If you’re reading a blog and participating in a community like The 60 Second Marketer, the rise and value of video is completely obvious to you.

The tools and tech for production and distribution are more plentiful, easier to use, and less expensive than ever. And every social network is investing in video: from YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to YouTube Live, Facebook Live, IGTV, LinkedIn Live. 

If you, your team, or your agency are currently writing, producing, casting, lighting, shooting, editing, finishing, and distributing videos, awesome! Keep going. Continue to leverage the benefits of the medium throughout the entire customer lifecycle; those benefits are both intuitive and well-documented.

But you’ve got a video opportunity that’s still flying just under the radar. If you’re not yet using video, it’s a great place to start. If you’re successfully using video, it’s a great thing to add. 

Marketing Through Video vs Relationships Through Video

Historically and even presently, “video” in a business context continues in the tradition of television commercials and film trailers. Time and money. Thought and care. Professional and polished. Specialized talents and equipment are put to use to bring to life the ideas of creative experts. Videos for homepages. Explainer videos or “why us” videos. Videos to hype events or special offers. Product launch videos. You know the types.

Again, the primary point of reference and standard sought for these videos is something like “Dollar Shave Club” (at 26 million views and counting). The goal is often increasing “engagement” or going “viral.” And, again, this is a worthy effort.

We call this style of video “marketing through video.” We use that language to separate it from the opportunity you and your team may be missing – something we call “relationships through video.” The difference is better imagined on a continuum than as one or the other, but it’s important to draw the line to help define the opportunity.

Relationships through video abandons traditional budgets, timelines, and production in favor of a more simple, personal, and authentic approach.

Rather than camcorders, DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, drones, or action cams, the go-to here is a webcam or smartphone. Rather than designed sets, controlled scenes or green screens, the setting is your office, cubicle, or car (safely parked – never record videos while driving). Rather than editing and post-production, the video is finished simply by clicking “Stop” when you’re done recording your first and only take. 

The result is something much more honest and real. The goal is not virality; this is about clearer communication and human connection.

The primary point of reference is a typed-out email or text message. The question to ask yourself isn’t “Will this win an award?” or “Will this rack up 200 shares or 10,000 views?” Instead, the question is “Will I communicate more clearly or connect more effectively if I share this message through a simple, personal video?”

Marketers, sales reps, customer success and support team members, leaders, and people in all kinds of roles are participating in this movement. In my 8 years as a marketing team member at BombBomb, I’ve sent more than 8,000 videos myself – some to lists of people, some to a handful of people, and most to a single person.

This “relationships through video” style will save you significant time. How? For starters, we talk about four times faster than we type. Beyond that, when you get comfortable with one-take videos, you bypass all the editing you’d do either to a typed-out email or a produced and edited video. You’ll also cut down on back-and-forth communication by increasing clarity and reducing confusion on your meaning and intention.

The Shiny/Authenticity Inversion

Your opportunity to send clearer communication and create human connection more effectively with simple videos results is higher conversion. Communication. Connection. Conversion. This may be a micro-conversion like an email reply, returned calls, link click, or similar. Or it may be a macro-conversion like a credit card number or a signed contract.

When people convert, they’re saying “yes.” And when people say yes, they’re saying yes to you. In addition to affirming the details of the product, service, features, benefits, price, terms, etc, they’re affirming the trust, rapport, and confidence you’ve built. They’re saying yes to the relationship they’re building with you, your team, and/or your brand.

A long-emerging trend here is that the simpler the video is, the more trust it creates. For his entire career, Seth Godin’s been talking about the “TV-industrial complex” and its demise (example from 2003).

The basic premise of the old model: spend money creating a video and getting it distributed, then sell products. That you could afford to get in front of people with a commercial meant that you could be trusted to deliver on the promise you were making. The result: conversion. For a variety of factors too numerous and interconnected to explain here, that model has been eroding for a couple of decades now.

A big ad budget is no longer a trust-builder. In fact, it’s the opposite. We identified this trend as The Shiny/Authenticity Inversion. Shiny and highly produced videos are giving way to authentic and simple videos as the fastest route to trust and conversion. The best prescription is a little of both in the right spots, but head to head, people now favor stripped down and raw.

Several months after we published our observations on this inversion, it was reinforced in a great piece by Victor Gamez for the Content Marketing Institute.

In “Visual Realism: The Way to Build Trust with Your Audience,” Gamez describes how major brands and companies like Levi’s and Coca-Cola are intentionally knocking down the quality of their advertising photos and videos “to bring authenticity to your brand, explaining that errors and imperfections help you stand out in an environment filled with picture-perfect content.”

Rather than bury the essence of this trend in sentences and paragraphs of text, I’ll refer you to the table above. To communicate, connect, and convert more effectively, you don’t need a script – you just need to talk to people. You don’t need to shoot and edit, you just need to look the camera in the lens, start recording, and click stop. You’re no longer just an email signature or a faceless company representative, you’re a real person.

With your smartphone and computer, you already have everything you need. Consider adding some basic upgrades like a USB microphone, an external USB webcam, a mobile lens kit, or similar once you identify a clear need or want based on experience.

Start Taking Advantage

Look at the customer lifecycle. Review the emails, text messages, voicemails, social messages, and other communication going out to your customers and future customers. You’ll immediately start to see spots in which a conversational, imperfect video will serve both you and your recipient well.

A few ideas:

– When someone fills out a form on your website, send an automated or truly personal “thank you” video and make yourself available for further assistance.

– When you get a reply to a newsletter or another email, reply with a video to address an inquiry more clearly and to humanize your business.

– When you have an angry, confused, or upset person, manage the tone more effectively by sending a video reply.

– When you need or want customer input or feedback, make the request with a video (people comply more often with face-to-face requests).

– When you get a referral, review, or recommendation from a customer, send a video expressing your gratitude (even if you also send a gift card).

– When you have a detailed or complex message, show and tell with a screen recording video (but be sure to keep your face on the screen, too!).

– When you need to update several team members, vendors, and/or partners on a project or a process that’s in flight, be clear and reach everyone with a consistent message by recording a video.

– When you wrap up a marketing meeting, send a quick summary and assignment reminder in a video both to people who attended and who couldn’t attend.

– When you’re working across time zones and find it hard to connect with multiple people at once, send a video at your convenience and have everyone experience a minute or two with you in person at their convenience.

This list is by no means exhaustive. It’s here simply to help you start to identify moments in your day at which you can make a bigger impact and save time by being more personal in emails, text messages, and social messages.

While you’re exploring the benefits of more produced or controlled video, don’t miss the opportunity to keep it simple. This approach is a stark contrast to the consumer experiences of people in GenX and older. This approach aligns with the consumer experiences sought by GenZ. Because it’s about being more personal and human, the “relationships through video” approach serves us all.

About The Author: Ethan Beute is the author of Rehumanize Your Business: How Personal Videos Accelerate Sales and Improve Customer Experience and the host of The Customer Experience Podcast. Over the past decade, he’s collected and told personal video success stories in hundreds of blog posts, in dozens of webinars, podcasts, and stage presentations, and in countless conversations.