Sensory Appeal, in Video Form

In a world where it’s easy to experience sensory overload multiple times a day just from our smartphones, it’s almost ironic to suggest that you add to it with your marketing programs. But you should.

VideoIn a world where it’s easy to experience sensory overload multiple times a day just from our smartphones, it’s almost ironic to suggest that you add to it with your marketing programs. But you should.

With all of the media consumers consume daily — about 11 hours a day, for all channels combined — we’ve become dependent on interactive digital experiences that take little more effort than listening and watching. And we don’t even like doing that for more than two minutes. Our media usage has changed our interest levels, or maybe its our willingness to read or watch long documentaries — as we are now used to getting news, and now possibly the State of the Union, in Twitter posts.

Rising to fill the gap from our changing media consumption is video — short, entertaining snippets of two to three minutes that entertain, inform and, hopefully for those who produce them, inspire us to engage, inquire and buy something. It’s working.

HubSpot shares some powerful statistics showing how video is impacting consumer behavior and why you need to jump on this bandwagon, too. Here are just a few:

  • Videos in email lead to a jump in clickthrough rates of between 200 and 300 percent
  • Videos on a landing page can help your conversions increase by 80 percent
  • Videos combined with a full-page ad can boost engagement by 22 percent
  • Videos can increase likelihood of purchase by 64 percent among online shoppers
  • Videos included in a real estate listing can up inquiries by 403 percent
  • Video inspires 50 percent of executives to seek more information about a product
  • Video inspires 65 percent of executives to visit a marketer’s website, and 39 percent to call a vendor

I could go on … but I think the point is clear: You need to create videos if you want to engage customers and sell more products. And because YouTube is the second-largest search engine, next to Google. Enough said.

I’ll Say More

Another reason you must include video in addition to all of the above is most of your competitors are doing it and that can leave you out in the cold if you are not. Okay, so more stats from HubSpot:

  • 87 percent of online marketers use video content
  • 22 percent of small businesses in the U.S. plan to use it
  • 96 percent of B-to-B organizations use it

Most importantly, 90 percent of video watchers say they help them make purchase decisions and 92 percent of those viewing them on mobile devices share videos with others.

The one challenge is that there are a lot of videos competing with each other, as evidenced by yet another statistic: On average, users are exposed to 32.3 videos a month, or roughly one a day.

So how do you create videos that build your business and use them effectively in your marketing mix?

Like all things you do in any medium — print, digital, mobile — your content needs to have value, and that value can be improving someone’s circumstances, inspiring them to live a better life, or guiding them to do their jobs better, so they achieve their goals and advance their careers. Your videos need to create an emotional reaction that drives them to contact you for further information.

Here Are Some Tips

Regardless of your business genre, keep videos short and to the point. This is not your attempt to produce a Hollywood blockbuster. It is simply a way to tell your story with a medium that appeals to our senses and makes your brand come to life. Your videos should not be more than two to three minutes long. Go more only if your content justifies it.

Before you debut your videos publicly, test them. Ask non-employees and even non-customers to sit through your videos and give you feedback. Good questions to ask include:

  • Did it keep your interest?
  • What was the main message you took away from this video?
  • Did it inspire you to inquire more about our product or service? If yes, why? If not, why?
  • Was the length appropriate?
  • Did you think the production quality of this video was in line with other brand videos you have watched?

Like any marketing communications, always include a call to action and a response mechanism. Stay away from promotions, as they’ll expire before you’re ready to stop using the video. Make it clear how to contact you for more information through your email, website, phone numbers and social channels.

Keep your videos short. No one wants to spend more than two to three minutes watching a video that they know is intended to sell them something. Use their time and yours wisely, and keep your content on-task.

Use professional footage and images. Your video can be a slide show, with text fading in and out, or it can be a true video with all of the moving parts. Regardless of the format you use, use the highest resolution and quality possible. Your reputation is on the line, per the quality you project. If you are a high-tech company and you use low-tech video, that transfers to the perceived quality of the products you sell.

Create a YouTube channel to house all of your videos. You can archive videos on YouTube and on your website. For either option, include a transcript of your video to help you achieve higher SEO.

For B-to-C, you can add a little more fun and focus on life messages, not just brand messages. Coca-Cola does a great job of this. Its channel has more than 1.2 million subscribers and its views have topped more than 22 million for a single video. Coke’s “Happiness Truck” video, which shows a Coke truck dispensing gifts to people on the streets in Rio, has more than 1.6 million views — another inspirational message that worked to build the emotional equity of the Coke brand. Interestingly enough, its video with 22.3 million views as of this writing is about spending more time offline and enjoying the journey of life in the real world.

B-to-B Video Tip

For the B-to-B world, here are some tips:

  • Create product demo videos to showcase the features that set your products apart.
  • Show how your products compare to competitors, when applicable, and how your products fulfill the needs of your viewers.
  • Include statements from your company leaders to show their vision and help tell your brand story.
  • Include customers talking about their experiences with your product and your team. Video testimonials are powerful, because viewers can see the body language, the smiles, the looks of relief and hear the excitement in voices that written testimonials do not provide.

Again, consumers like to see brand stories in which they can see themselves. They want to be the proud father, or the mom being thanked by her Olympian child as shown in Proctor and Gamble’s “Thank You, Mom” ad series that makes many moms cry, no matter how many times they watch the videos. Consumers want to be the vacationers on the beach, the newly engaged couple, the happy family.

Find ways to associate your brand with what matters most to your consumers and then get creative and start writing video scripts that tell your story in conjunction with the goals they have for their lives.

A Night With the Olympics Advertisers

The Olympics are the marketing event of the moment. I’ve certainly watched my share of the sporting events, but I hadn’t yet sat down and focused just on the ads going on in the show. So last night, I decided to focus on the most interesting part of these games: the commercials!

The Olympics are the marketing event of the moment. I’ve certainly watched my share of the sporting events, but I hadn’t yet sat down and focused just on the ads going on in the show. So last night, with Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps swimming for medals (including one of Phelps’s biggest races), and the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics going for the team gold, I decided to focus on the most interesting part of these games: the Olympics commercials!

One thing that really jumped out to me was how much the commercials continued the themes of the Olympics: Inspiration, hard work, preparation, precision, performance, rewards. Especially inspiration.

And at the same time, I was surprised by what I didn’t see: Couch potatoes.

I’m a sports fan. I watch a lot of sports in general — and I basically list football as my religious affiliation. I’m used to my sports coming with a heavy dose of junk food, beer and soda commercials, many of them playing to my urge to relax, stuff my face and watch the game.

ChesterCheetahThere was nary a Cheeto to be seen during the Olympics! Hershey is a named sponsor, but there were no candy bars being munched between the events. Even the Reese’s Cup ad was active and inspiring.

In fact, these commercials made me feel downright lazy (even though I was working on this blog post throughout it).

Coming into the games, NBC Olympics CMO John Miller was criticized for saying, “The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey.”

While the criticism is justified in the broader context, watching the commercials sheds some light on where he was coming from from the point of view of marketing the Olympics.

These commercials clearly weren’t targeting sports fans. They were targeting people who tuned in to be inspired. And I think a lot of them hit the mark.

A quick word on calls to action: I expected to look for these, but as the commercials rolled out, I found I wasn’t catching many of them. Many of the car commercials ended with strong CTAs, especially BMW’s, but for the most part the commercials pushed a hashtag, or didn’t even attempt a next-step push. Given the inspirational tone, I think that makes sense. This night was more about branding and relationship building.

Here’s what I saw last night.

Lead-In Olympics Commercials

  1. BMW Olympic sponsorship
  2. Polo by Ralph Lauren Olympic athletes spot: Olympians identifying themselves, talking about overcoming obstacles.
  3. GMC precision commercial: “The Precision of Professional Grade.”
  4. Hillary Clinton Campaign Ad: “How do we make the economy work for everyone?” Emphasized charging companies that move overseas an exit tax. (A little ironic for the iconic international games, perhaps.)
  5. Toyota Corolla: Middle age couple, wife sees girls “dancing” in the next car and asks why he never takes her dancing anymore. Turns out the girls were freaking out over a bee. (Mental note: Corolla not bee proof!)

Thoughts: Cars, premium clothes and the front runner for president. Wealthy, white and, if I may say it, female-leaning ads.

The Olympic coverage starts with intros, context and story set-up. The kind of thing Miller was talking about.

Olympics Commercial Break 1

  1. Chobani: #NoBadStuff. US Women’s soccer commercial with the message, “Don’t listen to them [your naysayers], listen to you.”
  2. Tylenol PM: “We give you a better night, give you a better you.”
  3. Coca Cola: Soft cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure” with an Olympics/people-are-awesome type of theme.
  4. Bridgestone Tires: Gymnasts moving along the road in 2×2 formation as a metaphor for tires. Puncture-proof tires. Worldwide Olympic partner.
  5. Pop Tarts: Elect the candidates “Crazy Good” commercial.
  6. BMW i3 smartcar: Aimed at hip, city dwellers. “Once the fun starts, it never stops.”

I didn’t time them, but the commercials seemed really short: Flash a few images, say the catch phrase, move on.

First Sport: Gymnastics – GOAT?

More Gymnastics. Introducing the team, Brent Musberger calls Simone Biles The Greatest of All Time. He does it as an after thought, like it’s been said so much it’s boring. Like they say it about Muhammad Ali.

I’ve never heard that during an Olympics for a first time Olympian. I’m not disagreeing at all, but it’s weird from a sports broadcasting point of view. In years, announcers were reluctant to anoint someone the greatest ever. No one would say it until some time had past and it was clearly unassailable.

Again, I don’t disagree (as you’ll see), but it feels odd hearing it said as she’s going through her first Olympics. Feels like part of the marketing message, not the reporting.

Olympics Commercials Break 2

  1. Visa commercial showing athletes going to Rio and highlighting all their payment products.
  2. The Voice TV show preview.
  3. Apple iPad Pro: “What else can it do?” I didn’t know it was Apple until the reveal at the end.
  4. NBC Network “Watch the RIO Olympics … starting August 5” commercial. Running on August 9. Kinda weird, almost certainly an ad spot they weren’t able to sell. Olympic rap in it was pretty sweet.

More Gymnastics

Olympics Commercial Break 3

Chevrolet presents a closer look at Rio, spotlighting the Taijuka rainforest in Rio. Very short, commercial length, but providing interesting content nonetheless.

  1. Chevy KBB awards commercial follows that story. (It’s been in heavy rotation for a while.)
  2. Hellman’s Mayonnaise commercial showing how to cook a “strange” sandwich. Tagline: “What’s Your #Strangewich?” Successfully made me want that sandwich! Focus was on the making, not the eating, though. Like the “Tasty” viral recipe videos.
  3. Nike: Chris Mosier 1st transgender “duathlete” to make the men’s national team. Totally about him going for it, even though he never knew it was going to work out. Barely mentions Nike, but he’s wearing Nike gear. Classic Nike ad.
  4. Reese’s Cups: Lindsy Von “Do summer like a winter Olympian” by eating a Reese’s Cup. Brilliant. Now I want a sandwich and a Reese’s Cup!
  5. New Movie: “Arrival.” Amy Adams sci fi movie. Looks right up my alley; I want to see it. Neither my wife or I had ever heard of it before, and we do follow those pop culture channels.


Olympics Commercial Break 4

  1. NBC Sports Olympic Gold map showing kids how to find their path to the gold today. Interesting. I’ve never seen that before. Definitely aimed at parents and kids watching the Olympics.
  2. Disney’s Pete’s Dragon movie commercial. Fandango plug in it.
  3. “The Good Place” TV Show commercial.
  4. Repeat of the Toyota Corolla ad.
  5. BB&T branding commercial: Trust-focused. Welcomes clients of National Penn.
  6. BMW X1 commercial with sports fans going to a game. Most typical sports commercial I’ve seen yet.

The commercials have definitely gotten longer. Maybe the time is cheaper now, but I think they’re also taking into account that people are settled in and watching. You can take your time a bit more, they’re paying attention to the message.

More Gymnastics

Olympics Commercial Break 5

  1. Samsung Galaxy Note 7 commercial w/ Christoff Waltz: About how Americans multitask, work super hard, “Do more before 8 AM than the rest of the world does all day.” (We don’t, but still.) At the end, he realizes the hard work pays off and moves into a big house in the American Dream.
  2. Dodge Ram “Guts Glory Ram” commercial: Good poem, “Idols are all around in the unseen corners of the world. No monuments are built in their honor, or mountains adorned with their face, because heroes aren’t driven by fame. They’re carved from courage.”
  3. Commercial for upcoming NBC TV show “This Is Us.”

More Gymnastics. Simone Biles is carrying more muscle mass than I’ve ever seen on a gymnast. Aside from her shorter stature, she’s like the Serena Williams of gymnastics: Bigger, stronger, worked harder, better. Looks like she could jump out of the gym if she wanted to. Still feels weird for someone to be the GOAT during their first Olympics, but I can see it. Or maybe a princess?

Olympics Commercial Break 6

  1. Exxon Mobile ad talking about how a non-car company works so hard to make cars better. Good branding.
  2. “Timeless” TV show commercial coming this fall. Been seeing that one a lot.
  3. Dunkin Donuts Cold Brew coffee commercial. First fast food commercial I’ve seen, and it’s a fast food commercial about being on the run. Definitely targeting go-getters tonight.
  4. Repeat of the Polo commercial.
  5. Inspira Health Network commercial. One call, one person, 1-800-InSpira. Longer commercial again, really laid out the whole idea (which is important since Inspira has to convey the concept of a “healthcare concierge”).
  6. Dunkin Donuts commercial. Theme is working hard, long days and late nights toward athletic success. Olympics themed, “America Runs on Duncan.”
  7. DICK’S Sporting Goods, official sporting goods sponsor of Team USA. Another commercial with a good “poem,” of sorts:  “There are trace amounts of gold in every human body.” “The highest concentration is in the heart.” “Only some of us have the strength to dig it out.” I’m moved.

Olympics now sponsored by Nationwide.

More Gymnastics.

Hey, I Own That #Hashtag — and Please Use It

The United States Olympic Committee is telling leading advertisers that they may not use “#Rio2016” or “#TeamUSA” hashtags in their own social media communications or advertisements unless they themselves are an official USOC Summer Olympics 2016 or Team USA sponsor. But I have to ask — is there really a way to “own” a hashtag?

Rio 2016The United States Olympic Committee is telling leading advertisers that they may not use “#Rio2016” or “#TeamUSA” hashtags in their own social media communications or advertisements unless they themselves are an official USOC Summer Olympics 2016 or Team USA sponsor.

But I have to ask — is there really any way to “own” a hashtag?

Twitter protocol would have it that if you want to explore who’s using a hashtag, just search for the tag and take note of its usage by whom. Then, decide whether or not you want to join the conversation. As a manager of several social media accounts, for myself and my clients, I know that many advocates and detractors alike use a branded hashtag or handle to send a clear message, one way or another, to the hashtag-using community or account holder about a point of view they wish to share. As far as I know, there is no database of “owned” hashtags persons or brands may not use.

When it’s a “unique” hashtag I’ve created to use for a client or event, I may not always be happy about every comment posted using it – but I certainly take note of the points of view of those who use it, and I protect that right of free expression for all users, even detractors. If the comments are abusive, one can take steps to block content if the community doesn’t shut the user down first. PR-types have always embraced social media as listening posts first.

USOC clearly believes that there’s a difference between “free speech” (citizen users) and “commercial free speech” (brand users) and is staking its claim, some say like a bully. They may not like the idea that unaffiliated brands can jump on breaking news at a global event, as news sometimes does at such a spectacle (take the 2013 Super Bowl blackout, for example).

In theory, #TeamUSA or #Rio2016 may be designed as a walled-off branded club unique for USOC & Team USA sponsors, thus, other advertisers may use them at their own peril. In practice, these hashtags serve as an online, global and social media community — and while USOC has no plan to stop ordinary citizens from using these hashtags (and may even encourage them to do so), it’s clear that any business or advertiser, small or large, should avoid the headache of rooting for the national team in Rio.

That’s kind of sad — there are plenty of businesses that want to shout out their pride to the red, white and blue, and to Rio, too, without having to pay USOC for the right to do so. I guess for the rest of the advertising world, “#SomethingHappeninginSouthAmericaRightNow” and “#AthletesThatCallThemselvesAmericans” may have to do.