The end of the written word as we know it?
Whether or not you believe Facebook’s recent prediction that by 2021 video will have completely replaced text on their platform, most marketers are getting a great deal more serious about video’s power to build brands and customer engagement.
This is a technique that has always been great for telling stories in a memorable way and for conveying emotional power as well as facts and figures. What’s changed is that it has now become a mass market phenomenon. It’s cost-effective to produce and easy to target, distribute and share at scale. Video is everywhere – trade shows included. Brands are hiring content specialists, in-house producers, and even “Chief Video Officers” to harness the opportunity.
Moving pictures and shows are natural companions. At Exhibitors Only and within my own business, we anticipate that 2017 will be the year when video comes of age. This is the tool for improving competitive advantage, for amplifying the productive, face to face relationships exhibitors build with show visitors.
Video at shows already comes in all shapes and sizes. But, in our experience, it is still primarily seen as part of the on-stand display arrangement. Our sense is that this year more and more exhibitors will be realising the more dynamic and wide-ranging opportunities that video offers. They will be preparing themselves with a clear and thought through plan for video marketing at shows.
Our hope is that a more scientific and measurable approach will take their video output beyond the familiar. By this I mean, the jumble of talking heads, product shots and corporate music that has played out on many a stand in past years.
Here are some pointers towards what a good plan might include…
Work out exactly what your show video is for
Video can drive brand distinctiveness and customer engagement before, during and after a show. It can operate at an all-pervasive brand-building level. Or, it can help you steal a march on your competitors with clever, tactical approaches to social media content. Whatever your priorities, you may be tempted to create a single, catch-all presentation. But it makes much better sense to identify precisely where you need video to make a difference. Then – drawing on a core set of raw footage – you can design different video packages that accurately match each key priority.
Get your story straight
Easy to say, less easy to achieve. No matter how much information you want to include in your video presentations, make sure there’s an underlying narrative. It must speak directly and unmistakably to visitors needs. Avoid cluttering that core story with detail. Detailed stats and complex technical specs are better conveyed in print. It’s surprising how many marketers who are sharp and disciplined with their advertising still make video that’s overcrowded, confused and lacking a call to action.
Understand where quality counts
We all know that nowadays the technical process of capturing and editing video can be simple and accessible. So for making a record of your stand or for capturing simple, no-frills footage of, say, equipment or processes, you can do without the professionals.
But, as video marketing proliferates, your audience’s expectations and standards are rising too. Films that tell a powerful story, which accurately reflect your brand, which include crisp, memorable scripts and interviews, need producers with proven experience. So when you have worked out what your video activity is for, find a professional who can show you examples of work with similar objectives. Someone who really “gets” marketing and trade shows.
Think about your creative voice and format
Once you’ve established your objectives for video and your overarching story, it’s time to think through how you want your video output to look and feel. Is this all about no-nonsense product promotion and demonstration? Could you build authority with a more third-party documentary approach? What if you specialise in more complex or less obviously “visual” propositions? Then think about capturing authentic customer stories, filmed on location, in their own businesses.
Or perhaps your own location or your technology is the star? In which case, it’s worth looking into the incredible range of specialist camera techniques – time-lapse, super close up, drones and so on – that will bring that centre stage. And keep thinking about animation too. It’s controllable, easy to adapt and change, distinctive, cost-effective and more creatively versatile than it’s ever been. It offers a great way to combine different kinds of information in a single, slick and coherent presentation.
Use video to invite prospects to your stand
In advance of the event, identify precisely who you want to meet at the show and ensure they make for your stand when they get there. In our experience video-based invitations via email or social channels – still a novelty – are highly persuasive. Think about creating an enticing 30-second “trailer” for your show participation. This could be a teaser for a new product launch or a personal invitation, presented to-camera by a senior member of your team.
Another great approach is to create clever, digestible content which provides the would-be visitor with something useful before they arrive. A 60-second TED-style opinion piece from your CEO on a key industry trend. Or, a “top ten” show highlights film or even a show survival guide with ideas for eating, meeting and managing your visit. Once you have your content, you can build your views and click-throughs with low-cost Facebook advertising or pre-roll on YouTube. Better still, talk to the show organisers to establish ways that your informative content can be shared with the wider community of visitors.
Be clear about video’s role on the stand
Video case studies, testimonials and product demos are great for supporting sales conversations. They can fuel interactive displays and information points. But don’t expect them also to grab attention. That’s a different job. It requires telling images and graphics which rapidly evoke your brand personality and your key sales story at the show.
Continue the conversation after the event
When it’s all over, video offers new ways to perpetuate the personal relationships you and your team developed with prospects at the event. Exhibitors we admire have followed up their contacts with compact, thought-leadership pieces that summarise their insights from the show. They do this while it’s fresh in everyone’s minds. You might also schedule a regular series of video updates, presented by your exhibition team. This will keep visitors abreast of your thinking and build up to next year’s event.
And – above all – don’t be boring!
The flip side of video’s growth as a marketing technique is that only the brands who tell powerful stories stand out from the crowd. So when you are developing your own content, keep it punchy. Find an angle and make sure it tunes-in to your customers’ hopes and priorities. And remember: in a world where people frequently view video with their sound turned off, awesome images are the surest way to get attention.
From thousands of story-telling videos, here are three I really like;
Here’s a video from Hellmans. It uses a “trailer” format, striking images and great stories (it will grab attention with or without sound)…Full of lessons for exhibitors:
And here’s an animation technique we love. Simple words and graphics punch home an unmistakeable message. It’s a highly versatile approach that will work for any product or service with a crisp story to tell:
And this another amazing video from OKGO which demonstrates the extraordinary staying power of powerful visual images…