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Why All B2B Brands Will Be Media Companies in the Next 5 Years

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Up until recent history, mainstream media was responsible for dictating the content our country consumed en masse. From books and television to movies and magazines — trends came and went in what felt like huge waves. While this is still partially true, our culture has shifted dramatically over the past decade. Today, our culture is dictated by the Internet.

Mainstream media is no longer solely responsible for what content is at our fingertips. We have an unlimited array of content and interests that were once niche being magnified by social media (just spend a couple minutes on YouTube or Reddit and you’ll get the gist pretty quickly).

Our societal culture has fused with Internet culture, and that means what was once niche, is now … well, mainstream. More than ever, our individual interests make us feel more connected and influence where we spend our time online.

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But, what does this have to do with B2B brands? Well, if B2B companies want to build relationships with their audiences and stand out in a world with unlimited competition, then they need to embrace the change in our culture and start thinking like media companies. I’m excited to place a bet on this shift and the media model as a whole — here’s why.

Marketing a product is something with which we’re all very familiar — we spend countless hours moving our customers through the funnel, chasing dollars. Our products deliver value and we charge for a small percentage of the value that we deliver. This concept is hardly new or groundbreaking.

But, what worked before just doesn’t work anymore. And in a world with unlimited competition for attention, you must find a way to deliver value to your customer before they ever make it to your product pitch. You need to find a way to stand out. You need to meet your audience where they’re already spending their time.

“In a world with unlimited competition for attention, you must find a way to deliver value to your customer before they ever make it to your product pitch.”

One way to do this is to make content that’s so valuable that you can market it in the same way that you would market a product. To do this, you have to have the confidence that your content is genuinely useful, funny, inspiring, or educational. And if you can get to that point in your creation, then you can work to stand out in a place where your audience is already hanging out.

Is this what it means to act like a media company? Well, yes. Media companies are in the business of aggregating — in some cases, creating — and distributing content to the public that helps them build audiences. This may sound overwhelming, but it’s totally doable for B2B companies to adopt this model and be super successful with it. In fact, many of us are already putting a ton of effort into our content and other forms of media distribution.

We need to shift away from thinking about content as a way to meet search demand, to thinking about content as a way to grow demand. And you can only grow demand with content if it’s unique, focused on the right specific audience, and delivers real value — just like a product.

One of the advantages B2B businesses have when it comes to content production is that we usually have specific target markets and audiences that have faced specific challenges and opportunities. And while some people see this as a hindrance, this actually makes it easier for us to create content perfectly suited to our niche audiences.

Once you start looking for examples of businesses leaning into this advantage, you start seeing them everywhere. Profit Well is building up a slate of shows for data-driven data folks, Invision is making inspirational documentaries highlighting the importance of product design, and MailChimp is launching original series to give small businesses inspiration that being truly themselves is a way to rise above the fray.

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You know your audience better than anyone, and that means you can make content that is more engaging for your niche than anyone else out there — but only if you can get specific enough. The goal is to make content that is so useful and engaging for your niche that they will choose to watch, listen, or read your content when they would otherwise be watching a movie, listening to music, or reading a book.

During the pre-Internet days, capturing the attention of this niche just simply wasn’t possible; you had to have a massive amount of money and time, and a way to get your content distributed through media outlets. Now, the only thing holding businesses back is the commitment to finding what works for your audience, and creating content to fulfill that interest. You don’t need to be a blockbuster — people will choose you because your content is so targeted.

It’s no secret that online advertising is becoming more expensive and more competitive. Because of this, we’re already seeing digital-first companies going back to having a brick and mortar presence because it’s cheaper to acquire customers that way. The rent is too damn high!

In other words, it’s getting too difficult to capture people’s attention in the digital advertising space. More often than not, we end up relying on the recommendations of others when making decisions for how we want to spend our time. Have you seen the Fyre Festival documentary yet? Are you listening to Segment’s new podcast?

“More often than not, we end up relying on the recommendations of others when making decisions for how we want to spend our time.”

We make decisions on how to spend our time based on what our friends and colleagues suggest in group messages, Slack channels, emails, and over lunch. We don’t want to waste our time, so we rely on the filter of our networks to help us figure out how we spend it.

Providing great content for your audience can show them that you truly understand the problems and opportunities they face. And if you can do that through your content, then you can build up the trust the same way you do with your products. When you think of your strategy in this way, the relationship your audience has with your brand is different — you’re sharing ideas and feelings instead of products.

People will only share your content with others if it’s generally useful and they believe it will help their peers and friends in some way. And when done well, people will spend an enormous amount of time with your brand.

producing content

When a new movie is released, it’s first brought to theaters where the people who are most excited to see it will pony up $12 (plus another $20 for popcorn and a soda). Next, depending on how things go during the theatrical release, the movie will make its way to airplanes and Pay-Per-View. Then, it will hit iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and eventually, it makes its way to Netflix or maybe even cable some day.

When you’re thinking about where to distribute your content, you should start with the audience that will pay the most and have the highest amount of interest — and then work in concentric circles out to the people who didn’t bother to watch it earlier. If you have a big hit, people will run to the theaters to see it. If not, that’s okay too.

For the web, you should distribute your content with the audience that you believe will have the strongest affinity for it (likely the people already going to your website) and then release it to audiences who have less and less of a connection over time.

Then, you can create and use promotional clips on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., to reach a different audience. Eventually, if they want to watch your content in full, they’ll need to go back to wherever it is that you originally hosted the content (likely your website). We gave this strategy a shot for One, Ten, One Hundred and we saw some great results.

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If you want to start acting like a media company now, then you need to create the structure to measure your results like a media company. You have to find a niche and make content that is so targeted that people will be compelled to tell you if it’s good or not. To get a better gauge on success, you’re going to need to replace the media company focus groups with qualitative feedback.

“You have to find a niche and make content that is so targeted that people will be compelled to tell you if it’s good or not.”

As you’re creating your content and determining its success, I’d urge you to measure brand hours. You can have a small audience, but if they spend a lot of time with your brand and consume a lot of your content, the impact will be huge. There will be an outsized amount of recommendations, sharing, and feedback. The key is making sure you can see the small amounts of qualitative feedback to help sustain your efforts until you’re getting enough quantitative feedback.

This shift in marketing represents an enormous opportunity — allowing us to go beyond standard marketing tactics to make a different impact on our audiences. By acting like a media company, you’re no longer limiting yourself by the number of people coming into your funnel. And if you have good quality content, it can be more fruitful than all of the optimization marketing you’ve been doing thus far.

There’s no better time to start acting like a media company. What do you have to lose?



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Video Marketing

4 Ways to Make Your Wistia Channel Shine

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If you’ve decided that Wistia Channels is the best place to showcase your videos on your site, then you’ll be pleased to know you’re already on the right track for building an engaging brand. When it comes to setting up your Channel for success, all it takes is a little attention to detail on your part to truly make your content shine in the eyes of your viewers.

In this post, we’ll cover exactly how you can make a beautiful, brag-worthy Wistia Channel for your business. From name-picking and color-matching to thumbnail creation and embedding, there are plenty of small tweaks you can make to your Channel to improve the overall presentation of your content. Keep reading to learn how you can leave your audience impressed and coming back for more!

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Whether you’re in the pre-production stages of your business’s first branded series or you’re grouping together related content under one roof, choosing a name for your Channel is a major decision. The name you pick may ultimately influence the number of clicks, views, and video engagement you receive. When it comes to landing on the perfect name for your Channel, there are three key factors you should consider: branding, discoverability, and shareability.

“The name you pick may ultimately influence the number of clicks, views, and video engagement you receive.”

Here’s how we break these three factors down:

  • Branding — the “identity” factor: The name you pick will be very public, so it needs to accurately reflect your videos and your brand.
  • Discoverability — the “index” factor: The Channel name comes up in search, so you want people searching for a relevant topic to find your video content fast — and first.
  • Shareability — the “click” factor: Your audience watches a lot of stuff online. A catchy name for your Channel will make it easy for people to remember. That means when it comes time to share your videos, they’ll be able to pull up your Channel and link to it instantly.
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Don’t Fret Guitar Repair? Talk about click-worthy!

Considering these factors as you set up your Wistia Channel will help you grow your audience and brand over time. Head on over to this post to dig a little deeper into these terms and learn more tips for simplifying the process of picking a Channel name that positions your brand for success!

As we mentioned before, branding is a super important factor for naming, but it also plays a big role in how your business and your content are visually perceived. You want to leave a positive first impression, right? Luckily, with Wistia Channels you have the ability to choose a font and color scheme that aligns with your company’s existing brand, set thumbnails to match, and even upload an eye-catching header.

To customize the look of your Channel to align with your brand:

  • Select “Edit” and “Banner” to add a video header (which will loop silently at the top of your Channel) or upload a static banner image
  • Click “Text” to add a project title and description, and change the font to match your site. While you’re there, switch up the size to whatever you fancy as well!
  • Click “Color” and use the picker to change the overall color scheme.

You can also choose between Light or Dark Mode for your Wistia Channel depending on the look and feel of your brand (and the content you have displayed). When you’re viewing a project, simply go to Edit > Color > Background to modify this setting. It’s as easy as flipping a switch!

For your banner, instead of a static image, you have the option to throw in a looping video background as we mentioned before. Want to see this feature in action? Check out how Nextiny, an inbound marketing and sales agency, uses a snazzy looping video to showcase their content and intrigue visitors on their site.

If you’re looking for a little more inspiration, you can find a few more examples of Channels we love in this post. These aesthetic changes may seem small, but they’ll ultimately lend to a more sleek-looking collection of videos for your site.

With Wistia Channels, you have the power to choose whether to embed your Channel as an Inline embed (meaning your audience will see your entire Channel “inline” with the rest of your content) or as a Popover (meaning your audience will click on a single image or video to launch your Channel full-screen). Plus, any updates you make to your Project will automatically be reflected on your Channel — no need to replace the embed!

While it’s super simple to add all your videos to your site with just one embed, deciding where to place your Channel will impact who discovers and engages with your content. We recommend making the call based on the type of content you’re presenting to your audience.

“While it’s super simple to add all your videos to your site with just one embed, deciding where to place your Channel will impact who discovers and engages with your content.”

For example, if your Channel consists of informational or educational videos, putting it on your homepage might not make sense to someone visiting for the first time. On the other hand, if you have a blog, a Channel like this may fit well amongst your other educational content. Those who frequent your blog looking to learn from your expertise will easily discover your shiny, new collection of videos and be over the moon!

You can also easily share your professional-looking Channel across your business’ social media platforms with a public URL. Get more personal and direct with your communication efforts by popping the link to your Wistia Channel right in an email or newsletter to get more eyes on your content.

When you’re ready to share your Channel:

  • Select “Share” from the menu options
  • Select whether to share your Channel via “Embed” or “Public URL”
  • If embedding: Select your “Embed Type,” whether “Inline” or “Popover”
    • Choose a “Responsive” or “Fixed size”
  • If sharing the public URL: Just hit “Copy” and paste the link where ever your heart desires!

Once you’ve got some action on your Wistia Channel, don’t miss out on the opportunity to capture the contact information of the folks interested in consuming your videos. While you’re customizing your Channel, you also have the option to add an Email Collector — not just any old Email Collector, but one that comes in a few flavors. Aside from requiring viewers to enter their email in order to view your content, we have two Email Collector options you can start experimenting with today. The first option is called “Overlay on hover.” Here’s an example from Zaius to showcase what this looks like in reality:

In this scenario, an email collection form will overlay when someone hovers over your video with their mouse. Your video will keep playing while displaying several fields, including a place for folks to enter their names as well as text fields you can customize, depending on the Call to Action that makes the most sense in the given context — something like, “Enter your email address to view this video.” The second option is “Conditional,” which means each video will maintain the email collecting pre-sets you’ve already set up in your Wistia account when the content is embedded on your Channel.

Using Email Collectors is a sure-fire way to get the most out of your Wistia Channel. You can bet the people who enter their information are interested in the value you offer and will be more likely to check out future content you create. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to communicate with them more often and let them know when you’ve got a new video for them to watch!

A Wistia Channel is only as great as the sum of its parts — names, colors, fonts, banners, email collectors and more all add up to create a beautiful video collection you’re proud to share. Start engaging your audience with the videos you’ve worked so hard to create and build stronger brand affinity in the long-run. We’d love to see your next Channel out in the wild, so be sure to throw a link to it in the comments below!

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Video Marketing

7 Examples That Show the Best of Long-Form Video

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Whether it’s the hottest new web series or an in-depth TED Talk, people love to watch long-form video — and businesses are catching on to the trend.

Unlike shorter, product-centeric videos, long-form content offers companies the opportunity to show their commitment to their mission and connect with viewers on a deeper, more emotional level. Longer content also enables intensive educational experiences for the viewer, whether the video covers exciting industry trends or specific approaches to tackling problems.

What does “long-form” video really mean? To put it simply, long-form videos are a type of video content that are usually longer than 5 minutes in duration.

We put together a list of long-form video series and one-off productions to showcase how companies live and breathe their values through video. Small to medium-sized businesses can use this list of branded content to get inspired when it comes to creating content for their own brands. Let’s get into it!

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InVision is swinging for the fences with long-form video. On their blog, Inside Design, InVision shares videos about design trends and tips, many explaining how to use Sketch and get the most out of it. InVision’s site is filled with robust product tutorials, but these pieces focusing on larger, fundamental design principles — between two and seven minutes long — will help anyone strengthen their overall design foundation. The company has even created a full-length documentary about design thinking at IBM called “The Loop.”

InVision’s stated mission is to help users create digital content that people love, so it’s fitting that the company offers viewers new strategies and approaches for designing that go beyond merely using their own tools. The longer format allows viewers to learn the details involved in the execution of new techniques.

InVision examples:

  • Design Systems Manager Master Class: In this two-hour, 6-episode series, InVision explores how to create a design system for an entire organization, from start to finish. It taps three design experts to walk through the challenges of product design at scale.
  • Design Disrupters: In this series, InVision showcases top designers at the world’s smartest companies and dives into how design has become the new language of business in the 21st century.

With the shift to long-form video, InVision shows they are true leaders in the field of design — not just a tool for designers.

On their Price Intelligently blog, ProfitWell conducts video “teardown” case studies, in which they focus on one to three company pricing pages and talk about what works and what needs improvement. Videos usually feature a lighthearted (though occasionally heated!) conversation between executives Patrick Campbell and Peter Zotto and typically are just under 10 minutes long.

ProfitWell’s long-form videos are conversational, appealing to viewers who gravitate toward podcasts or other content that affords hosts the chance to riff on their knowledge and the topic at hand. Rather than focusing on their own software, ProfitWell’s teardowns appeal to aspiring entrepreneurs and startup leaders looking to discover best practices from successful companies and competitors.

“ProfitWell’s long-form videos are conversational, appealing to viewers who gravitate toward podcasts or other content that affords hosts the chance to riff on their knowledge and the topic at hand.”

ProfitWell examples:

The longer format of these videos enables hosts to slowly walk viewers through the pricing pages in question, ensuring that the pace of the content can fit a wide number of learning styles. There’s a healthy mix of commentary and visual aids made with original data, which shows that the company is committed to making the most of the long-form branded video format.

Mailchimp’s core focus is email marketing, but their target audience is far more broad than just those interested in sending tons of emails. Experienced business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs alike may find inspiration in the “Mailchimp Presents” video series.

Using high-quality production techniques and clever editing, the videos attach Mailchimp to buzzworthy brands and their founders who, incidentally, use email to communicate with customers. The style of the videos is closer to an independent documentary than to a typical SaaS product video, giving viewers a chance to sit back and enjoy a theatrical glimpse into creative spaces and minds.

Mailchimp examples:

  • Hamburger Eyes: In this documentary, we get a behind-the-scenes look at a one-man photography project that evolved into a thriving community of artists based in San Francisco. Mailchimp knows its audience and stays true to its brand by focusing on a creative-centric topic that anyone with a pulse and an appreciation for photography could get behind.
  • Taking Stock: A fictional video series about a young female photographer navigating the complexities of agency life, Taking Stock delves into the realities of working in the world of tech and design, giving viewers a chance to see inside the life of a creative. We learn much about the subject’s life here — what drives her, what a typical day looks like — helping the viewer associate Mailchimp with the driven professionals who make the world of entrepreneurship thrive.

Mailchimp has been a visionary brand when it comes to creative storytelling. Ever since they sponsored the first season of Serial, the company has attached itself to big ideas, and, through their own example, they’ve proved that every business can affect a wide audience if they tell a powerful story.

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Still from “Taking Stock” courtesy of Mailchimp.

Intercom features videos regularly on its blog, with experts speaking on topics like support, growth, product, and design. Many of the videos are talks that the team and others have done at different conferences, which is a great way for people to see talks that they weren’t geographically capable of attending.

Intercom’s videos educate viewers on new ways to approach Intercom’s core competency — customer support and communication — in a format that encourages in-depth exploration and tutorials. Instead of merely chopping up key takeaways from the talks, long-form video enables the brand to include the overall conference context, linking together key concepts and materials.

Intercom example:

  • 5 lessons learned from growing a support team: In this conference video, Intercom’s customer support lead, Sharon Moorhouse, shares five lessons that the company has learned as it has scaled its support operations. It’s meant to engage growing companies, regardless of the industry, and appeal to audiences that may lie outside of the scope of Intercom’s typical customer profile. Sharon’s talk is engaging and packed with visual examples, making the most of the video format and capturing the energy and excitement that she brought to the conference.

Conferences are affirming experiences, where people in the same field can form new connections, get new ideas, and become excited about trends and developments. Intercom’s focus on opening up their otherwise siloed conference material gives audiences a chance to connect with the brand even if they’re far away from the talks or sessions. It shows the company living out its mission of “keeping business personal” by opening up access to the conference experience.

Patagonia makes documentary-style videos about real people doing the things they love and excel at in the outdoors. The videos are extremely high-quality, featuring breathtaking visuals and rare glimpses of some of nature’s best vistas.

Instead of merely focusing on their well-loved products, Patagonia’s longer-form content serves as an inspiring reminder of the brand’s central ethos — saving our planet. It’s hard not to fall deeper in love with the earth after watching these pieces, and viewers certainly can see that the brand is about far more than just making outerwear and camping gear.

“Instead of merely focusing on their well-loved products, Patagonia’s longer-form content serves as an inspiring reminder of the brand’s central ethos — saving our planet.”

Patagonia examples:

  • Wolfpack: This video follows the training efforts of a group of trail runners living in isolation. Drone shots and ultra-slow-motion close-ups abound, giving the pieces a cinematic quality that is certain to move viewers on an emotional level. The family’s extreme choice to live in the wild is likely outside the desires of most of Patagonia’s customers, but their way of life can inspire viewers to think about how to better connect with planet Earth.
  • Takayna: Takayana (Tarkine) is one of the last remaining old-growth rainforests in the world, yet it’s increasingly threatened by mining and other destructive activities. This video highlights the beauty and fragility of the landscape by intercutting meditative shots of flora and fauna with images of devastating excavation and logging. Patagonia is clearly living its mission here — seeking to save the planet by raising awareness about protecting one of our most precious earthly resources.

Patagonia’s mission is one of the most ambitious of any brand out there, and that’s what makes them so successful. By taking a stance on major issues and creating beautiful visual content, they’re proving to an audience why it’s cool to care about more than just clothes and gear. To change the world, Patagonia is leading by example.

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Still from “Wolfpack” courtesy of Patagonia.

Many beauty brands rely on mere testimonials to push their products. But Glossier opts to show how their products weave neatly into the lives of their customers. They have a series called “Get Ready with Me” (based on the popular)YouTube trend that follows the morning routine of influencers and creatives. The hashtag for the campaign — #GRWM — encourages customers to create their own content and further engage with the brand.

The pieces also have a casual instructional approach, giving them an educational component that goes beyond a shorter “how-to” piece. They’re showing you how to create a look rather than telling you how to do it.

Glossier example:

  • Get Ready With Me: feat. Annahstasia + Glossier: Here, an influencer’s morning routine is shown in real time. In several meditative shots, the camera lingers over Annahstasia going about her morning. It’s easy to imagine someone watching this piece they start their own day to find inspiration and calm from the emotional music and beautiful cinematography.

Glossier, known for its colorful Instagram account and vibrant pop-up stores, creates a calm atmosphere throughout their videos. They create intimacy with the way their videos are shot, and that intimacy will contribute to a long-lasting and better customer relationship than a typical advertisement or commercial.

Over the years, Airbnb has evolved beyond being just a website for booking rooms and homes, becoming a platform for finding community through unique experiences. Recently, Airbnb launched an Adventure series featuring hosts and people from all over the world. By focusing on the curated experiences offered through Airbnb’s “Adventures” programs, the brand helps establish itself as far more than a travel app.

Airbnb example:

  • Six Strangers: In this 12-minute video, six strangers take an unexpected trip together. Like the other pieces in this series, the length of this video enables a more TV-like viewing experience that mirrors popular reality shows like Naked and Afraid and Survivor.

Through their long-form videos, Airbnb is expressing one of their most significant brand values: “Belong anywhere.” The Adventure series is all about breaking down barriers to find out what people have in common with each other. When people think of Airbnb in this way, the company starts to symbolize connections between people, not just cool destinations.

“When people think of Airbnb in this way, the company starts to symbolize connections between people, not just cool destinations.”

More and more brands are reaping the benefits of thinking (and acting!) like media companies. With the wealth of high-quality content vying for their attention, viewers are demanding highly engaging work from companies they encounter. Investing in rich long-form content enables brands to tap into the growing binge-watching habits of their followers while expressing the values that matter most to them and finding deeper ways to connect with customers.

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Video Marketing

Introducing “Brandwagon”—It’s like a Talk Show, but for Marketers

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These days, it’s harder than ever to be successful with your marketing campaigns. From keeping up with ever-changing SEO tactics to shouldering the burden of growing advertising spend to shouting into the void that is social media, it can feel like even your most successful initiative is, well, kind of a flop.

That’s why I’m super excited to introduce you to Brandwagon, Wistia’s newest series from the team that brought you One, Ten, One Hundred. As the host of this talk show for marketers, I’m going to be chatting with business leaders who are doing things differently when it comes to marketing their businesses and building their brands. Find out how they’re seeing such success and learn what tactics they’re using to stand out in a sea of “meh” marketing.

Hop on the Brandwagon and come along for the ride each week as we uncover what’s working in the world of modern marketing. The first episode hits the road this summer, so be sure to enter your email below to stay in the loop and get notified when new episodes come out.

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