It’s perhaps the most raw exposure any marketing campaign could hope for. A captive audience of hundreds of millions of people. Most Superbowl ads are identifiable in terms of what the ad is for, some are humorous, a few are pithy, cogent or genuinely funny, and fewer still leave the viewer with a sense of interest in the product. All are stupefyingly expensive. And short. And therein lies the rub.
Conveying a corporate message that accurately and succinctly describes your business to an audience that is at best only casually interested is tough. For companies with complex products or services it becomes even more difficult if not impossible to achieve any level of understanding or interest via a 30 second TV spot. It’s easier to explain the advantages of MSG-infused fried corn triangles, than say, an enterprise service bus. Moreover, it may be effective marketing to have Sasquatch attack a group of campers for their teriyaki beef jerky; less so to have the same Sasquatch attack a group of concerned IT folk over their failing software integration project.
Or maybe not. Perhaps I’m over-complicating things?
In any case, conveying a more complex or nuanced offering usually requires more than 30 seconds of woodland ape-based humor.
Enter the corporate video: 2 minutes (more or less) of carefully scripted evangelism for a businesses best products and services. Time enough to truly convey why our sprockets are so much better than our competitors’ cogs.
I bring this up because we here at Fairway are considering putting together a corporate video that details exactly what we do, how we do it, and importantly, why we do it. We have found that the attention span for someone seeking our services is very limited and there is little interest in perusing our somewhat dry and jargon-y website content. Instead we’ve seen that a slick corporate video tightly coupled with a consistent marketing theme can be much more effective in getting potential customers’ light bulbs to flicker on.
Take Dropbox for example. Their spartan homepage contains little more than a few support links and a brief animated corporate video explaining their service in simple but comprehensive terms:
For something a little more socially-oriented Foursquare employs a similar strategy:
The trouble of course is how to generate the kind of traffic you would normally receive from a traditional video-based advertisement, a la TV. No TV viewer is going to subject themselves to a 2-minute-long advertisement, but much of the effort and production cost of a traditional advertisement also goes into producing a compelling corporate video. Sometimes a lot more.
The real value of using video in such a way is simply to increase the interest, understanding and conversion of potential customers whose attention has been attracted in some other non-traditional way. A lot of chaff gets generated when advertising through traditional media outlets and sifting through a mountain unqualified leads can be a waste of time. Many companies view this as necessary, but again if you’re in an industry such as ours it pays to be a little more targeted.
So how does one generate buzz while employing an extended format that better suits a more complicated service offering? The answer for many has been viral and social marketing; that is, creating something with high social networking potential (SNP in industry jarg).
However, getting something to go viral is not something I think even the most Oz-like marketing wizards can predict with any great certainty. A lot depends on the indecipherable vicissitudes of hive-minded tweenage Technorati. But for those audiences who are a bit more business-minded creating something that is both entertaining and illuminating is certainly achievable. Check out Dollar Shave Club and their irreverent (and successfully viral) corporate video:
Getting your name out there isn’t all that hard once you’ve got the content to back it up. Traditional media is no longer a prerequisite to reaching thousands or even millions of potential new customers. Content is king, and the corporate video has changed to cater to new audiences who consume pro-actively and are more demanding. Sure, traditional media still has it’s considerable influence, but thankfully it’s not the only game in town anymore.
Potential customers reaching out to other potential customers sounds like a good deal to me.
Was there a point?
Although most of my observations degenerate into a series of rambling, disjointed non sequiturs, I will generally make it around to a point – however obvious or irrelevant it may be.
My point is this: new media (and particularly social media) makes it possible to tailor a corporate message in a format better suited to educating an audience than to selling snake oil or energy drinks.
One can’t skydive from an Oracle database, nor front-flip a snowmobile over a web application (although as I write this that sounds awesome). Shaun White need not apply. Instead, we can create a more professional, comprehensive and ultimately persuasive marketing message that grows our brand and attracts new customers.
Time to rock the Sasquatch suit!
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