional advert for a competition to win a fine dining experience at your restaurant.

Youtube offers a similar experience where you can host a “pre-roll” advert before a video and an “in-video” advert during the video. These adverts have the opportunity of being highly targeted as you can choose the best Youtube Channels to advertise on to suit your company’s products. For example, Asda do pre-roll adverts that run before popular food Vlogs, which look like this.

It’s short, simple and resonates with the audience of foodies as it’s about food and has a similar look to a recipe video. This type of advert maximises on engagement as it’s quick and relates to the audience’s interests.

As well as targeted ads on Youtube you can also advertise via Google on relevant platforms including food channels and forums like the Food Network and Delish, popular food magazines like Olive Magazine and Plant Based, or food blogs like Cookie and Kate.

Simply Cook have a banner ad at the top of a Delish recipe blog. It’s bold and engaging, with clear branding that fits seamlessly across the overall site’s style.

 

Branded Content

Branded content is regular videos for social media channels churned out daily or weekly, that promote a brand’s products, personality and encourages consistent engagement from their customers.

You can use Youtube to create long form branded video content like recipe videos, videos of your company like “Meet the Team”, “Meet the Chefs” and “Inside the Kitchen”, or cooking shows. Videos like this highlight your company’s personality and gives your audience something insightful or useful to take away. It’s one of the best ways to drive engagement with your brand.

Mindful Chef filled us in on what they had been doing over the Christmas period, collecting food from customers and audiences to give to the homeless.

And Absolut Vodka have done videos on their Youtube channel showing how to create alcoholic cocktails like this one.

Longer form Youtube videos can be easily shortened and included in your social media feeds like Facebook and Instagram Stories. This offers people eye-catching and bite sized content.

These videos are effective at engaging audiences during their on-the-go activities, whether on their lunch, at the gym or on a train, it encourages them to stop and watch what you are up to because it’s exciting.

And seriously think about using Facebook or Instagram Live for highly dynamic videos that will really engage your followers. You can film events, talk shows that you host, something that’s happening in your company or a behind the scenes of a shoot. Because it’s live, people will stop and take notice.

 

Collaboration Videos  

Collaboration videos are a great way for food and drink brands to come together and promote a like minded message. If you’re a cereal brand you can collaborate with a milk brand to create different breakfast recipe ideas. Or, both brands could create a video to promote a trendy activity like Veganuary. You can also collaborate with like minded food bloggers and vloggers to promote your brand. Send them your products to feature on one of their videos and receive direct engagement from their loyal fans.

Spoon Cereal did a collaboration video with Liberte Yogurt UK and made a 2 minute recipe video on Youtube that they marketed on Instagram story.

Food and drink brands can also do paid partnerships and collaboration videos online with food channels like Tasty and have products featured in a Tasty recipe video on social media. Tasty recently did one on Instagram with Ciroc.

 

Influencer Video Marketing

This is a great way for food and drink brands to market their products. Influencer video marketing has become extremely popular in the last couple years. Because of the increasing popularity of social media, we have seen the proliferation of  “influential people”, a person with a wide or large network of fans and followers. We have “Public Figures” on Instagram, famous Vloggers on Youtube, bloggers who have turned into celebrities and celebrities in the “traditional sense” like TV chefs. If you can get Kim Kardashian to upload a picture of your product on her Instagram, you have instantly hit 1 million customers. It offers you reach, it has strong promotional value and advertises your products direct to your ideal customers. Just be ready to pay as these guys don’t come cheap!

The Goat Agency used their influencer network to promote Graze the healthy snacking brand. They selected female influencers with a large female following in the UK and got them to post videos of the Graze products with a promotional code on their Instagram stories.

There are also micro-influencers that won’t have the same 4M followers that a Kardashian has but they do have a solid 10K of loyal fans and followers. This could offer you a better return on your investment as you have more choice and you could spread the sponsorship across a different number of relevant influencers. If you’re a vegan milk brand who wants to break into the Australian market, you could send your products to a vegan lifestyle Vlogger in Australia.

 

Multichannel Campaign

Once you’ve mastered all those different forms of online video you can then begin to tie it all together and create one big multichannel campaign. These work extremely well in the lead up to an event or when promoting a new product or trend. For example, Veganuary is upon us and it happens every year. Greggs just launched their Vegan Sausage roll and promoted it online with a video that looked very similar to the IPhone advert.

For a whole month you can create a multichannel campaign of online videos, advertisements and events that all relate and compliment each other. You can post vegan recipe videos on youtube, post short versions of the recipe videos on social media, run online advertisements of the vegan products, and send out promotional videos of your products – all with the same look and feel. Finally, you hold pop ups around town or in supermarkets allowing the public to taste your product. This all ties together to create one big multichannel campaign that can receive a lot of audience engagement.

Over Christmas, Baileys spent 4.3M on a multichannel campaign called “It’s Not Christmas Without You” comprising of a TV ad, Outdoor ads, social media content and Pop up stalls, samplings and events in shopping centres. (The Grocer)

There are a lot a different ways food and drink brands can use video online but these are some of the ones that will really help push your brand into the limelight in 2019. And, as the number of people watching videos online only continues to grow, with video predicted to make up to 80% of all global traffic by 2019. (Tubular Insights) Why wouldn’t you be looking to creating video this year? Give some of these a go and really spice up your food and drink marketing this year with some awesome video content.

In today’s digital world, brands can now reach their customers with dozens of touch points from Google and Youtube to Facebook and Instagram. But there’s also a problem; with the proliferation of digital marketing, people are starting to become desensitised to online adverts – they’ve learnt how to tune out the digital ad noise.

 

As we move into the next decade of the 21st century, brands will have to work far harder to connect with their “audiences”. Conventional advertising won’t be enough. They will need to create educational, entertaining or informative content that puts their “audience-first” – putting the customer’s needs before the brand. Not only will this help them to compete for their customer’s attention, but it will also enable them to create a more meaningful relationship with their customers.

 

For consumers, this “Audience-First” video content will compete for their attention with TV programming and other forms of entertainment. The only difference is that the video content they love to watch online, will be powered by brands. For the Brands, the video content they provide will enable them to create a connection to their market and loyalty beyond anything they had experienced before.

 

A lot of major brands like Volvo, Patagonia and Red Bull already have Youtube channels dedicated to audience-first content. These include informative series about interesting people, places or topics that they know their audience will enjoy watching. Volvo run a documentary series called “Human Made Stories” looking at amazing people doing incredible things. Red Bull’s focus is on extreme sports; people snowboarding, mountain biking or surfing, where the only mention of Red Bull is a logo in the corner. And Patagonia do a series called  “Workwear” looking at craftspeople and workers doing interesting jobs. It’s not heavily branded and it’s video content that normal people love to watch.

 

So how do you get started with audience-first video content and how can you incorporate it into your own marketing strategy?

 

It’s firstly important to understand your demographic – their interests, their dislikes, their habits and their activities. You need to understand what sort of video content will resonate with them. It’s clear that a 25-year-old women in London may not enjoy watching the same content as a 50-year-old man in Leeds, unless they both share similar interests and passions. Once you’ve found a common thread to your customers, try to come up with ideas for video content that will resonate with them.

 

Social media platforms offer great tools to connect with customers and find out what they are interested by. Using Instagram stories you can directly ask your audience questions. By using “polls” or “ask me anything” tools, you can find out first hand what your audiences are interested in. So if you want inspiration for your first Youtube series then post the question on Instagram.

 

Audience-first content doesn’t have to be a massive production of documentaries or nation engaging stunts. It just has to be content that is made for your audience, whether that’s “how to videos”, interviews with experts, or recipe videos. At its core, Audience-first content should not be too heavily branded or advertorial. You need to make your audience forget there is any kind of branded message.

 

For more information on Audience-First content please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. We always encourage our clients to explore audience-first content as we see this as the future focus for brands.

3 Easy Steps to Get Sales with Video

Video is dominating the digital marketing space at the moment and the statistics speak for themselves. According to Google nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store and video ads have an average click-through rate of 1.84% – the highest of all digital ad formats. (Business Insider). But what’s the best way to drive sales for your business with video?

When it come to sales, Google describes the consumer marketing journey in its own framework “See, Think, Do”. In short, these are the 3 phases a customer goes through before buying your product. First, it is awareness of your product or service. Next, they signal an intention to buy and finally, they buy.

Whether you are a B2C brand selling a consumer product or a B2B business selling a service, you need to create a funnel of interest and leads at the start of your consumer’s journey and then guide them through these 3 steps before asking for a sale. The best way to do this is with either an online advertising campaign, an email marketing campaign or a mix of both.

1. Inform

Run some general awareness video adverts on either Google, Youtube or Social Media. This is for the people that don’t know you and haven’t even heard of you. Get them familiar with your business through targeted video adverts. Identify your audience first, decide where the best place is to reach them, then create adverts that softly introduce you to them. Don’t try to strong-arm them with a sale at this point. Brands that use video marketing grow their year-over-year revenue 49% faster than brands that don’t. (Wirebuzz)

2. Educate

Often, your ideal customer doesn’t know they have a problem that you can solve so begin to educate them. Let them know about the value of your product and why it is a good fit for them. In their buyer journey, when they are in Google’s “Think” phase, they will be seeking out information before making a decision so this is a great time to educate them. In fact, searches related to “how to” on YouTube have grown 70% year on year. (Google) Either send videos to your prospects via email (if you’ve captured their information) or re-market to them via Google or Facebook pixel. As I’ve talked about in a previous blog, think about creating videos that focus on the problem rather than the product. For example, if long distance runner is having a problem with blisters and your product solves that, then create content that unpacks “why” blisters happen in the first place, then how your product helps.

3. Offer

Buyers love a deal so run a promotion and deliver the promotion in a video. Run these videos as either 15 second adverts to the same audience you have raised awareness with, re-market to your existing audience or email them directly. Remember to have a finite time-frame on your offer and a definitive cut off point. The video should have a very strong call-to-action so prospects know how to redeem the offer. And remember to keep your videos nice and short. Nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds. (Insivia)

A recent survey by (Buffer) found that 73% of marketers said they’d create more video content if there were no obstacles like time, resources, and budget. But always consider that if you create a well-structured video marketing campaign just once, it’s much easier to then replicate it. It will be worth the time, resources and budget you may waste on less effective strategies.

If you want to talk to us about how to drive sales for your business using video then drop us a line at info@smallfilms.com

The word branded content gets banded around quite frequently but what does it actually mean? How does it specifically apply to video? And how can I use it to win more customers?

Wikipedia (always to be taken with a pinch of salt) defines Branded Content as “the practice of marketing via the creation of content that is funded or outright produced by an advertiser” as opposed to “content marketing” which “is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online.” Surely then that’s different to advertising which Wiki describes as “Advertising is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea”?

Confused? You are not alone. I’ve sat through many talks with industry leaders who often find it hard to put their finger on the true definition of “branded content”. The lines between advertising and content marketing are often blurred, but one truth remains; branded content offers value to the audience but serves the brand that created it.

If you are interested in what counts as branded content and how to define it then here’s a series of examples from the Haagen Dazs Youtube Channel…

This is their advert. No two ways about it. They are showing the product and pushing their agenda.

But then look at these three videos and their different forms of branded content.

This film was made by well-known filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. It’s a mini documentary that is sponsored by Haagen Dazs. So its branded content right? Seems simple enough.

And what about this video? It tells the story of the Jam Stand company. Seems like a classic bit of content marketing; an interesting story about these entrepreneurs, with a bit of product placement toward the end.

But then it gets slightly confusing. This video is an amazing 360 VR experience looking at the plight of the honey bee. Its a great bit of content that adds value for people watching. But it was commissioned by Haagen Dazs to shout about the social purpose work they are doing so it’s strongly pushing their agenda. So is it branded content or a clever bit of advertising?

Ultimately semantics aside, there’s one thing that unites all three pieces of branded content; they all put the “Audience-First” by offering value to the audience rather than being just a straight-up advert. And when you are creating video, this part is critical if you want to generate more interest in your company, greater customer allegiance and sales.

So how do I create branded content for my business?

Its actually quite simple to create your own branded content. It just takes a bit of planning and a strong understanding of your target audience.

Think about your customer demographics and what interests them. Then start to build a content plan around that. Remember, you are putting your “audience first”, not your company agenda. So all the videos need to be informative, educational, interesting or entertaining. Don’t push the company agenda too heavily. Give your audience something first and then be grateful when they give you their allegiance.

For example, if you are a tech company that’s developed a new app to help people find car parking spots then what content would your customers find useful? A video guide to all the different ways you can pay for parking? Videos with insider tips on parking in major UK cities? You can even start to look at concepts that are less directly aligned with your company’s purpose like “DAB Radio Stations reviews”, “How to avoid road rage” and “Cheap fuelling spots in the UK”.

If your company has a social purpose or passion that you are aligned with, then explore creating content around that. So if your Parking App company also campaigns for the promotion of electric cars or you back an environmental charity then why not start a web series interviewing interesting people about those subjects?

Back when I worked in the TV industry in the development department, we’d cook up ideas for television series in a brainstorming meeting. Once we’d considered the TV channel we were pitching to and its tone of voice, as well as the viewer demographic we were appealing to, we’d come up with ideas that we thought they might like. We’d then plan out every episode of the series with post-its on a whiteboard until we had a well-formed plan to pitch to the commissioners at the TV channel.

The same plan of action should be taken when creating a branded content plan. Think of your Youtube channel as your own TV channel and you need to create different TV series to populate that channel. How frequently do you want episodes to show? Once a week? 2 per month? And how many months will the series last before you assess its success?

Why bother when I can just run paid adverts?

The online landscape is saturated with advertising. We are bombarded with it day in, day out. People are becoming desensitised to advertising and we’re learning to tune it out. Not to say that online adverts don’t have their place; they absolutely do. They are great for brand awareness, direct calls to action and can even go viral in their own right. But if you want to cut through the noise and engage your customers on a more meaningful level then you need to be creating your own branded content video plan.

I truly believe that brands can be the driving force behind meaningful video content that adds value to people’s lives. And the good news is you don’t have to be a multi-national conglomerate to do it. In fact, for startups and SMEs, branded content can be one of the most affordable and effective ways of generating new business. So what are you waiting for?

If you want to talk to us about how to create branded content for your business then drop us a line at info@smallfilms.com

 

In 2018, video became one of the most desirable forms of digital marketing content. But whilst B2C brands have been quick to use video in their marketing, many B2B companies have been slow to take advantage of this fantastic resource. The truth is, B2B companies who do invest in video find that it is extremely rewarding. Here are 7 reasons why video can improve B2B marketing.

 

  1. Video can improve sales

    Not only has it become easier for companies to produce affordable and engaging video content, but, in a survey conducted by Tubular insights on B2B marketers “73% of them say video positively impacts ROI” and “50% are using video content for email marketing already”. Hubspot’s 2018 report revealed that 81% of businesses use video in their inbound marketing strategy, simply because the ROI is always higher then the investment made on the video. For B2B businesses, including a video in your landing page can increase conversions by 80% (Insivia). Largely due to the fact that on average people spend 2.6x more time on pages with video than without (Insivia).

  2. Videos can be both short term and a long term strategies

    People say that a picture speaks a thousand words, well guess what, one minute of video is worth 1.8m words (Biteable). The great thing about video is that you can create multiple edits from a single shoot. Leading to both long form (2 minutes or more) and short form content (5 – 15 seconds). You can use these assets in multiple customer touch points like your website and social media channels.

  3. Social media video marketing is booming

    Word on the street is B2B businesses are starting to see the positive effects social media marketing can have on customer retention and new business. A study reveals that 53% of B2B prospects say social media plays a huge role in their buying decision (entrepreneur). Luckily for you, all social media platforms prioritise video, and there are now so many ways for you to reach your target audience. From Facebook Live and Stories, to Instagram TV. Google organically prioritises and boosts any video posted on the internet through its search engines (Alexa).

  4. Audiences and customers find it easier to engage with video content

    Where both video and text are available on the same page, 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service (Hubspot). Even CEO’s, Presidents and Managing Directors would rather watch a video then read graphs, diagrams and text (Wordstream). So when you understand that a person retains 95% more information through watching a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text (Wirebuzz) why wouldn’t you be using it? In 2017, online users viewed more than 500 million hours of video each day on YouTube (Business Insider), and in the past 30 days, the amount of video uploaded to the internet equals the amount of Television produced in the last 30 years (Blue Corona).

  5. Storytelling has become more important for business owners

    With the rise of video marketing and the proliferation of smart technology, more businesses are finding it easier to connect with their customers on a meaningful level (The Drum). TV advertisements have been surpassed by online adverts. Consumers now are more conscious of “fake news”, disloyal brands, false hopes, and unprofessional marketing practices. It has become a lot harder to pull the wool over people’s eyes, and they are now searching for deeper connections with businesses. We can see it in their consumption, with nearly 50% of internet users looking for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store, and making better buying decisions once viewing a branded video (Google).

  6. Video creates an experience of being there

    80% of users can recall a video ad that they viewed in the last 30 days, simply because it offers them a unique experience that can be different every time (Single Grain). You can convey multiple messages and feelings to your audience through video, and it also offers you the opportunity to build a one-on-one, personal connection with that single viewer. People are more willing to associate with your business if they can build a human connection with it, for example, 65% of executives have navigated to a vendor’s site, and 39% have called a vendor after watching a video (Forbes).

  7. Video can cut through the noise

    In comparison to static forms of marketing, video ads have an average clickthrough rate of 1.84%, the highest of all digital ad formats (Business Insider). And social video currently generates 1200% more shares than text and image content combined (Wordstream). The desirable form of content online for your customers, no matter what field they are in, is video. And brands that use video marketing grow their year-on-year revenue 49% faster than brands that don’t (Wirebuzz).

     

    It’s crazy that there are still companies not investing in video marketing. Especially when you see all of these amazing facts and statistics. Marketing and advertising are becoming more important everyday for B2B and B2C companies. By incorporating video into your inbound and outbound marketing strategy, you are not only setting yourselves to be experts in your field, but you’re also saving yourselves a lot of time, money and resource. Your competitors are probably already doing video, so why aren’t you?

Marketing to millennials.

As the digital landscape changes and consumers become more media and tech savvy, brands are having to adapt quickly in the way that they find customers and market to their audiences. Recent research has shown that display advertising is rapidly losing its effectiveness due to the widespread use of ad blocking software and viewers’ increasing tendency to distrust and ignore explicit marketing techniques. After sixty years of overt disruptive advertising, it seems audiences are getting wise to it. Technology is putting the power firmly back in their hands. Digitally competent consumers can now decide when and how they interact with brands and demand uninterrupted digital experiences with value-adding, entertaining content to keep them engaged.

But with more global competition and marketing noise than ever, this increasing rejection of hard-sell advertising means that brands now need alternative ways of reaching their audiences. Branded video content has therefore become the newest and most effective tool for brands to engage with their customers.

So what exactly is branded content?

It’s complicated! There is much disagreement about what actually differentiates ‘branded content’ from other forms of marketing. At its very basic level, branded content is customer focused and puts the brand’s ‘audience’ first. Rather than traditional advertising which informs and persuades customers of brand benefits, branded content takes a different approach. Treating its audience as real individuals instead of merely ‘customers’, branded content attempts to foster relationships socially and emotionally with consumers through tailored storytelling and engaging creative content rather than explicit advertising. The aim is to build customer loyalty and an authentic brand-consumer relationship rather than strong-arming people into buying your products.

The evolution of advertising into branded content.

Traditionally, brands have sought to reach new or larger audiences through paid advertising with the big content publishers and broadcasters. In the past they might have taken thirty second TV commercial spots and/or bought up display or banner advertising with print or online publishers. Of course this still happens, but brands are having to become less formulaic in order to connect with and engage their customers. Traditional advertising still has a place – but is increasingly being used as part of integrated campaigns with diverse types of branded content across multiple channels. Taking a more holistic approach to content and distribution in this way enables brands to achieve the sort of in-depth creative storytelling that viewers might actively choose to consume.

Types of branded content.

The point of branded content is that it should seem less like disruptive advertising and should integrate well into the surrounding online content and TV programming. Because of this, it can take many different forms – from sponsorship of brand-aligned existing programming to full length ad break ‘programmes’, documentary film collaborations, music videos and even feature films. It is this diversity of style and content collaboration with the big publishers and broadcasters that has led to a blurring of the lines between traditional advertising and programming and between brands and traditional content publishers. As long as this doesn’t advance brands’ agendas in a biased or dishonest way – the rise of branded content can be seen as a welcome injection of creativity and funding for traditional content publishing and programme making.

Here are some of our favourite types of branded content campaigns:

 The programme sponsor:

Wickes advertising sponsors Homes programming on Channel 4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu6w7FZmDik

The full-length ad space takeover:

Waitrose ran full-length ad break ‘recipe shows’ with Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith between food programming and have also launched their own YouTube channel to showcase their content.

 Moving into the online space – the brand ‘hosted’ live, cross-media TV show:

Carling partnered with the Premier League and Sky Sports to host a Friday night football show,  Carling in off the Bar – a half hour live pre-match broadcast from a pub, simulcast on Facebook Live, YouTube and Sky Sports with half-time match analysis streamed live on social media and post-match analysis. An ideal cross-media vehicle for Carling to reconnect with its target audience of 18-35 year old men.

The online value-adding content collaboration:

The Performers – Gucci with GQ

Featuring 5 of the world’s ‘coolest’ guys (according to GQ), this series of films followed 5 performers as they travelled to places of personal pilgrimage to share stories of their inspirations. The characters and stories take centre stage, but Gucci accessories are ever present.

The branded content commercial break replacement:

The US Comedy Central Channel is now running a 2 ½ minute branded content series once a month instead of a traditional ad break in an effort to blend advertising with quality comedy content and keep viewers watching.

http://handytheseries.com

The documentary film content partnership:

Volvo  + Sky Atlantic – Human Made Stories

Volvo partnered with Sky Atlantic to produce a series of inspiring short documentary films centring on the emotional impact of human innovation, raising brand perception of Volvo as a progressive, innovative manufacturer and taking advantage of the increasing popularity of socially-aware content.

The Lego Movie

The best example of a brand commissioning a feature film and probably the finest and most successful piece of branded content ever created.

 

Whatever the moral ins and outs of the rise of branded content and its impact on the big content publishers and broadcasters – one thing is clear, and that is that brand influence on the digital content we consume is growing – whether audiences perceive it to be ‘advertising’ content or not. TV – be it broadcast, playback or video on demand still accounts for 76% of UK video consumption and it’s where brands want to be (Thinkbox). With other vehicles like Facebook Watch up and coming, brand-funded programming and programming agendas are definitely here to stay. The less direct approach to marketing is working – and both brands and publishers are fast cottoning on to that fact. The big brands have started the ball rolling, but surely – the smaller ones won’t be far behind?

If you would like help with creating branded video content for your business – contact us here

Small Films are video content specialists. By combining strategic minds with creative flair we create powerful stories with video that deeply resonate with audiences, supporting our clients to achieve their ambitions in growing their organisation, brand or campaign.