My brain is spattered with marketing goo! In the hope of raising the visibility of this newly-launched blog, I’ve been reading Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs. The authors, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, are the marketing mavens behind HubSpot. In their book they offer a thousand tips, which have hit my central nervous system like a fusillade of paintballs. In today’s episode of Seeing Your Story, I’ll take the essence of what they say and apply it to a few examples of online video.
Halligan and Shah are big on “remarkable”–so big they italicize the “remark” part. They apply the adjective (borrowed from Seth Godin) to any kind of content on your website, but in terms of video, “The key to success … is to provide remarkable content that people will want to watch and share.” In other words, make sure there’s something striking, memorable, noteworthy, extraordinary, amazing in your videos. The authors cite two reasons for this: 1) there are so many websites competing for attention on the Internet and 2) today, truly remarkable content can spread faster than a wildfire.
It’s a good principle. When you’re working on “seeing your story” before you start shooting a video, try to find something remarkable that will make your project stand out from the crowd. Now, this rule doesn’t apply to every video you create; sometimes you’re just crafting a video explaining a feature of the software your company makes. You’re not trying to grab the world by its eyeballs. But most of the time, go for something that stands out.
Let’s put a few online videos to the “remarkable” test. First, do Halligan and Shah practice what they preach? Let’s sidle over to their website. Though the HubSpot homepage doesn’t sport a video player, they do post videos on their blog. Why don’t you watch just a bit of yesterday’s premiere, then press “pause” and we’ll talk about it.
I’d call that remarkable, wouldn’t you? There’s nothing new about uploading a parody music video (yawn). But what strikes me about this one is its just-right tone. Their Ke$ha wannabe clearly doesn’t take herself too seriously–she’s having a lot of fun, and that’s infectious. The production values are just OK (the exec sitting at his desk is way too dark, for example), which is appropriate for a blog post video. And the spot-on lyrics drive home a message about HubSpot. Who could ask for more? (If you want to see the video in context, including lyrics, click here to go to their blog.)
The freshness of this parody makes me think about a video that’s remarkable for the wrong reasons. A blog–even one created by a big corporation–should be more spontaneous, less tightly controlled by lawyers and PR folks, than other corporate communications. Let’s take a look at General Motors’ notion of a blog-worthy video. Again, press “pause” when you’ve seen enough.
Talk about spontaneous! GM’s Chairman and CEO strides through a perfectly lit location in a buttoned-up suit, mouthing copy about how GM repaid its government loan ahead of schedule. The establishing shot has 6 or 7 identically-clad extras performing choreographed moves. So, what’s remarkable is how loudly this video screams, “I’m inauthentic.” If you want to see just how inauthentic, check out this New York Times story on “Repaying Taxpayers With Their Own Cash.” And if you want to see the GM video on its blog page, click here.)
Before you buy a car, you should do some comparison shopping, so lets motor over to Ford. Sure enough, they have a YouTube video right on their home page. Let’s take it for a remarkable test drive.
The first thing that’s remarkable is how different Ford’s contribution to cinematic history is from GM’s. The star of the two-minute epic “FordFiesta vs. Lamborghini” is Brittani Taylor. Yes, she’s an actress, but this production doesn’t appear to be directed with a clenched fist. In fact, it’s almost as casual looking as a home video. Of course Ford, being a major league car company, surely has several puppeteers pulling strings. Yet it works: we believe Brittani means it when she says, “Yeah, you are so fun to drive!” Contrast the parking lot setting with GM’s pristine set. Contrast the editing styles. And they even poke fun at themselves by showing the Fiesta getting clobbered by the Lamborghini in the straightaway. Finally, does the difference in screen presence between Brittani Taylor and Ed Whitacre make you feel differently about the cars they’re hawking?
Thanks, Brian and Dharmesh, for your insights. We can “see the story” in a new way when we look for what’s remarkable (good or bad) in an online video.
As usual, your comments and suggestions are most welcome.