By now, you should be convinced (we hope!) that video is the most personal and engaging creative medium that exists today. The format allows us to make more human connections and at a faster pace than ever before. Just think about all the media you consume on a day-to-day basis. You could sign into Netflix while you’re at the gym and check out that one comedy special you’ve been meaning to watch while you break a sweat, or pull up IGTV while you’re on the train and see what your favorite influencers are up to.
Social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, as well as streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, are clearly capitalizing on the opportunity that entertaining, long-form video provides — that’s the business they’re in, after all. But what you might find more surprising is that many other types of companies are also taking advantage of creating binge-worthy content.
Instead of solely focusing on the products and services they offer, more and more companies are creating memorable experiences for viewers by investing documentaries, video series, and more, all with the goal of building an audience. Now, this might sound a little daunting if you don’t have, say, a Lego Movie-sized budget (they worked with a cool $80 million), but the good news is, you don’t need one!
Here, we’ll take a deeper look at what this type of content is all about, why businesses should consider making more of it, and how to get started without breaking the bank.
Many businesses have realized that creating content that speaks to the interests and challenges of niche audiences can lead to some pretty impressive results for their brands. Specifically, binge-worthy content is all about providing enough value that viewers can’t help but want to consume more of it.
Most videos that are being created today to support marketing efforts online are super-short, attention-grabbing, and often optimized for engagement on social media. It becomes challenging, however, to tell stories and share perspectives in a way that makes people know and love your brand when you’re working with a 15-second clip. Long-form video, which has been around since the dawn of television, is the logical format for modern-day storytelling and entertainment.
“It becomes challenging, however, to tell stories and share perspectives in a way that makes people know and love your brand when you’re working with a 15-second clip.”
Less “about” a company and more “by” a company, creating binge-worthy content is a great way to surprise and delight an audience in ways they would have never imagined. Take, for example, this series by HP about printer security. Yes, that’s right, printer security. HP has released three long-form videos (or short films) over the past few years that highlight the dangers companies face when their printer security is sub-par.
Fully-quipped with villains and heroes — as well as a few Hollywood stars — HP relies on their fantastic storytelling prowess to get people to engage with their brand. Don’t believe us? Just check out some of the comments on this video:
In a world where forcing viewers to interact with your ads over and over again is ineffective (and annoying), businesses are turning to the creation of this type of content to reach their audience in a new way — one that helps build their brands.
Your audience extends beyond current users of your product, social media followers, and even your coveted email list. Word-of-mouth referrals still remain the most convincing form of advertising for most people, so creating amazing binge-worthy content is a great way to nourish a group of vocal advocates outside of your main customer base.
Studies have shown that 92% of people say they’re more likely to buy a product if they hear about it through a recommendation from a friend or family member, so creating valuable, binge-worthy content that viewers are excited to talk about can help get that flywheel going.
At the end of the day, your brand’s reputation is about far more than just what you do or how you do it. Your reason for existing — your company ethos — is a much better focus for this type of content, as it’s more likely to resonate with audiences on an emotional level and help them build positive associations with you. Unlike product videos or press releases, a video series allows brands to “live” their mission.
Patagonia, for example, is widely known for their outdoor gear. However, they also consistently produce high-quality entertainment that moves their audience in deeply emotional ways.
Their on-going documentary series highlights the beauty of the earth through world-class production and breathtaking cinematography. The pieces show that Patagonia is committed to their goal of “saving the planet” by raising awareness of threatened spaces around the globe. “Takayna,” one of the more successful pieces in the series, has garnered over 130,000 views on YouTube online since its release.
Now, we know what you’re thinking, “Sure, companies like HP and Patagonia might be able to invest in creating this type of content, but there’s no way I’d get approval for this!” Before you start hunting down some extra cash in your marketing budget, remember that when it comes to telling compelling stories with long-form videos, coming up with a great show idea is more important production value.
“Remember that when it comes to telling compelling stories with long-form videos, coming up with a great show idea is more important than production value.”
For example, if your brand’s mission is to make healthcare more accessible, you could create a documentary about people navigating the complexities of existing systems to better highlight the plight of your customers. For this type of content, you may only need minimal video production equipment to get going with your story. What matters most is understanding your audience, what makes them tick, and what inspires or motivates them, and then creating content that speaks to them directly.
Start by asking “Why?” — identify your company’s core values if you haven’t already done so. What drives your team to go to work each day? Why should people care that you exist? Why would the world be a different place without you? Then, clearly define your audience and their values. What kinds of issues get them excited? What moves them? What kinds of things do they talk about? And where?
Once you’ve got a good sense for what matters most to you and your customers, you can seek areas of overlap and alignment. Identify the goals that you share and give them a reason to come to you to learn about it. When it comes to landing on the ideal topic, start by asking yourself some of the following questions:
- What are you uniquely positioned to speak about?
- How can you truly provide value to your audience in an entertaining way?
- Does the topic have enough depth that it can be covered in several episodes?
- Are we saying something that hasn’t already been said before?
Remember, audiences are more aware than ever of disingenuous or manipulative content, so it’s crucial to consider whether your entertainment will feel like an organic offshoot of your brand or whether it will feel like an opportunistic over-extension. Stay true to your brand and don’t try to pull one over on your viewers.
As brands continue to act more like media companies, consumers will continue to benefit from a wide range of engaging content that they’re more likely to share with their friends and families.
By focusing on ways to better live their mission and create memorable experiences, businesses can launch unique campaigns geared toward driving growing awareness and resonance with audience members, both new and old. Now, start putting pen to paper (or keys to computer) and draft the pilot episode of your first video series!
The Case for Creativity in Marketing, Backed by Neuroscience
These days, almost every business believes that optimization is its main competitive advantage. But the obsession over doing what everyone else is doing actually produces a stale result: all of our content looks the same.
More often than not, creativity is placed on the back burner because producing content that games an algorithm or follows a best practice can help marketing teams achieve their short-term goals, such as a certain number of views or leads per month.
However, almost every algorithm update and best practice are public knowledge. And brands that are laser-focused on optimizing their content for them blend in with their competition and barely innovate their work. In the long run, this plummets engagement and severs their emotional tie with their audience.
So how do you captivate your audience’s attention and keep them emotionally invested for the long haul? Science says you should provide creative, novel marketing experiences.
Contrary to popular belief, creativity isn’t just a self-indulgent pursuit of happiness. Evidence from neuroscience proves that it’s a brand’s most powerful differentiator — and optimization isn’t. Below, we’ll explore some insightful findings from neuroscience that prove creativity isn’t actually a risk for your brand — it’s your safest bet.
Noticing novelty kept our ancestors alive
With all the watered-down content flooding the internet today, you may think your new video series or podcast will struggle to find an audience. However, saturation is actually a good thing for creative marketers. The human brain is wired to pay attention to novelty, so crafting creative, novel content (even on saturated platforms) can draw an audience’s attention, especially if all of your competitors churn out the same type of content.
Paying instant attention to novelty is an evolutionary trait. In prehistoric times, the odds of becoming lunch for a saber-toothed tiger were sky-high, so anything new or different in our ancestors’ environment, like the rustle of a bush or a snap of a twig, would instantly grab their attention.
Nowadays, our tendency to lock onto novelty isn’t as crucial for survival. But it can help truly creative brands survive and even thrive because they can grab their audience’s attention more effectively than their competitors can.
“Our tendency to lock onto novelty isn’t as crucial for survival, but it can help truly creative brands survive and thrive.”
Novelty triggers the release of dopamine
Novelty isn’t only useful for grabbing your audience’s attention — it’s also highly effective at retaining their attention and dialing up their passion and loyalty for your brand.
According to researchers at Emory University and Baylor College of Medicine, experiencing unexpected pleasure triggers the release of more dopamine, a chemical that plays a huge role in motivation, reinforcement, and reward, than when you experience an expected pleasure. In other words, people enjoy pleasant surprises more than the things they already like.
Additionally, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh, when these pleasant surprises trigger the release of dopamine, the neurochemical helps us form long-lasting memories of the experience and its surroundings, so we can remember exactly how to experience those feel-good chemicals again.
This phenomenon dates back to when our prehistoric ancestors would search for sustenance and stumble upon a new, fresh stream of water or patch of berries. Finding as much food and water as possible was necessary for survival, so when our ancestors experienced the pleasant surprise of uncovering a new source of sustenance, their brains would reward their actions with a flood of dopamine, which seared the path they just traveled into their memories. This boosted the odds that they would seek out more sources of food and water and vividly remember exactly how to find them.
For many of us, we have clean water piped into our homes and berries available year-round just miles from our front doors. However, we still crave novel experiences and will always come crawling back for more. For brands, that means prioritizing creativity will help you build a truly engaged, passionate, and loyal audience and, in turn, contribute to your business’ growth. After all, your audience is likely to spend more time with your brand when they have positive experiences with it. And the more time they spend, the more likely they’ll become a customer and brand advocate.
Audiences are habituated to generic content
Optimizing your content by following a popular best practice or churning out the same type of work over and over again are proven audience repellents — our brains stop paying attention to a stimulus after repeated or prolonged exposure to it.
“Optimizing your content by following a popular best practice or churning out the same type of work over and over again are proven audience repellents.”
This evolutionary phenomenon is called habituation, and it scrubs constant stimulation from your awareness, such as the soft touch of your shirt on your skin, to focus your attention on new stimuli that could potentially extend your life, like fresh water, or end your life, like a saber-toothed tiger.
The majority of your target audience is habituated to the listicles and ultimate guides drowning our space. Producing more of them won’t attract any new audience members because they won’t even notice it in the first place. If you truly want to attract and retain their attention, you must provide enough novelty to trigger the release of dopamine — the chemical that rewards humans and incentivizes them to repeat an action.
Without doing so, you’ll fail to connect with new audiences, your bond with your current audience will crumble, and you won’t be able to convince either of them to stick around.
Creativity makes a lasting impression on your audience
According to Antonio Damasio, chair of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, when consumers are making a purchasing decision, they attach the emotions they felt from previous, related experiences to the products or services they’re evaluating. Soon after, these emotions produce preferences, which drive their decision.
In a nutshell, memories about emotional experiences not only help us reminisce about the past but they also inform our future decisions. As a result, we pursue the things that have rewarded us in the past and avoid the things that haven’t.
That’s why placing pleasant memories in your audience’s mind is so crucial. If you can insert a positive memory of reading a blog post in their brains, you’ll boost the odds that they’ll read another one.
“If you can insert a positive memory of reading a blog post in their brains, you’ll boost the odds that they’ll read another one.”
But how do you get your audience to remember these interactions with your brand? From what neuroscience has taught us, you must grab and retain their attention with creative, novel experiences. And if you can develop a reputation for crafting creative content, your audience will rely on your brand for the jolt of novelty that they crave in their lives, rocketing your brand to the top of their minds and getting them hooked on your content.
Conventional wisdom and industry gurus will tell you that optimization is the key to marketing success. Because if everyone else does it, it must work, right? Wrong.
If you truly want to slash through the clutter clouding your space and make an impact on your audience, trust the neuroscience — creativity is the only path forward.
Episode 2: “The Brandwagon Interviews” with Nancy Dussault Smith of Hydrow
From tactics to taglines, Wistia’s CEO, Chris Savage, chats marketing with the brains behind successful brands on our new video series, Brandwagon. Last week, we kicked things off with our first guest, Mark DiCristina, the Head of Brand at Mailchimp. As we mentioned before, we had so much great content on our fingertips that we decided to release the uncut interviews in a new podcast called, “The Brandwagon Interviews” — and we’re super excited to share the latest episode with you today!
On this episode, Chris sits down with Nancy Dussault Smith, CMO at Hydrow, to learn more about taking a stand on your brand, why it’s so important to budget for experimentation, and how to lean into your niche. Listen to the full episode to hear all about how she’s navigating a new industry in this ever-changing marketing landscape.
Or listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | StitcherWatch the actual Brandwagon episode here!
Nancy started her career at iRobot as Assistant to the Lawyer, but made her way to running Global Marketing in no time. For about 13 years, she ran marketing communications and global marketing at the company. One of her biggest wins with the team was deciding the name of their robot vacuum, Roomba, which was originally going to be Cybersuck (oof!).
Nowadays, Nancy serves as the CMO at Hydrow, where she’s marketing a connected fitness product and a live outdoor reality experience — think along the lines of Peloton, but an in-home rowing machine. Fun fact: Rowing works 86% of your muscles, and a 20-minute workout on a Hydrow is equivalent to 40 minutes cycling or 30 minutes running.
“If your goal is to just sell volume and be the cheapest thing, you do not have to worry about emotion. You’re selling solely on price. But, if you want to build a brand that people care about, you have to have that emotional component.” On this episode of The Brandwagon Interviews, Nancy highlights the importance of brand-building, knowing your audience, and how to make space to experiment with different types of brand marketing tactics at your business.
Here are some of the lessons learned throughout the episode:
- Always allocate part of your marketing budget for experimentation
- Be sure to have a deep understanding of your niche and your market
- Redefine your brand if you end up “jumping the shark”
- Show don’t tell — we’re in a world that’s highly visual, people need to see your product
- Don’t be afraid to take a stand with your brand
Short on time? Check out some of our favorite moments during this interview between Chris and Nancy.
Chris: What advice would you give to somebody who’s just starting out marketing their business? And, in today’s world — what kind of things should they expect as they’re marketing that will stay the same, and things that will change?
Nancy: The thing that’s going to stay the same is the study of human behavior: people and their ultimate needs and wants. Because people’s needs and wants are consistent. Attention, affection, food, sex — those are the things that drive people to want and need your product. The emotional and rational balance, and where your product fits in that is the same. Understanding your benefit, understanding your core, who’s gonna buy it, why, that’s the basics of marketing. But HOW you communicate all that is completely different.
Chris: When you have a product that people have never seen before, how do you actually convince them that it’s worth checking out? How do you position a product that has never existed? You obviously did that with Roomba, and you’re doing it again. How do you think about that?
Nancy: It’s really fun because traditional research doesn’t work … You have to tell people what they want and why, and get to the essence of why they should love your product …
Chris: How do you get comfortable taking big risks with a brand like Roomba?
Nancy: You have to take risks. Without great risks come no rewards. A lot of times in the early days, it’s gut. We talk a lot about failing fast and that’s no secret. Everybody knows. But if you fail fast, you learn something. You should learn something from everything that you do — what works and what doesn’t. For brand, you have to build core family values over time that are consistent throughout and feel authentic to you. The second you veer off, the public will know and that’s when you jump a shark. That’s when you start to become less authentic to who you are and people won’t understand you anymore.
Chris: When you’re taking risks, how do you convince the people around you to feel comfortable with those risks?
Nancy: It’s a great question because it’s a battle every day — anywhere you go. Understanding how different minds work and understanding consumers work, I think you have to use that in your day to day in your office as well. So I look at everybody across the C-Suite sitting at the executive table with me as my consumer and ask myself, “How am I going to convince them that what we’re doing is the right thing?” I used to always say at places where I had bigger budgets, that a certain percentage of the budget was mine to do as I choose … and nobody could question it. I’ll take this 5 or 10% of the budget, and this is what I play with. This is where I test things that in my gut feel right, but I can’t prove this to you until I try it … and that’s where a lot of wins come in.
Chris: How do you think about marketing in a world where so many conversations are happening behind closed doors?
Nancy: It feels like the world has come full circle because those conversations used to happen face to face, and marketers had no idea they were happening and had no control over them. Then on social, you had trolls and people yelling things. People felt free to do it. Now, there’s a little more clamping down, and people are going back to having those conversations as if they’re face to face, but electronically. The best and only thing you can do is maintain your brand voice in a consistent way that you feel proud of. There are always going to be nay-sayers. There are always going to be people who are saying bad things. There are always going to be people who are against your brand, but for the most part, I don’t care if they’re a customer I don’t want. I don’t want every customer. Someone saying they hate a product actually identifies for other people this is not for them, or this is for them because Bob hates it.
5 Businesses Using Wistia Channels to Showcase Their Videos
Since we launched Wistia Channels back in February, we’ve been blown away by the reaction from our customers and the ways in which they’ve been using this feature to showcase their business’ videos. From binge-worthy episodic series and product announcements to customer testimonials and onboarding videos, the opportunities for Channels are endless.
Here at Wistia, we’ve been using Channels to showcase all sorts of videos on our website, including our new original series, Brandwagon and our first-ever docuseries, One, Ten, One Hundred. But it’s been especially thrilling (and inspiring!) to see the ways our customers are using Channels to showcase their brand, build their audience, and create a can’t-stop-watching experience right on their site. Today, we’re highlighting a few customer Channels that we think are pretty sweet — check them out and get inspired!
ForgeRock, an identity and access management company based in San Francisco, California, serves many different industries, including retail. They use a Wistia Channel on their website to showcase a series of videos called “Day in the Life of a Customer.” As they describe in the introduction of their first video, “ … in this series, we take a look into the not-too-distant future at how retail companies will be interacting with their customers, with the help of digital identity.”
This series of videos follows a day in the life of two consumers engaging in various digital retail experiences (ie. shopping for a gift online, upgrading a flight, etc.), and demonstrates how a unified digital identity platform can streamline the buying process.
We love how ForgeRock uses video as a storytelling medium and personalizes it so that viewers can see how it applies to real-life situations. Each episode of the series is short — less than a minute long — so you can watch the whole series in under 5 minutes. Plus, their Channel is embedded within their sleek, modern website, making the whole experience look super cohesive with their brand.
Who doesn’t love learning from subject matter experts? 6Sense, an Account Based Orchestration Platform located in San Francisco, Calfornia, utilized this engaging storytelling format in their video series called, “Talking Sense.” In this series, which they describe as “a collection of candid conversations with B2B industry trendsetters,” 6Sense’s Chief Marketing Officer shares in-depth interviews on topics like ABM, modern sales, marketing, and more.
While “Talking Sense” is intrinsically related to 6Sense’s mission, they’ve decided to give the show it’s own brand by creating a separate domain for it and embedding their Wistia Channel there. We love their creative use of thumbnails and the overall color scheme they chose — just look at that beautiful aqua-blue play button!
FormLabs, a 3D printing technology manufacturer and developer based in Somerville, Massachusetts, uses a Channel to feature the onboarding videos for their Form 3 3D printer product. These step-by-step videos are clear, engaging, visually appealing, and easily help take their customers through every step of the process, from unboxing to printing.
We love how they’ve used a Wistia Channel to display these videos in sequential order, so a viewer can effortlessly follow along as they’re unpacking their own product. They’ve also added captions to each video, which not only improves accessibility, but also makes it easy for viewers to watch from around the world — a must-have for a global company.
Segway, a leading provider of personal electronic transportation based in Bedford, New Hampshire, uses a Channel on their website to showcase a number of their videos, including product explainers, company partnerships, and videos on the future of the market and technology.
We love how they’ve titled their Channel to instantly demonstrate the value of their product: “Powered by Segway — Transforming the Last Mile Commute” and the way in which they’ve used Sections within their Channel to separate the different rows by subject.
Alternative Apparel, a fashion lifestyle brand with a commitment to sustainability based in Atlanta, Georgia, uses a Channel to dynamically tell the story of their brand and their products. The first video “We Are Alternative” wonderfully captures the essence of the company, and each subsequent video in the Channel delves deeper into what makes the company special, with videos like “Alternative Cares: An Eco Story” and “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Softness.”
With a strong brand vision and a Channel embedded within their website that beautifully matches the look and feel of their brand, Alternative Apparel has created a Channel that’s engaging, informative, and very watchable.
We created Wistia Channels to make displaying a collection of videos on your website super easy — no developers required — while remaining completely on-brand. And we’re so delighted to see how our customers from a number of different industries are all using this feature to show off their awesome video content. Are you using Wistia Channels to showcase your content? We’d love to see them, so be sure to leave a comment and share with us below!
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