Going into the Memorial Day Weekend, Joe Biden held a solid double-digit lead over the other 25 Democratic contenders for the highest office in the land. Every election matters, of course, and you'd be hard-pressed to talk to too many Americans who believe the 2020 contest will be anything but monumental and critical to this country's future.
You can attribute Biden's advantage over the rest of the pack to many things – his experience, his politics, his eight years as Vice President, or his blue collar roots. But you can't ignore the fact he launched his much-anticipated 2020 run with a video – his statement of purpose. At 3½ minutes long, it would be difficult to label it a “sizzle reel.” But many observers on both sides of the aisle agreed it deftly positioned Biden, his beliefs, and his goals. In short, his story. And while it would be difficult to attribute his impressive lead over the Democratic roster to a slickly produced piece of video content, the fact so many other candidates are now rushing out their own videos suggests the power of the medium to impress and impact.
Of course, the other effect is how the video may be helping to transform someone who critics will call a political hack, over the hill, or a has-been. When we cast our ballots in 2020, Biden will turn 78 years-old just days after that election. Like a Classic Rock station trying to position itself as fresh, credible, and relevant, Team Biden is using all the digital tools at its disposal – especially video – to make a positive, vibrant impression.
We see the rising power of video all over Techsurvey. Remember, our sample is comprised of radio listeners, most of whom are core to the medium. But in the past few years, we've learned they stream more video than audio. And their usage of platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime is skyrocketing. The numbers show on-demand video is considerably bigger than on-demand audio – better known as podcasting. The data also clearly shows that video is more “shareable” online than audio or even photos. Crafty marketers are taking advantage of these opportunities.
And that's why “sizzle reels” and snackable videos are becoming more popular. We've even started producing them for our Techsurveys, thanks to our in-house content marketing expert, Seth Resler. How do you make research exciting and impactful? How can you tell the story of a research study that was started before there was an iPhone or Facebook? A video can help.
Microsoft has reached the same conclusion about something as mundane as their software. Of all the tech companies – Apple, Google, etc. – Microsoft is firmly positioned as staid, “old school.” For decades, they've made software we have to use, but few of us think about Word, Excel, or PowerPoint any more than we get excited when we turn on the lights or pour ourselves a glass of water.
That's why it caught my attention when The Verge ran a story by Tom Warren – “Microsoft is putting the sexy into their software.” It's a case study in how marketers can use video to generate excitement for their software offerings – even a product like SharePoint. And the :60 video below makes it happen, thanks to beautiful animation, a compelling soundtrack, and a simple demonstration of what SharePoint is all about.
But beyond short, crisp, well-produced video, it's about storytelling – an art and craft we discuss with regularity in this blog. More and more brands are using short videos – “sizzle storytelling” – to compel consumers.
Entrepreneur's Joan Oleck recently featured a web marketing company, 60 Second Docs, a firm leading the way in this space. The company is run by Jake Avnet. While noting that traditional advertising has lost its luster, Avnet says there are huge opportunities for brand storytelling in the digital space:
“People are very receptive to newer media….So, if you have a story to tell, a fresh brand, a fresh voice, people are paying attention in ways they never have before.”
Case in point: a 60 Second Doc for investment firm, BlackRock. I don't have to tell you about the traditional marketing efforts similar companies blast all over traditional media. They tend to be dull, straightforward, and well, commercials. But the 60 Seconds Doc team writes and produces simple, compact, and compelling stories – shared primarily on social media – that are taking root and being seen and heard. This is one in a series of short videos, designed to entice Millennials to invest. It's just a minute long, and it works:
This is one hot company, taking a similar approach to other consumer brands, including Chipotle, GM, Viacom, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and films like BlackkKlansman. Their storytelling technique is all in-house – they research the brand, and produce and post-produce their :60 stories. What are they looking for? Avnet sums it up this way:
“It's all about finding great stories that have an emotional hook.”
It makes you wonder why more radio stations aren't taking the same approach – using video to sell special events, community activities, a new DJ hire, a Block Party Weekend – anything! And don't get me going on radio sales departments. Instead of using rankers to demonstrate value and dominance, why not use video to show the richness of a radio station's place in its community, its relationship with listeners, and its ability to sell products, services, and build brands?
These videos are not in-your-face hard-hitting promotional reels. Avnet talks about going behind the scenes to tell the story of how an idea came to be – the story behind the story. Yes, it takes some brainstorming and incubation time. But like a great tale, it must be memorable and compelling.
The BlackRock story isn't a series of positioning statements or statistics showing why Millennials should actively invest. It's Grant Sabatier's story, and it's an impactful way to connect his experience in an aspirational way with his entire generation of skeptical young people struggling to do the right thing with their money.
I don't even want to think about how many aircheck audio files and resumes we receive every month at Jacobs Media. Occasionally, someone puts together an eye (or ear) catching package of material that demands a second look or listen. But too often, these self-marketing efforts are so similar that few stand out – unless talent is so obviously superior to the rest of the field.
These packages should tell the story of your career – how you became the talent (or PD or sales manager) you are today. Who influenced and mentored you? How have you impacted the stations and companies you're listing on your resume? How have you rooted in the communities in which you've lived? And what skills, values, and assets can you bring in your next effort?
Like Joe Biden and his two dozen lesser-known candidates clawing their way into the running, you not only need to be unique – you need to market yourself in a way that garners attention and connects with your target audience. What's your story? What makes you unique? How can you tell the saga of your amazing journey with a short video?
In the last few years, many radio stations have stepped it up – conducting more audience research to better understand the fluid terrain, and making the necessary moves to stay competitive or remain dominant. But too often, those action steps are quietly implemented, leaving it up to the audience (and perhaps a few on-air positioners each day) to get the message across. So, when a radio station team is introducing improvements or new features, why not make the moment attention-getting or even “sticky?”
Video can help well-liked personalities, popular events and fundraisers, and other station evergreens come alive with fresh stories and supportive video. Even the stories of programming changes motivated by audience research can be told in a more compelling way than relentlessly hammers “The '90s Til Now.”
Many programmers mistakenly think a clock adjustment, a new commercial-free block, a fresh special weekend, or a new addition to the morning show will get noticed by listeners paying rapt attention to every move they make. In our over-communicated world, that couldn't be any farther from the truth.
As more and more companies are discovering, they have compelling narratives that can build and enhance their brands, differentiating themselves from their competition.
Great video storytelling can make them come alive.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.