What if we stopped trying quite so hard with our video content marketing? What if we just told our true stories honestly and simply, and with empathy for the very real problems our customers have?
A video from a tiny Arizona startup busts some common myths about using video as part of a content marketing program.
There are three other things to love about it, too:
1. The video is script-less—but still it speaks volumes.
2. It sits squarely in the sweet spot of how I define great content, or content that is useful x inspired x empathetic.
3. It’s a great example of how a scrappy attitude and simple execution can be powerful.
It’s made me wonder: What if we didn’t try so hard to be amazing and awesome? What if we just spoke from our hearts, with empathy for the real problems we solve?
Details on all that in a minute.
First, take a look at the (very short) video, produced by Mesa, Arizona-based Crowd Mics, an app that turns a smart phone into a wireless microphone allowing you to be heard over a room’s sound system:
Are you underwhelmed?
I was at first. Then I thought about it, and I realized that the video is so simple, it’s kind of genius… because it busts a few video content myths:
Myth 1: Video is hard, expensive, complicated, and time-consuming.
Truth: Nope, nope, nope, and I’m-sorry-but-you-couldn’t-be-more-wrong.
Co-founder Tim Holladay (who owns Crowd Mics with his brother, Sean) said he spent an hour putting the video together. He got the idea for the bones of it when the brothers were helping out at their local Startup Grind event, where organizers had used Crowd Mics to amplify audience questions in the Q&A.
A few days later, when the Startup Grind video posted, “We realized that you could hear the questions so well. We knew Crowd Mics would help with the live room, but it was amazing when recorded,” he said.
No script, Tim said, just a little planning:
“[W]e just pulled a few videos from other similar [non-Crowd Mic] events and showed the contrast. Just a quick-and-dirty edit, but you get the idea. And I promise, no audio editing.”
“I edited it in Final Cut Pro on my little Macbook Pro,” Tim told me. “I have a couple years [of] doing random videos here and there. Nothing professional, just self-taught. Probably took an hour or so.”
Myth 2: Brand videos should be slickly produced.
Truth: Scrappy trumps slick.
I talk about this a lot: The best marketing tells a true story well. In this case, “true” means “relatable.”
Although I’m certainly a big fan of beautiful and artful video (I’m thinking here of Chipotle’s The Scarecrow or Airbnb’s Hollywood and Vine), sometimes a simple execution of a good story can run circles around a slicker production.
So to all the content marketers I talk to who think video content is hard….
What if we stopped trying quite so hard? What if we just told our true stories honestly and simply, and with empathy for the real problems our customers have?
“Authentic” is one of those words I’m allergic to in a marketing context: Too many times “authentic” is applied a little too vaguely, isn’t it? (What’s “authentic”? What does that mean, anyway?)
But in this case the video feels real—authentic—because it is: the vignettes from various meet-ups feature real people at real events with real sound issues.
In other words: Let the story dictate the production values, not the other way around.
This Is What ‘Show, Don’t Tell’ Means
Haven’t we all been in that audience, straining our eardrums to hear the question that someone across the room just asked?
Haven’t we all taken pity on the poor room runner, frantically trying to scale chairs in a meeting room to hand the question-asker a microphone?
This video shows that pain—with real empathy for the grief of being in that audience, the speaker on stage struggling to understand the question, and the event organizer struggling to deliver the best experience for event attendees.
Don’t Make Me Work
My one quibble is that the video (and the companion email sent to the Crowd Mics list) failed to include a call to action or sharing icons. So, if you want to share the video on social networks, you have work relatively hard to find the original video and then share it socially (which is how I saw it, when my friend DJ Waldow shared it on Facebook).
Better, of course, is to make sharing stupid-easy for your audience by embedding social-sharing icons.
Also better is to be sure that you don’t leave your audience hanging. Draw a path for them to follow: in this case, to download the app, or sign up to get more updates, or show them what else Crowd Mics can do (and it can do more).
But those are easy fixes. The truth is that it’s a great first effort for co-founders Tim and Sean—newly minted content marketers whose company didn’t exist a year ago. (It launched in February of this year.)
Prior to Crowd Mics, Tim worked at a tech company and in commercial real estate; Sean graduated from nursing school just a few weeks ago.
But since February, the two have thrown their whole hearts (and savings!) into Crowd Mics. It’s especially telling how—when I reached out to talk to someone at Crowd Mics via the live-person chat window on its site—Tim himself answered the ping. Oh hai, Tim.
“Our early clients are reporting a four-time increase in crowd interaction with Crowd Mics,” Tim told me. “We’ve been working to get Crowd Mics into every event possible and help the audience be heard.” (Side note: I’d love to try it at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum this October.)
Because, he added, “We’re pretty scrappy here!”
And so, as a result, is its marketing.