A Guide to Avoiding 5 Common Video Marketing Flops

Posted by Jeremy Wingle on July 25, 2018

You may know you need to be creating video for your brand, but with all the other projects you are juggling it may not be your only area of focus. Getting a few basics right can make a big difference in the outcomes created by your campaign.

Video has become ubiquitous in any modern marketing strategy, but not all brands are mastering the core attributes needed to make an impact on their target audience. These are the most common fundamental oversights that hinder success when marketing teams set out to create video content.

By avoiding these common missteps you can be sure to create impactful video content that empathetically connects with your target audience and drives brand affinity.

You may know you need to be creating video for your brand, but with all the other projects you are juggling it may not be your only area of focus. Getting a few basics right can make a big difference in the outcomes created by your campaign. Video has become ubiquitous in any modern marketing strategy, but not all brands are mastering the core attributes needed to make an impact on their target audience. These are the most common fundamental oversights that hinder success when marketing teams set out to create video content.

1. Trying to communicate too many messages in a single video

We get it—you have a lot to say! One of the most common traps that marketers fall into is trying to cram too much information into a single video. You may have limited time and you’re trying to stretch your video budget as far as it can go, but this is can be a major flop. Not only can a feature-laden video overwhelm the viewer with information, but it can water down the key messages you need your audience to remember.

“Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.” –Edward Tufte

Tip: Focus on using your video to drive home key messages and utilize other types of content like blogs or white papers to go into greater detail. Video can be an excellent tool for piquing interest, connecting to your audience emotionally, and driving traffic to other key assets where you can provide more depth.

2. “Our audience is everyone”

“Our product appeals to everyone.” “Our software is for anyone who has a computer”—these are that kinds of famous last words before a video campaign meets its untimely demise fading into the YouTube abyss. We know you want to reach everyone, but if you approach producing video with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mentality then your video will be easy to ignore.

“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” –Zig Ziglar

Tip: If you are targeting multiple personas then chances are you need multiple videos to connect with each segment. To create sharply focused video content, you need to begin by defining your target audience as precisely as possible. Demographics are a great start, but they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to storytelling. In order for your audience to be inspired to engage with your brand they need to feel understood.

Dig deeper to empathize with your users—what are their daily struggles and how can you make their life easier? Speak their language and they will be more apt to talk back. For more insight on this subject, check out our recent podcast conversation entitled, “Why Do People Buy? Develop Content that Taps Into What Makes Your Audience Tick?

3. Not prioritizing high production value

In a world where we all have a makeshift production crew known as a smartphone in our back pocket, it can be easy to overlook the importance of production value. Not all videos need to look like a Hollywood Blockbuster, but poor production value can be distracting and make it difficult to convince your prospects to stick around long enough to learn about your brand. According to a recent study by Microsoft, the average human attention span has plummeted below that of a goldfish—we’re only clocking in 8 seconds compared to Goldie’s 9 seconds.

With stiff competition for our attention outside of the fish tank, smooth production value can make it easier to pull someone in and present a narrative hook.

Tip: To combat short attention spans, be sure to start off strong with an engaging opening scene that succinctly sets up the problem your prospects are experiencing and entices them to continue watching. Produce video content at the highest production value that your budget will allow. If funds are limited, focus on producing key brand awareness pieces first that can drive to other forms of content. For smaller scope in-house video projects, keep things simple, making sure that audio is clear and lighting is straight-forward so as to not distract the audience with noticeably poor quality.

4. Making a video that’s too long (or too short)

Video length is a heavily debated issue—should we make a 60-second video? 30-second? 15-second ‘snackable’ video? In 2016, Google introduced 6-second Bumper video ads to facilitate short micromedia campaigns aimed at quick-hit engagement on mobile. While many marketers may assume that shorter is better, a recent study by Wistia shows that engagement doesn’t significantly drop off until after 2 minutes. As Microsoft discovered, if you hook the audience in the first 8 seconds then you have a good shot of holding on to their attention up to the 2-minute mark. Additionally, engagement doesn’t significantly decay between 6-12 minutes.

In conclusion, the ideal length for your video depends on a variety of factors including context, platform, campaign goals, and the viewing habits of your target audience.

Tip: Focus on creating compelling, story-driven video content that will entertain and inspire your audience. Branded content that provides entertainment value can build trust with your audience and make it easier to share your value proposition further along in the buying cycle. While it’s important to create a steady flow of content, your number one priority should always be to create value through video content that will be relevant to your target audience.

5. Ignoring brand guidelines

Most brands have brand guidelines that serve as a set of principles to guide decision making when creating content. Typical brand guidelines include standards for expressing a company’s mission, vision, value proposition, style, and tone. These guides can be very clear on how to use company logos and fonts, but creative expression of brand voice is often a bit more subjective. When it comes to creating video content it can be challenging to stay on brand and before you know it you may have a catalog of video content that seems to come from fifty different brands.

Tip: When you set out to create a new video project, always be sure to consider the greater context of your marketing strategy. How will this piece be shared and on what channels? Has your brand produced core awareness campaigns that should inform the tone and voice of the next video campaign? If you are planning to make a major diversion from your current tone, will it be part of a rebranding effort?

“Make every detail perfect, and limit the number of details to perfect.” –Jack Dorsey, Co-founder of Twitter

It’s important that all key stakeholders are in the loop about video initiatives as they will have a strong influence on a brand’s public perception. Creating video content that supports your brand message goes beyond just following font and color guidelines on the title cards, but if these basics are missed your brand may negatively stand out as not having your act together. Wavering too far from your brand standards may have your prospects losing trust in you and flocking to your more consistent competitors.

“A brand is something that has a clear-cut identity among consumers, which a company creates by sending out a clear, consistent message over a period of years until it achieves a critical mass of marketing.” –Phil Knight, Co-Founder of Nike

By avoiding these common missteps you can be sure to create impactful video content that empathetically connects with your target audience and drives brand affinity. The key to connecting with your audience is to spend a few miles in their shoes and tell relatable stories that connect to their daily life. Think outside of a single video project and consider how each asset fits into the long-term puzzle of your brand’s goals and aspirations.

Editor’s note: Graphics by Myriad Media editor and motion designer Meredith Schmidt