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How InVision Blazed a Trail for Filmmaking in the SaaS Industry

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Three months into his tenure at InVision, Ben Goldman found himself crammed between hundreds of designers in a New York City movie theater. He was attending his new company’s red-carpet premiere of their documentary Design Disruptors and the excitement in the room was palpable.

As he sat with a bag of popcorn in one hand and a Coke in the other, Goldman, new to the tech industry, couldn’t help but ask himself, “Does every SaaS company do this?”

Disappointingly, the answer was no. But Goldman would soon find out he was about to spearhead the movement that would prompt brands to ask themselves, “why not?”

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Check out this clip from our Change the Channel event and hear from Ben Goldman himself about how this documentary helped InVision garner more attention and interest from their audience.

A passion project of InVision’s CEO Clark Valberg, Design Disruptors set out to prove a product designer’s value to the business world. By showcasing how iconic companies like Google, Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, and Airbnb use the power of design to dominate their respective industries, InVision was able to resonate with the design community and turn the film into a catalyst that could drive a larger cultural change at their organizations.

“After watching the documentary, an executive who didn’t know much about design can now understand, appreciate, and value it on a whole new level,” says Goldman. “And that’s a big reason why the design community had such great sentiment for the film. It could change people’s minds.”

Design Disruptors became InVision’s most evergreen piece of content, generating over 100,000 leads and 2,000 independent screenings, where organizations sign up to show the film to their design team, executives, or important stakeholders.

“Design Disruptors became InVision’s most evergreen piece of content, generating over 100,000 leads and 2,000 independent screenings.”

Boasting stellar quantitative data, Design Disruptors’ qualitative data is arguably just as impressive. Not only did the design community badger InVision to make a second film, but the overwhelming majority of InVision’s sales and customer service reps all agreed that Design Disruptors was their most valuable piece of sales collateral.

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Two years after Design Disruptors’ release, it became crystal clear that InVision’s target market absolutely loved the documentary and crafting binge-worthy content was good for business. Starting a films department was a no-brainer, but InVision needed the right person to take on the challenge.

At the beginning of his career, Goldman worked in television, interning at The Colbert Report and even selling a pilot to MTV during college. But after graduation, he stumbled down the path of reality TV and the industry’s toxicity burned him out. He eventually left television to launch his own news app, sparking his interest in content marketing, tech, and ultimately helping him land a job as a content strategist at InVision. After working there for two years, it became clear that Goldman’s expertise and invaluable background in television made him the ideal person to launch Invision’s films department. However, building something that not many other brands in the industry had done before was uncharted territory.

Goldman’s vision for the films department

Goldman wanted the films department to be a creative arm dedicated to authentic documentary storytelling. In other words, he wanted to tell stories that didn’t make people feel like they were participating in some sort of case study.

To meet this lofty quality standard, Goldman’s department had to operate like a production company, hiring independent filmmakers to create and direct their films.

“Collaborating with independent filmmakers allows us to bring real filmmaking passion to the table and lean on a variety of voices to drive our narratives,” says Goldman. “Relying solely on in-house risks the outcome of creating the same type of film and hitting the same note every time.”

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But as a SaaS company that had only created one documentary before, InVision had a weak connection to Hollywood. The film department had to start spinning up a web of filmmaking talent — fast.

Building a bridge to Hollywood

At the beginning of Goldman’s stint as the director of films at InVision, he would scour the internet for short films and documentaries that played at festivals and won awards. Then he would reach out to their directors, editors, producers, and directors of photography. If any of them lived in New York City, he would take them out for coffee or lunch. Goldman also met with production companies, freelancers, recent film school graduates, and current film school students.

This went on for months. But soon enough, all of Goldman’s networking created a digital rolodex of film professionals that he could call on when his team was ready to green-light their first project. And when the time came, all they had to do was thumb through their network and match the right professionals to the right projects. Building these relationships ended up being one of the most impactful things Goldman ever did.

“All of Goldman’s networking left him with a digital rolodex of film professionals that he could call on when his team was ready to green-light their first project.”

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In October 2019, InVision completed the editing process for a film they’ve been working on all year called Squads. The documentary looks at the way businesses are adopting new organizational models to better enable teams to move fast and innovate. With 28 different cuts, hundreds of pages of transcripts and interviews, and even an original composer, producing Squads was no small undertaking.

“A culmination of all that work just happened,” says Goldman. “And it’s one of the most amazing feelings I’ve ever experienced.”

After the editing process, the film department showed the video to a focus group, and they absolutely loved it, shouting praises about how they want to show the film to people they work with — especially executive stakeholders. But what was even more invigorating than finishing the film and hearing the applause from the focus group was the process of actually creating the documentary itself.

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“Going into these companies, meeting these leaders, having real conversations with them, and highlighting passionate people solving real problems,” says Goldman. “That’s what I loved most about this project.”

1. Make your case with data

InVision is an innovative company, but two years had passed and new layers of management had formed when the idea of the film department was still brewing. Fortunately, Goldman could measure Design Disruptors’ impact on InVision’s bottom line and collect valuable customer feedback from social media and their sales and customer service teams. With all of this data backing up the film department, it was easy to make their case to management.

Be sure to measure and present your binge-worthy content’s quantitative and qualitative data — they’re equally beneficial to track. If you need help determining the effectiveness of your binge-worthy content, check out our guide on measuring brand affinity. And if you’re just getting started and don’t have any data to present just yet, check out this post and learn how to convince your boss to start investing in creating binge-worthy content.

“Be sure to measure and present your binge-worthy content’s quantitative and qualitative data — they’re equally beneficial to track.”

2. Make sure your first hire is a producer

Hiring a producer, especially one from the media industry, will help you figure out how your team can create binge-worthy content on your own (or if you need to hire an agency to do so).

At Wistia, our creative team helped us realize that we could craft Webby Award-winning content in-house. At InVision, they tapped Goldman, who had previously worked as a producer in TV, who decided it was ideal to collaborate with an external network of talent to craft binge-worthy content.

Regardless of the path your business decides to take, it’s important to have someone dedicated to overseeing the creation of this content in a way that is aligned with your vision and goals.

3. Build relationships with Hollywood

Two brands that are leading the binge-worthy content movement, Mailchimp and InVision, both collaborate with independent filmmakers to craft their shows and films. Remember that your audience expects a brand’s binge-worthy content to be high-quality and truly entertaining, so if it’s within your budget, hire the professionals who can take your video series to that level.



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Why Your Business’s Brand is More Important Than Ever

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When it comes to purchasing a product or signing up for a software or service, more often than not consumers will buy from and remain loyal to the brand that resonates with them the most. So naturally, in today’s cluttered marketing landscape, building your brand and growing a loyal audience should be a top priority for most marketers. Yet, small and medium-sized companies still insist on sticking to the same old strategies — ones that don’t help them cut through the noise. It has us wondering … what gives? Why aren’t more businesses investing in growing their brands?

In this post, we’ll explain how marketing has shifted and why traditional tactics aren’t as effective as they used to be. Read on to learn why your business’s brand is more important than ever and why you should invest in doing more (and better) brand marketing.

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At our live-streamed event, Change the Channel, our co-founders Chris Savage and Brendan Schwartz discussed how building your business has drastically changed over the past few years. In their experience, growing an audience was previously an entirely different ballgame. Savage said, “It used to be the case that you’d post something on Facebook and your entire audience would see it. Now organic reach is below 2%. So that audience that you worked really hard to build, now you have to pay to reach them.”

The stark decrease in organic reach signaled that something had to change. Nowadays, in order to stand out amongst the competition, marketers must invest in brand marketing to reach the right people at the right time and build an audience of brand advocates.

Marketers today are also at a disadvantage if they live and die by a data-driven approach to brand marketing. We’re all working with the same tools and tech these days, which means all of our competitors are on the same playing field as us. We all have the ability to calculate every interaction and every bit of marketing spend to see exactly how our digital marketing efforts tie to revenue. What was once a competitive edge is now merely common practice for businesses across industries.

“What was once a competitive edge is now merely common practice for businesses across industries.”

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We shouldn’t toss data analysis out the window for good, but we do need to find a new way to differentiate ourselves in saturated markets — which means putting an end to constant tinkering and starting to take even bigger, riskier swings. We think businesses can do that by investing more in their brands and the stories they are uniquely positioned to tell.

We know what you’re thinking — we wrote this blog post that you’re currently reading and we’re saying content marketing isn’t exactly revolutionary anymore. That’s because, while it may not be a novel practice anymore, it’s still valuable. But investing in content marketing alone will no longer do the heavy lifting for your brand it once capable of doing. Unless you already have a large following, positioning your business as a thought leader with a single blog post is like tossing a coin into a magical fountain and hoping your audience would boom overnight.

To put things into perspective, there are about 30 blog posts being published every second, and quite frankly, a lot of this content is low-quality and self-serving. This makes it confusing for people to sift through the dust and find any valuable content your business is creating. Even if they do discover your content, will your brand leave a lasting impression and make them want to come back for more?

“To put things into perspective, there are about 30 blog posts being published every second, and quite frankly, a lot of this content is low-quality and self-serving.”

It’s time for marketers to lean into the greatest differentiator you’ve had all along — your brand. We rely so much on recommendations for products and services from friends, family, and co-workers, that building a reputable brand consumers can connect with is essential to not only growing sales, but also influencing how people speak about your business to others.

That’s where we think Brand Affinity Marketing can help. With this approach, businesses create and distribute binge-worthy content with the goal of positively impacting the overall sentiment, perception, and value of their brand. The truth is, digital advertising has become less effective over time and generating affinity for your brand is more important than awareness. So, why not let go of those old rusty marketing tactics and jump into creating more engaging content that’ll grow you an audience of true fans for your brand?

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3 Common Problems Marketers Face When They Focus Too Much on Brand Awareness

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Marketers have started experiencing some serious growing pains as of late. For years, most of us have followed a tried-and-true formula for getting people to know about our brands — create engaging content, post regularly on social media, run some eye-catching ads — lather, rinse, repeat. The problem with this approach is that marketers today have nearly all the same tools at their disposal.

We all know what it takes to make our content marketing efforts successful. We all know that we have to pay to play on social media. And because we’re all well aware of this, the internet has become a really crowded, cluttered place. Businesses have focused so much on making people aware that they exist, that they’ve lost sight of what matters most — getting people to actually like their brands.

In fact, the pursuit of brand awareness alone has ended up stunting growth for many businesses. Here are some common problems marketers face when they’re on the hunt for brand awareness, and brand awareness alone. If you can relate to any of these, you may just want to take a closer look at your goals for the year ahead and consider shifting your strategy accordingly.

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Metrics that measure brand awareness like views and impressions don’t actually indicate whether people like your brand or not. For instance, it’s impossible to determine the quality of a view or impression. According to Google Analytics, a page view is any instance where a page is loaded or reloaded in a browser. On Facebook, an impression is the number of times your ad was displayed on someone’s screen. So, without taking the time to dig much deeper into either metric, a five-second view or impression would be counted the same as a five-minute view or impression.

Now, these metrics clearly don’t reveal very much, but, in the world of digital marketing, they’re easy to measure and track. The resulting chase for vanity metrics has pushed marketing teams to produce content that merely juices up these numbers instead of actually providing value to their audience. Since SEO tools can help marketers pinpoint the keywords, headers, and angle of a post or video required to rank on Google or YouTube and, in turn, attract as many views as possible, the results for virtually any competitive search term have eerily similar titles, examples, and structures.

“The resulting chase for vanity metrics has pushed marketing teams to produce content that merely juices up these numbers instead of actually providing value to their audience.”

Most marketers also source their research from the same search results, so everyone’s essentially copying each other in order to rank on Google and YouTube. The result? Bland and boring content, uninspired ads, and more of the same.

Just because you reach a ton of people (even millions!) that doesn’t mean you’ll connect with them, let alone convince them to buy anything from your business. Traffic and impressions don’t always equate to resonance, and they certainly don’t guarantee more revenue.

For example, here at Wistia we once spent $2 million on an ad campaign that featured some of our most creative work to date. With 43 million impressions, it certainly seemed like a successful campaign. But once we dug a little deeper into the data, we found out that our campaign generated the same amount of web traffic as a reasonably successful blog post, converted minimal leads, and generated barely any business. That’s one expensive and, embarrassingly, pretty ineffective campaign! Here’s a little look back at one of the ads we ran (we still stand by its cuteness):

Another interesting case study on brand awareness takes place in the marketing automation space. HubSpot, one of the market’s leaders, focuses heavily on building brand awareness and currently has four times as many social media followers and almost double the amount of organic traffic as Mailchimp, one of HubSpot’s main competitors.

However, Mailchimp, a business that focuses more on building brand affinity than awareness, has been able to generate more revenue and profit than HubSpot. Now, we’re not saying this the sole reason for Mailchimp’s success, but it’s an interesting case study in what can happen when you focus less on reaching the masses and more on reaching the right folks.

It’s true, Google and Facebook’s advertising model lets businesses find new audiences with ads, however, that doesn’t mean you’re reaching the right folks or that they’re happy about it. Just think about your own personal experience with ads — when they interrupt your favorite TV show, you probably look straight down at your phone. And when you’re cruising through your social media feed, chances are you won’t spare a passing glance at the countless ads screaming for your attention.

As of this past year, more than 25% of internet users in the United States used ad-blocking apps on their devices to help put an end to the noise. People have even started to develop banner blindness, which causes them to not only ignore ads but also any content resembling ads or content located in the places usually dedicated to ads. It’s pretty impressive what our brains can do!

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“As of this past year, more than 25% of internet users in the United States used ad-blocking apps on their devices to help put an end to the noise.”

For most brands, their digital advertising return on investment also decreases with each year. Since digital advertising spend has been compounding by 20% each year over the past decade, the only way you can generate the same return on investment is by increasing your ad budget by the same rate. If you can’t (which is the case for the majority of brands) digital advertising will generate less of a return on investment over time.

When it comes to inbound marketing tactics used to gain brand awareness, the same issues run rampant. With over 500 million blogs and 23 million YouTube channels with at least 10+ subscribers, brands struggle to cut through the noise. And with the cost of consumer attention increasing seven to nine times over the past decade, inbound marketing’s return on investment is also dwindling each year. So, what’s a marketer to do?

Any marketer will tell you that making people aware of your brand is a crucial step in building a successful business. But, that’s only one piece of a much bigger puzzle, and focusing too much on that component alone can send you down a dark, fruitless path. Getting people to like your brand and actually recommend your products or services to their friends — or in other words, creating brand affinity — is a much more worthy investment in 2020.

Curious about how to get started building brand affinity? Sit back, relax, and dive into the world of Brand Affinity Marketing with us. Read our four-step playbook and learn how to connect with your audience on a more personal level, how to build loyal audiences, and ultimately, how to grow a stronger business in the long run.

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How to Ensure Your Marketing is Consistently Creative in 2020

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Jay Acunzo was angry. As a seasoned marketing professional who had spent most of his career deep in the trenches of the content marketing space, Acunzo couldn’t stand the commodity content and conventional wisdom that started flooding the industry. So, in 2016, he decided to wage a war against it with his own creative agency, Unthinkable Media. He crafted a podcast series called Unthinkable that tells compelling stories about the rare few who buck their industry’s best practices and hone their intuition to do exceptionally creative work.

In two and a half years, Jay shipped over 70 episodes of Unthinkable, attracting over 100 five-star reviews on Apple Podcasts and tens of thousands of social media followers. He even wrote a book called Break the Wheel about ignoring best practices, focusing on what actually works best for you, and prioritizing resonance over reach.

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Image Source: Artillery

However, despite convincing many in his industry to subscribe to his philosophy and transcend the creation of cookie-cutter content, Acunzo is still frustrated. “Right now, because I’m running a media company for marketers who make shows (Marketing Showrunners), I’m mad at why so much ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ in marketing feels like random, one-off stunts,” Acunzo says. “Why can’t we be more consistent?”

As marketers, chances are you’ve asked yourself that question at least once. How can we turn creativity from a swing for the fences to a defining trait? To find the answer to this pressing question, we asked Acunzo and four other creative thinkers in content marketing — Ann Handley, Joe Lazauskus, Jimmy Daly, and Eddie Shleyner — how they hone their creativity to build loyal, passionate audiences. Let’s dig in!

Contrary to popular belief, the information that will help you create the most compelling content isn’t stored in a Google Analytics dashboard — it’s in your audience’s minds. After all, they’re the ones you’re creating content for in the first place.

In the content marketing industry, there isn’t a more passionate supporter of this notion than Joe Lazauskus, the author of the #1 Amazon New Release, The Storytelling Edge, and the Head of Marketing at Contently.

Over the past few months, he’s conducted dozens of what he calls “empathy interviews” with clients and prospects to test his team’s assumptions and develop new solutions for their clients. The goal? To fully empathize with his target market. And it’s paid huge dividends for his team.

“For the first time, I spoke to my clients without an agenda. I wasn’t trying to subtly influence a purchase decision or create their content strategy. I was just listening in an open and empathetic way,” he wrote in a blog post about empathy mapping. “These interviews were the greatest gift I could have gotten. I had two dozen spreadsheets on my computer that told me who our clients were. But these conversations told me how they feel. And suddenly everything — our messaging, positioning, content strategy — became so much clearer.”

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Getting constant feedback from your audience not only supplies you with a laundry list of new ideas, but it also helps you truly serve your audience. So if you really want to be consistently creative and get your audience hooked on your content, take a page out of Lazauskus’ book and interact with those who consume what you make, learn about their challenges, and, most importantly, understand them on a deep level.

“Getting constant feedback from your audience not only supplies you with a laundry list of new ideas, but it also helps you truly serve your audience.”

Ask anyone what the most important stage of the creative process is, and they’ll likely say ideation. The best ideas stem from long brainstorming sessions, right? As counterintuitive as it seems, sparking your creative process by creating, rather than ideating, can actually lead to the breakthrough moments needed to make something worthwhile.

“When we want to create great work, it’s tempting to try and gather up all the answers we think we need to justify creating something, but it’s far more effective to create to find your answers,” Jay Acunzo says. “I call this the quest, which is a term I learned from marketing author and speaker Andrew Davis, who helped me see the importance of focusing the creative process on investigation rather than pontification. Think of it as the relentless pursuit of curiosity through research and creation, which I find leads to better breakthroughs than leaning back in a chair and trying to concoct ’the idea.’”

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Placing a heavier emphasis on creation during the creative process also helps Eddie Shleyner, founder of one of the best copywriting blogs around, VeryGoodCopy, find the answers that steer his articles in the right direction. “Once I have the topic, I try to write my article as quickly as possible. I just want to get the story and the ideas on paper,” he says. “This usually takes a few hours and gives me the full picture I need to evaluate where I need more words and where I need fewer words. It also helps visualize where I can weave in a story to hook the reader.”

Acunzo’s and Shleyner’s laser-focus on the act of creation speaks to the fact that creativity is a skill. Just like dancing, the best way to sharpen your creative chops and consistently channel your creativity is through practice — not by obsessing over every little move you’ll make.

When asked how she decides the topics for her wildly popular newsletter, Total ANNARCHY, Ann Handley, the Wall Street Journal best-selling author and Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs answered, “What delights me that week. I can’t write about things I don’t care about.”

Passion fuels creativity, generating your best ideas and enabling you to do your best work. And while creating content that specifically appeals to you might not cast the widest net, it’ll resonate with people who have similar interests and help you build a loyal audience.

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Just like Handley, Jimmy Daly, a Director of Marketing at Animalz, has relied on his own palate to create a thriving newsletter called Swipe File, which boasts over 4,000 subscribers. “The only real theme in Swipe File are things that I find interesting. I have a bias towards stuff that is really evergreen. If I find something interesting from 2005, it’s going in the newsletter,” he says. “I’m also biased towards marketing, writing, productivity, creativity, etc. Swipe File definitely mirrors my personal tastes.”

With their newsletters, Handley and Daly have the creative freedom to write about whatever interests them — liberties most people won’t have when working for a company (though some of us are luckier than others on that front!). Fortunately, you can still fuse your passion into your work and fuel your creativity even while working on the dullest of projects. For example, by bringing your unique self and personal creativity to work, you can invigorate a bland blog post with a story about one of your passions or enliven a dry how-to video with your graphic design or musical skills.

“You can still fuse your passion into your work and fuel your creativity even while working on the dullest of projects.”

After waging his war on random acts of creativity, Acunzo told the marketing world, “Today, the mandate of marketers is to hold attention, not ‘grab’ it. As a result, all of marketing needs to be consistently great work instead of one-off spikes in the numbers.”

In other words, consistent creativity isn’t a nice-to-have anymore — it’s a must-have. And if we can absorb the lessons that some of the best creatives in content marketing have detailed above, we’ll never stop delighting our audience.



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