When the COVID-19 pandemic transformed the world, it accelerated the trend of content becoming the most effective marketing channel. With 80% of consumers watching and listening to more content since the outbreak started, marketers should focus on creating an episodic series to build — or rebuild — a brand consumers will love and remember.
During his INBOUND 2020 presentation, Chris Savage, Wistia co-founder and CEO, led an “Ask Me Anything” session focused on how marketers can rebuild their brand during these unprecedented times.
His number one strategy? Garnering a passionate and engaged fan base with engaging episodic content like videos and podcasts. Brand Affinity Marketing, as it’s called, allows brands to build a stronger relationship with niche audiences through content.
If you couldn’t squeeze Savage’s session into your packed agenda, don’t fret. Check out this quick recap of the AMA highlights.
Q: I am in a rebrand right now. I have completely restructured my business and adjusted my target audience. I am starting from scratch marketing my brand. What are some of the first things I should do now?
A: Wow — that’s terrifying and exciting. Congrats on the rebrand!
When I think about building a brand, I think about it as — what values do I want people to connect with? How do I want to make people feel? Creative? Safe? Inspired? What values do I want my customers to feel when interacting with our business at any touchpoint — reading a blog, interacting with sales or support, and using the product. That’s first, define your values.
Then, I think about — what is a niche that I can own? You want to be very targeted. Discover an underserved audience, and by serving them, they can become super fans. This audience needs to be super specific, with virtually no competition. This sounds difficult, but the thing is, the internet connects all of us, so tiny niches can actually be really big!
An example of this is my friend and co-founder Brendan. He is really into this thing called tree camping. You hang a hammock super high up in a tree and read, chill, sleep, whatever. There’s not a ton of content for this small but super passionate fan base, and there’s an opportunity for someone to step up and really own this space.
A: This is a good one! At Wistia, we consider “binge-worthy” content anything people actively want to watch, listen to, or engage with. This is usually long-form content — think podcasts, documentaries, and video series.
Viewers are deciding to spend their time with something entertaining, inspiring, or something to help them advance in their careers. They are willing to put in the work to get something and build a stronger relationship with your brand in the process.
One of my favorite examples of this is Profitwell. They now have an entire network of shows that caters to their niche audiences. MailChimp is another brand that has gone all-in on binge-worthy content.
A: Great question. Honestly, It depends. It isn’t a straight “yes” or “no” answer. It really depends on your business and marketing goals.
If you have content that’s pretty deep in the funnel — let’s say you replaced your traditional webinars with a very in-the-weeds video series. If there’s enough value in what you’re providing and generating leads is important to meet your goals, this could be a good opportunity to gate your video content. Ask yourself, is viewing this content worth an email address for both parties? Does this content speak very specifically to our target audience for it to be a worthwhile lead? And is the content valuable enough for the viewer to want to view it?
Like an interview series designed for thought leadership, content higher in the funnel would benefit more from having a wide audience and working towards broader brand affinity goals. Folks at this stage likely won’t convert until they have that connection. Build the relationship first, then ask later.
A: The number one most important thing is to zero in on a repeatable format.
On our new podcast Talking Too Loud, we have gotten into a really good rhythm and found a format that works for our entire team.
We do pre-production for every guest to prep them for each episode. We have a producer who interviews guests in advance and identifies core things to talk about. Then, the actual interview takes about 90 minutes on average.
We then debrief after every episode. We look at episode performance and evaluate what worked and what could be better. Our entire goal is to iterate and make it better over time.
Not having professional equipment or training is a common misconception. You don’t need much equipment–even for video! It’s also harder to make stuff in this weird remote world, but it can be done. And, the new remote environment has totally leveled the playing field. Right now is the best time to make a video show or podcast. We all have webcams and crappy lighting. This gives you time to really focus on the content and not on a picture-perfect delivery.
“The new remote environment has totally leveled the playing field. Right now is the best time to make a video show or podcast.”
Another way to approach this and make it a bit more digestible is to bucket the content you’re making into seasons. Force yourself to end a season. Pausing allows you to take a break, make adjustments, review what you’ve learned, etc. That way, you can pivot and make significant changes for season two, if necessary.
A: The biggest thing we’ve seen as a company is massive acceleration. We’ve been in the video and content creation space for a long time. More and more companies were starting to get comfortable and were taking risks with their brand.
Surprisingly, more people are comfortable trying crazy stuff right now to move the needle. More companies are building content to delight or entertain someone in their target customer base without knowing if and when they will convert.
As for what’s coming — there’s already a lot of interview-style and non-fiction shows. It’s a pretty crowded space. I think we are going to see more content that’s fiction oriented. We are so overwhelmed with what’s going on in the world; we all want escapes. The content you are making for your audience — these are people who want to escape with Netflix — there’s an opportunity for those looking for more. The best marriage of interest, goals, format, and inspiration takes risks today that you couldn’t have even six months ago. That’s what’s really going to differentiate brands in the next few years.
“There’s already a lot of interview-style and non-fiction shows. It’s a pretty crowded space. I think we are going to see more content that’s fiction oriented.”
A: We get smart people together that are really creative, and we give them the freedom to ideate and do greenlight thinking.
Our in-house production team, Wistia Studios, has a mandate for each show. I recommend doing some research on this — all the big networks like Netflix and NBC have them. This manual essentially gives the studio direction on a very specific level about what they are looking for in a show, how it aligns with the brand values, who the target audience is, the expected production quality, etc. It allows the team to have a clear vision and pitch ideas that fit within this mandate.
We have a template for the ideas, and we can input other factors on a set scale, like how heavy of a lift it would be to execute the concept and what impact the show would have on the business. This scoring system allows us to prioritize ideas easily and, ultimately, greenlight concepts that are the best fit for our company.
Q: How do you make binge-worthy content for a tech company/industry that is not inspiring or interesting?
Here’s the thing — Coke is sugar water. Red Bull is sugar water. A lot of the best brands in the world are built around products that are inherently quite boring. The key is figuring out what conversations as a brand do you have a right to enter. How do you tell good stories once you’ve found the conversations where you can be.
If you can do that, figure out your values, and have an opinion, you can take something boring and make it really interesting.
For a B2B tech company, think about your purchasers and end-users. Investing in new software can be a huge purchase decision. What do those people need? How can you bring a little joy to their work life? Safety? Relief? If you can figure that out, you can make genuinely exciting and engaging content. Create an experience that serves those values. They’re not going to think that’s boring — they’re going to think it helped them meet their goals.
There are no boring industries! You can always tell a great story.
Want to hear more from Chris? Check out Talking Too Loud, a new podcast that takes you inside the minds of entrepreneurs as they share the hilarious, informative, and most challenging aspects of building more human brands.