As video content becomes a more regular feature of content marketing strategies, we need to ensure that the same attention that goes into preserving the purity of the written content — without tainting it of promotion — goes into producing short films. All too often videos that were originally intended for content marketing end up focusing on the companies themselves, or on the products they’re trying to sell, rather than on the audience and the type of content it enjoys.
Like its written counterpart, the best video content marketing campaign is not about you. Instead, it’s “brought to us by you.” So actually, it’s all about your audience members and addressing their deepest aspirations in order to educate, inspire, and even entertain them.
If you are looking to stay top-of-mind with your audience in order to increase your influence with its members, here are some keys for getting yourself out of the way and, in doing so, leaving a memorable impression. That’s just what Cisco did in its series of short films, “My Networked Life.”
Step 1: Identify the audience for your video content
The first step in any video content marketing campaign is to clearly identify your audience. A company or organization generally has many touch points with different stakeholders, which makes it important to figure out which segment of your audience you most want to engage with your campaign. This enables you to focus your efforts and to communicate with increased clarity.
In Cisco’s case, its audience includes tech players, investors, entrepreneurs, engineers, and others. For My Networked Life, Cisco decided that it specifically wanted to focus on chief information officers (CIOs).
Step 2: Figure out what your audience cares about
Once you’ve identified your audience, the next step is to decide what type of content your audience will find inspiring, informative, or enjoyable. This requires that you probe into what your audience really cares about. What keeps them up at night or inspires them to get out of bed each morning?
In Cisco’s case, the company decided that what keeps CIOs up at night is this question: “How can I anticipate the needs of the future workforce?” The implications of this are significant; if CIOs can get it right, they will give their company a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting the best people and building the best teams. Cisco identified this aspiration, then set out to create content that illuminated it in exciting ways.
Step 3: Create video content that aligns with your audience’s cares
Next up, create content that appeals to your audience’s aspirations. The key here is to get in the mode of producing something that will be a gift to your audience. Think of your favorite magazine. Do the articles leave you wondering what the magazine is trying to sell you? Not likely. They probably leave you feeling like you have just received a gift — of education, inspiration, insight, or entertainment.
In Cisco’s case, in order to align with CIOs in a meaningful way, Cisco traveled the world, from India to Brazil, Canada to South Africa, to capture stories of how young people live, work, and engage with technology today. The idea was to appeal to CIOs by offering them intimate, thoughtful, detailed insight into what they could expect from the next-generation workforce.
Cisco found a way to connect with its audience of technology decision makers by capturing how 20- to 30-year-olds across the globe are exploring new ways of working and being accessible. The series brought CIOs into the homes and lives of these young people, and provided a first-hand view of their experiences.
How did this video content speak to Cisco’s goals and communicate the ways technology can impact audiences around the world? Consider the words of one participant, Shilo Shiv Suleman, from Bangalore, India: “I’m allowed to be a digital gypsy of sorts… My office can become a small little grove under a giant banyan tree.”
Step 4: Resist the urge to make a cameo appearance
The more editorial a video content marketing campaign is, the more successful it will be. In turn, the more it gets tinged with a promotional impression, the less effective it will be.
Here’s a simple gut check: Watch the film. Does it make you wonder what they are trying to sell you (promotional red flag!) or do you enjoy it as a gift (editorial check)?
Don’t plant images of your product in the video, and don’t put your logo at the front of the film. The best place for your brand in video marketing is at the end, using a simple, elegant, and understated credit, like: Brought to you by [your name]. That creates an aha! moment for the audience, which will likely forge a connection between their sense of gratitude and your business. It will also make them more likely to engage with the next episode in the series. And even if viewers are not in your target audience, to the extent that the piece is produced in an editorial way, they will be more likely to share it with their friends and social graph — people who may be your target.
In the end, Cisco’s campaign was produced as a gift to its audience, rather than as a direct promotion. By offering insight and encouraging thought, discussion, and dialogue in the tech community, it functioned to build the Cisco brand powerfully and elegantly. So next time you approach video content marketing, consider what your audience really cares about and what films you can produce to connect with them along those deepest aspirations. And remember: Keep yourself out of the way.
For more case studies from brands that have produced innovative “gift” content for their audiences, read CMI’s Ultimate eBook: 100 Content Marketing Examples.