At the September iMedia Brand Summit, the unofficial best-in-show presentation was given by Bridge Worldwide's chief marketing strategist, Bob Gilbreath. His presentation was entitled "Stop Annoying Your Customers: Evolve to Marketing with Meaning Instead." He made a compelling case that the traditional "interrupt, tell, and sell" model of advertising was not only less effective than in the past, but it could actually be counterproductive for a brand.
So, what's a marketer to do?
I've been impressed with the wide array of marketers who may not realize they are "marketing with meaning," but are doing exactly that. There are two broad themes to what I've observed -- educational and inspiring videos, and video as a method for expression for brand advocates in a social media context.
Educational and inspiring video
This has been the most common theme I have seen with video, and the trend spans many industry segments. Generally speaking, organizations that have content associated with their product or service that can't readily be explained in 30 seconds have embraced video. Let me highlight some examples across a range of vertical markets:
Finance. Clear explanations of what can be complicated financial instruments and news has been tackled with video by the likes of Standard & Poor's, as this example shows.
Travel. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a video worth? Destinations realize if they give potential guests a deeper view into their product, they are more likely to be inspired to take that special trip. Some will take the concierge concept further and produce video highlighting attractions and adventures in their surrounding area, recognizing that their property can be a jump-off point. This is similar to the Michelin Guide concept, in which the company is providing a service by vetting local spots.
Healthcare. Cleveland Clinic, a leading healthcare provider, realizes that the best marketing it can do is sharing its experience and insights into various health and wellness issues, as through its Health Edge videocasts. Even at the community hospital level, the company often does community outreach via educational seminars that can easily be shared via online video.
Lifestyle. Yoga Today gives away a sampling of its video library with the goal of people wanting even more. This is really just a virtual version of a sample program.
Retail and ecommerce. Organizations such as 1-800-Flowers.com create video to give their customers ideas for parties. Naturally, during the course of the videos, they highlight use of their products. Retailers of home improvement products, such as Sears and Home Depot, are increasingly investing in video.
Video meets social media
Although not as widespread as educational videos, this is an area seeing greater adoption by marketers. YouTube has been a useful place to start, but increasingly brands are seeking what is essentially a private YouTube dedicated to their brand or category. The following are examples of how video and social media are overlapping:
Travel. Travel providers are providing platforms for their guests to post pictures and videos of their trip. In the process, these destinations or adventure providers enable word of mouth to be spread -- the most powerful form of marketing there is. Here and there, they can even find video they may want to use in more-widespread marketing.
Toy makers. Many classic toys have passionate followings. It's not hard to find this happening at a grassroots level as these searches for Lego creations and dominoes creations demonstrate. Toy makers are embracing these aficionados of their products and giving them a venue to post video of their creations, allow others to comment, share these videos, and more.
Technology. There are nearly infinite examples of technologists using video to demonstrate use of a company's product. One of the more innovative examples has been Intuit's programs around TurboTax. Its TaxRap and TaxLaugh video contests have drawn a wide array of entries and brought fun to a category few thought could be humorous.
The authenticity of brand ambassadors can't be matched by traditional advertising techniques. They not only provide a valuable testimonial but can provide inspiration for new products and services. Further, brands know the importance of SEO to their businesses, and video has become paramount. Noted SEO expert Bruce Clay has been quoted as saying that without video, your website will likely not rank in the future. Forrester analyst Nate Elliott wrote about "The Easiest Way to a First-Page Ranking on Google," highlighting the fact that videos are 50 times more likely to show on the first page of search results.
With Google as perhaps the best barometer of people's interests, video is a great way to market with meaning.
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