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5 Video Advertising Tips We Learned from $111K Worth of Soapbox Ads

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’Tis the season for reflection, and here at Wistia, we’re all about reflecting on past marketing campaigns (and sharing good tidings). In fact, we shared marketing lessons all throughout 2018, like how to solve common marketing challenges with video and our comprehensive guide to video marketing. So, when it came time to reflect on our biggest ad campaign to date, there was no shortage of lessons to learn from.

Last year we launched One, Ten, One-Hundred, our first-ever original series. We worked with Sandwich Video to produce three video ads to promote Soapbox with a production budget of $1K, $10K and $100K. And you may also recall that I shared tons of details around the ad strategy we put in place to support $111,000 worth of Soapbox ads. Even with a well-thought out advertising strategy, there was never a time when the campaign didn’t feel experimental. Questions like “What are the right metrics to evaluate performance?” and “Which ad formats best showcase the video ad and generate conversions?” kept me up at night.

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After all, this type of campaign (and advertising budget!) was a first for Wistia, so the pressure was on to produce revenue-driving results. Luckily, having co-founders who support taking risks helped me view this campaign as a learning opportunity as well, so in the spirit of sharing, here are the top five lessons learned from promoting One, Ten, One-Hundred!

As a marketer, when I need inspiration for new ad campaigns strategies, I typically turn to Google or industry newsletters. Over the years I’ve found a lot of content about testing different elements of ads, including variations of copy and images, but I rarely find content about how other marketers are testing the video creative itself.

Testing the video creative itself might seem scary because it means you may need to create multiple video ads (which can be a deal-breaker for some folks!). But while time, resources, or budget can often hold marketers back from using video more often, luckily shooting high-quality videos has never been easier thanks to iPhones, simple production gear, and affordable editing software. Regardless of the resources or budget, there are a few things to keep in mind when testing video ads.

  • Keep the unique selling proposition the same: Product benefits or features being promoted in your video need to be consistent across all video variations. How the message is delivered can vary, but what you are promising to deliver with your product, solution, or service needs to stay consistent across all video ad variations.
  • Make sure that the video execution is different: If you have too few similarities in your video ads, you won’t know why one performed better over the other. That means you won’t get enough data to reach statistical significance to declare a winner. The best way to move the needle and get results is to have very different video executions.
  • In the ad campaign, keep variables constant: The ad copy, targeting, and media budget, all need to be the same to ensure that you have clean test data–the only variable that should be different is the video creative itself.

For example, to test the Soapbox video ads, we ran all three videos (each with their own unique production quality levels) as single video ads, and kept the ad copy, targeting, and budget the same. In the end, we were able to see which of the three video ads resonated the best with our audiences — the $10K video.

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To definitively get results (and quickly) make sure that the execution of the video variations are completely different. Hold other test variables constant to ensure that the only variation is the video creative itself.

Worried about leaving the lesser performing video ad on the cutting room floor? Don’t be. Even though the $1K and $100K video ads are no longer running, we’re still sharing results from the ads in blog posts just like this. My advice? Look for opportunities to repurpose your videos in other marketing efforts. Perhaps as a social media post or a product video on your homepage. You can even upload the video into Wistia’s A/B testing tool to test on your website with customizations like thumbnails, CTAs, and video length!

With Facebook Ads Manager and Google Adwords, you can get an ad campaign up and running quickly. But, when it comes to understanding how your campaigns are performing, it’s hard to know which metrics to look at. To complicate matters further, media partners report on metrics differently and without an understanding of what these metrics mean, you could be making decisions based on the wrong data.

“Media partners report on metrics differently, and without an understanding of what these metrics mean, you could be making decisions based on the wrong data.”

I encountered this very problem when pulling together results from the Soapbox video ad campaign. I had ads running on Facebook and YouTube, and at first glance, it looked like Facebook was generating far more video engagement and at a lower cost per engaged view. But, when I took a closer look at how each partner defined the metric, it changed the reporting.

Facebook Video Play: The number of times your video starts to play. This is counted for each impression of a video, and excludes replays.

When looking at the Soapbox video ad performance in Facebook, the video plays number was huge (over 900,000 video plays!). Based on Facebook’s definition, this metric was interesting, but not exactly an accurate measure for engagement. Instead of using the Video Plays as a KPI, I used “Video watches at 25%” as a better indicator. In the case of the Soapbox video ads, it helped me understand how efficiently I could reach engaged users; having watched 25% of the video ad or 30 seconds of the 2 minute Soapbox ads.

YouTube Video View: A Video View is counted when someone watches 30 seconds of your video (or the duration, if it’s shorter than 30 seconds) or interacts with your video, whichever comes first.

After looking at this definition and then again at the video ad performance in Adwords, it made sense that YouTube’s Video Views was only 10% of the Video Plays on Facebook — because it was an entirely different metric! I wanted to know how engaged viewers were with the video ad itself, so instead of using Video View as a KPI, I used “Video played to 25%” on YouTube instead, as it was closer to the “Video watches at 25%” on Facebook.

Don’t take the metrics at face value. Instead, spend time getting to understand how the media partners report on the metrics, and then decide which metric is the best indicator of performance.

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As I mentioned before in my recent ad strategy post, it can be tempting to compare Facebook and YouTube against each other. But, each media partner serves a different purpose in the buyer’s journey, and there can (and should be) a place in your media plan that includes both. Let’s take a look at why each partner is important.

“Each media partner serves a different purpose in the buyer’s journey, and there can (and should be) a place in your media plan that includes both.”

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Given that most people log into Facebook to check their newsfeed and do a quick scan of their friend’s activities, this channel can be considered somewhat passive. In fact, the average watch time of the Soapbox ads on Facebook was 8 seconds vs 25 seconds on YouTube. But even though average watch time was lower than on YouTube, the value in running paid ads on Facebook comes in the form of impressions. Each impression provides a brand touchpoint in the buyer’s journey, and the more people that interact with our brand through various mediums, the more likely they are to purchase.

Here at Wistia, we see value in every interaction or impression that someone has with our brand; whether its seeing an ad, a social media post, meeting someone, or receiving an email. Being mindful of all these interactions, and creating consistency is an important part of our marketing strategy.

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YouTube

YouTube also drives brand awareness, but its role in the buyer’s journey is a little different than Facebook. YouTube is a destination for users who actively seek and consume video content. So it wasn’t surprising that YouTube had a longer average watch time than Facebook. The great thing about YouTube was that it provided the opportunity for Wistia to engage with users for longer.

The surprising part was that YouTube also had a nearly 73% lower cost per install than Facebook. Until this campaign, I had already written off YouTube as a channel for only big brands, but I learned that YouTube can generate conversion volume, and efficiently! Throughout the campaign, I viewed the advertising budget as channel agnostic, which means that budgets were not locked by channel and I could freely moved dollars around based on performance. For example, it was clear early on that YouTube was the most efficient channel, so after pausing underperforming Facebook ad formats, I moved dollars to fuel the ads on YouTube.

So, all that being said, while Facebook did have a higher cost per view and cost per install than YouTube, I understood its place in a buyer’s journey and it remained a part of the campaign!

Keep an open mind about the value that each channel provides — there’s a time and place for different channels depending on your goals.

At the start of the campaign, I established a primary KPI of “Cost per Soapbox install” and a secondary KPI of “Cost per 25% watched.” For cost per install, I wanted the media to achieve a $8 CPI, which was admittedly a bit arbitrary and based on other direct-response focused campaigns we’d run. Similarly, for “Cost per 25% watched,” I referenced previous video ad campaigns to come up with a range of $0.10 – $1.00.

After three weeks, it was obvious that it was going to be an uphill battle for our Facebook ads to reach an $8 CPI. So, I lowered the cost per install goal for Facebook to $30 (it was hovering at a $40 CPI so far) and looked for the CPI to trend in that direction. YouTube had a CPI of $11, so with some optimizations, a $8 cost per install goal seemed attainable. Similarly, for our second KPI it became clear that YouTube was tracking on the lower end of the range and Facebook on the higher side. Based on that intel, I readjusted the cost per 25% watched for YouTube to be $0.40 and for Facebook to be $1.00. I started learning fast that KPIs need to reflect the strength of each unique media partner, not a one-size fits all measure.

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Set different KPIs based on the media partner — KPIs should be channel specific, and not the same across the board. Metrics should be adjusted based on its role in the buyer’s journey.

From all of the positive feedback we received from the video ads and behind the scenes coverage, it was clear that people were interested in what went into creating and promoting this kind of video series. And while the $10K video was the top performing ad when evaluated against our campaign KPIs, we also found that three ads in succession gave us the opportunity to share the bigger story behind the campaign.

When evaluating all the possible ad formats, I looked for those that provided us with the ability to include more context through ad copy and additional videos, beyond just one single video ad. I found that with two Facebook ad formats; carousel video ad and sequential video ads.

  • Carousel video ad: All three video ads were displayed in the carousel ad format, starting with the $1K ad.
  • Sequential video ad: If a user viewed the $1K video ad, then they were served the $10K video ad, and then the $100K video ad.

Having all three ads displayed in sequence gave us the chance to share the video ads as a series. Both of these ad formats were less efficient than the single video ad when compared to our KPIs, but there were other metrics, like impressions, that indicated that the video ad formats were resonating with our audience.

“Having all three ads displayed in sequence gave us the chance to share the video ads as a series.”

The moral of the story is, you may not see immediate impact from these types of ads, but look for other metrics such as time spent with brand (which can be calculated using metrics like YouTube’s Watch Time) to give you an indication of engagement with the brand. Plus, taking a risk with a new, more unconventional ad format means you can learn fast and iterate faster.

Look for opportunities to display video as a series either as a carousel or sequential in advertising, or even as a gallery on your website. Once someone has watched one of your videos, they’re more likely to consume more content.

No matter the size of the ad or video production budget, these advertising lessons still remain true. And when it comes down to it, here at Wistia we view ad performance (whether good or bad) as feedback from our prospects or customers. This kind of feedback can help shape all parts of the business–from ad campaigns and content development, to promotional campaigns and even product updates.

Metrics aside, what really gets me most excited is the response that Wistia has received so far from the Soapbox video ads and the One, Ten, One Hundred original series. Given the positive reaction from our audience, we’re super excited to produce more content like One, Ten, One Hundred this year! Get ready for more content, and more lessons learned.



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Video Marketing

Why Your Content Strategy Should Target a Niche Audience (Not Potential Customers)

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As Raymond Williams once said, “There are no masses, but only ways of seeing people as masses.” As marketers, we tend to look at the world as three distinct masses:

  1. Existing customers
  2. Potential customers
  3. People who will never be customers

However, outside of our own lens, there’s usually nothing that unites the people within these groups. While, as a business, we tend to think of our potential customer base as a homogenous group of people who we can and should market to, this is rarely an accurate view of the world. In reality, those that are likely to buy our products and services are usually a hodgepodge of individuals from different communities and interest groups.

Marketing best practice engenders this skewed perspective. By doing keyword research, user interviews, and creating buyer personas, we’re building up a picture of the world as viewed by a fictional cohort.

“By doing keyword research, user interviews, and creating buyer personas, we’re building up a picture of the world as viewed by a fictional cohort.”

In the world of content marketing, we’re then tasked with the challenge of creating content that appeals to the interests of these people. But how can you create content that appeals to a group of people who don’t really identify as a group of people?

Let’s take a fairly straightforward example — the equally fictional musical instrument repair shop, “Don’t Fret,” run by our very own creative director.

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The potential customer base for Don’t Fret is people who need instruments repaired in Somerville, MA. There are probably two characteristics that unite this group:

  • They own musical instruments that need repair
  • They spend time in Somerville, MA

Other than that, everything else will be varied. Some of these people will be musicians themselves, some will have children who play, and some will be restoring antiques or family heirlooms. Some will have guitars, some will have cellos, and there might be the occasional oud in the mix. Some will be professionals who need a set-up to withstand regular touring, and others will be hobbyists who mostly play at home.

In short, even for a small local business like this, there’s not a whole lot that unites the entire customer base. If my task is to create content that will appeal to all customers, I’m stuck with a fairly narrow brief: I must create something that will appeal to harpists and lutists, amateurs and professionals, collectors and layman i.e. everyone, and therefore, no-one.

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It’s easy to see how trying to be all things to all people, even for a local business with a clear audience and value proposition, often leads marketers towards creating uninteresting and uninspiring content.

Target customers, so defined, are not a group of people you can create content for. It’s a made-up group of people, an abstraction that can be helpful for you in categorizing users and interactions, but one that typically doesn’t reflect anything tangible in the real world.

While it may be incoherent to think of potential customers as a group of people to create content for, there are invariably plenty of very real interest groups that can meaningfully be served by great content marketing.

What makes them good targets are a clear shared interest that spurs a great deal of conversation, with desires and challenges related to that interest. These groups will tend to coalesce around things that significantly contribute to an individual’s identity — subcultures, passions, culture, vocations, and causes.

“These groups will tend to coalesce around things that significantly contribute to an individual’s identity — subcultures, passions, culture, vocations, and causes.”

Our challenge, as marketers, is to identify these niche audiences by finding extremely active and passionate interest groups that are tangentially related to our customer base i.e. communities that a substantial number of our existing customers are a part of.

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For the “Don’t Fret” guitar shop, we can see how different communities based on professions and hobbies can intersect with the customer base to provide niche audiences that have clear desires, needs, and challenges as communities.

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Now, there are some fairly straightforward ways of discovering these types of niche audiences for your business.

Interview your customers

Rather than just asking for their opinions on your product or service, use this opportunity to find out what makes them tick. Ask them how they spend their free time, what kind of websites they regularly visit, what organizations they’re members of, and what communities they consider themselves a part of.

Mine subreddits

If there’s a subculture, there’s usually a subreddit. Explore the depths of Reddit to discover what kinds of topics your potential customers are regularly talking about.

Explore Twitter data

Use tools like SparkToro and Followerwonk to find out what topics and content your existing customer base are most readily engaging with on Twitter. Discover if there are any trends in how people identify themselves in their bios, and look at the content of tweets to determine the topics that ignite passionate reactions.

Increasingly, effective word of mouth distribution is not only a “nice to have” that can help things go viral, but an essential ingredient in ensuring any successful content marketing campaign. Unless your content is being shared organically, both on private social networks (e.g. Slack, Whatsapp) and public ones (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), then it simply won’t be found. Both search and social are becoming “winner takes all” games, and the winner is the content that secures the most organic interest.

Word of mouth is fuelled by conversation, so the crucial first step in securing word of mouth distribution is picking a niche audience that talks to one another.

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Unless you represent a sports team, your customers probably won’t talk to each other on a regular basis, so this necessitates moving as far away from this broad, all-encompassing audience as possible and towards a very focused target group.

The more niche your target audience, the more likely you are to be able to create the best content in the world for that community. There’s a wealth of content that’s created to loosely appeal to broad demographics and industries, but very little that’s made for the communities of a few thousand people who are super-passionate about specific things.

You create word of mouth by finding your nerds. Take again, our creative director’s fictional repair shop, “Don’t Fret.” We could create content about how to restring a guitar‚ which would appeal very loosely to most of our customers. But, there are a million and one tutorials online that explain how to restring a guitar, and ours would be adding nothing new to the pile, meaning very few people would care, and the content likely wouldn’t get found.

“There are a million and one tutorials online that explain how to restring a guitar and ours would be adding nothing new to the pile.”

However, if we decide to create some content about how to reduce humidity fluctuations in a dive bar, aimed at sound technicians, we’ll be creating genuinely unique content that’s extremely interesting just for the small subset of people who manage live sound at neighborhood bars and clubs around the world.

Because it will appeal to those folks specifically, this content will stand a better chance of being shared, and these sound engineers will grow an affinity towards our brand because we created something genuinely useful and interesting for them. They might then recommend us to the people they speak to regularly (musicians), who in turn discover and recommend us to those they influence, and so on.

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This content will then eventually lead to awareness and affinity amongst our target audience, even though the content is far too specific to be of interest to the vast majority of people who need an instrument repaired.

This is why, paradoxically, targeting extremely niche audiences, and making the best content in the world for them is the most scalable way to increase affinity amongst a broad base of potential customers.

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Season 1 is Done: Binge-Watch All of Brandwagon

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Phew, releasing our weekly talk show for marketers, Brandwagon, has been a super exciting ride (car pun intended). And if you’ve been keeping up for the last 10 episodes, you might’ve learned why Mailchimp is investing more in content and less in advertising, gleaned insights about building authentic brands from inspiring leaders like Lauren Fleshman, the Co-Founder of Picky Bars, and Nancy Dussault Smith, CMO of Hydrow, and you might’ve even learned why Rand Fishkin, co-founder of SparkToro, hates Google so much. Not only that, but you saw our team expense a ‘91 Volvo wagon and commission an artist to make it the ultimate — you guessed it — Brandwagon.

Binge-Watch Brandwagon

And if you haven’t been following along, we think it’s safe to say that you have some catching up to do. But, no need to spin those wheels! Now you don’t have to pump the brakes between episodes, because the entire season is out and ready to binge-watch. So, bust out the snacks, tune in at your desk (it’s an educational show, after all), and learn what it takes to build a memorable brand from experts in the marketing industry. Ready to binge-watch Brandwagon? Click below to hop on in to the first season!

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5 Key Takeaways from Season One of “The Brandwagon Interviews” Podcast

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If you’re a marketer and you like podcasts, then the first season of The Brandwagon Interviews might just be the perfect podcast for you. For 10 weeks, we invited 10 special guests from an array of industries onto the set of Brandwagon to talk about all things brand marketing with Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage. From Mailchimp to UM Worldwide and Harpoon Brewery to ProfitWell, we’ve learned a lot from the masterminds behind these amazing brands.

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In this post, we’re highlighting the most valuable lessons learned from all the conversations that were featured on The Brandwagon Interviews podcast. Be sure to listen to each episode on your favorite streaming platform and read on for our key takeaways!

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

When Dan Kenary, CEO of Harpoon Brewery, and Mark DiCristina, Head of Brand at Mailchimp, dropped by our studio, they both knew what it was like competing in saturated markets. Despite being in different industries, Kenary and DiCristina knew that the best way to stand out amongst the competition was to differentiate their brands.

Harpoon Brewery was one of the first craft breweries on the East Coast. However, it wasn’t long before competition exploded in the craft brewery and microbrewery space. So, how did they differentiate themselves? Kenary explained that the company focused on building a strong brand and connecting with their customers. Even without flashy advertising, this strategy helped the brand cut through the competition. To differentiate themselves further, Harpoon also created a sub-brand called UFO, which helped the business appeal to a new segment and grow in unexpected ways. And today, knowing their brand like the back of their hand, Harpoon manages a house of five distinct brands all under the Harpoon umbrella.

In the early days of Mailchimp, a marketing automation software platform, the company wasn’t the biggest or well-funded fish in the sea by a long shot. DiCristina described how Mailchimp understood they wouldn’t be successful by playing the same game as everyone else. Instead of outspending other companies and competing with them on a dollar for dollar basis, DiCristina said, “ … our approach, which is really a credit to Ben, our CEO and co-founder, was to be as different as we possibly could and use our weakness as a strength.” Ultimately, DiCristina said what ended up helping Mailchimp stand out was their appetite for being weird and playful, and their belief in creating real connections with their customers.

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From the experiences of both Kenary and DiCristina, it’s clear that making your brand a key differentiator can help you stand out in markets where everyone is stuck in a similar mold. Let your brand communicate more about your values and trust that you’ll connect with the right folks.

The second lesson we learned was about consistency and why it’s a crucial part of the recipe for creating a strong brand. Veronica Parker-Hahn, SVP of Growth and Innovation at Effie Worldwide, and Dan Kenary of Harpoon had a few words to say about the importance of strategic rigor and remaining consistent.

Parker-Hahn began her career in the advertising industry, and over the past 15 years, she’s worked with major brands like DirecTV, State Farm Insurance, Reebok, and many more. Over the years, she’s learned that creativity is only a fraction of what builds a strong brand. Building a strong brand and creating an effective campaign starts with a deliberate, well-thought-out strategy. In addition to strategic rigor, you need to identify your values, and she emphasized, “ … what your brand stands for should permeate everything you do.”

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Kenary also shared similar sentiments about remaining consistent with your brand. At Harpoon, they built the brand under the banner, “Love Beer. Love Life.,” and to this day, they ensure every interaction they have with consumers is consistent with what they’re trying to represent. In Kenary’s mind, if you’re not consistent, your brand loses meaning and people stop paying attention. Whether it’s communicating with someone in customer service or hosting a seasonal festival, every touchpoint with the consumer matters.

So, when thinking about building a stronger brand for your business, remember to always start with a solid strategy. Then, when it comes to executing on that strategy, make sure you understand the audience you want to reach and what makes them tick. Stay super consistent with the values you want to convey, both internally and externally, and you’ll be able to create a well-loved brand with a ton of loyal fans.

“Stay super consistent with the values you want to convey, both internally and externally, and you’ll be able to create a well-loved brand with a ton of loyal fans.”

Speaking of knowing the type of audience you want to reach, it really helps to know your niche inside and out when building your brand. Lauren Fleshman, Co-Founder and CMO of Picky Bars, and Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell, have discovered the many benefits of appealing to a niche audience.

As a former Nike-sponsored athlete, Lauren Fleshman grew to become an exceptional storyteller. In order to renew sponsorship deals, she recognized the importance of marketing her values, and when she started her own business, she marketed Picky Bars in the energy bar industry leading with the brand’s values. Lauren believes brands should lead with their values because it helps you find out why people like you in the first place. Then, you can lean into your niche and trust your brand will build from there.

One of the ways Lauren dove deep into Picky Bars’ niche was by starting a podcast with her husband called Work, Play, Love, where they chat transparently about all the mess-ups and struggles they’ve encountered running the company so far. Not only do they talk about the business, but they also open up about their relationship and balancing all the chaos of regular day-to-day life, giving their audience an opportunity to have a deeper connection with them and the Picky Bars brand.

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At ProfitWell, a subscription software company, Patrick Campbell is appealing to a niche and building an engaged audience for the brand by creating binge-worthy video series. Along with their series Pricing Page Teardown, Subscription 60, The ProfitWell Report and Protect the Hustle, Campbell told Savage that ProfitWell has over 10 distinct shows in the works. Episodic video content has become one of ProfitWell’s primary marketing vehicles because traditional advertising campaigns and written content have become less effective for them over the past few years. Producing shows doesn’t guarantee more conversion, but they’re better at keeping their audience engaged with their brand, rather than aggravating them with intrusive ads.

Trying to reach a niche might sound counter-intuitive, but Campbell encourages people to get comfortable with marketing to niche audiences. You may not see the impact right off the bat, but there’s inherent value in developing an engaged audience over time.

For Picky Bars and ProfitWell, going all-in on their niche audiences has helped their business’ build better brand affinity than if they tried appealing to everyone. After all, the number of impressions you make with a campaign does not equal the number of people impressed.

Want to learn more about Brand Affinity Marketing? Check out our new four-step playbook for all the nitty-gritty details.

Throughout The Brandwagon Interviews, we also noticed that many of our guests were strong believers in taking risks and experimenting with new and innovative marketing tactics. When it comes to building a stronger brand and surviving (and thriving!) in any industry, risk-taking often seemed to be a necessary part of achieving success.

As the CMO of Hydrow, an in-home rowing machine company offering a live outdoor reality experience, Nancy Dussault Smith discussed why it’s important to make space for experimenting with different types of brand marketing tactics. Having worked with innovative products like Hydrow and Roomba in her career, Dussault Smith says she always dedicates a portion of her budget to testing things out, and that’s where she’s seen many wins come in. By using small victories from experimentation as proof, she’s convinced C-suite executives to take bigger swings with their investments when it comes to building a brand.

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Rand Fishkin, CEO and Co-Founder of SparkToro, is no stranger to taking risks, either. After all, he ended up building an iconic brand around his “Whiteboard Fridays” video series at Moz simply because he was tired of writing blog posts week after week. In order to convince people at your company to get on board with investing more in brand-building activities, he recommends you show value early on and highlight the fact that your competition is already doing it. To urge higher-ups to invest even more in brand, he recommends putting together research and presenting it along with suggestions for next steps that’ll level the playing field. Similar to Nancy’s approach, Fishkin also said that making one small investment can be used as a proof-point to justify another small investment.

“In order to convince people at your company to get on board with investing more in brand-building activities, he recommends you show value early on and highlight the fact that your competition is already doing it.”

Over at UM Worldwide, a full-service media agency, Brendan Gaul, Global Chief Content Officer and Head of UM Studios, is exercising innovative thinking on a large scale and with a bigger budget. He pointed out that brands need to think of interesting new ways to connect with people because consumers are moving to ad-free platforms. For example, when Johnson & Johnson wanted to elevate the image of nurses around the world from doctor sidekicks to the heroes of healthcare, Gaul pitched a rather out-of-the-box idea for a documentary film called 5B. While this was certainly a risky investment for the brand, the documentary went on to win the Grand Prix for Entertainment at the 2019 Cannes Lions Festival for Creativity. This big win validated the notion that brand-funded content can be accepted by audiences and that creative risk-taking can pay off for brands.

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“He pointed out that brands need to think of interesting new ways to connect with people because consumers are moving to ad-free platforms.”

No matter what industry you’re in, getting comfortable with risk-taking and knowing how to convince others to get comfortable with it, too, is key. After all, in order to compete in a constantly changing marketing landscape, you have to innovate and take risks to stay relevant and stand out amongst the competition.

The final lesson we took away from the first season of The Brandwagon Interviews, is just how important it is to create content for your audience that offers real value. Mark DiCristina of Mailchimp, Brendan Gaul of UM, and Patrick Campbell of ProfitWell, all have something in common — their teams create engaging video content that helps build better brand affinity.

Recently, Mailchimp has been releasing short-form video series, films, and podcasts out of their own new content studio, Mailchimp Presents. DiCristina said, “Mailchimp’s mission has always been about empowering small businesses and helping them succeed and grow. We’ve always done that with software, but over the last couple of years, we began to feel like there are other ways that we can do that.” With content that inspires, motivates, and makes people feel like they’re not alone, Mailchimp Presents has developed a valuable platform for an audience of entrepreneurs, while increasing the amount of time people spend with their overarching brand.

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As we mentioned before, ProfitWell is also engaging niche audiences through multiple video series of their own. Not only is their content valuable for consumers, but they’ve also found value in repurposing clips for their marketing efforts. What ProfitWell is doing here is treating their video content like a product, which is advice we took to heart when promoting our own four-part docu-series, One, Ten, One Hundred (and spoiler alert, it worked!).

At the end of the day, consumers are able to sniff out content that’s solely based on trying to sell them more stuff, and people are keenly aware when brands are phony with their intentions. That’s why brands need to know when they have — or need to earn — permission to be a part of important conversations. For smaller companies, the need to create powerful content like the biggest brands can be overwhelming. But, approaching content humbly and understanding the value your company can genuinely offer to a niche audience will help you define your brand.

Now that you’ve heard from several masterminds behind amazing brands on The Brandwagon Interviews, get out there and put their wisdom to good use. From one marketer to another, establishing a strong brand in the modern marketing world is more important than ever. So, let these key takeaways guide you toward building a better brand and creating a more engaged audience who will stand by your business for a long time.

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