Ever since big brand advertising began hitting the black and white TV screens of consumers in the fifties and sixties, marketing strategy has been adapting to the world around it. For decades, this change was largely responsive to cultural shifts and therefore slow and subtle.
For a long time at least, TV advertising was about brands looking good and selling the viewer a lifestyle that they aspired to; and for the most part, it worked a charm. This was the age of interruptive marketing and consumers were a captive audience sat in front of their TV sets.
Around 1995 however the seeds of a more fundamental change were taking root. The first digital displays had begun to appear; heralding the beginning of a sea change in video marketing strategy that no one could have predicted at the time. The advent of the personal computer era had, of course, laid the foundations for the internet revolution and with it the emergence of totally new type of media consumer. The forthcoming seismic shock would not only tear up the interruptive marketing advertising orthodoxy that had existed since the early sixties, but it would redefine the very nature of the relationship between brand and consumer.
This was the birth of seek out marketing.
Push it, Push it Real Good
To understand how the intrinsically democratising and social architecture of the internet – from the web 2.0 era onwards – facilitated the growth of the seek out marketing model, we have to understand the difference between push and pull marketing.
From about 2006 onwards, social networks had really begun to thrive on the internet. These were groups of likeminded, internet savvy and often middle class individuals who were sharing content with each other at an increasingly prolific rate. It wasn’t long before brands began to see the latent marketing potential of tapping into these increasingly influential peer to peer groups. The challenge was creating marketing that would get traction across this new social media.
The problem with applying tactics of old was that, in the digital sphere, the old gatekeeper model had been rendered all but dead. What I mean by this is that advertisers and other traditional content publishing institutions (or gatekeepers) were no longer the sole arbiters of authoritative content. In this emerging marketing ecosystem, every consumer acted as gatekeeper to their own social networks. Radically the power to dictate a brand’s authority and credence was shifting downwards and continues to do so.
All this has led to brands fundamentally redefining their relationship with consumers. It is no longer enough to rely on push methods of old, in which advertising and brand marketing is pushed out to consumers through television, radio, print, or direct mail marketing. Whilst push marketing is far from a lame duck in the online space (banner ads and PPC is still big business), its potency is diminished in this new world.
Stop Interrupting, Start Inspiring
To really make an impression in the digital space, brands and businesses need to start creating entertaining video content that audiences will actively seek out. This isn’t easy by any means and means ditching all preconceptions and prejudices about what you think your audience wants to see. It also means creating video content that is customer centric, which can often feel alien to stakeholders and executives, who don’t regard any marketing as worth it if they can’t shout about their product or service. Seek out marketing is about resisting this urge though. Indeed, it has been widely argued that content will travel a lot further online the less you mention your product or company. This really is a world away from the grandiose sales pitches of 1960’s TV advertising.
Let’s look at some hard statistics then. In a 2016 Accenture survey, 84% of respondents stated that digital ad interruptions are too frequent and 74% said that ad interruptions don’t match their personal interests. Accenture links this growing increasing frustration with interruptive marketing online to the growth in ad-blocking software; a technology that is poised to seriously damage the entire digital advertising industry.
Now let’s look at some stats around seek out marketing. A 2014 survey from PR firm Edelman found that 41% of respondents actively seek out new content from a brand after discovering content they enjoy from that brand. 37% of respondents went on to purchase products or services from companies producing good content and 53% of US consumers surveyed stated that they had gone on to recommend engaging marketing content to a friend or colleague.
The Five Pillars of Seek Out Video Marketing
So what does seek out content look like and how do you go about creating it? Well let’s just start by saying it isn’t just a case of building great content (if only the internet was truly a meritocracy!). Great planning and an effective joined up activation strategy are essential elements if you are to inspire audiences to find you; and the right audiences at that.
There are five distinct areas that need to be kept in balance if this approach is to be maintained and capitalised on. Let’s look at each in turn.
- Frequency: Content topicality and regularity is important in maintaining interest and building your brand presence. Seek out content relies on building a YouTube following as well as using other social media and delivery methods like RSS feeds to get your videos delivered to your fans as soon as they’re published. Keeping these feeds populated with your content is a sure way to keep your brand on people’s radar.
- Cost: Creating a video content strategy that is affordable but will deliver you results is of utmost importance. It’s important to realise that not all content will break the bank and some of your most effective content could well be some of your cheapest to produce.
- Distribution: Having an activation strategy that gets your content in front of the right people is key. This may require a variety of approaches across earned, owned and at times, bought media.
- Engagement: Building engagement once you have eyes on your content is really about understanding your audience and giving them the kind of content they want to see. This should be interesting, informative or inspiring but most of all it shouldn’t be all about your brand.
- Quality: Maintaining an expected standard is important if you are to galvanise a reputation for high quality well produced content. This doesn’t have to mean dedicating large amount of budget to every video you produce but it does mean making sure each film has a professional and on brand look.
A Holistic Video Marketing Strategy
Seek out marketing is about creating a sense of trust and familiarity around your brand content. Viewers need to know that by subscribing to your YouTube channel, following your social media pages or visiting your website they are assured of consistently high quality content. It’s all too easy for video content strategy to fragment into silos with big strategic brand initiatives failing to resonate and cascade into lower level regular content that is the bread and butter of your YouTube output.
- Help: These are videos designed to be discovered on search and so need to answer questions and address issues that are already out there. Examples are how-to videos, explainer videos, product demos, case studies and testimonials.
- Hub: These videos are the bread and butter of your brand building strategy and engage with fans and followers who are already engaged with your brand. Examples are brand videos, sponsorship films, video diaries, behind the scenes, docu-style films.
- Hero: The go big or go home videos that are designed to garner as much attention as possible. This is push content but get an effective activation strategy in place and it could become the backbone of your seek out marketing as well. Examples are big brand films, TV commercials, big campaign or product launches and major event coverage.
By employing a structured approach to your video planning and scheduling calendar, you can leverage spend and realise cost savings by repurposing video content across each tier. One example could be a series of behind the scenes films taken on the set of your next big TV commercial. Once you start to think in terms of help hub hero though, the possibilities soon present themselves.
Brands that Demand to be Found
I want to leave you with some examples of brands that aren’t the obvious Redbull, Pepsi or Unilever who are taking a seek out approach to video marketing that’s working.
Pepsi have seen unprecedented ROI (£2.50 for every £1 of investment) from their new marketing strategy by creating incredible content that just demands to be seen. Their latest ‘Run the Loop’ video captured free running stuntman Damien Walters successfully running around a loop Sonic the Hedgehog style and has garnered over 14million views since 2014.
Redbull are synonymous with sponsoring and showcasing various adrenaline sports of varying degrees of lunacy (such as this incredibly fun to watch wingsuit race) but they are also masters of hub content, with a significant output of regular diary and docu-style films. The investment has paid off and the company’s YouTube channel is one of the most popular out there with over 5.6 million subscribers.
Capitalising on the huge success of Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, which hit a chord with women (whilst giving a subtle middle finger to the size zero obsessed fashion industry) by showcasing natural women in underwear, Unilver is throwing its weight behind plans to build an in-house branded content division.
US vintage clothes company Modcloth have perfected the art of creating seek out marketing through their powerful help content, which has helped them reach a huge 18% click through rate. By creating genuinely useful how-to videos, the company has driven a ton of traffic through to its website and delivered a huge ROI.
Dollar Shave Club
A perfect example of how product USP and brand personality go hand in hand, Dollar Shave Club have totally nailed the seek out marketing approach by creating content that is hilarious and totally appeals to their target market. And all themed around their brand’s refreshing and unorthodox ‘no frills’ pitch to the multi million dollar male razor blade market.
Aeronautical engineering may not be the most instantly appealing industry sector but by creating a carefully curated hub of interesting and insightful docu-style videos, Airbus has brought their industry to life and built a following of over 170 thousand subscribers in the process. This is content that is unabashedly about the beauty of putting aeroplanes in the sky and clearly it has worked a charm.
For more information on how we can bring our marketing insight and creative talent to bear on your seek out marketing strategy, get in touch with us today.