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  • Writer's pictureEric Carlson

3 Things I Learned from a Failed Video Marketing Campaign

It seems like forever ago. I was working for a small company that focused on hobby websites. I was making videos that taught all sorts of hobbies: building model train sets, knitting, building dollhouses, painting, making jewelry, etc. We saw an opportunity to provide video production to local businesses and decided to launch a campaign to offer our services (with a new brand) to the community. The campaign flopped, and my position was eliminated soon after.

I was devastated. Not only was I out of a job, but I lost confidence in my abilities. Did the campaign fail because my work was poor? What was the problem? It wasn't until years later that I learned that there were a few reasons the campaign wasn't successful, and it wasn't the quality of my videos that doomed it. Here are a few things I've learned after looking back on this failed campaign.

1. Strategy, Strategy, Strategy.

When we created the plan for these videos. Our plan was just "put these videos on local television, and wait for the calls to start coming in." Which is basically no strategy at all. This old-school way of thinking doesn't lead to conversions and customers, at best it leads to a small amount brand awareness.

A better option (and better use of our marketing budget) would have been to develop a strategy that would help encourage leads to move from awareness to buying. The first thing we should have done is create a buyer persona to target. Then create video content for every stage of the sales funnel. We were expecting our audience to immediately move from awareness to making a buying decision, instead of nurturing leads throughout their entire journey. These videos on local television may been the best commercials at raising brand awareness, but without a plan to move viewers from awareness to consideration, and then to making a buying decision, then the content will not be as effective as we would have needed them to be.

2. Measuring Performance

I mentioned before that the campaign was a failure. I came to that conclusion based on the fact that we never sold any video production services, which was the only way we measured the success of the campaign. While that is the ultimate goal of any piece of sales or marketing campaign, there are other ways to measure the success of content. These videos may have been great at increasing awareness, but terrible on converting. There's no way of knowing, now, because we didn't measure any performance metrics.

In general, video is great at increasing performance of marketing emails, web pages, and conversions online. But our videos were never included on an email campaign, never placed on landing pages, and never had any way of measuring awareness. Measuring the impact of television ads is very tricky, so our only metric was final sales, which no one piece of content can ever be completely responsible for. With a complete lack of measurement, this campaign was doomed to fail.

3. Comprehensive Messaging

The messages in the different ads were each focused on one idea, "we know how to create websites that look great and work on all devices. If you were experiencing that particular problem, that may have been enough to get you to call us. However, there should have been content for every point along the buyers journey. One piece could have been making viewers aware of the problem of some websites not working on mobile devices. Another piece could have shown that we made websites that work on any device. Then we could have a piece of content that showed all the different services we offer and the benefits of each service. Finally, we could finish with a video that shows how easy we are to work with, and what kind of results our websites get. This plan could have given any viewers information they were looking for, no matter where they were on their decision-making journey.

If I could do it over again...

If I were to try to promote this company today, I'd focus on building a buyer's persona first. Once I knew who my target was, I'd be able to target and retarget that audience to inform them at every stage in the buyer's journey. I'd tailor content to each stage of the buyer's journey and put videos in emails and landing pages so I could measure the effectiveness of each piece of content.

Looking at a past failure is a great learning tool. As I look back, I still like the videos, but I know they could have been more effective if they had been used in conjunction with a strategy, the correct KPIs, and other content to help drive sales decisions.

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