From cozy window displays to heartwarming TV ads, as the temperature drops and the season of giving arrives, we become primed to open our wallets a little wider. With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas not far behind, this is the busiest time of year for charities, nonprofits, cause marketing organizations, and those who are just trying to have their communications heard amidst the increased noise of everyone vying for consumer attention.
As a marketer in an organization that’s just trying to rise above the noise to tell a good story, all that chaos is probably reaching a head just about now. As you work to identify and execute the most powerful strategy you can, armed with limited resources (people and/or financing) to compete with those big-budget studios that pump out blockbuster-level tear jerkers, you’ve probably hit a breaking point. What kind of marketing transformation will be necessary to get your brand’s voice heard this year—and what strategies are worth the investment during this noisy season?
Animoto’s Cyndi Knapic Weighs in on Using Video for a Cause
Animoto, an online video builder, has created a tool designed for busy marketers and creatives that’s more economical and manageable than hiring a whole creative team or studio to produce marketing videos. Cyndi Knapic, head of Animoto for Business, recently spoke with me about the value of video marketing and how it needn’t be a platform reserved solely for the brands with the biggest budgets.
Knapic explained that video allows for better storytelling and expression than text or photos alone. The ability to combine audio, text, and video together in a creative way enables a stronger, more impactful story. “Mark Zuckerberg summed it up very well when he said that video ‘allows people to express themselves in richer ways,'” she said.
So what tactics make for a successful cause marketing video? Knapic explained, using three powerful examples.
1. The Rescue Chocolate Petition
Rescue Chocolate was a video created to support the petition of a bill to ban pit bulls in Montreal. It’s a 30-second video that consists of short video clips, photos, overlaid text, and background music.
According to Knapic, there are two major elements that make the Rescue Chocolate video such a powerful piece of cause marketing content:
First, it was timely. The bill the video was created to protest was passed on the 28th of September, and the video was published on the 29th. Rescue Chocolate was able to react quickly to a social trending topic and insert [itself] into a breaking news story right at the start—so as interest in the story picked up, people who viewed the video were that much more likely to consume and share it. It’s important for cause marketers to keep in mind that many times ‘fast’ will be better than ‘perfect’ if you have the opportunity to jump into a conversation in progress. Don’t be afraid to use the photos or video clips that you already have, consider stock photo resources, and leverage easy video creation tools to respond quickly to current events.
Secondly, Rescue Chocolate’s video is effective because it tells a very short, specific story. Often, marketers working on cause campaigns will feel compelled to tell the entire story of a cause or an organization in one video, trying to capture an organization’s mission statement while overwhelming viewers with context and history. The reality is people are more likely to consume and share simple, direct stories: those that focus in on one bill, one volunteer, one family. I’ve seen a lot of cause-related videos come through Animoto’s platform, and the ones that really jump out and stick with me are those that follow Rescue Chocolate’s model here—telling one short, powerful story that is tangible, concrete and relatable to your audience (in this case, dog lovers: as Rescue Chocolate donates all its net profits to animal rescue, [the team] knew the story they were telling would resonate with their audience). Not only is this easier for viewers to take in, it encourages sharing, because it gives them a story they can more easily pass on and share quickly with friends and family.
2. Project Looking Eyes
Looking Eyes was a video created to help showcase Rivka Singer’s photography collection: Project Looking Eyes: Portraits of Children with Down Syndrome.
According to Knapic, the strength of this project lies in its roots.
The Looking Eyes video worked so well because it starts with a share-worthy message. When brainstorming around cause marketing content, it’s always good to pause and ask yourself: what about this video will get people to organically want to share it with friends and family? In this case, a simple story of love and inclusion for children with Down syndrome naturally resonates with the loving parents and families of children who have the condition, and it encouraged not only likes and shares, but action, as parents and family members shared their own photos in response. Ask yourself, is there something about this video that will get people to naturally want to share this video with their friends or family and comment?
3. The Girls Who Code Movement
Girls Who Code was a video created by a national nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology.
For Knapic, this video is proof that humor can be a key component of any cause-based story—if executed appropriately.
I think this video demonstrates really well that you can be funny without making fun of your cause. It deploys humor and sarcasm in a way that is not only effective, but true to the larger brand of Girls Who Code. Humor can be an incredibly powerful tool, but only if it comes organically—for example, humor would have been completely off-putting in the Rescue Chocolate or Rivka Photography content. It won’t be the right tone to strike for every brand. Find the tone that is, and you’ll be on your way to creating better content and driving higher engagement.
Knapic went on to explain the potency of music in cause videos:
Another lesson to be learned here is to make sure you’re choosing your music carefully to set the mood for your video. In the Rescue Chocolate example, a somber instrumental piece plays to underscore the gravity of the bill’s implications; in the Looking Eyes example, a triumphant piece plays that jives perfectly with the joy and love expressed by the piece. For this video, however, the scenes are punctuated by a track that plunks along to the phrases of the girls speaking, fading out and resurfacing at perfectly timed moments to add drama to their dry sarcasm.
Finally, as often as you can, make sure the people delivering your cause message are going to resonate with your target audience. It may seem obvious, but the young women in this video are the reason that the message is authentic and resonated with the girls they are trying to reach.
5 Tips for Video Marketing This Season
As Knapic’s examples prove, it is possible to rise above the noise this season and tell an immersive, multidimensional story that will connect with your readers and rise above the noise. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
1. Be timely with your messaging.
Often it can be better to be quick than to be perfect. You want to be a part of the conversations that are happening right now.
2. Tell a short, specific story.
Make it relevant to your audience and make it highly shareable. Focusing on a single anecdote or telling just one person’s story can be more powerful than trying to give too much background.
3. Leverage content you already have.
Maybe it’s photo, video clips, or even pieces of music. Leveraging existing content will make your job that much easier.
4. Seek out online tools to help you create.
You don’t need to be a video production expert to create compelling video content. Research tools that exist like Animoto that let anyone put together a great video.
5. Hone your message.
Write out the entire story you want to tell in your video, then force yourself to trim it down. Approach every piece of content as an opportunity to share one fact or one key message with your audience.
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