A research-driven perspective on how to maximize ROI by aligning your ecosystem with video.
This article is about building video strategies that unite everyone around the customer view while adding reach to your budget and improving ROI. It shares ideas on how to fuse marketing and employee communications into an integrated strategy that’s essential in this era of customer experience and social media. Today, marketers need to adopt a 360° perspective to pull the customer view through the entire organization, channels, and partnerships. Research and our own experience presented in this document supports a modular video strategy that’s both efficient and practical for most organizations. By building flexible, thematic, modular video programs, marketers can align all brand stakeholders—internal and external—to establish true customer centricity throughout their ecosystems.
MICHELLE’S BIG DECISION: COST OR CARE?
Michelle works as an engineer for a midsized medical device manufacturer. By day, she designs pumping systems for medical devices. After hours—and even sometimes during work hours—she’s a social media diva, posting on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Yesterday at work, Michelle was faced with a decision on a pump she’s been designing. Should she recommend the design with the best manufacturing efficiency? Or one that would deliver the best experience for patients and clinicians—even though it would be more expensive? Without fully understanding her brand’s value proposition and how her design will affect the user and customer experiences, she doesn’t have the perspective to make a customer-driven decision—only a business decision.
Fortunately, last month her company’s marketing department pushed out a few videos to everyone in the product development division featuring clinicians and patients in real life situations with background stories for context. These videos presented the converging views of a patient, clinicians, and her company colleagues—all in a riveting story format. Michelle’s manager and others in her organization also saw the videos, which resulted in immediate support for her design recommendation. This internal alignment, supported by the brand’s “best in class” positioning, helped Michelle convince her managers to approve the more expensive solution. She’s proud to post in social media her accomplishment helping clinicians provide better patient care. She uses specially edited short video clips provided by her company to share her company’s commitment with her followers.
These kinds of decision points happen every day in nearly every role across thousands of companies in a wide range of industries. But how many organizations provide their people the perspective and tools to instinctively make customer-driven decisions? How do they get everyone on the same page: the customer’s page? Organizations that embed relevant slices of the customer experience throughout their organizations grow customer centricity organically. In the best-case scenarios, it becomes the prevailing culture.
A prominent insurance company uses a modular video strategy to educate, engage, and unite internal and external stakeholders around the customer view.
THE CUSTOMER-CENTRIC ECOSYSTEM
A business ecosystem is comprised of everyone who creates, consumes, delivers, or otherwise influences a brand. This includes employees of the brand owner, customers, distributors, and other external partners. Even competitors and suppliers can arguably be included in a brand’s ecosystem because they have an effect on the brand’s health. Adopting a customer-centric ecosystem perspective contributes to a host of goals:
- Improved customer satisfaction
- Improved operating income
- Enhanced employee productivity, engagement, and retention
- Reduced management costs
- In a video promoting the Edelman 2019 Trust Barometer Study, CEO Richard Edelman concisely states the importance
“Employers are the most trusted institution in America… and they’re expected to empower employees with information to contribute to the discussion. Employees are your first order of business… and if they’re informed, they’ll speak on your behalf.” i
Edelman research concludes that 52% of consumers see employees as very credible sources of information about a business— more credible than the CEO or company promotion. This means in today’s social media milieu where everyone is a publisher, channeling employees’ and distributors’ voices are more important than ever before. Through social media, employees can amplify opinions on their brand or company often more effectively than promotion.
COMMUNIFICATION: CREATING A UNITED PERSPECTIVE
Connecting employees and distributors with customer touchpoint experiences can dramatically elevate the credibility, empathy, and authenticity of their social media posts on behalf of their host brand. Video is a powerful medium that can open a unique connection to the customer view. It can provide a seminal connection that can transform the ecosystem into a community. It helps to “communify” all stakeholders who play a role in creating the customer experience.
Done well, videos can influence the culture of fellow employees and distributors, and ultimately customers and consumers; in short, the entire ecosystem. Video’s unique attributes preserve messaging, positioning, attitude, and “emotivation.” The story is only as good as the storyteller. Video allows the best version of the story to be shared consistently everywhere. These qualities make it a perfect medium for constructing a 360° view of what a customer-centric ecosystem looks like and how it behaves, reacts, and ideally responds to customer situations.
THE VALUE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS’ CUSTOMERS
If you’re in a manufacturing, service, wholesale, or other distribution environment, the concept of your customer’s customer (C2) is essential. Imagine you’re a marketer in a computer component manufacturer or insurance company with independent sales agents, or a biotech company that sells to healthcare institutions or agricultural customers. In these situations your customer’s customers are end users, such as computer consumers, heads of household, patients, or food consumers.
Your direct customer thinks about these end users all day long, and so should you. Focusing on your customer without including their customers can be short sighted and lead to weak results. It can stifle valuable innovation, misinterpret customer value, and invite truly customercentric competition. Setting your focus on C2 is arguably more important than focusing on your direct customer. Pulling through the C2 view of the end user expectations can create powerful differentiation in the culture of your organization. This shift in perspective can lead to better business results.
START SMALL AND SCALE UP
A modular approach is the key to starting small and growing your video content strategy. Delivering episodes in a creative storyline is more practical and affordable than ever before and pays dividends across all stakeholder groups at once. Imagine delivering the customer view with storylines that entertain, educate, and infuse brand values. Unlike clichéd roleplaying scenarios, stakeholder-focused videos can be episodic, engaging, and fun. Think Hallmark Channel, HGTV, YouTube, or Netflix depending on your brand positioning. While real stakeholders can be cast, professional actors make for a more engaging and credible experience, and better results. Excellent and affordable talent is widely available to keep budgets in line. Storylines can dramatize customer situations or testimonials that intersect with a day-in-the-life of upstream stakeholders. They can highlight the influence of the entire value chain on the customer experience by getting up close and personal with specific situations (real, dramatized, fictional, or even light-hearted). By customizing different edited cuts, various stakeholders can literally see how to best deliver the brand from their role. Budget efficiencies increase as all the content is produced at once in a planned, story-driven, modular program. Because it touches the intersecting paths of everyone in your ecosystem, we refer to it as a TouchPath® strategy.ii
MARKETING’S ROLE IN EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS
As the organizational world is shifting perspective from “internal communications” to “employee communications,” a new mindset is emerging. Unlike the siloed past, marketers must now take on an additional role, working with employee communications and corporate communications to plan strategic content that’s more universally relevant to all stakeholders—internal, external, distribution partners, and investors. One of the biggest challenges is how to keep information relevant to each of these different segments while maintaining theme continuity. Essentially, this means breaking down silos with a single storyline. that includes everyone in the ecosystem. By approaching content from a customer centric perspective and designing modules that inject different stakeholder perspectives, these challenges can actually become advantages.
DON’T SKIMP ON PERSONAS
Developing persona profiles is a psychosocial exercise that helps marketers target people with different values and priorities, potentially segmenting across demographics. These differences can be hard to spot using only demographic segmentation. Personas drive content targeting; in essence, positioning content to appeal to psychographic sub-segments within or across demographic segments. Bringing these profiles to life in video productions allows stakeholders at every level to “meet” the personas. This can help stakeholders better understand how to intuitively contribute or engage with to customer satisfaction from their place in the value chain.
PULLING THE CUSTOMER VIEW THROUGH THE ORGANIZATION
The link between employee communications and business health metrics is well documented:
- Excellent internal communication can lead to a 40% increase in customer satisfaction.iii
- Companies with good (employee) communication are 4x as likely to have high levels of engagement.iv
- Productivity in organizations with connected employees improves by 20-25%v
- Highly engaged employees can improve a company’s operating income by 19.2% over a 12-month period.vi
In its annual study, B2B Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends— North America, The Content Marketing Institute reported top factors attributed by marketers to success of their content marketing. The report stated that: 85% of 1,102 respondents cited content creation as the biggest factor of success, followed by (72%) development or adjustment of content strategy.vii This implies that investments in innovative content are paying off. And for the first time in 2019, since its inception in 2008, the Gatehouse State of the Sector survey listed video as a top internal digital channel; with 68% of respondents stating they believe video usage will increase by 68% over the coming 12 months.viii Modular video content strategy offers a practical, focused solution to drive the customer view throughout the organization. By integrating marketing and employee communications objectives many doors can be opened that enrich the customer experience. By sensitizing employees, distributors, and suppliers to the customer view, real business results can be measurably enhanced. This approach gets everyone on the same page—the customer’s page—driven by the inherent engagement qualities of video.
WHAT’S THE CATCH?
With all this evidence available, why aren’t more organizations on board with integrating video content for internal, external, and channel communication? B2B marketers cite lack of time (57%), content creation challenges (47%), and management/HR organizational staffing issues (43%) as their top three content marketing challenges.ix Another challenge faced by video content marketers is the perception that the medium itself is inflexible. If you’re working with live action (the most effective form of video), once raw footage is “in the can,” options may seem limited. And though motion graphics can be edited relatively easily, if the content plan isn’t based on a consistent theme throughout, it could result in a hodgepodge of unrelated clips. This can undermine the confidence of everyone from buyers to employees. To leap these hurdles, many marketing departments are partnering with specialized outsource video partners. In contrast to typical video shooters and editors, this new breed of specialists brings real strategic content vision to the table. They understand the strategy on how to build modular video solutions that target entire ecosystems instead of limiting to either marketing or employee communications alone.
The best results usually come from focusing internal teams on strategy and management versus in-house execution. In short, leave video execution to the experts unless you have the strongest of in-house video teams. Even attempting to create content that looks like it came from a consumer still takes a talented video content specialist to pull it off without looking forced (no matter how hard brands try, objectivity is elusive). The most high-value in-house roles are strategic, including defining:
- The customer journey.
- Customer touch points.
- The ideal customer experience.
- Key personas.
Keep in mind that from an ecosystem perspective, a brand’s “customers” include employees, distributors, and suppliers, in addition to buyers.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REPURPOSING CONTENT AND MODULAR CONTENT STRATEGY
Repurposing content is a popular concept among marketers. The biggest difference between repurposing content and modular content strategy is planning. Repurposing is not always planned. Instead, marketing content inventory exists from prior targeted efforts and is reused if and when an opportunity emerges.
CASE IN POINT:
COVERING MORE GROUND WHILE STRETCHING THE BUDGET
Switching your program from ad hoc content assets to modular strategy can provide you with content “packages” that can be used like building blocks. You can cover a lot more ground on a smaller budget, often with higher quality assets. As a case in point an insurance company cut content costs by 40% while addressing three distinct segments (customers, trainers, distributors). Modules were created for social media, the sales channel, training, and the corporate website. Now everyone in the client’s ecosystem understands the products, why they’re different and valuable to customers, and how each stakeholder can support the customer.
Sharing the customer view through stories told consistently via a modular video program creates customer-centric alignment for new efficiencies and innovation throughout the ecosystem. When employees and channel partners see the impact of their daily activities on the customer experience, great things can happen. Employees at all levels can make better day-to-day decisions because they know what customers want and need. This can lower management overhead costs, speed up time to market, lower customer service costs, and increase loyalty.
Video’s unique visceral, engaging qualities provide a great opportunity to unite the ecosystem around the customer experience. Using a modular production approach with a unified storyline makes video a practical solution for 360° stakeholder alignment. When everyone at every level understands how they can support customer expectations—even if they are insulated from direct customer leverage the power of “communification” through engaged and well-informed stakeholders. With the right organization, partners, and planning, a modular video content strategy can resolve large sets of alignment issues at once.
ABOUT GROPARTNERS CONSULTING
GroPartners Consulting helps organizations of all sizes to unite expectations for a better customer experience. We have deep experience in developing and executing modular video content strategies for clients in a variety of industries. For more information or to engage our content strategy and video execution, RAPPORT Process®, or TouchPath® solutions, contact Greg French firstname.lastname@example.org
i Edelman, Richard (2019, January 20) Video: 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer. Retrieved from https://www.edelman.com/trust-barometer
ii GroPartners Consulting (2019) TouchPath®360: The content strategy that unites expectations. Retrieved from https://gropartnersconsulting.com/touchpath360/
iii Sociabble blog (2019, March 4). What is Employee Communication vs. Internal Communication: The Ultimate Guide. Retrieved from https://www.sociabble.com/blog/employee-communication-guide/
v Chui, Michael, et al. (2012, July) The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/technology-media-andtelecommunications/our-insights/the-social-economy
viTruss, Catherine, et al (2012) Strategic Human Resource Management. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.
vii Content Marketing Institute (2017) B2B Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, p. 15. Retrieved from https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2017_B2B_Research_FINAL.pdf
viiiSociabble blog (2019, May 21) 5 Key Internal Communications Stats and Trends. Retrieved from https://www.sociabble.com/blog/5-internal-communications-stats/
ix Ibid. p. 16
x Walker-Ford, Mark (2019, May 1). 49 Content Marketing Stats to Guide Your 2019 Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/49-content-marketing-stats-to-guide-your-2019-strategy-infographic/553726/
xi Eloqua and Kapost (2018) Content Marketing ROI. Retrieved from https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/mediaeloqua/documents/Content+Marketing+Kapost+Eloqua+ebook.pdf