Picture This…

The next time you’re on Facebook (which, if you’re anything like me, will be in the next 10 seconds, if not sooner) try posting three items that in your judgment are equally interesting.

For the first one, just write some copy like this.

For the second one, add a picture. It doesn’t even need to be related to the post, but it would help.

Finally, post a video. Preferably something funny. It doesn’t need to be long. Even a GIF will do. Just make it move.

Now sit back and see how many responses you get to each.

I’d put the video as the odds-on favorite to get the most attention: likes, shares, comments.

Why is that?

Ask yourself this: would you rather read a book or watch a movie? Would you rather sit in a classroom and listen to a professor tell you about the economy (snore!) or hop onto YouTube and watch a fun video explaining the same information in under five minutes?

Now before I start getting comments about how people should be reading more and that’s what’s wrong with society, people don’t read enough, let me tell you you’re preaching to the choir. I’m an author. I’ve written two books: one fiction, one non-fiction. I get it.

I’m also an avid reader.

But we live in an ever-increasingly visual society. This isn’t news.

However, too many content marketers and social media posters haven’t fully grasped the change and are still posting info that may be very helpful but isn’t connecting with their target audience because it’s the wrong presentation style.

So how do you reach your target, the ones who are going to buy your product, tout you to all their friends, and become your biggest brand advocates?

Grab the (Red) Bull by the Horns

There are certain companies that totally get it. Red Bull is one of them.

Check out their YouTube channel. It’s packed full of visuals. Talk about a company that knows how to use a GoPro!

Adrenaline junkies eat this stuff up!

What Red Bull understands is that the energy drink is a secondary story.

Read that again.

Yes, they are trying to sell as many cans as possible, because therein lies the profit, which is the bottom line.

But what they have done is turn event marketing and visual storytelling into their most effective sales channel by identifying their core market (15-25 year old males) and hitting them right between the eyes with adrenaline-packed sports (the X-Games were partially their idea and they were the first sponsor) that fit perfectly into their core audience’s personality.

Rope the kids in with the fun and drink sales will follow. Get the brand in front of their faces first. Everything else will happen on its own as a natural outcome.

And it’s worked like a charm. Red Bull is the market leader, with Monster nipping at its cloven-hooved heels.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…

So how does this work for your company, especially since you probably don’t have a multi-million dollar content marketing budget?

You don’t have to have deep pockets to make a visual splash. Just ask anyone who has posted a smart phone video that went viral.

It wasn’t the production quality that sent its popularity soaring. It was the content.

Something about the story it told caught viewers’ attention and compelled them to share it with everyone they knew, and some they didn’t.

How do you become a better visual storyteller?

Check out NewsCred’s predictions for 5 Visual Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2016.

Who knows? Maybe this will be your year to become the next YouTube sensation!


3 Keys to Great Video Storytelling

Think of your favorite movie. Is it a drama, comedy, action flick? Maybe a little romance thrown in for good measure?

Whatever it is, chances are it made the top of your list because of some emotional connection it made with you.

Was the story relatable to something in your own life? Do you identify with the characters? Does it remind you of something that happened to you back in high school? Perhaps a childhood memory?

Or maybe it’s just a really good story told amazingly well.

Whatever the appeal, something about it grabbed hold of you not only in the moment but for years following.

Good content marketers understand this is exactly how to appeal to their customers base. As I’ve said in a previous post, yanking the heartstrings is like pure gold to marketers, drawing customers in like a gigantic magnet.

But how do you do that?

That is the Golden Question, isn’t it?

Friskies figured it out in their Dear Kitten series. Have you seen these? They’re fantastic!


Why does it work?

First, it’s funny. Even non-cat people (commonly referred to by cat people as “dog people” or “the enemy”) will understand the funny.

Second, true cat people will appreciate the funny on an even deeper level, which is the point, after all. It was obviously written by a cat person. Good choice.

Dutch powerhouse airline KLM also figured out how to make that emotional connection with their passengers through a light-hearted bit of humor and the tender touch of a puppy. Who doesn’t like puppies? (Even cat people do.)


Besides using adorable animals in both videos, what else do these spots have in common?

  1. They focus almost entirely on customers and their wants and needs
  2. They address those desires in a touching and clever way
  3. They make the companies look less like companies and more like your best friend

Now, lest you think this only applies to the B2C marketplace, consider this award-winning spot from Cisco.

Yes, that Cisco. The tech company. Sounds dull, right? Check it out for yourself:


The brain child of Hollywood comic writer Tim Washer, this spot helped boost Cisco’s server business at a time when they were up against strong competition from IBM’s blade servers, and IBM was winning.

So what is the common lesson among all of these videos? It’s simple really.

The less a company focuses on themselves and the more they focus on their customers, the more attractive they become.

As you create content – whether video or written – start not in your own backyard but in your customer’s living room.

What drives them? What makes them happy? What would they like to see? What deep emotion can you tap into in an authentic way that doesn’t feel like marketing?

Then – and only then – insert your company into the equation at the most appropriate place, usually at the end, as inconspicuously as possible.

Let your customers’ needs drive the car while your company sits in the back seat and you’ll both enjoy the journey.

Why Journalists Make Lousy Content Marketers

Conventional wisdom in the content marketing world says that if you want the best writers, hire journalists.

At first glance, this makes total sense.

Journalists know how to write. They can put sentences together and incorporate facts and figures to present the content in an easily understood manner. Much the way the news is written.

In fact, that’s what journalists do best: report the news.

Which is why they make terrible content marketers.

Bear with me a second here.

See, reporting the news is not the same as telling the story of what happened.

And content marketing is all about storytelling.

While it is important that content marketing be accurate, timely, and pertinent to the audience, there’s more to it than simply relaying the facts of what you’re trying to sell.

It’s more than facts and figures.

For content marketing to be effective, it needs to tug the heartstrings. Better yet, grab them and twist them around several times. Take hold and never let go.

And that’s a skill better left to real storytellers, not journalists.

To find great content marketing writers, tap into the creative writing pool, such as local authors. Or local storytellers, such as speechmaking groups.

Hire people who can take the facts and craft a story connecting those facts to a deep emotion that will trigger a gut reaction.

Watch a documentary. A really good one. Maybe one on Netflix. While the topic you choose might be of interest to you, what will really grab your attention is how the director and writer weave the human element into the telling of the story in a way that even if you didn’t really care deeply at the start, you do when it’s over.

As you think about who you need in your content creating department, remember you’re marketing to humans, who react strongly to great stories told with genuine and deep emotion.

Don’t hire a journalist. Hire a storyteller.