Advertise Like You Act
Most people are authentic in their day to day lives, but when it comes to marketing, advertising, and video production businesses sometimes change who they truly are. Anyone who has filmed an interview before knows the feeling when the lights and cameras turn on and your interview subject completely freezes up and cannot think or speak. You were just having an awesome conversation with them one second ago and now their face is red and they come across completely unnatural. That seems to be the same issue with a lot of marketing material. As the number of places to advertise has grown and amount of distribution channels have exploded, it’s beyond important to differentiate yourself. Being authentic is always the best differentiator because there can only be one of you.
How We Discovered Being Authentic Through Videos
Colony’s first few years in business were focused on a little bit of everything in the media world. After being awful at most media-related services (web design, mobile website, social media management, etc) we began to develop a passion for producing video content. It was this award-winning video that helped pave our way into the future of video production. Please take note of the smooth transitions and panning movements by our Director, Michael Fagan.
Did you watch all 3:45 seconds of that pure cinematic ingenuity? Today this video may not be up to snuff with how the production quality of video has improved. BUT, in 2012 that video was driving some serious results. It still is. Believe it or not, it’s still on the second page of google for Kitchen Cabinets in Groton, CT.
The feedback we received was quite good. Looking back I really think it had to do with the authenticity of it. Or Matt looks like Edward Norton. Matt came across authentically and it resonated with people. We as a company gravitated toward this style of marketing because it was real and it’s what felt most natural for us.
The Times Are Changing
“Stop Telling People The Times Are Changing, They’ve Already Changed!” – Joe
When I first started my career. I went to work for a company called Indeed.com. During my first few weeks of cold calling, I kept telling prospective customers (before they had the opportunity to hang up on me) that times were changing in the online and advertising world. I’ll never forget my sales manager looked at me and said. “Stop telling people times are changing, they’ve already changed. It’s done.” He was right, everything has changed, it’s done. It’s all changed so quickly too. Our behaviors, conditioning, and culture for EVERYTHING, especially media are completely different than they were.
One last anecdote! I went to a Mobile Media Summit in NYC 4-5 years ago and they had a keynote speaker named Bob Pittman. I didn’t know who he was until they introduced him. He helped start MTV. He was abrasive and hilarious. The moderator asks him about the “two screens” and how he thinks it’s impacted the media industry (two screens meaning people are watching TV and when commercials come on they grab their smartphone and focus attention on it.) He barked back “There have always been two screens! The second screen was called the magazine. When a commercial comes on people reach for their magazine on the nightstand and being FLIPPING through the pages.”
Bob was right about the fact that there has always been an alternative outlet to focus attention on during commercials. But the industry has still undoubtedly changed in the way we behave. We’ve become more of a microwave society where we want instant gratification (another term that’s been thrown around for years). We’ve become much more savvy consumers. The newer generation has HUGE B.S meeters, which I think is one of the most overlooked behavioral change in generations. We’re over consumed by “content”. It’s not good, bad, or indifferent, it’s just the way it is and marketers should think about reframing their messaging and approach to get results/compete in the changed world.
As years went on we began increasing the production value, hiring talented DPs, and using higher-end cameras. The only thing that hasn’t changed much is the authenticity of the material.
This was shot a few years back, but (I believe) still holds a lot of value because of the authenticity of the spot.
Just Be Real
It’s so simple. I’m always amazed at how many ads I see that just come across as so fake and phony. I’m even more amazed at the amount of money that’s spent on it. And the marketers come screaming “IT WORKS….IT…WORKS”. Sure, it’s the only thing you’ve been doing for 20 years. Have you tried a different approach? What’s the opportunity cost of not trying something different? There will always be a place for direct mail, traditional advertising, and other forms of “outdated” marketing. But I believe if they focus on one thing and one thing only, BEING REAL. The production quality doesn’t even have to great, as long as the messaging and context is real people will be engaged.
The other side of the spectrum is businesses and brands are trying to be so CREATIVE they’ve lost all concepts of what’s creative and what’s going to move the needle. We’ve always tried to bridge the gap between creative and call to action, usually going a little too far toward creative on the spectrum. Also, most really effective “creative” costs a lot of money. As budgets get slashed and production gets cheaper creative becomes more of a commodity than the rutter that steers the project. Especially when it comes to Video because we’re selling an invisible product. Creative and Quality are subjective terms that we use in our industry to set and communicate a standard, but for the customers, they’re a risk, a hope, and a prayer. Our customers cannot walk into our showroom and buy a creative product. We can do our best job to show references and examples, but creative and quality work is made from scratch.
Be authentic, keep it real, and bridge the gap between creative and call to action.
Side Note on Bob Pittman, I listened to Ted Turner’s Book “Call Me Ted”. Really glad I went to that Media Summit because it made the chapters where Ted discussed his interactions with Bob Pittman so much more entertaining.
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