Our first panel at the ReelSEO Video Marketing Summit was called “Creative Storytelling for Brands: Content Strategies that Resonate.” It starred Reed Lucas, Director of Channel Management at Channel Factory, who sponsored the panel, CJ Bruce, founder of New Antics, who moderated. The panel included Clayton Talmon de l’Armée, director and video producer at Salesforce, Peter Caban, Chairman of Mekanism, Zach Blume, partner and managing director of Portal A, and Chris Gorell Barnes, founder and CEO of Adjust Your Set.
Some highlights (many responses here have been edited and revised):
On coming up with ideas to produce:
Barnes: How do you get the best ROI…we try to look for relevance. Context with the content. Find a way to get people talking about the product without overly mentioning the product. What kind of problems are keeping your audience awake at night, and does your product solve that problem? Creating stories around that. We try to get our clients to think more like a publisher, rather than an advertiser.
On whether they use focus groups:
Caban: Definitely not. When we do comedy and content , you just don’t want to see the humor get watered down. To do it to find an insight with a demographic you don’t understand, it can be valuable. So more for insights, rather than creative.
Clayton: We have a network of chatter that we can get feedback on. We’ve got 10,000 employees who can give us feedback, and we’ll know pretty quickly whether it’s crap or not. It starts with a small team, and then we move it up to chatter to figure out whether it’s viable.
On “boring brands” without a real story:
Blume: The first one that comes to mind was a mobile coupon company. What we did was make a purposefully over-the-top campaign with people in a supermarket. We made a campaign where the tone of the product didn’t dictate the marketing, but where the marketing redefined the product itself.
Caban: Yeah, that is interesting…whenever we have a topic that could be interpreted as “dry,” we try to turn it around and run it the other way.
Caban mentions a series Mekanism did for GE called “Datalandia:”
Barnes: The best success we’ve had is when we have a strategic approach before we shoot. A lot of people sort of shoot first, and ask questions later. Very few brands have a proper video strategy. Understand what content you’re going to make, where it’s going to go, what’s the measurement of success, how is it going to drive the right ROI. You need to think about the technology and the content, not taking a piece of content and hiding it on YouTube.
Clayton: It’s all about story, and as soon as we get to that point where we find that emotional connection, then we know we’re getting there.
What storytelling tips would you give this audience?
Blume: Know your audience. Another thing is we’ve created content when we’re not involved with a brand, so we get the chance to experiment, to test, and to try different things, and to learn from it.
Caban: Internally, I think of about 5 directors who work with us that are the right natural fit that can crack the code on the tone or the writing. Looking at the kind of director or writer will determine if it’s great. Many times, checking through their reels will determine who might be the right fit.
Clayton: Don’t be boring. We deal with a lot of stiff business types and we’ll pitch them an idea and they’ll be like, “Are you out of your mind?” and we say, “Yeah, that’s the point.”
What do you do when a client is stuck on being conservative?
Clayton: Ultimately, we make two cuts. Our cut and their cut. And oftentimes, they’ll take our cut.
Blume: I think it’s all about getting on the same level at the beginning of the project. When a client comes to us, they know what kind of content we create, which is edgy, fun stuff, so I think it’s about setting expectations at the beginning.