I'll be the first to admit that the world doesn't need another sales and marketing funnel, and I'm confident you'll find nothing new or surprising about the one included here. In fact, some might argue that the funnel should now be a circle or a cloud or some such modernized shape. Having said that, a funnel works just fine in the context of this post because my focus is not on the funnel itself, but on video marketer behavior within its various stages. Very often I see marketers and webcasters capturing and celebrating the same sets of metrics (views, shares, likes, completions) regardless of where that content lives in the funnel. In reality, the goals are unique in each stage and should, therefore, drive very different measurement and success criteria. Furthermore, one also shouldn't overlook the fact that audiences have a different relationship with (and expectation of) marketers depending on where they sit in the funnel. In short, when it comes to designing experiences and success metrics, video marketing is not one-size-fits-all. By way of example, I once managed a webcast that aimed to capture an audience via paid banner advertisements on popular websites throughout the course of the live broadcast. The first part of the strategy worked. The banners captured people's attention and they clicked through to the webcast. Unfortunately, the business owner couldn't justify delivering the webcast without capturing attendance through a short registration process. In the prospect or sales generating stage, a registration page is acceptable and expected (and usually provided ahead of time). However, in the awareness generating stage (where this event clearly resided given the need for banner advertisements), the registration component negated the entire campaign. Potential audiences were lured to the content, and then shown a locked door they could only open by providing information about themselves. They had yet to receive any value from the content, but they were already being stopped and asked to pay a cover charge consisting of their time and personal data. The strategy was doomed to fail. Instead of taking this route, they might have considered deploying the same demand generation strategy, while foregoing registration in exchange for other less demanding and more rewarding interactions. After all, they had already done the hard part of getting the audience to the front door… they just made the door too difficult to open. In an attempt to help people break out of this one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to video usage, I created the simple table below. It aims to provide some ideas about how to think about the content experience and success metrics in the various stages of the funnel. It's based on years of experience producing media content and witnessing audience behavior. Still, the last thing I want to do is replace the existing one-size-fits-all approach with a different one. There is variation in what people are trying to accomplish with media, even in similar stages of the funnel. Moreover, audiences and expectations can differ from industry to industry. This is a guide, hopefully a very helpful guide, but it's not gospel. If it helps provide a little clarity of purpose - it will have done it's job. As usual, I welcome and encourage feedback.Update: Since publishing this, I was tipped to a good resource for digging deeper into the "Barriers to Consumption" concept. The sales funnel slide and the Content Marketing Manifesto by kunocreative are great resources for diving deeper into that topic.
Technology makes almost anything we do subject to reinvention, and a company called Spritz is demonstrating this by reinventing something we've done the same way for centuries - how we read. In short, Spritz posits that our eye movement dramatically slows down the speed at which we read. Spritz research suggests that approximately 20% of our time reading is spent processing the content, while the other 80% of that time is spent moving our eyes from word to word. Their technology removes the hefty tax incurred through eye movement by streaming words to the screen in a way that makes typical eye movement unnecessary. Examples on their website had me reading 500 words per minute very comfortably. More and more, our reading is done on screens, not on paper. Spritz's approach is reading designed from the ground up for the age we live in, and the Spritz technology reminds us that there is still ample opportunity to improve our efficiencies in many areas we take for granted. Moreover, this approach helps overcome new problems that are just now emerging, like how to present information in an age of wearable technologies, where screen real estate is extremely limited. Streaming words to your phone, watch, or eyewear may prove to be a very efficient way to present information in mobile scenarios. It may even be a more comfortable way to deliver captions for online video - since it can feel awkward reading long strings or multiple rows of text within video experiences today. Finally, What impact might this have for traditional advertising and marketing efforts? Mobile environments are already an awful place for delivering typical web display banners, but nevertheless, display ads are dependent on the meandering eye of the end user. They are designed to distract, and exploit the viewer's drifting attention and wandering eyes, thereby being dependent on the very behavior that Spritz intends to eliminate. On the other hand, it creates yet another opportunity to reinvent how we accomplish our marketing goals from the ground up. I can't help but think this brings us one step closer to Blipverts, first coined in the eighties television show, Max Headroom, where 30 second television commercials are compressed into 3 second streams of sounds and images. In the series, Blipverts had a side effect of causing some viewers to explode… but I have a much more positive outlook for Spritz's implementation.
I love it when a new business comes along and disrupts and/or supplements the incumbents. When Netflix showed up on the scene and kicked Blockbuster to the curb, I was impressed by their valuable new spin on an old business model. Recently, though, I've been hearing about a new company called Pley, which is frequently being called the Netflix of Legos. Pley's model is similar to the DVD rent-by-mail service invented by Netflix, except they are doing it with Lego toys. For a reasonable monthly rental fee, a customer can have a designated number of Lego playsets in their possession at any given time (quantity dependent on subscription plan). When a set is returned to Pley, the next set on the list is shipped out to the subscriber. I think I would have loved this as a kid. Having said that, I also would have loved eating ice cream for dinner every night. Looking back from an adult perspective, I am grateful my parents had me eat balanced, healthy meals instead of ice cream, and I'm very grateful this Lego rental service didn't exist. Now is the time in this post when I must confess to you I don't have kids. If you want a review of Pley's offering, there are better sites then this one to use as a resource. You might try this review, or this one, or even this one. Instead, I'm coming from the perspective of an adult, who without knowing it at the time, derived a lot of benefit from a childhood spent alongside my giant Lego bag. Growing up in a time without computers or cell phones, playing with Legos was the prominant way I spent idol indoor time. I typically asked for Lego sets for Birthdays and Christmas (this is when I usually got the bigger sets like the space stations, space ships, castles, and semi-trucks), and I was sometimes just the lucky benefactor of a set for no particular reason (these were usually the small sets like a moon rover or a race car). I'd get excited, tear open the box, follow the instructions step-by-step, and then spend the next day or two playing with and showing off my awesome creation. There is no doubt I would have excitedly done this every time a Pley Lego shipment showed up in the mail. But I expect that this is where the value of the Pley service ends. In the Pley model, when you're done building and playing, you put the pieces back in the mail and wait for the next set to arrive. Contrarily, in my youth, I deconstructed the model and deposited the pieces into the giant Lego bag (a bag I believe my Mom constructed by putting metal eyelets around the perimeter of a large circular sheet of denim and running twine through it to act as a draw string). Thus, the Legos were returned to my own personal "warehouse" to be used as raw materials for my next creation. Only the next creation was not like the ones that came before it. The next creation did not come with instructions and it was not limited to the pieces that came in a single set. The next creations were born from my own mind. They were ideas I had and wanted to try to build or they were things I saw in the real world or on television that I wanted to mimic. Sometimes I started off just putting pieces together and then, hours later, I'd have an object sitting in front of me that didn't exist in my mind or in the real world until that very moment. As more sets were added to the bag, the number of ways to architect things grew exponentially. I remember making the space battleship from Starblazers countless times and I never made it the same way twice. Early versions were a patchwork of colors with clunky features and an indent to serve as the ship's "wave motion gun." Later versions boasted a steel gray top side and a deep red underside, with smooth curves and rotating gun turrets that could aim up and down. In the time when I was fond of the television mini-series "V", I molded clay around the yellow Lego people heads and sculpted them into little lizard faces. If I wanted things in the real world I couldn't afford, I made them out of Legos. When I wanted to be a news reporter, I built a Lego camera, microphone and tape recorder (no, they didn't actually work). When I started to earn an allowance, I built a Lego money vault (it had a working door and locking mechanism, but suffered the key security flaw of being easily deconstructed). Let's be clear, I'm not an architectural or creative genius. None of my Lego creations were brilliant works of art (as evidenced by the included photo). I was just a kid who liked playing with Legos. However, Legos helped me learn aspects of creativity and engineering. They taught me to look at things differently, to take things that started in my mind and make them real, and to attempt to build things I saw else ware. My Legos contributed to building mind muscles I've been using ever since. Don't get me wrong, building the model that comes in the set by following the included guide had value too. The process contributed to my ability to follow instructions and taught me that missing or skipping steps will fundamentally impact the final product (a lesson I'm still learning from Ikea). A growing body of research suggests this type of structured learning is very beneficial to early child development. But by the time I hung up my Lego bag for the last time, I had close to a decade's worth of Legos collected inside of it - comprised of dozens of unique sets. To this day, I can remember many of the creations I conjured up using my hodgepodge of intermixed Lego sets, but I can remember very, very few of the actual models I built by following the included instructions. If there is value in the work Pley is doing, it's in the PleyWorld marketplace they are creating. My recommendation for them would be to dump the "Legos for Rent" concept and focus their efforts here instead. Admittedly, there is already competition in this space from others who focus on MOCs (short for "My Own Creation"), but I suspect there is a lot of room for improving and perfecting this niche and Pley has great momentum. I'd like to see them continue to grow the community and create tools that help people share their creativity with others. Enable others to build, modify and improve on those creations by making it very easy and interactive. Reduce the friction for sharing models and instructions (tools like this one are a great start, but this type of capability could be a web experience, integrated into Pley World). Above all, dump the rental model in exchange for selling the sets outright. Buying, not renting, is how kids will continue to grow their Lego stash, and by extension, grow their minds. Pley has the opportunity to become the community and the marketplace for inspiration and creativity, even if they have to build it brick by brick and without any instructions to guide them.
Emotion can be loosely defined as "a response to stimuli that involves physiological changes, which motivate a person to act." Advertisers and marketers intrinsically understand the power of emotion to move people to purchase, donate, and even volunteer. But advertisers aren't the only ones that draw on the power of emotion in everyday communication. In an era of instant messaging and texting, emoticons are being used to quickly convey sentiment and emotion within a medium where text is too constrained to do the job. In essence, emoticons are a shortcut to transmitting emotion to others. Along those lines, the use of emoticons to convey sentiment and also drive action is an area I'm referring to as emotification. Case in point, while configuring a blog that I manage, I recently installed a popular spam filtering plugin called Akismet. While the product is technically free for personal use, the Akismet team does encourage that you donate if you appreciate the product. While I like to reward producers of products I find valuable, I also can't afford to make significant monetary donations to every plugin I use. Still, I figured I'd at least contribute five or ten dollars toward the cause. That is until I ran into the little emoticon that sat at the Akismet checkout counter. As it turns out, the donation I had in mind wasn't enough to turn the little fella's frown upside down. I selected to leave a $12 donation, and while normally I'd feel good about my decision to support the developers, I couldn't feel good about my contribution knowing that the little face was still frowning at me. I slid the slider bar and realized that it didn't crack a smile until I hit the $24 mark. So that is why I donated $24 to Akismet for their Spam filtering plugin. Truth be told, if it didn't crack a smile until I reached $40 or more, I probably would have donated the greater amount. My point is this: I can't think of any verbiage that would have had the power to make me open my wallet the way that little smiley face did. And yet, emotification in day-to-day scenarios is very infrequent. What would happen if the tip guide on a guest check transitioned from showing the 10%, 15% and 20% tip percentages to a frowny face, smiley face, and super smiley face? What if strong password indicators on websites went from red, yellow, and green signals to crying, smiling and laughing baby pictures? Humans are both emotive and visual beings. When there isn't enough time or space for words to do their job, we need to remember that there is no substitute for tapping into emotion… even at a very subtle level. Emoticons are a very basic way to convey simple emotion - and just a little dab of emotion can be enough to drive action. Have you seen good examples of emoticons at work? Or, where do you think emotification could be used to drive action? Share your thoughts in the comments.