Have you noticed that whenever there’s a downturn, the first casualty in a startup is marketing. With the current state of economy and investor money become scarce, the marketing teams and spends are the first to go.
Why I wonder, do we spend like crazy in the first place? Who are we pleasing but our egos, because the audience doesn’t give a sh*t about your shiny ads or celebs.. it’s the storytelling they crave.
I saw a post by this ‘unicorn’ about their super expensive celebrity video shoot, and in two weeks they announced massive layoffs. The money they wasted in that hollywood style production could have saved jobs.
Marketing is not a function of money, but creativity. You cannot spend and buy engagement. But, everywhere you see, it’s fancy expensive campaigns, celeb endorsements and templated ads, until the investors come calling.
Spend like it’s your money, and you’re always frugal, creative in scarcity, and focus to increase per person efficiency.. ask any bootstrapped startup.
But when it’s big bucks from investors, then it’s like Bachmanity Insanity (Silicon Valley – S3E6)
What an awesome start to the India tour, the energy and enthusiasm in Jaipur made it super special. It started with the scheduled two hour discussion/jam session about all things content, videos, startups, creator challenges and career direction.
The evening turned into an unexpected game of charades with everyone at a quaint little cafe inside an old Haveli (check out Den cafe, and ask for ‘Izhaar chai’) I visited Jaipur alone and came back with an amazing bunch of friends.
This day eight years back, I released my first ever video. It was the happiest and the scariest moment of my life, happiest coz it was my first ‘viral’ experience and scariest coz if I did not build on that, if I did not figure out, learn, deep dive, obsess about why it worked.. then I’d be back to the rat race, nothing but a one hit wonder.
The journey and the obsession since then has resulted in 76 videos which went viral, 470M views and a best-selling book.. which for a college drop out, written off as a failure.. was beyond my wildest imagination. Results are never in our hands, but our action and performance is, and one brick at a time, compound effect works like magic. Life always gives you signs, shows you doors, but what matters is if you run through them.
And when that tiny door opened on Feb 18, eight years back.. I ran through it like my life depended on it.
An incredible year comes to an end, complete with videos going viral, attention spans dropping, news-feeds getting chaotic, short-form video exploding, regional content sky-rocketing, LinkedIn joining the video party and organic reach nose-diving. Here are five trends and my focus areas for 2019, the best year for videos we’ve ever seen :)
1. Videos Will Continue To Dominate
You know what was the biggest trend in marketing last year? Videos. This year, the biggest trend continued to be videos, and next year.. it’s going to be videos in hindi and regional languages. Videos are dominating news-feeds everywhere. With millions joining the internet bandwagon in India, armed with cheaper phones and cheaper data, everyone is consuming content on their tiny devices across the country, moving away from traditional media. If you’re still procrastinating about having a video strategy or starting videos.. it’s time to jump and experiment. With LinkedIn going gaga over videos, even B2B space is getting exciting. For personal branding, there couldn’t be a better time to start creating video blogs. 2019 will be the year of experiments in Live videos, vertical videos, regional content, and short form video Ads.
2. Organic Reach is Dead
Gone are the days where you post something on any platform and see it growing organically. All big platforms have tightened up the screws, you got to pay for the distribution. The only way to get organic reach and beat these platforms at their own game, is to have kick-ass content which drives tons of engagement. No platform in the world can stop organic sharing of content. The goal must be to create killer content and spend your distribution budgets only if it’s driving engagement.
Remember, views can be bought, engagement is earned.
Focus on creating content which makes engagement easier.. create for low attention spans, for tiny mobile screens, think conversations first, don’t sweat about production value – focus on storytelling, and most important.. make it share-worthy! When we make our message so powerful, every person who sees, shares it forward, becoming a little evangelist spreading our content like wild-fire and beating platforms at their own game. And that’s how startups will compete with big budget competition and the most engaging content will win.
3. Recall is out, Relevance is in
Branding won’t be about recall-recall-recall anymore. Recall is about getting to as many eye-balls as you can, which comes with budget spends in millions on traditional media. The generation today is trained to ignore ads, our bullshit radars are so evolved, we we can spot the blatant Adsy BS miles away. Ad blockers are on the rise, TV numbers are down and when was the last time you shared an Ad? Marketers think in terms of Ads, short form videos, bumper Ads, twenty seconders, TVCs, long form content, web series etc. And all the user sees is two things.. is it BS or no BS! Our Ads need to evolve and be more authentic, and content must be share-worthy. The more conversations we have on our content, the more relevant our brand will be in the news-feeds and in their minds. Branding will be about relevance, not recall anymore.
4. Rise of Influencer Marketing, Again
Influencer Marketing got off to a messy start last year. Thinking an Influencer as just another distribution channel backfired. Tons were spent on influencer marketing without much ROI. Before we incentivise the messengers (influencers), we must make the message (content strategy) super strong. We’d need to tailor the content to the right influencers and not one-size-fits-all and asking influencers to just broadcast.
5. Return of Jack of all Trades
Next year will see the rise of multi-skilled storytellers. People who can wear many hats, with experimentation in their DNA and self-learning an essential skill.
We need filmmakers who double up as designers, designers who know how to write headlines and writers to know video editing.
Rockstars are groomed, creativity revolves around happiness and let’s play the game and not be under pressure to hit home runs everyday. We need teams who can crack content internally, collaborate and brainstorm across the company and execute.
One more thing..
Finally, after years of working on compiling my crazy notes on fundamentals behind viral videos, the book is coming out in first quarter of 2019. Never thought writing a book would be that big a deal, but deep diving and backing up every little insight with experiments and examples is better than brain-farts about my musings. It’s an actionable manual for anyone who wants to get into content and reach millions on shoe-string budgets. It’s for startups who want to compete with the big guns, marketers who want to invest in personal branding and students who wants to learn rules of the new game. You can sign-up for the mailing list for updates on the release, connect on LinkedIn or check the blog :)