Recent Savvy Tech Marketing posts have included injecting personality into your brand, and there's been lots here about standing out from competitors or differentiating. Another way of achieving that is applying lots more visual content into your communications. The reasons are simple: Its far more effective than print-only; a large portion of your customers and prospects consume information visually rather than in print; and it's not as expensive as it once was. I'll focus here on the effectiveness angle.
Studies show adding video boosts customer engagement nearly five times over print-only content. If that's not a reason to be on the video communications band wagon, what is? This is increasingly true among younger professionals.
Humans enjoy and learn from great stories; apply the concept to
your marketing messages and you'll do right by your audience.
Telling your tech story
Whether print, still images, or video are used, storytelling is at the heart of community engagement. At a recent professional gathering, the point repeatedly came up that marketing communications and PR pros need to produce content as journalists do, not pound the corporate drum, promoting products. Storytelling is a topic that's all over marketing sites currently. And its been around forever. Humans are storytellers. We love good stories.
Journalists tell stories to entertain and inform their viewers and readers, and they do it with all the tools at their disposal, not just print. They employ images, graphic design, charts, graphs, audio, video, the whole toolbox. Just don't try doing it all on one page. There's help out there. Invest in it if needed. One good video, and that doesn't necessarily mean an expensively produced one, is better than 10 bad ones. A good story is at the heart of it.
There are innumerable books about how to do this. The key point for marketers is: Stop talking at your tech community and start telling them stories about the people who are using and succeeding with your products or services. There's even room for light humor. You don't have to be Jay Lenno funny. Not taking yourself too seriously is a great starting place. Include anecdotes. Show the tension and a bit of drama about how a customer's business was transformed by your technology.
Quit killing your audience!
Most customer videos are deadly boring. They're focused on the brand instead of the customers' pain relief or successes. The best are not about your company or product. A customer story from Caterpillar, the giant construction equipment company, demonstrates this superbly. It's not high tech but highly relevant to this column. Its story, about Madagascar's new north-south highway that's helping transform the country's economy and society, only mentioned the Cat brand once. If that one brand mention had been cut, the story would still stand out as a fascinating documentary report -- in other words, a great story. The impact was powerful. The point of what Caterpillar did in and for Madagascar is crystal clear. Use it as an ideal style you might imitate in your customer videos.
Go real light on corporate-speak (buzzwords) and heavy on storytelling. Explain the changes from what was (the old) to what's new. Watch CBS's 60 Minutes for more examples of excellent video journalism, a.k.a. visual storytelling. Reading and being guided by business-tech reporters at The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or San Jose Mercury News will help marketing and PR pros shape print storytelling for far better effect. Note how they're structured. Those stories most often show the implications of technology for people, much as the Caterpillar story does.
Don't keep writing, shooting, or producing content the same old way its been done for decades. It doesn't work any more. Well rounded, fully textured storytelling is the way to go. Produce your marketing content as if you were a journalist. You're not, but try coming at the subject matter that way rather than the old ways. Get out of the rut! Go tell a great tech story!