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Open your business eyes to the power of video

By The Saint

Day four of AdAge 2016 and there is no disputing the rise in popularity businesses are currently experiencing for video content. From HR Graduate stories to product updates to the annual address from the CEO, there is a veritable visual smorgasbord from which to choose.

But how do you prevent your business from making a socio-video faux pas, or becoming the overnight Internet sensation for all the wrong reasons? Allow Omobono, proud winners of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade 2016 to offer a little visual advice:

1. Channel your energies
There’s no point having the greatest ideas, or the biggest budgets if your audience doesn’t see you. The days are long gone since you could effortlessly predict where – and when – you could interrupt the lives of busy individuals.

Fortunately many services now exist to help you pinpoint the channels and the times you are more likely to draw attention. And any digital agency – worth their award-winning salt – should be able to guide you.

2. Size matters
Today’s audiences are frequently bombarded with advertising, in all forms and all formats. In addition they very often work extended hours and suffer long commutes. Time poverty does not a patient audience make. So think very hard about the length of content you decide to offer. Just because you think a 0.8% bump in trading in a far-flung market is worthy of a novel – doesn’t mean your audience will. Cut the cloth accordingly.

3. Hands up
One of the single biggest lessons businesses can learn centres around ownership. Today’s viewer expects and appreciates being in control. Not only over the devices and places through which they engage – but the choice to offer up their details, to interact, to share and of course to have their say. That can make it hard to plan any narrative. So see your content as snackable treats that add up to a larger serving – an amuse oculus© if you will. The more you let the viewer run the show, the more they’ll let you show them.

4. Be agnostic
The brutal truth, for many organisations who’ve spent the past five years coming to terms with the mobile revolution is: that wasn’t the revolution. Mobile was but the evolution of consumer choice. Just as consumers have learned to search, select, spread and share content on the devices most convenient to us, so the same is happening for business content too. It’s no longer enough to simply design video for mobile consumption. Today’s best exponents of the visual arts are entirely format agnostic.

5. Style it
Once upon a time, if you wanted to make a video, you called a production company. They generated a ‘style’ or production guide to help you avoid student errors (I once had a client who asked for a solution to leaving the lens cap on throughout a keynote film. The only answer was to have the audience watch in the dark). Nowadays it is essential to understand the psychology of your audience – and to tailor the approach and style of your content to mirror the expectations and emotions of your audience. This was why a drumming gorilla made people warm to the idea of eating chocolate – a positive memory (shared by many) and a positive association (mmmnnn chocolate) brought together visually. This is also why Cadbury’s next adverts, driving kamikaze luggage trucks down airport runways failed to connect, either with people’s memories or positive values – one would hope! Understand what’s happening subconsciously and reflect that behaviour.

6. Structure accordingly
So, we’ve already talked about the relevance of time. Now we need to review structure. Does your story have a beginning, middle and an end? Well done – but! Does it need them? Linear stories are no longer the only recognised solution. Much of today’s video content breaks traditional lines of structure. Fail videos (a series of catastrophic events with no association), Memes (repeating punch line gags), the number and variety of formats is constantly evolving. Forget everything you’ve ever known – or seen about storytelling. Think again.

7. There are no rules – but one
American drinks brand Mountain Dew recently created, aired and measured two product ads – on You Tube. The first: a short story with a simple clock counting down from five to zero, so viewers could see how long until the main event.

The second: a surreal cornucopia of colours and movement, people and statuary that ran a full 90 seconds (risky don’t you think for a beverage?). The winner –the long version out performed by double digits (how’s that all you decriers of long copy?) Mountain Dew said this was because video has no rules anymore! Ironically their success was triggered as a result of the same ‘rules’ that delivered the Cadbury’s luggage train wreck, Neither brand truly understood the emotional connection of their audience. And were unable to connect their story to the emotional associations so many of us share.

So what’s the rule? Know your audience – and then you’ll know what they expect from you – or otherwise.

8. Share and share and like
It’s great to be agnostic about your formats, channels and devices. But that doesn’t mean for one moment you can ignore them. Businesses seeking to grow interest, awareness and ultimately engagement need to plan how they link content – by supporting document, or extra detail, authoritative comment or updated insight – across different formats channels and yes devices. That way the viewer will discover the full spectrum of your brand capabilities, not just the same old monochrome impression.

9. Emotion
Quite simply there has never been a successful story that didn’t use emotion to deliver its message. If you can think of one (for me it’s the children’s book Earthfasts!) then the story simply failed to engage your specific emotions. If there is such a thing as brand loyalty (I’ll save that for another time) then it is built on and driven by emotional connection. Move your audience and they’ll follow your content anywhere.

10. Context is king
Do you shoot Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR), or maybe even Mixed Reality? Should you employ humour or steadfastness, go large on the detail or try a more poetic line? Of course it’s critical to represent your brand with authenticity and that means the right context but – here’s the curveball – what about the context of the viewer? What’s their mood, where are they? Who are they? It all sounds hugely complicated (it’s not – it’s just complex) but with the right balance of digital understanding, data analysis and behavioural insight, context really can help your business to conquer the world of video.

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