After some fits and starts, mostly related to getting consumer behavior and technological capability to line up, video has finally become something that smaller brands can seriously consider. While the moving image has been captivating people for over a century now, only in the past 10 years has the cost dropped sufficiently to make it widely accessible. Only in the last 2 years have the low cost distribution networks and the back-end analytics come along to enable smaller brands to justify spending the money.
As the ‘next big thing’, video remains an opaque, mysterious, and intimidating subject for companies to get their heads around. Hopefully, in this column I’ll be clearing up some of the confusion and helping you make better decisions about video content. Naturally, the first step is to figure out if and when video is even right for your brand.
The elephant in the room of any video discussion is money. Every dollar spent means a little more risk taken and closes off the possibility of spending the money on something else. In light of that reality, making the decision to put something that tends to consume as much money and time as video into your marketing mix is definitely one not made lightly. Unless you’re a major national brand, video will be a sizable investment. The Ralph Laurens and Pradas of this world can experiment with 50K worth of marketing, but even mid-tier brands need to ask themselves some important questions before they write a check for a fraction of that amount.
So when does a brand decide that now is the time to pull the trigger on a video?
There’s no single answer, but video usually makes the most sense for a brand that’s looking for something to help them step up to the next level. There are two basic and closely connected reasons, one is the size of the potential upside to your marketing investment and the other is the marketing and brand infrastructure necessary to make that investment pay off.
Once you have the marketing budget, the real question becomes can you get enough value from the exposure the video will generate to justify the expense?
As a piece of content, the size of the potential upside is in many ways tied to the quality of the marketing infrastructure that you’ll be using to get that content out into the world. We’ll get into more detail about that shortly. However, much of the payoff from a successful marketing campaign has a lot to do with the nuts and bolts concerns of your business. Do you have the production capacity to meet increased demand? Do you have access to the capital needed to produce more product? This is not to suggest that one video will send sales skyrocketing, merely to point out that before you start thinking about spending money on a serious marketing effort you had better be sure you’re ready to deal with the business you hope to get from it.
On a more practical level, it’s rare for a brand to go from nothing to smash hit overnight. More often, brands slowly build a loyal following before leaping to general popularity. While frustratingly slow at times, the reality is that brands need to generate a base level of awareness before you can expect to gain the attention of the public at large. Does your brand have enough of a presence to build off of that any content you put out there will get noticed? If you push content out before you’ve established yourself and given magazines and blogs a reason to cover it and people a reason to share it, it’ll be difficult for that content to reach a large enough audience to pay off. There are, of course, notable exceptions to this rule, but you’re better off planning for the long haul.
If you are at this point, the quality of your marketing infrastructure becomes a major factor. Without a presence on platforms like facebook and twitter to share the content, an engaged audience to consume and share it, and a sales force to turn traffic into cash, even the best produced content becomes wasted money.
Thankfully, the current state of internet marketing has lowered the cost of establishing this sort of infrastructure, but it needs to be in place none the less. Whether we’re talking about a Twitter and Facebook campaign, looping your video on iPads at your pop-up shop, or both, there are a lot of ways to get your branded content out into the world and you need to have a plan to make sure that happens before shooting even starts.
In summary, video can take brands to the next level, but not before they’re ready to go there.
Image created by Yuliya Libkina