Our perspective at VantagePoint

Creating Compelling “3D” Copy

Effective, high-impact messaging can take on many different forms: an unexpected headline, an engaging prompt that pulls you right in, or maybe even a manifesto you can’t bring yourself to put down. Long or short, it all seizes your attention — and more often than not, it all has the following three Ds in common:

DELINEATION

This is just a fancy way of saying you’re staking your claim and outlining your territory first. Who are you? Where do you stand? What do you believe? Establishing these basic details about your own identity may seem like a foregone conclusion, but it’s critical to understand yourself before you start communicating with others.

DIRECTION

Once you’ve drawn your line in the sand, it’s time to communicate with purpose. Your direction isn’t just your present opinion — it’s also the course you’re charting for the future. Clarity of direction leaves no ambiguity about what you’re communicating today, tomorrow and beyond.

DIMENSION

Finally, it’s important to consider giving depth and character to your message, expressing your brand’s personality in the words you choose. While the delineation and direction both provide the foundation for your core message, the dimension makes it memorable, personal and lasting in the minds of your audience.

Tools of the trade: Equipment options for in-house video production

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (honestly, though — is there anyone who DOES live under a rock? Wouldn’t that be awkward, uncomfortable, and, well, painful?), you’re probably aware of video’s power to help in the marketing process. We create videos and animations nearly every week for our clients — to the tune of 480 different videos stored right now on our favorite hosted platform, Wistia.

And nearly every marketing article you read extols the benefits of including video in your email, your website, your trade show booth, etc., etc. But what they don’t often tell you is how to get GOOD video. We’ve all tried to use the wonderful camera in our iPhone but realize pretty quickly that, despite some pretty good images, the sound, lighting and overall presentation can pretty quickly start to look (and sound) bad.

For most of our projects, we use professional video rigs and crews. But every once in a while, a project doesn’t call for the big guns, either due to timing or budget. So how can you get good video if you just need something quickly and inexpensively?

First, let me address the videographer (the person shooting the video). Unfortunately, shortcuts here can pretty quickly make even the best equipment look “bad.” There’s no substitute for someone with some good photography or design experience behind the camera to make sure the shot looks good. All of the “right equipment” in the world won’t help if you can’t frame the video well.

And the science (or art?) of lighting for video can be a real challenge. Using available light in an office or manufacturing setting can be difficult, as you often get yellowish or greenish color casts. Shooting outdoors is one answer, but don’t do so at high noon, or you’ll end up with drastic shadows or squinting subjects. Some basic education would be helpful in this area, and a quick Google search for video training can provide you with a head start.

Next, let’s talk about the equipment. It’s easy to get pretty overwhelmed with all the options for lighting kits and tripods and sound equipment and microphones. Here is a basic list that we recently compiled from several different sources to help us in our video equipment shopping:

  • Tripod: Just about any good one will work, but here is a good inexpensive option from Amazon.
  • Tripod adapter: Your smartphone (if that’s what you’re using) will need a way to mount into that tripod. This Joby mount is a good option.
  • Microphone: Sound is one of the biggest problems in getting good video in most environments. This shotgun mic will help isolate the sound to the person speaking.
  • Boom pole: Helps you get your mic closer to the person speaking without suddenly appearing in frame. Try this boom pole.
  • Recorder: You need somewhere for that sound to go. This recorder, while a bit expensive, will work well with your microphone, as well as being able to serve as a microphone itself as well.
  • Basic lighting set: Once you get a better understanding of HOW to light for video, a couple of soft box lights like these will help you achieve the effect you’re after.
  • Halo light: This halo light fits around the lens of a DSLR camera, and is a great tool for framing your subject with light.

Of course, don’t forget things like sandbags, backdrops, cables, etc., many of which you can find inexpensively on Amazon. The aforementioned Wistia is also a great resource for where to find just the right piece of equipment; in fact, many of the choices in this list are from Wistia’s suggestions.

While it’s still not EASY to get great results while shooting video quickly and inexpensively, hopefully these tools will help you improve the outcome. And, of course, we’re always happy to help you tackle any video or marketing project that you might have.

Locking it up: 5 no-no’s for your gated content marketing strategy

So you’ve recently added gated content to your content marketing mix, but have some questions around best practices? Here are 5 common missteps to avoid on your way to a successful gated content program:

Not understanding your audience(s)

Research shows that many consumers feel businesses and brands don’t understand them. Your gated content efforts (and truly your content marketing strategy as a whole) need to be built upon on a solid foundation of customer personas. Understanding your potential customers’ needs, desires and motivators will ensure the content you serve up is relevant and useful, thereby increasing your company’s standing as a valuable resource in their eyes.

Not offering quality ungated content

Potential customers — especially in B2B settings — are unlikely to endure the perceived “risk” of providing their contact information to access a piece of content if they’re unable to first verify or deduce that the content will be “worth it.”

As such, it’s extremely important that you offer quality free-access content in addition to your gated content. This will serve to confirm your knowledge around a category or subject and prove that you’re capable of providing something of value. Check out the blog of inbound marketing experts Hubspot for an example of best practice.

Gating the “wrong” content

Resist the siren call of over-utilizing gated content.  This is especially pertinent with information that’s either low in value or potentially perceived as something that “should have been” ungated (like usage tips for a product you sell, for example). Nothing can be more damaging to company perception than to be seen as either intentionally misleading or a time waster.

Asking for too much

Don’t make the initial hurdle of gated content too high, or you risk dissuading potential leads. While it can be tempting to try to glean as much information as possible from a potential customer, it’s important to keep in mind that people in the early stages of the sales funnel have lower commitment and are more likely to abandon a page if they believe they’re being asked for too much.

Neglecting the follow through

Like a tennis swing, follow through is the critical part of your gated content efforts. If your company doesn’t have a marketing automation system in place to ensure the leads you capture are adequately nurtured, it’s likely resources will be wasted and opportunities lost.

For more suggestions on what to avoid with your gated content — along with some key benefits and opportunities — check out this worthwhile read from digital experience platform vendor Core dna. And if you’re feeling a little out-of-touch in the B2B content marketing world, be sure to check out our 5 must-reads on the topic.

Getting Social with B2B [Infographic]

Social media allows B2B companies to create personal identities, extending their voices and expertise to their customers and prospects to hopefully form the connections that help drive business and revenue. In this infographic, you will find some facts and tips on how to accelerate your efforts as a B2B company on social media.

What social strategies have you seen work? Share your success stories in the comments below.

Not sure where to get started in your B2B social media efforts? Try these 8 social media tips straight from a 2-year-old’s playbook or this look at what B2B marketers can learn from the best of B2C social media.

And for more B2B social media facts, check out these 33 thought-provoking stats.

Take a Lesson in Laughing at Yourself and Win Big … Or, How Arby’s Rules Advertising

I’m amazed at Arby’s marketing adventures. I remember growing up not really thinking much about Arby’s. It was definitely not one of my favorite restaurants. But of late, it’s really stepping up its game in an impressive way, and people are noticing.

I first started paying attention to Arby’s some time ago when I watched a video compilation of Jon Stewart slamming Arby’s and its products time and time again on the late-night The Daily Show. That’s a lot of negativity. But instead of retaliating, Arby’s embraced it! They played along and actually aired a “thank you” commercial on Jon Stewart’s last show and devoted a sandwich to him.

Their courage to take a leap of faith in the fickle world of marketing where the risks are high and failure is not acceptable is admirable.

No ordinary fast food restaurant

In addition to witty defensive moves, Arby’s is paying attention to strategic opportunities and going on the marketing offensive as well. By its own admission, Arby’s develops advertising that is conversational, authentic, funny and bold. And not only are the advertisements playful and fun to listen to, they’re pushing the 3,300-location restaurant chain beyond the box with innovative ideas and authenticity that other marketers could take a lesson or two from.

Here are a few examples:

  • Longest TV commercial
    Arby’s actually developed a 13-hour commercial to show how long its brisket is smoked. Yes, I really said 13 hours. Not only did it demonstrate a key point about the product, it also landed Arby’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest TV commercial.
  • Hot hat
    You may remember during the 2014 Grammy’s, Arby’s tweeted about Pharrell Williams’ hat and ended up scoring big with 75,000 retweets (including a response from Pharrell himself) and more than 40,000 favorites! And several weeks later, Arby’s upped the ante by buying the hat in an Ebay auction to benefit a Pharrell-run charity. Sometimes, the best marketing is just taking advantage of an opportunity.
  • Vegetarian support hotline
    Their brown sugar bacon-induced vegetarian support hotline is a witty departure from the vegan trend, similar in theme to their Leap Day 2016 “vegetarian menu.” These tongue-in-cheek moves show that it pays to know who you are and who your target audience is.

Sweet victory

So is this unorthodox marketing path working? Apparently, yes.

Arby’s guests in the 18- to 34-year-old range has increased by 16 percent. CEO Paul Brown told the Wall Street Journal, “Collectively, what is going on (publicity with Jon Stewart) has resulted in an uplift of business performance.” And according to QSR, Arby’s U.S. system same-store sales has continued to grow for 26 consecutive quarters.

And that’s not all. Arby’s has been named to FORTUNE’s 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials list. According to RestaurantNews.com, “Arby’s is one of three restaurant brands recognized and is the only quick-service restaurant selected… Arby’s has undergone one of the most dramatic restaurant turnarounds in decades.”

It seems like site after site is jumping on the Arby’s bandwagon. I can attest that Arby’s Twitter feed artistry is simply phenomenal, and its entire social media approach is being called “ingenious”.  One site went so far as to pose the question, “Is Arby’s the best social media restaurant around?”

Making fun of themselves, making it all about meat and just generally besting social media outlets — the people at Arby’s are doing it right. Maybe we should get on the Arby’s bandwagon, too. Oh wait, we just did.

Good for you, Arby’s. May your courage rub off on marketing decision makers worldwide.

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