Why authenticity is key to your video marketing strategy

Why authenticity is key to your video marketing strategy

I’ve recently seen two examples of video content marketing, which were worlds apart in almost every way. Worlds apart in distance: one is from Australia, the other from the UK. Worlds apart in quality: One is brilliant, the other abysmal.  And polar opposites in the way they were conceived, the size of budget they had to produce it and ultimately how successful they were. And both examples offer huge learning’s for anyone looking to use, or already using video or producing any content for marketing purposes.

Video Marketing Failure

First, the bad:

Yep, it’s had a lot of coverage already, but let’s look at the excruciating video that Australia’s Federal Department of Finance spent nearly $40,000 on to encourage graduates to join their program, The Game Changers.

I have no doubt that many graduates who have joined the Dept have gone on to build hugely successful careers, but the Department is not going to be top of the shopping list for many of the top graduates they want to attract, so without question this was a tough gig.

When it comes to video content, the mantra used again and again is authenticity, but for that to work is has to be exactly that — authentic and genuine — not manufactured or an authenticity dreamed up in the marketing department.

The Department decided that to be authentic they would use employees in the video instead of employing actors. Great idea! Who else can give a better insight into working there than the people who actually do? However, from this point on, it all goes wrong, very wrong. Yes, they are the real people who are being filmed in their real place of work, but why were they then asked to act?

Reading a script of forced conversations? It’s not genuine and its certainly not authentic, and it sticks out a mile. I am sure that many of the employees of the Dept are incredibly engaging people who are more than capable speaking honestly and eloquently about their roles, the department and the difference it makes, so why weren’t they invited to? Why weren’t they filmed in real life situations, having genuine conversations? Why weren’t the potential graduate employees given a chance to really see and hear what it’s like to work there?

Unsurprisingly the video was panned and will have done a huge amount of damage to the Department’s employer brand. And it wasn’t just critics from the marketing and creative industry, it even got slammed on national TV.

However, I think they have an opportunity to fix it.

It would be brave, but if it’s authenticity they want, then it will deliver:

Do another piece interviewing the employees who featured on the initial video. Ask them what they thought of the video, how did they feel when shooting the video? Keep it light hearted and get them to say, from the heart and in their own words, why it did nothing to promote working at the Federal Department of Finance. That would be authentic and after the press of the original video, of genuine interest to anyone who was considering joining a graduate program.

Video Marketing Success

Now for the good, but when I say good, I mean brilliant.

It’s the Happy Friday Sing-a-Long by Richard Pilgrim of Pilgrim Travel in Shropshire, UK. Pilgrim Travel is a father and son local taxi service, and I heard about them when I needed a taxi from Manchester Airport to my parents house. By word of mouth I was referred to Richard, or specifically, the singing taxi driver’s Facebook page.

Whilst they don’t have a marketing team, the guys at Pilgrim are real people, proud of what they do and the service they offer.

Sing along Friday was not the brain child of a marketing director or the creative director of an award winning agency, it came about one Friday afternoon in 2015, after Richard had been on the phone to his father who was fed up about being stuck in Friday afternoon traffic. A cheery song came on the radio and Richard filmed himself singing along and sent it as an SMS to his father, just to cheer him up. Dad loved it, and suggested they post it on their Facebook page.

So they did, and the comments were nothing but positive and got shared over and over again.

The next Friday, they started to get Facebook messages asking where the singing taxi driver was. And so it started, and now every Friday, Richard posts a video of himself singing a long to a classic song. Its funny, its human, its real and it works. They now have almost 1000 likes on Facebook, but more importantly an incredibly engaged audience who refer customers and even send reminders if the video isn’t posted by Friday lunchtime. So he has done it every Friday, for the last year.

And except for 3 minutes a week, and the occasional fancy dress costume, the budget is zero. It’s filmed on an iPhone and there are no retakes! The videos regularly gets over 3000 views each week, with some in now in excess of 15,000 views!

The reason it works is that it’s genuine and its authentic, it wasn’t created to drum up business, it was created for a genuine reason: to entertain. But it has achieved real commercial results with the majority of their work now coming through Facebook referrals.

Why authenticity is essential

The lesson here for all brands is to be genuinely authentic. Don’t try to be authentic as it doesn’t work. Your audience will see straight through it and it can do more harm than good.

If you have to think too hard about what you want to say then maybe you shouldn’t say it. Just say and do what comes naturally and when you succeed at that, then you are well on your way to cultivating the Village of Support that Trevor Young talks about.


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