13 Unique Ways A Business Can Use Video To Engage Its Audience

Ever since innovations on the web made the embedded video a viable strategy, marketers have realized how vital this visual medium is to get consumers’ attention. As companies started to utilize this new technology, and it became more democratized, the popularity of video as a communication medium exploded.

However, there are several techniques that a business can utilize when their chosen medium is video. To make an impact, a company must stand out with their content. Thirteen professionals from Forbes Agency Council explore how companies can be unique about their use of video in marketing, and how they can stand out from the crowd by leveraging these tactics.

13 Unique ways to engage with video

1. Engage Category Influencers

Consumers love video, as long as it is informative or entertaining or ideally both. Inform — don’t hard-sell. Engage YouTube influencers in your category and hire them to create branded videos with simple production values. And develop your own YouTube influencers through your SMEs or even enthusiastic customers. – Robert Finlayson, Zeno Group

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Personal

Grab the audience’s attention with a highlighted image or offer that catches their eye right off the bat. Once you have their attention, make the following seconds worth their time by letting the consumer or audience know how the brand can positively impact their life in the most concise and emotional way possible. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

3. Jump On A Hot Topic

When Peloton’s latest ad showed a woman getting an exercise bike from her husband for Christmas, social media outrage ensued. Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin, however, identified an opportunity to engage in a trending cultural moment, creating a spot with the same actress and telling the story of what happened next. The lesson for brands is to keep it simple, relevant and most of all, timely. – Ryan Cassin, Asset Agency

4. Target A Search Query

Making videos that answer a specific question — especially a how-to question — can be very effective. People ask Google questions, and if your company has a good answer which can be made into a short, engaging video, you may have found an excellent way to rank first in search for a specific query. It’s important to ensure that the title of your video exactly matches the query you are targeting. – Samuel Michelson, Five Blocks

5. Create Snackable Videos

When people think of video formats, it is natural to associate them with high production costs. There is an incredible amount of tools out there today that allow you to create high-quality, made-for-social videos that are engaging with only a few clicks. Some videos — although short and sweet — can have a big impact when done the right way. Be consistent and results will come. – Alex Sandoval, MOI Global

6. Stand Out With Personalized Videos

Creating personalized videos for your audience is a smart way to stand out in a cluttered marketing landscape. When a customer sees their name or brand in the video thumbnail, they are much more likely to click through to view your content. The great news is that solutions such as Vidyard now make it possible to personalize videos at scale. – Jenni Smith, EGR International

7. Do A Weekly Live-Streamed Podcast

Setting up an in-house podcast and live-video streaming studio is relatively inexpensive and allows brands to amplify the way they engage their audience. Podcasts (and video streaming) can cover a range of topics, from reflecting on industry insights and news to interviews with industry thought leaders (or happy clients). Video is by far the most effective tool to maximize audience engagement. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Use Animation

It seems counter-intuitive, but using animation as a video can often communicate a message better than a talking head. The reasons are: the ability to create the scene to suit the message, the flexibility to add captions and transition slides, and the creative freedom to make a point directly, rather than subtly. Animation also enables you to feature brand attributes to support your message. – Francine Carb, Markitects, Inc.

9. Convert Website Case Studies To Video

Case studies are critically important to building trust and gaining the interest of business-to-business clients. But the traditional written case study, with its “problem, solution, result” format, doesn’t have the impact it used to. It’s been overused. Turning your case studies into video testimonials — with client interviews and compelling storytelling — will get them a broader and more engaged audience. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

10. Make Sure You Offer Value

Video should be just like any other content offer and give the viewer real value. Don’t push videos out about your great products or services. Do create authentic videos where you offer insights, takeaways, and action items that viewers can gain by watching your video. Next, make sure the offer is clear in the first five seconds and your engagement rate will soar. – David Ward, Meticulosity

11. Focus On The Story, Not The Sell

To help your videos stand out and connect with viewers, use them to tell stories, not rehash sales pitches. The power of video is the emotions it engages. Sales pitches aren’t emotionally engaging. Stories are. Make people fall in love with your brand through video. Hook first. Sell later. Practice inbound marketing fundamentals and you’ll see success. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

12. Speak With Your Brand’s Voice

Videos are another element contributing to our brand image and should be treated as such. Understanding the audience and the brand inside and out will help the creatives produce video content that carries the same voice. This is important because we can’t expect a single video to make much of an impact, but a series of consistent videos that follow a strategy will be memorable and impactful. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing

13. Stop Trying So Hard

The very word “video” stirs this notion that we need to be creating Oscar-winning footage to win at the game. Some of the most viral, clever videos are shot on an iPhone and feature signature choppy editing with grainy images. Source user-generated content over trying to hire the next Quentin Tarantino to shoot your video. Think raw, think real, think radically simple with your video efforts. – Danica Kombol, Everywhere Agency

15 Mistakes Agencies Make In Their Creative Content Process (And How To Fix Them)

The creative content process can take a long time, and each agency has a different approach to it. There’s no standardized method of producing content, and what one agency provides will be vastly different from another because of how they go about developing it.

The diversity in creation has its benefits and drawbacks, however. In a lot of cases, agencies may develop a creative process that inadvertently creates issues, leading to a sub-par final product. Fifteen associates of Forbes Agency Council take a look at some of the mistakes agencies make with their creative process, and how they can seek to fix those problems.

15 Mistakes Agencies Make with Creative and how to fix them

1. Focusing On Quantity Over Quality

Sometimes quantity can kill quality and creativity. The most common mistake I have seen is when, in the rush of producing more, agencies compromise on quality. We must focus on building content that will be followed, liked, go viral. The consumer will never decide to buy just because the content is abundant, but the consumer will always pay attention if the content is interesting. – Ally Spinu, USA Link System

2. Letting Creativity Overshadow Goals

Agencies forget to ask, “what’s the goal?” throughout the creative process. In an effort to produce unique and creative content, it is easy to forget what the goal of the content is. Do you want the reader to contact your company? Watch a video? Sign up for your webinar? Keep the core goal in mind as creativity flows from concept to launch. – Bernard May, National Positions

3. Not Doing Research First

One of the most common errors we help clients correct is the notion that creative concepts are by necessity based on intuition or happenstance. The biggest brands in the world know that effective creative is grounded in customer journey research. Knowing who your customers are and how they interact with your brand is essential to consistently creating campaigns that connect. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

4. Becoming Order-Takers Instead Of Idea-Makers

On one level, clients hire agencies to produce content or to do PR or marketing or web design. But ultimately, they are hiring you for your ideas. The most common mistake agencies make in their creative content process is to let their clients drive strategy. They become order-takers instead of idea-makers. Agencies must make sure their process always centers on strategy first, output second. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove

5. Not Having A Clearly Defined Process

Many businesses never clearly define their process or they use an undocumented process. This is a common mistake. Once you document steps and, subsequently, results, you can refine your process, as you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll also ensure that your system is maintained. Your process does not need to be written in stone, but it should be written somewhere! – Fran Biderman-Gross, Advantages

6. Account Teams Trying To Influence The Creative

A common issue we’ve encountered in agencies is the account team injecting themselves into the creative process and direction. Account team lends perspective for the creative team to then consider but they should not be directing the creative. Attempting to implement thoughts the client has without thought to the decisions that have been made and why they were made, can be disastrous. – Paul E. Benninghove, Pavone Marketing Group

7. Creating Content That Doesn’t Fit Your Brand

A common mistake is spitballing content ideas that don’t fit a business model or branding. An easy way to fix this is just imagining how each tactic fits into your company’s mission, vision or overall presence. How does that piece of content reflect on you? Where is it going to be posted? Is it quality content? These are the questions that you should be asking when creating content. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

8. Overstaffing A Campaign

When there’s a favorite campaign that everyone wants to work on, don’t fall into the trap of overstaffing it — everyone will start applying their hours to it, thus escalating time and budgets. Assign a small creative team to the campaign early on and keep the meetings short. Team members must adhere to the account lead and finance but don’t limit creativity — just pick the right team for the project. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

9. Thinking Too Big

As marketers, we’re trained to “think big” but in truth, sometimes our clients want us to solve a singular problem without rewriting the entire constitution. What if instead of thinking big, we started small and clearly defined the desired outcome coming up with uncomplicated, smart solutions? Too often, I see agencies overworking the creative concept and missing the core challenge. Small is big! – Danica Kombol, Everywhere Agency

10. Not Checking The Analytics

One of the worst mistakes that firms make is that they over-advertise and they over-saturate people with information as well as with content. This is not a wise move because it  means that people will not pay attention to messages when they are important. One of the most important lessons is to take the time to know your audience. A part of that means getting to know when to mail them. – Jon James, Ignited Results

11. Not Allowing Enough Time For Collaboration

The most common pitfall for agencies in this modern age is failing to allow enough time and space for real, organic, creative collaboration. This cannot happen in conference calls or over email. At our agency, when we gather in our conference room, close our computers and turn off our phones for an uninterrupted design sprint, we accomplish twice as much. – Jenni Smith, EGR International

12. Not Talking About What Matters To Ideal Clients

It’s amazing to me how many pro service firms do not have a clearly defined ideal client profile. I believe this is foundational to all creative messaging and promotion strategies. The ideation process, where campaigns are won or lost, should keep the goals, opportunities and challenges of ideal clients at the center. This is how “creative” creates distinction and brand differentiation. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

13. Holding Onto Agency Structures Of The Past

Times have changed. Gone are the days when an agency is staffed like an assembly line, with everyone adding their cog to the wheel to make it move. Agencies holding on to the structures, processes and titles of the past are killing their creative process. Today’s modern marketing dynamic demands lean, nimble teams with better creative output, and everyone (from the top down) pitching in. – Jessica Reznick, We’re Magnetic

14. Using Excuses To Replace ‘This Isn’t A Priority’

There are hundreds of easy approach solutions to every limitation. Excuses are a smoke screen covering micromanagement and misaligned priorities. Executives overseeing the process, middle managers overemphasizing limitations and team members feeling unempowered — that is the real problem. Empower the team to find and own solution, and the process will work, every time. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media

15. Getting Caught Up In The Flavor Of The Week

One common mistake is to focus on a new flashy technology. It may be getting a lot of press and the clients may be asking for it. Don’t get caught up in the flavor of the week and stay grounded in what the brand is trying to accomplish. Bright and flashy creative ideas come and go but something that is creative and aligns to brand strategy has a much better chance of having a business impact.  – Laura Glotzbach, LGS Marketing Services

15 Tips To Consider When Starting A Podcast

Podcasts are one of the fastest-growing methods for a business to connect with its current and potential clients and expand its influence and reach. Many people listen to podcasts since they are portable, easy to access and fit into a busy schedule.

There are only a handful of ways to get a podcast right, and a myriad of methods to get it wrong. A podcast has to compete against a lot of other, similar recordings, and it needs to prove its worth — or else it won’t get the recognition it deserves.

15 Tips for Podcast

To help, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council offer their best advice for businesses planning to start a podcast and keep it running for as long as possible.

1. Have A Clear Plan

It’s easy for many of us to talk about a topic that we find interesting or know a lot about, but make sure you don’t run off on too many tangents. Stick to the goal, the question or the topic to keep your podcast on track and your listeners engaged. Remember, it’s a podcast, not a broadcast. It doesn’t need to be perfectly polished. Your skills will improve and evolve over time. – Bernard May, National Positions

2. Know Who You Are Talking To

I’ve created many podcasts for my clients, from concept to production. The one thing that I know is that brands need to know who they are talking to. Podcasts are just like ads: Do you know who you want to talk to? Podcasts, similarly to video, don’t need a massive number of listens to have a high ROI. What you need to do is focus on your core audience and make sure they follow and listen. – Azad Abbasi, Genius

3. Think End-User First

When brands create podcasts, content typically tends to be focused on what’s important for the business. This approach results in each episode having a different target market, which prevents it from building community. Treat podcast episodes like serialized storytelling rather than a single public relations opportunity and you’ll find greater success, increased consumption and engaged listeners. – Carey Kirkpatrick, CKP

4. Provide Value Without Fluff

Standing out is a critical problem to solve with starting a new podcast. What’s the best way to do it? Provide value without the fluff. Shorter length podcasts that are jam-packed with value have an easier time gaining traction and retention than ones where the listeners have to sit through an hour just to hear a few points of interest. – Nishank Khanna, Demand Roll

5. Defining The Cadence And The Structure

One mistake that is constantly made with podcasts is people who are not taking them seriously enough. If you want to have a successful show you need to plan ahead and show when you are going to be creating content. When you put that content out, you always, without question, must be on time. You also must constantly bring an exceptional format to the show. – Jon James, Ignited Results

6. Build Viral Awareness

Every guest you host and every company they represent should be an advocate for promoting the program. Leveraging individual company newsletters, databases and social media channels will help build a following. In addition, make sure the focus of the podcast (its messaging) is clear and concise so people looking can find you based on their interests. – Ilissa Miller, IMiller Public Relations

7. Be Extremely Customer-Centric

Remember that your podcast content is not about you. Make sure that every podcast topic and episode is laser-focused on bringing value and entertainment to your audience. Think about what they want to learn in your industry and don’t be afraid to talk about things that you don’t offer. Focus on their interests and they will stick around to hear the rest. – A. Lee Judge, Content Monsta

8. Capture A Niche

In order to survive in the extremely congested podcast landscape, the podcast must adequately capture a niche and communicate that niche in a way that is extremely clear to the target audience. General topic podcasts are extremely difficult to sell to a saturated market — find a particular thing you can own and run with it. – Stefan Pollack, The Pollack PR Marketing Group

9. Become Predictable

Become predictable but not in the repetitive, boring sense — in the way that your fans know when they can expect the next release, the type of content they will hear, and how that content will be delivered. From my experience, maintaining a consistent schedule is just as important as delivering interesting stories to your listeners. – Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions

10. Don’t Copy Someone

If you find yourself needing to copy someone else for lack of your own originality, then maybe the time to start a podcast just isn’t right. We don’t need more content for the sake of more content. If you’re patient, your original idea will eventually come, and then it’ll be time for you to go all in before someone else beats you to it. – Greg Trimble, Lemonade Stand

11. Remember Your ‘Why’

We’ve just started our own podcast, so we’re experiencing these challenges firsthand. My biggest tip would be to always remember why you created it so that you don’t go off-topic, off-brand and off your strategy. Always think about how you are going to add value to someone else’s day. If you hold that in, you’ll be able to stay on track. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

12. Ask Better Questions

Having started my own podcast recently, my tip would be to make sure you get really good with asking better questions. I saw a lot of videos on how to ask good questions before I sat down to frame my own. Asking questions that don’t lead to a one-word answer would be my one tip. – Namita Ramani, Above Digital

13. Learn Your Distribution Model First

Developing a good podcast is similar to making a website search engine-optimized. Strategy-wise, the search engine component to podcasts is as important as the content itself. Having knowledge of your potential distribution is crucial, so it’s best to start with a distribution model and work your way back through content creation and storytelling. – Scott Harkey, OH Partners

14. Promote On Social And Track Results

It’s critical for the success of your podcast to properly leverage social media to drive listeners from your target audience. Make sure to share a link to each episode on the social platforms relevant to your target audience of listeners: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat and/or LinkedIn. Tracking visitors to your podcast will allow you to optimize future distribution efforts. – Jody Resnick, Trighton Interactive

15. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Personal

A good podcast tells a story audibly but makes you visualize the situation, personal story or character of the narrator or interviewee. When starting a podcast, strive for that personal connection by sharing relatable stories with human flaws that people sympathize with. The audience will feel they truly “know” the person and continue following their story in subsequent podcasts. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

13 Tips For Effectively And Efficiently Personalizing A Marketing Campaign

Today’s marketers are learning that personalized campaigns are often the most successful. These powerful marketing tactics are particularly effective in targeting Millennials and Gen-Zers, who crave authentic, personal connections with the brands they patronize. However, taking the time and resources to tailor every individual marketing message can get very expensive, very quickly.

If you want to get more personal without breaking the bank, try following these tips from the experts of Forbes Agency Council. Their tactics will help you efficiently and cost-effectively take a more individualized approach to your marketing.


1. Authentically Automate Personalized Campaigns

There is a multitude of ways to automate personalized campaigns. However, it’s essential not to sacrifice authenticity for the efficiency of automation. For example, too many “persona-based” personalized campaigns paint too broadly when bucketing cohorts. Instead, opt for more individually personalized automation. An obvious example is sending automated emails on audience members’ birthdays. – Gyi Tsakalakis, AttorneySync

2. Get More Specific With Your Targeting

Plain and simple, our technology today allows us to get very specific in who we are targeting. The more specific you are about who you want to see your campaign, the more you are able to personalize it and keep within budget. This means you need to really know who your target audience is and what their habits, likes and dislikes, and behaviors are. – Andrea Keirn, Black Rhino Marketing Group

3. Let Them Tell You What They Want

Give your younger customers a chance to self-select by asking them what kind of consumer they are. For instance, ask if they’re a regular purchaser, a sometimes purchaser or a first-time purchaser. It’s simple: Once they’ve identified as a purchaser at all, they’re more likely to make a purchase. Then, adjust your messaging and offers accordingly (but don’t forget to test those messages!). – Kathy Broderick Selker, Northlich

4. Leverage Narrative Psychology

Personalization of campaigns can be efficient and cost effective when considering the power of narrative psychology. Think social quizzes—these self-directed widgets blew up because it’s all about the “story of me,” a.k.a. narrative psychology. Include your targets in creating the campaign, creatively, and let them tell your story in a personalized manner. – Jennifer Barbee, Destination Innovate

5. Align Campaign Structure And Messaging With The Customer Journey

When you don’t have the time, data or dollars to build truly personalized marketing, structure your campaign to mirror the customer journey and create different messaging for each stage. Most marketers don’t. In the top of the funnel, differentiate your brand and address customer needs. At the bottom of the funnel, use retargeting campaigns personalized to site behavior, and use a strong call to action. – John Keehler, RUNNER Agency

6. Start With A Hashtag

It can all start with just one word. The campaign has to be catchy, and it can be just a simple hashtag where people can get involved with no cost. Having a hashtag go viral would be the most cost-effective campaign. Millennials and Gen-Zers want something straight to the point and real. What better way than to convey your message with a simple hashtag? – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.

7. Create A ‘Vault’ Of Collateral To Use Year-Round

Cost-effectiveness and efficiency often get sacrificed in campaigns when everything is created from scratch during the time campaigns are being created. Have your team regularly deliver content and copy that can be utilized when it’s time to create a new campaign. Use Pinterest boards and a shared Google Doc that everyone can contribute their ideas to as they feel inspired to do so. – Danielle Sabrina, Tribe Builder Media

8. Tell Real Stories About Real People

Personalized campaigns require preliminary research to understand your customers and the causes they believe in. To deliver powerful campaigns that truly resonate, tell real stories about real people, and draw the connection between these narratives and your brand’s overarching mission and vision. This will help make advertisements that are unique to your company and your audience. – Theresa Schieber, Givewith

9. Study Popular Search Terms

Personalizing ads can be done cost effectively through dynamic, digital creative that is based on the terms Millennials and Gen-Zers are searching for. Different imagery, highlighted products and offers can all be personalized and changed based on the initial search terms. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

10. Engage With Them Where They Already Are

It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen-Zers dwell in the details and thus consume an overwhelming amount of information to help guide their decision making. When crafting a campaign, it’s important to take note of where they are engaging with content, like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, and create campaigns that are relatable, personable and easy to communicate through these channels. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

11. Get A 360-Degree View Of Your Customer

Invest in a platform that centralizes data about your customers, business, category and competitors to gain a comprehensive view of your business and customers. With machine learning enhanced by artificial intelligence powering your data feed and displaying it in a comprehensive dashboard, you can make informed decisions and instant adjustments to campaigns to connect with customers on an individual level. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

12. Get Personal At The Right Time

Personalizing campaigns used to mean inserting a name into an email or adding some “meat” to your interaction. But there are many stops along the buyer journey to connect when it is the most valuable for the buyer. For example, you get a new iPhone. Now you might need a case and perhaps a backup charger. Just check your email or that text message. This is personalized remarketing at its best. – Bernard May, National Positions

13. Use Dynamic Content

You can create personalized emails without spending hours on crafting emails manually. Use dynamic content. This method enables you to create one email with separate blocks customized to each recipient. It also allows you to localize the images. Dynamic content can be a perfect solution, as it helps brands build a much stronger relationship with the customers by showing that they really care. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS