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4 Ways To Win With Video – the ‘It’ Content Format for 2023 [Research and Examples]

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, the value of a video could equate to the catalog of Stephen King novels, plus a few of his movies thrown in for good measure.

Just think about that potential for connecting with your audience, commanding their attention, and compelling them to stick around to watch your brand’s story unfold.

Metaphor aside, those benefits are strong motivators to increase reliance on video. According to CMI’s just-released 2022 Content Marketing and Visual Storytelling Survey, 73% of marketers say videos have become more important to their business in the last year.

73% of marketers say #video is more important to their business than it was last year according to @CMIContent #Research via @joderama. Share on X

Yet 88% of respondents say they aren’t using video to its full potential, and 86% say they get average or below average results from their video efforts.

That lackluster performance could be attributed in part to a lack of clear goals. Like any other aspect of content marketing, without a video strategy to guide your efforts, you’ll struggle to create the right content for your audience and accurately measure performance.

It seems 59% of marketers agree – a strategy was the most frequently cited need to improve their video results.

But a strategy will only go so far in boosting your brand’s video performance.

Creativity wins in this crowded space

Competition grows by the minute in the video space. In CMI’s B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2023 survey, 75% of marketers say they created or used video (all lengths and formats) in the prior year, ranking second in format popularity with short articles/posts (89%) in first.

Video also is the most popular area of investment for 2023. More than three-fourths of marketers (78%) plan to invest in it, followed by owned media assets (69%), events (60%), paid media (59%), and even social media (57%).

Areas of B2B Content Marketing Investment in 2023

All that competition means you need to think creatively to ensure your videos stand out. Otherwise, your audience may never discover them, let alone choose to engage with them.

Given that 78% of marketers plan to invest in #video in 2023, think creatively to ensure your videos stand out, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Share on X

Fortunately, so many inspiring examples can help steer your efforts in the right direction. So many, in fact, the Content Marketing Awards devoted five categories to video this year.

Look at a few of the big winners and finalists – and the inspirational lessons they teach – to help you achieve success.

Lesson 1: Create a personally resonant hook

Billions of videos are available online (an estimated 800 million on YouTube in 2022 alone). To compel audiences to watch yours, you need to steal their attention from other options. One way is to focus on topics connected more closely to your audience’s interests and passions.

Ceros taps into designers’ passions

Interactive content design software company Ceros probed its audience’s interest in design history and attention to small details. The brand emerged with Design Decoded, a video series exploring the stories behind common elements digital designers use in their trade.

One episode focuses on the caret – a chevron-shaped mark that most website visitors will surely recognize. In the lighthearted and eye-catching three-minute video, Ceros takes design “nerds” on a visual journey through the caret’s history:

The spot describes how the mark evolved from its use by print proofreaders to indicate an insertion to the go-to digital icon for prompting an up/down motion, such as scrolling on a web page, opening an accordion menu, or swiping to the next screen on a mobile app.

Design Decoded was a CMA finalist for Best Video Series.

Captain Morgan spices up fan-based content

Football fans’ passion for their favorite team runs deep and wide. So, when Diageo’s rum brand Captain Morgan sponsored the National Football League’s Fan of the Year contest, the marketing team used a video-centric play to create a connection.

With their agency Engine Shop, Captain Morgan brought NFL legend Victor Cruz into the field to host the We Bring on the Spice docuseries. Victor visited seven finalists to capture their stories of football devotion and share how they impact others in their communities through their fandom.

@CaptainMorganUS’s We Bring on the Spice video docuseries told the stories of seven @NFL fans’ devotion to their teams, says @joderama via @CMIContent. Share on X

Those stories range from an LA-based New York Giants fan who travels 3,000 miles to attend games (shown in the video below) to a super fan who created a supporters’ group that’s now over 10,000 members strong. By giving these NFL super fans a video-centric platform to share their team love, Captain Morgan spiced up the football season – and brought home big wins for its brand.

Engine Shop reports that the docuseries content hub generated 55 million impressions and 100,000 engagements. In addition, industry influencers hosted at the brand’s exclusive NFL Fan of the Year brunch put Captain Morgan’s influencer takeover stories in front of 1.3M people.

We Bring on the Spice docuseries was a CMA finalist for Best Video Series.

Lesson 2: Go beyond the expected

To stand out, common is the enemy. Instead, give your audience something they wouldn’t expect to see at all, let alone from your business.

Grainger promotes well-being with soothing industrial noise

Few people associate loud power tools and motors with ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) – those soothing sounds that trigger a relaxing tingling sensation. Yet, industrial supplies manufacturer Grainger found a surprisingly artful way to work the concept into a well-being break for stressed workers.

The 60-second video – Grainger KnowHow: It’s All About Getting the Job Done – is filled with satisfying sounds of hushed saw blades and lubricated gears spinning smoothly. Those sounds pair with images like liquid cement slowly seeping into a mold for radiant heat flooring.

The video enables Grainger to illustrate its understanding of the daily stress experienced by its maintenance, repair, and operations customers and to offer a moment of relief.

By prioritizing emotion over product education, Grainger’s video surpasses its content’s usual sales function. It celebrates the sense of accomplishment customers feel when their jobs are done right.

Grainger’s ASMR video was a CMA finalist for Best Short Form Video or Video Series.

Vaccinate WA goes ‘old-school’ for a youth-targeted PSA

Another way to defy your audience’s expectations is to add a surprising twist to a hot trend.

Agency C+C proved the power of this approach with its Vaccinate WA Ready for Summer campaign that also delivers a valuable life lesson: “There’s no FOMO (fear of missing out) quite like watching your grandma having a wilder summer than you are.”

Produced for the Washington State Board of Health, the series of saucy video spots depicts fun-loving seniors having the time of their lives because their COVID vaccination status allows them to safely resume their favorite summer activities.

They twerk at the club (shown below), sail on a party boat, and “get weird” at a backyard bonfire – trendy activities that might appeal to younger adults and influence them to get vaccinated.

Going risqué was a risky move for a public service announcement, but it paid off. C+C says Ready for Summer helped increase young adult vaccinations by 62% and close the gap in the vaccination rate between young adults and the overall population by 50%.

The campaign also became a surprising sleeper hit with the TikTok crowd. When a relatively unknown user shared it, the video earned 644,000 organic views, 293,000 likes, 3,600 comments, 23,000 shares – and some mad respect for one twerking grandma.

Ready for Summer won the CMA for Best Content Marketing Video Series and was a finalist in Best Topic-Specific Video and Best Short Form Video or Video Series.

Lesson 3: Repackage and reinvent your video engagement

During the height of the pandemic, many brands took their face-to-face customer connections into the digital space. Now that live events are back, you don’t need to ditch those Zoom meetings and virtual conferences.

Integrate the live and virtual experiences so your audience can enjoy the best of both worlds on their terms.

Salesforce+ innovates the audience experience with always-on streaming

Like many brands, Salesforce needed to move its live events into the virtual world during the pandemic. But the company didn’t make it a temporary move. It embraced the opportunity to innovate its content experience. The result was Salesforce+ – the first digital streaming service for business.

Salesforce built a new content strategy around its audience’s video-viewing preferences. From there, it constructed an innovative owned media platform, filling it with a robust slate of broadcast-quality live events and an on-demand original series.

Exclusive series launched on Salesforce+ include The Shift, where high-growth companies reveal how they navigate digital transformation, and Trailblazer, which profiles five Black leaders who have built successful careers, communities, and companies with Salesforce.

The trailer for the series provides a glimpse into each of their stories told in their words:

Salesforce+ viewers also can access reimagined versions of their favorite live events, like the brand’s award-winning Leading Through Change series.

The video content provides always-on access to the content on which Salesforce has built its audience. It also attracts new customer interest by sharing relatable stories that can inspire them to make meaningful changes in their work and the world.

Salesforce+ won CMA’s Best Use of Video and Best Content Marketing Program and was a finalist for Content Marketing Program of the Year.

Lesson 4: Change perceptions to further a vital purpose

Your video content doesn’t change the world, but it can correct common misperceptions that stand in the way of your brand or your audience’s goals.

Manifest changes hearts and minds speaking to both at once

Paper and packaging are often mistakenly cast as enemies of environmental conservation because consumers believe they are unsustainable and contribute to forest destruction. Content agency Manifest aimed to set that record straight with Paper & Packaging: How Life Unfolds.

The series of short videos uses a bold color palette, clever copywriting, and artful animation to deliver a clear and compelling message: Choosing paper and paper-based packaging actually helps protect trees and preserve forest habitats.

In the Boxes and Birds spot, a rhyming voiceover reminds viewers that cardboard boxes from their online orders are recyclable. It reinforces the concept visually as recycled boxes turn into animated birds flying over a thriving forest.

Combined with Manifest’s long-form documentary film, Paper Makers, the campaign stands out in the crowded field of sustainability content and plants seeds of truth that are growing stronger in the minds of eco-conscious consumers.

In the campaign’s first year, the engagement rate trended upward, achieving a 16-point increase in content resonance. In addition, Manifest’s research found that 77% of consumers agree that choosing a paper product means making a positive impact on the environment.

Paper & Packaging: How Life Unfolds was a CMA finalist for Best Use of Video. Manifest took home the award for Content Marketing Agency of the Year (>100 employees).

Create videos that are outstanding in their field

Video content has the power to inform, entertain, inspire, and activate audiences – but only if it stands out enough for viewers to notice. How will you think differently to give your efforts a better chance of finding success?

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute