The Future of Video Marketing: My Takeaways from WistiaFest 2016

by Ed Heil June 9, 2016
June 9, 2016

WistiaFest 2016In a recent HubSpot Podcast, called “The Growth Show”, Wistia Co-founder Chris Savage said, “Video is really scary because it feels like you can have a huge effect on your brand because it can. And because if you’re getting on camera do you expose that you’re actually less professional than people thought you were, you have a smaller team than they thought you were.” And fresh off two full days of keynotes, conversations and breakout sessions at WistiaFest 2016, I have more questions than answers, around the approach some marketers are taking to video production.

The industry get-together, hosted by Savage’s video hosting company, Wistia, featured a range of presenters; from professional storytellers, to film producers, to inbound marketing agencies like StoryTeller. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to speak at the event and answer questions from attendees at my session.

In refection, two realities are abundantly clear:

  • First, just as Instagram has made the amateur photographer look like a pro, a dude with a camera and iMovie has also discovered “street cred” with less discerning viewers.
  • Secondly, video marketing is more about marketing than it is about video.

It used to be that video production companies could charge a premium for their work, simply because their “work” was actually a carefully honed craft. Furthermore, technology prevented these companies from churning out work quickly, thereby extending the process and making even corporate videos extremely costly. This is still the case for some projects, however, with more companies demanding video as part of their marketing strategy and digital tools simplifying the production process, the standards for quality and perceived need for expertise has dropped significantly.

The good news is that the cost to produce fabulous video stories has fallen, and yet, with the proliferation of video on the web, I believe the need for skilled video professionals is greater than ever.

Over the course of the two-day conference, I spoke with several marketers and agency owners about hiring a video team because, as they told me, “everyone wants to do video.” The gap they have in searching for these people is their knowledge of what skills are needed to produce outstanding video content. In addition, with limited exposure to various levels of production, my associates at the conference have struggled, or are struggling, to understand the nuances that separate poor or mediocre video production with exceptional work.

Finding the Right Professional

Businesses need to hire talent, or work with production companies, who understand how to create video stories that elevate their messages above the clutter of online video content. Identifying those individuals in today’s environment is extremely difficult to do, and here’s why: just about anyone who has used a video camera can cobble together a highlight reel that looks somewhat professional. Heck, my 13-year old daughter has shot stories that would make a casual observer believe she could produce a professional video, but she can’t. She lacks what many young shooters and producers are missing – experience. Specifically, they haven’t had to navigate enough unusual circumstances and they haven’t made enough mistakes to learn and improve. They are also lacking a fundamental aspect of business – working with clients. However, what is somewhat irresistible for business owners is that these young video “professionals” are available at a price tag that is much more attractive than that of a seasoned professional.

Marketing + Video

The coincidence is that, many skilled video professionals who have honed their craft, and built exceptional bodies of work are missing an understanding of marketing. Generally speaking, video professionals are like artists who see their work as a craft. Marketers see video as a means to an end; it should engage audiences and drive new leads or revenue. And with the incredible video analytics tools available today a videographer or producer who is not keenly aware of the marketing impact of their work will become an expendable commodity. The artist typically doesn’t think about how much money his painting will generate before he sits down at his easel, and yet, this is what the video marketer must do before shooting a frame of video.

Here’s the rub; the savvy videographer and producer can pursue the art and live the life of a starving artist. Or, they can take their talents and learn how it can be leveraged to help businesses drive engagement and revenue. For some, this is “selling out,” and for others, this can be the launching pad of a sustainable career that brings tremendous values to their clients and employers.

So here we are, saddled up and on the outskirts of town. We’re on the verge of the wild west of video marketing (seems like we were just here with social media!). After listening to hours and hours of speakers and contemplating our learnings over 11-years of video production at StoryTeller, I realize we’ve done a lot right and we still have so much more to learn and master. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

As you embark on a video marketing strategy keep focused on your target audience, your KPIs, and this new medium you are using. Test and measure. Remember, just because you can shoot and post video to your website or social media doesn’t mean that it’s effective. Your analytics won’t lie. Now, marketing professional, go find a video professional or partner who you can dance with and who can take your ideas and make them better.


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