Video is an essential part of any marketing strategy. For years, experts have predicted that the future of marketing would be dominated by short, highly-polished videos and by platforms like YouTube.
That future is now.
The vast majority of internet users consume video content on a daily basis and for younger generations, this is how they get their news, discover new brands, and spend their free time.
It’s a subject I touched on briefly when speaking with Habib Salo about scaling B2B businesses, and it’s something I was eager to discuss at length with Jason Beauregard.
If video is the future of content and content is king, then Jason Beauregard is one of the web’s most powerful and influential figures, and I was delighted to brainstorm with him on this topic.
One of the first things we discussed was how to produce content during COVID. It’s a question that many viewers have posed and one that countless creative agencies and small businesses are struggling with, so it seemed like a good starting point.
But there was much more to cover, and I even had the chance to go “behind the scenes” and to uncover Jason’s creative process.
How To Create During COVID
You don’t need a lot to make something incredible.
That’s what Jason Beauregard said when quizzed about the difficulties businesses are facing during COVID-19.
Businesses have encountered numerous roadblocks in 2020, as staff members have been forced to stay away or work remotely, and this has restricted the creative process.
But Jason is living proof that great content can come from small teams.
Not only is a smaller crew more beneficial during a pandemic, when lockdowns are a common occurrence and nothing is guaranteed, but they can also be more effective away from this uncertainty.
You don’t just need the right VP, you need one that is willing to be proactive—to put a microphone on someone, to move a light, to take a chance.
The internet can also be your friend during these unprecedented times.
You could, for instance, create a situation where just 2 or 3 people are active on the set (preferably in a spacious and well-ventilated production facility) and everyone else is connected through Zoom.
One person can be responsible for touching the camera. Everyone can wear PPE. And you can make sure there is plenty of hand sanitizer available.
It’s difficult, but it’s not impossible, and if you want to keep production going, it’s essential.
Jason admits to adopting similar methods himself, using boom microphones to limit contact with the team, and connecting everyone via Zoom to give them real-time access.
Production is possible, it just takes more time and more effort than usual.
Entire films and TV shows have been shot using these methods over the last few months. It can be done, and if you want to keep the wheels turning, it must be done.
Jason also discussed the importance of using the same small group of individuals. It helps to create a family atmosphere, one where everyone is comfortable with one another and understands the rules and boundaries. But it also provides insight into the lives of those individuals.
Have they put themselves at risk, have they exposed themselves to the virus, and can you safely create a production bubble with these individuals?
These are questions you can answer with a closely-knit team of trusted individuals, but not with one that is constantly refreshed with new and unknown talent.
What Goes Into A Viral Video?
There is no cookie-cutter approach to making a viral video.
Sure, there are marketing “experts” who will try to convince you otherwise, shouting buzzwords at you from their garages as they casually walk past a fleet of sports cars and direct you to their “life-changing” online course, but it’s not that easy.
If it was, they would spend less time selling you their secret for a “low-low price” and more time actually making viral videos.
But at the same time, virality doesn’t happen by accident.
Jason Beauregard has created numerous viral videos and while his process changes, it generally involves all of the following:
1. Heart-Warming Real-Life Stories
What goes into creating award-winning videos like the ones that Jason has produced throughout his career?
For Jason, it boils down to finding the little stories that exist everywhere. We all have our own stories to tell and what might be simple and even mundane to us, could be amazing and inspiring to someone else.
During our interview, Jason told me about some of the videos he created for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
One of these was about a blind child who often visited soccer games with his mother. He couldn’t see what was happening on the pitch but enjoyed the thrill of being in a live stadium and didn’t want to spoil it by wearing headphones and listening to sports commentary.
Instead, his mother would describe the games to him, narrating every kick, every piece of goal-mouth action, and allowing him to paint a complete picture of everything that was happening on the pitch.
He could immerse himself in the action and experience a game of soccer like everyone else. It was an inspiring story, and in telling it, not only did Jason create publicity for the event, but he also touched a lot of viewers and helped to draw attention to the boy and his mother.
In another heart-warming video, Jason told the story of Carson Pickett, a one-armed American soccer player who created a close bond with a one-armed child fan, Joseph Tidd.
Jason saw the bond they shared, sensed a story, and the resulting video, which I showed during our interview, went viral and led to several TV appearances for Joseph and a major sponsorship deal for Carson.
This ability to touch the viewer is central to Jason’s work, and it’s also key to making something viral, getting more views, more shares, more likes, and making a bigger impact.
2. You Don’t Need A Big Budget
Great videos come from big ideas, not big budgets.
One of the other videos I showed during my interview with Jason was one he created for Don Julio—a stylish and effective piece that perfectly conveyed the brand’s message.
Jason faced some stiff competition, trying to appeal to a company that regularly spends in the high 6-figures, and he did all of this with a budget of just $5,000.
He worked with just one other person, brainstormed a simple but ingenious idea, and was able to film on a budget.
Along with some cheap plane tickets to Mexico and some basic equipment (including a drone) he spent $500 on the location and talent and shot the piece in just 2 days.
Best of all, he didn’t even get close to spending the full $5,000 budget!
It’s proof that you don’t need tens of thousands of dollars to create successful, impactful videos—it’s all about the idea, the desire, and the execution, and none of that relies on a big budget.
3. Understand The Audience
A major part of Jason’s process is understanding the demographic he is appealing to.
Why does a company do what it does? Why do customers like it so much and why do they continue to purchase its products and buy into its ideology?
Some brands are able to capture an entire demographic and have the complete devotion of their customers. Others try to appeal to everyone and hope that something sticks.
Engagement is a key part of this. It’s about giving the viewer something they can enjoy, something they can understand and engage with, because only when they are hooked and devoted, will they be ready to buy.
This is where Jason’s obsession with stories plays a crucial role.
As he discussed during our interview, if your advert exists for the sole purpose of selling a product; if it’s a commercial that shouts offers, promises, and terms and conditions at you and then bamboozles you with colorful imagery, you’re not going to be very happy.
Unless you’re looking for the exact product that the company is selling, that ad will instantly have negative connotations for you, which means you’ll develop contempt for the brand.
On the flip side, if you’re telling a story that people can engage with, one that doesn’t try to blatantly sell a product and actually has something interesting to say, you’re likely to be more forgiving.
Many business owners focus too much on the numbers and forget about the people behind those numbers.
It’s easy to think that a 30-second soulless commercial will be effective if you know you can put it in front of 5 million pairs of eyes. After all, some of those views will be in your target demographic, some will be ready to buy, and of the ones that don’t, most will at least remember your brand.
But that’s not how advertising works anymore.
Every day, from the moment they wake up to the moment they fall asleep, people are bombarded with ads. They see them on their phone, from 5-second YouTube clips to annoying application pop-ups; they hear them on the radio while they drive to work; they see them on billboards, television, at the movie theatre, in newspapers, and on social media.
The average person is so accustomed to seeing and ignoring these mindless commercials that they don’t actually process any of the information.
But if one of their friends shares a video with a caption expressing happiness, sorrow, or amusement, they’ll stop what they’re doing and watch.
For the next 30 to 90 seconds, that video has their undivided attention. If it’s impactful enough, the message it conveys will stay with them and the brand it promotes will be remembered.
This is something that big brands are starting to realize and act on, but it’s something that many smaller businesses and start-ups still don’t acknowledge, and they are often the ones who can benefit the most from this approach.
4. Be Honest
One of the oldest marketing tricks in the book is to tell a few white lies, exaggerate them to the point of absurdity, and then wait for the sales to roll in.
It’s something we saw a lot of during the golden age of marketing, the Mad Men era in which cigarettes were marketed as healthy and every advert contained an apparent recommendation from a doctor or other trusted professional.
We still see some of these tactics being used today, with vague statements claiming that a company is the best, it’s products have been scientifically proven, or that they work in miraculous ways. But these claims are almost always shot down within minutes of those videos going live.
If you make a grandiose claim in your video, it will be checked by your viewers and one of them will comment to call you a liar. Once that happens, others will follow suit, and before long, your reputation will tank, and your glossy new video will be spammed with downvotes and negative comments.
Thanks to the advent of social media, word of mouth is now more powerful than ever and can make or break a company in minutes.
If a major company makes a false statement, the world will know about it in moments. It will flood through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram like a digital tsunami, and within just a few hours it’ll be on all major online news sites. By the end of the day, it will be transformed into the latest hit meme and in just a day or two, the story will begin to fade away, taking a major part of the brand’s reputation with it.
As a small business, you’re not exposed to such instantaneously disastrous consequences, but you’ll still be called out for your lies and ambiguity and that can be just as harmful for a burgeoning business.
Don’t be vague, don’t be dishonest. If honesty genuinely isn’t your friend and you find yourself constantly trying to twist the truth just to make your product look good, you’re selling the wrong product!
5. Remember That You’re A Consumer
Last but not least, remember that you’re a consumer as well as a creator.
If you’re struggling to create something that others will like, focus on creating something that you will like.
What would make you like and share? What would hold your attention for a minute or two?
This is one of the many great nuggets of advice that Jason offered during our interview and it’s one he has used himself. If the video isn’t compelling to him, he knows it probably won’t be compelling to others, either.
Why Are Brands Boycotting Social Media?
As the interview was wrapping up, I asked Jason what his thoughts were on brands boycotting Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen over 150 major international brands pull the plug on their social media marketing campaigns. They argue that Facebook and sites like it are not doing enough to stop the spread of false, hate-filled, and potentially harmful material.
It’s an accusation that Facebook has been facing for years and one that they, and their advertisers, have happily ignored. But it has all come to a head during 2020, a year that has been defined by divisiveness.
One of the other problems that brands have, and one that Jason pointed out, concerns how adverts are displayed on these platforms.
If you have an argument with someone on Facebook and this turns into a highly negative experience that leaves you feeling angry, upset, or frustrated, what happens when you see an ad for a company’s product? What happens if that ad is somewhat related to the argument you just had?
The negative energy you have will then feed into your perception of that brand. It may cause you to react negatively to the advert, it may change your opinion of the company and its products. In any case, that negative energy isn’t going to do the brand any favors and yet they are paying for the pleasure of advertising to you.
TV advertisers spend a lot of time and money making sure their commercials are shown at the right times. In the past, they would even watch the shows for which their commercials would be shown, checking that they were positive and relevant.
They wanted complete control over what the viewers saw, because they understood that the viewer’s mindset was key to controlling how their brand and products were perceived.
With Facebook, they don’t have any of that control.
A brand can choose a specific demographic, telling Facebook that the ad should only be shown in specific areas and to specific age groups, but they can’t control what that person is watching before, during, or after they see the ad.
This is ultimately what caused the “Adpocalypse” on YouTube. Countless creators had their videos demonetized overnight and entire subjects were suddenly deemed “unfriendly” to advertisers.
YouTube was pressured into making this move because those same advertisers wanted complete control over where their commercials were shown and simply couldn’t bear the idea that they might be shown on videos with bad language, graphic scenes, and even slightly negative news stories.
From the perspective of a social media influencer, it all feels like a step too far, but from the advertiser’s perspective, it’s an important part of maintaining brand identity and integrity.
About Our Guest: Jason Beauregards
Under Jason’s leadership, VaynerMedia became a global content creator, producing videos in over 30 different countries, in multiple languages, across all social media platforms. The model, Jason developed, allowed for brands to create multiple pieces of content from one shoot, which kept costs low but the volume of content high.
Jason partnered with FaceBook’s Creative Director, Ji Lee, and their Creative Labs to create one of the first branded 360 videos for the platform. Jason and his team also designed and built their own 360 camera and stitching software to deliver the first-ever branded virtual reality experience for Johnnie Walker. The drive responsibly campaign, which put viewers in the car of a drunk driving accident, has been experienced by millions and is now also used by driving schools throughout the country, as an example of the hazards while driving under the influence.
Two years ago, in a partnership with Gary Vaynerchuk, Jason took his expertise and started focusing on his passion – branded sports storytelling. His first production partnership was with Right to Dream, a not-for-profit football club in Ghana. Jason designed their media strategy, content, and distribution model, which got the attention of Nike, who recently became an exclusive sponsor. Right to Dream’s video series recently won a 2020 Gold Telly for best sports series and their per video viewership grew from around 200 to over 1 million. Thanks to the success of the content strategy and distribution model, implemented by Jason and his team, the Right to Dream is set to open its second football academy in Cairo, Egypt in 2021.
Finally, Jason has currently been working with FIFA as an advisor, strategist, and executive producer for content created specifically for female players. In 2019, for the Women’s World Cup, Jason and his team launched SHEROES, a 12-part series of short films focusing on inspirational women in the world of football, not just athletes, but fans, mothers of famous players, and leaders who are passionate about promoting female football. The series recently won a 2020 Silver Telly award and has redefined how the organization tells stories about women in and around the world of football.
Visit Jason on the Web: https://redefiningadvertising.com.