Marketing video fail: a few weeks ago, my mortgage company sent me an email regarding their annual audit of my escrow account. In the past, they’ve sent me a letter describing the change and letting me know when my payment will adjust. I read the letter, absorb the information, and I’m on to other things in under 10 seconds. Sounds good, right? No need to mess with that formula.
This year, it appears the marketing department at my mortgage company was given a little too much leeway. Instead of a concise note, they sent me an email with a link to… A VIDEO!! A customized, three-and-a-half minute long video, no less, with my name and everything. It walked me through what an escrow account was, told me why it fluctuates and gave me a whole bunch of other information that I really didn’t need.
It totally pissed me off.
Blogs extolling the great marketing power of video are all over the interwebs, and the conventional wisdom would have us all believe that video is the greatest thing since sliced bread. But I disagree completely. Sure, it has its place, and there are things you can do with video that simply don’t translate into a written post (explainer videos are a great example of this). Videos are also really good for social media campaigns. But video is not a universal cure-all solution.
Here are my main issues with the widespread use of video:
- Time: In my mortgage example, I used to be able to consume everything I needed to know quickly when it was sent by mail. With the “new and improved” video delivery system, they just took 3 ½ minutes of my life to tell me what used to take 10 seconds.
- Expense: No matter how low budget you go, producing video costs more and takes longer than writing a simple email or blog. Sure, you can take super low budget selfie videos with your phone, and they’re great for some things. But full production video is costly and time-consuming.
- Combining the Time and Expense issue: to really make a long term impact with video, it takes consistency and quantity. Ever been to a YouTube channel with 2 videos that were produced 12 months ago? Unless you can build something that looks credible and has some depth it’s actually worse to produce a couple of videos than to have none at all.
- Often, there’s no option for those who’d prefer not to wade through the whole video. If you absolutely insist on using video, it would be in your best interest to also include a transcript or blog version for those who just want to read through quickly and move on with the rest of their lives.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate video in general. I have to admit a certain fondness for a YouTube channel where the host blows things up. It would be impossible to do justice to a slow-motion replay of a watermelon being vaporized in a blog post. But when I visit that channel I’m ready to spend the time that it will take to properly consume that content. I’m definitely not ready to spend 3 ½ minutes of my life thinking about an increase in my mortgage payment. And a lot of marketing falls into the latter category.
So, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide whether a marketing video is right for your project:
- Do you really need a video to get your message across, or would a simple email or blog post work just as well? For instance, if you’re trying to explain a complex subject, you may want a good explainer video—but a simple service business (like ours, for instance), really has no need for one. Pro tip: if you find yourself having trouble thinking of the content for the video, it may be the wrong format for you. If you’re unsure, I’d recommend trying to put together an email (or blog post, or whatever) first- you’ll save yourself time and money.
- Who is your target audience? Are they of the Youtube/SnapChat generation, or more likely to want to read a letter? If they are analog book readers still, trust us, they don’t want your video.
- Where will they be when they get your communication? Are they probably going to be sitting in an open office space (hint: not a good time to watch a video), or will they be they surfing Facebook at home in the bathtub (probably a better time)? In fact, a video is a really excellent choice if your messaging is appearing on Facebook since the platform is optimized for video.
- How much time does your audience have? Are they super busy professionals with an inbox stacked 40 deep (again, no time to watch a video—a written communication is easier to scan quickly), or do they have a little more time on their hands?
- What is your budget? Is a video really the best place to blow your money, or could you put those funds to better use?
In other words, keep your audience in the front of your mind, try and meet their needs (not yours), and remember they simply don’t care. Essentially our basic marketing premises, right?
Oh, and buck the trends to do what’s right for your customers. You know, those good business practices.
Happy small business marketing,
Theron, and Katie
At Urban Sherpa Marketing Co. we offer marketing advisory, strategic planning, and services for small businesses and startups. Our goal is to make high-quality marketing possible for every business, no matter the size. Think of us as your outsourced marketing department, strategic marketing adviser, or even your phone-a-friend marketing lifeline. We specialize in building efficient marketing programs to grow your business without blowing the bank.
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