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15 June, 2020 • 5 min read
People who work in marketing have always known that ‘Content is King’. So much so, they have resorted to creating content out of… everything. Stories are cut up, regurgitated, and repackaged for social media. Success is measured by leads generated, click-throughs, and consumers moving through funnels.
This is only effective up to a point. But it also means a lot of great stuff is being lost in a sea of generic, and sadly at times, unoriginal clickbait. As marketing becomes ever more data-driven, there is a growing propensity for content to be churned out on sterile, automated production lines where stories are obliterated by MQLs, KPIs, and a myriad other acronyms that few outside of marketing recognise.
In this strange new world of lockdown loneliness, consumers are craving human connection. And now more than ever, marketers must learn to adapt.
In this mini-guide, we will look at how marketing teams can reconnect with their audiences, not just as consumers or marketing personas, but as other human beings.
Content marketing is ubiquitous.
In recent years, there has been a content explosion that marketing teams have jumped on like seagulls to hot chips. And, as with anything that becomes remotely popular, people then claim it’s dead.
Content marketing isn’t dead. More and more companies are just making really boring content. Anything headlined: ‘Top 5 Ways To…’ or ‘Why we love…’ is simply marketing by numbers. This churning out of cliched content is giving the whole profession a bad name.
The moment you start writing content for clicks, or for nebulous ‘marketing personas’, it loses its heart. Your audience is turned off. Instead, we should be writing for the person behind the persona. What does this person love? What do they hate? What makes them cry? What makes them laugh?
Only by asking ourselves these questions, and actually knowing the answer, can we deliver content that really hits home.
Somewhere along the line, we became obsessed with buying stages, acronyms, and marketing theory, and we forgot about the person at the end of it all. We stopped trying to delight them, and started to irritate them instead.
We forgot to tell a story.
Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell
It’s pretty much universally accepted that video can provide marketers with their most compelling content. It is engaging, direct, and accessible. It allows you to drive to the heart of your story.
The only reasons marketing teams may have been reluctant to throw the kitchen sink at video marketing in the past have been governed by time, cost, and logistics.
Commercial video production a decade ago was a daunting prospect. It required film crews, storyboards, and huge edit suites. Shooting across multiple locations led to spiralling budgets and anxious stakeholders. Many companies decided a handful of press releases and an occasional blog was sufficient.
But as technology evolves, so does the opportunity to fully embrace video as part of your content mix. TikTok, Snapchat, and Insta Stories didn’t exist 10 years ago, but now they are changing the way we consume media and have made it easier for marketing teams to incorporate video into their core strategies.
With the phones in our pockets more powerful than ever, we are all film-makers now! As more marketing teams embrace user-generated content, we are seeing unprecedented collaboration across entire company ecosystems. Colleagues, consumers, brand ambassadors - everyone has a different perspective.
The challenge is to find new ways to stand out in a crowded market. To cut through the noise and make sure your video content hits home.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought seismic shifts to the way we work.
For marketing teams, the content plan written in January will now have to be radically reviewed and changed. At the very least, everything being created now needs to acknowledge the new situation we all find ourselves in.
It’s the elephant in the room.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean storytelling has become harder. If anything, consumer audiences have never been more understanding, more empathetic, more willing to watch and listen.
At Seenit, we have seen how video production professionals have had to drastically re-evaluate how they operate. Lavish production values, exotic locations, and crowded sets have been replaced by simple, single-camera set-ups.
Logistically, there has been a levelling of the playing field, resulting in stories that are more authentic and heartfelt.
The danger is that the Covid crisis, new as it may be, has already spawned a massive bandwagon. Take this as an example.
Still, it is fascinating to see how impactful some of these campaigns have been. Shot on a fraction of the budget of their more elaborate predecessors, but still striking to the heart of public sentiment. Some of these early efforts managed to mostly avoid the pitfalls of cliche and demonstrate the remarkable power of crowdsourced video:
Ah yes, more piano music! That aside, for a company the size of Apple, this video feels… familiar. Normally their ads are high budget and spectacular. They feel out of this world, like nothing you could ever reproduce. But this feels relatable: Real people, trying to make the best of things.
Facebook put together this ad at the start of lockdown with the aim of finding people that need help, or those who can offer it. And - yes! - it’s very hard to find Covid-based ads without piano music, but the tone and message in this is great.
As a marketer, you are in a privileged position where you are given a platform to share a message that people may actually engage with.
With that power comes an element of responsibility. All too often, the desire to manipulate and stretch the truth can be tempting. When the end goal is a simple sale, it is easy to lose sight of the human angles and concentrate purely on data and metrics.
But, with everything going on in the world right now, and a captive audience desperate for something deeper, marketing teams have an opportunity to take a step back.
This is a time for honesty, reflection, and compassion. Whatever its reputation for cynicism, marketing isn’t all bad. It can unite people, entertain and inspire them - all without losing its commercial remit.
Seenit have been producing videos throughout lockdown that use human stories to help us all through these unprecedented times, including this one on Mental Health:
Video collaborations like this can break down the barriers between us. They allow marketers to express themselves without being burdened by profits or results. If you are given licence to produce something you’ve poured your heart and soul into, the results can be remarkable. You can do something meaningful. Something good that reflects your personal values and those of your company.
Something you can be truly proud of.