Just got back from the Video Marketing Summit in San Francisco where I moderated a panel titled Creative Storytelling for Brands: Content Strategies that Resonate. The panel was awesome and I wanted to share some specific highlights for those of you who were not able to make it. We had a collection of creative genius from Mekanism, Portal A, Adjust Your Set, and Salesforce that gave the inside scoop on how they come up with and execute great stories.

The Science Behind Creative Ideas

All the panelists acknowledged that there was some science and data that go into their creative process. It’s not just sitting around coming up with good ideas. It’s about figuring out who the audience is, what goals you are trying to accomplish and what your budget and time constraints are to execute the best possible campaign.

The strategy was the main key in getting things going at the beginning. We tapped into the question around focus groups which got some interesting different perspectives. While all the panelists dismissed traditional focus groups, there were comments around getting videos out and testing what works for ongoing video production. Zach from Portal A talked about having a targeted group of creatives (ex. comedians for funny videos) that can add ideas to the product without watering down the overall execution.

What if Your Subject Matter is Boring?

Pete Caban at Mekanism shared a campaign they just launched with GE that’s showcasing how big data can help solve complex logistical issues. Sounds pretty boring right? Check out this clip from their campaign titled Datalandia:

Pretty clever way of telling a story about the problem they are solving while making it entertaining and interesting for the audience.

Chris from Adjust Your Set gave the advice to remove your product from the video entirely and focus on telling a great story to your audience. This seems especially effective if the core product isn’t that exciting, but you can highlight how the product improves the lives of the customers through great storytelling.

Common Elements in Successful Videos

Unfortunately there was no magic unicorn that was uncovered for consistent video success. All the panelists said that each video is different and needs some specific love to achieve the customer’s goals. In lieu of a total cop out, they did give a couple general tips while acknowledging that there are always exceptions:

  • Keep the video short. No specific time, but don’t make it any longer than it needs to be to get the story across.
  • Know your audience. Different people will respond to different story elements. This will also help determine the best places for your story to live.

Storytelling Tips from the Pros

At the end of the panel we asked the speakers for one strong storytelling tip for the audience. Here they are summed up as best I can.

  1. Strategy was a core element that all the panelists found necessary for a great story. The more you know your audience, your campaign goals, and your distribution points, the more successful your video will be.
  2. Don’t let your core story idea get watered down through using traditional focus groups or having too many cooks in the kitchen. 
  3. Keep an open mind during the creative process rather than trying to fit every video into a single mold.

Definitely mark your calendars to make it out for next years summit. It’s sure to be a good time with the smartest people in video. Any questions about storytelling? Let us know in the comments!

ReelSEO will be publishing a recording of all the sessions in the coming weeks – so stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, here’s a shot of the panel from an attendee: