Imagine opening up a piece of folded paper. You begin to unfold it, and you see it’s a drawing. First fold, a man with a sausage for a nose. The second fold a body, a hairy tattooed man with a crop top. The final reveal, below the waist, dainty feathered duck legs and an octopus hand.
We’ve all played this picture game at some point in our childhood, and the results are usually the same. It was fun to put together, but you’re not going to win any Turner prizes just yet.
The problem is, this kind of approach happens in video marketing more often than you may think. When presented with a marketing problem to solve, multiple stakeholders try to solve it through the lens of their own needs. The brand manager’s idea for a series of short Instagram adverts becomes a three minute corporate video for the next AGM after input from the CEO, which gets turned into a five minute piece-to-camera with supporting press packs after input from PR. The purpose of the video has all been lost. It’s a duck legged man with a sausage for a nose.
It happens within brands big and small. Whenever this happens, it can be traced back to one problem. Ego vs Empathy. The truth is, we all want to look good. To please our bosses and impress our peers. To create brand content that reflects all our experience and expertise. When this happens, content is made for your bosses, for your colleagues, for your competitors. Videos are created that everyone is sure that the Managing Director is going to LOVE, but result in poor performance with the actual viewers.
You’ve probably experienced this yourself, and the likelihood is the end product didn’t really resonate in the way you had hoped. So what can we do to combat this?
For me, the answer lines in these four things: visualise, empathise, defend & delight.
Promise me this: next time you get the email from a colleague or manager with some feedback on your content, just pause. Close your eyes. Try to picture your viewer. Not your audience demographic, but your living, breathing viewer. Think of where they are, how they’re watching your content. What devices they may be watching through. Think deeply about the way you want them to feel when viewing the video. Ideally this process happens right at the start, but it’s never too late to remind yourself of the person on the other side. When you visualise the human, not just the demographic, you get to build a picture that goes just beyond facts and figures. You ask “How do I want to make them feel?” and then work back from there.
Picture the scene, the CEO wants to add two new paragraphs to the script even though you promised to keep the content under sixty seconds. The PR team wants reword your beautifully spoken word voice-over to be a press release in disguise. Legal want to zap all the fun out of everything. But with your viewer clear in your mind you can ask, “Is this what want to hear, or what we want to say?”…”Is this helping our message, or serving our ego?”. Maybe through empathy you’ve realised your audience is most likely listening without sound, or that they’ve already heard most of the content through a previous point.
Defend & Delight
It’s time the viewer got someone on their side. It’s time to stop letting ego get in the way of a video’s true potential. Most people don’t stop to defend the viewer because they don’t want to cause a fuss. They don’t want to be the one person to get in the way of progress. But by not causing trouble, by not disrupting the “just a few tweaks” loop, we fail our viewer. We let our ego, and everyone else’s ego flow through into our marketing without question. When you step in to defend, you get the chance to be the only person that’s actually on their side. You get to say no to you boss. You get to confidently say why your viewer doesn’t need this.
I am proud to say no to our clients just as much as we say yes. Our clients trust us to help navigate them towards meaningful moments with their audience using visualisation and empathy. By saying no to clients when we feel the viewer needs defending on their behalf, we feel we add the true value that our clients deserve. If this doesn’t sound like the service you get from your agency, perhaps it’s time to give us a call? Always happy to discuss any problems you’re trying to solve through video, with a few good ideas thrown in. Click here to book a time.
Delightfully weird illustration by Max (Top), Troy (Middle) and Mike (Bottom) from the Fat Free Media animation team