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Why branded video content is the next frontier in B2B video marketing

In Wistia’s State of Video 2022 report, survey respondents were asked what new types of video content they planned to create this year. The number one answer was Original Branded Series. 

Interestingly, only 7% of respondents had made an original branded series in the past. That made us start thinking: Why are B2B marketers suddenly interested in original branded content? And how does someone even get started with it?

In this episode of “Death to the Corporate Video,” Guy and Hope dive into branded content for B2B video marketers. Listen to the episode to learn:

  • The difference between original branded content and ads
  • What types of original branded content are available for B2B brands
  • How to get started with original branded content
  • Possible pitfalls to avoid

Branded Content examples

Apple at Work - Escape from the Office

Salesforce - The Story of Sales

Umault - Trapped in a Corporate Video

Episode Transcript

Guy Bauer: They remember that piece, like, wow, do you remember 10 years ago? This brand came out with that thing. Oh my gosh, that changed my whole life on how I think about whatever. They don't say like, boy, the features and benefits demonstrated in that was, were great. They just say, do you remember when X brand came out with that thing 10 years ago?

Did you ever see that? And that's kind of how it starts. 

Hope Morley: Hello, and welcome to Death to the Corporate Video, a podcast with tools and advice for how to make B2B videos your audience actually wants to watch. I'm Hope Morley.

Guy Bauer: I'm Guy Bauer.

Hope Morley: This week, I just saw a report released from Wistia, the video web hosting platform, for those of you who don't know. They released the State of Video 2022 report. They conducted this based on data from their own platform and they also did a survey of marketers who use it. And it's mostly B2B marketers.

And there was one little nugget in there that I found really interesting that Guy and I wanted to talk about something that you, our listeners might be able to take away from. So they had this question in their report that they asked what types of videos people have created in the past and what types of new videos do you plan to create going forward?

And I assume this means in 2022. The number one type of new video that people want to start creating is original branded series and based on what people have created in the past, that's pretty far down the list of things that people already have. So the thing, the types of videos that people have created in the past are kind of what you would expect for B2B marketers.

So the number one thing is product videos or product demos, webinars, tutorials, company story and sales videos are really the top ones there. So part of this might be that the people being surveyed have already created these types of videos, so they might not need to do it again. So we're looking at what people are branching into. That said, knowing that people are interested in branching into original branded series. We can talk about how people might get started with that and how that's different from these types of video content that a lot of people may have already created or have experience creating. 

Guy Bauer: Yeah. And interestingly enough, I think it was last Thursday or Friday, we're recording this March 14th, 2022, Apple just came out with episode three of their Apple at Work series. So Apple at Work, I think two or three years ago was just a commercial where this quirky team design a pizza box, a round pizza box using Apple tools.

And then during the pandemic, they came out with another spot. Now the first spot was about a minute long. During the pandemic, they came out with another spot where they're all now working from home and showing off Apple's tools for remote work from home. And it was actually called Work from Home. And that spot was about three minutes.

And now the new spot that just launched is all about the great resignation and in the thing they all resign and that's eight minutes. I mean, oddly enough, just like, just by total happenstance, this just dropped last week. And I think that's where things are starting to move. And Apple is always the bellwether in terms of the cutting edge of marketing.

And in that case, that campaign is B2B marketing. It's targeting SMBs. So, yeah, I think this is a great conversation to have.

Hope Morley: Let's start by defining what we mean when we're talking about this original branded series. What is the difference between a branded series and an ad or just a product video? 

Guy Bauer: The difference is that the main meat of the piece is not marketing. The main meat is a story. And then that story is branded and it could be the things that people use. The marketing is very subtle. The main event is the story is the entertainment and the branding is secondary to everything.

It doesn't control the story. The second your brand takes control of the story that is now no longer branded entertainment and it is now an ad. So that's how I would define it.

Hope Morley: Yeah. And I would say this could be both fiction and non-fiction. So you could do it like the Apple at Work. It's basically a short film, but you could also do this as a short documentary or a short sort of mini documentary series of content based around a topic that's relevant to your brand. 

Guy Bauer: That's right. The main thing you need is, and I think there's an article where I wrote, I put out this spectrum where on the left-hand think of a spectrum on the left-hand side is an ad and the right-hand side is branded content. An ad has to act like an ad, right? So you're allowed to market yourself and you're going to have to pay for it.

Because it's a marketing message and pay for it I mean distribution. And on the right-hand side, you have branded entertainment and that's where actually the marketing message has to be low. Altruism has to be high and by altruism I mean you have to entertain. And if it is non-fiction, it's meant to inform and educate me. If it's fiction it's, you know, it could inform and entertain, but you know, all those markings have to be high altruism and the marketing has to be low.

And that's how branded entertainment can actually work very organically. You don't necessarily have to pay for every view because people actually want to watch what you're putting out and yeah, it could be fiction or non-fiction.

Hope Morley: Yeah. That kind of leads into what I was going to bring up next is why would brands want to do this? Like, why should people think about expanding into original branded content? And I think the answer that you're getting at there is that It's a way of capturing attention in a new way, in a way that's bringing value to the viewer in the form of entertainment or information.

Guy Bauer: It's stickier in theory, if done correctly, it's a little stickier than an ad because there's probably juicy content in there that someone wants to watch and rewatch and then reference when they're talking to their friends. 

Hope Morley: And share. 

Guy Bauer: And share. Right. Yeah. So I would say it has that sticky component where if you do it right too, it could be one of the best things they've ever seen, you know. You now move into the territory of someone watching it in their comfy pants instead of at their computer, you know, if you make branded entertainment, you know, correctly. Yeah. It, it starts to move more towards, competing with the Netflix and the Hulu and, and being entertained on a couch rather than at a desktop or a laptop, you get into a different space. 

Hope Morley: Yeah. You think about someone, even if you're at work, like for example, you're on your lunch break and you're browsing through LinkedIn or Twitter, wherever you go on your phone, when you're taking a little bit of break from work and you're trying to bring someone something. You know, they're trying to be on a mental break at this moment.

So if you can bring them something that feels like a mental break from work, you're not trying to actively sell them something that is part of their job and being super salesy around your product, then you're bringing them value and you can get them to keep watching to come back with that. I'm calling it free time, you know, even if you might be technically sitting at your desk during the workday. And then they're enjoying this time that they're spending with your content in a way that a lot of people don't enjoy spending time with traditional ads or traditional marketing.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. That's exactly right. I guess if you think about it, Apple TV is essentially Apple's branded entertainment wing. In Ted Lasso they conveniently use all Apple devices with their logos displayed. I think even what there was one episode he's like helping someone set up iCloud.

And I was like, oh my gosh. I think that was a little too much, but Ted Lasso was a hit. So Apple's, I'm sure they're like, yeah. But yeah, they were like, hold on, I'm just getting the iCloud account set up or something like that. I forget what it was, but it was like a clear like, oh 

Hope Morley: Not subtle. 

Guy Bauer: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

But that's exactly right. You get into a different space of the person's brain. Like when I watched that eight minute Apple at Work thing, At no point was it an ad, even though they're just using Apple devices left and right. And yada, yada, but you're there for the story. They never once listed features, benefits or anything like that.It was all embedded in the story. 

Hope Morley: Connected to that. One other survey question in this Wistia report was asking people, what are your main goals with using video, as a marketing tool? And the number one thing that people are looking for is to drive brand awareness. And that's exactly what original branded content can do for you.

It's driving awareness. It's not so much as it's not going to necessarily be a huge lead generator. It's really to get your name in front of more people, get more people familiar with your brand, loyal to your brand, interested in your brand, following, et cetera. 

Guy Bauer: It can actually, so there's two, two forms of awareness, awareness of your brand, and then awareness of a problem that needs solving and branded entertainment is a great way. Generate both you know, the brand, your actual brand gets awareness by the logo at the end or whatever product placement you put in.

And then the problem, ideally, your branded content puts the problem front and center. Not from a marketing angle, but probably the story revolves around that problem. I know that's what Salesforce did with their series. What, do you remember what their series was called? 

Hope Morley: No, but I'll link to it in the show notes. 

Guy Bauer: And we did one for one of our clients and it was all around, you know, an issue, a problem, not necessarily problem, but like what the future holds and stuff like that, which generates a problem, you know, awareness in your prospect of a problem.

The other thing is that branded entertainment goes very wide and that's obviously the trend, right? To get broad category reach instead of highly targeted campaigns, just targeting the C-suite or whatever to go broad and branded entertainment, kind of has to go wide or else it won't be relatable. So it's a great way to get broad category reach.

Hope Morley: Yeah. So let's talk about how we get started with this. So for all these brands who are out there, who are thinking about expanding into original branded content, because I do think that there's a different mindset that you need to go into making something like this then you go into, if you're doing a traditional video marketing campaign.

So how should people get started? 

Guy Bauer: Well, what I would say first off is just think of what your target audience is thinking about. Is there a topic out there that everyone is talking about? Is there a hot thing, like a hot button issue that needs to be explored? Or thinking about problem awareness, like take what you do and break it down, deconstruct what you do into a singular problem and, think of doing a series on that. That's kind of how I would start. I would start with what is the problem that you resolve and then come up with a story around that. It could be a documentary series or it could be a scripted thing.

The other thing to do too is also it maybe doesn't have to revolve around a problem. Maybe it's just something cool. This is an idea I always had, but if you have like a fun working environment and you want to recruit and win the war on talent, you could do like a little series using your people as the stars, like a little mini SNL or something, or an office, like a little fake, like a mockumentary, about what it is like to work at your office.

But I would, I would start in the easiest way is to start about, to start thinking about problems you solve. And a great way to frame that problem, that doesn't involve you marketing. That can actually, you can actually tell a clear story.

Hope Morley: And the way that you can do that to figure out the problems you solve. Obviously we all know what problems our companies solve, but this could be a good place to do a little market research by talking to your prospects and talking to your clients, you know, talking to your current clients of how do we make your life better or possibly something too like, How do we make your working life better in a way that you didn't expect, because that might give you an angle or a problem that you might solve, that people don't realize that they had. So you can kind of agitate that problem through your content and focus on a little bit of a, more of a side benefit to your product that you may not have thought before.

And it might be a way that you can reach an audience that you haven't been targeting in the past. 

Guy Bauer: Another thing you can do too, is take a page from Apple's book is develop a story that really it could have nothing to do with what you do, but people use your thing and that's it. And so it's a product placement game. You know, and it's not like an ad, it's not heavy handed. It's just like very subtle.

You have people use your product, that's it just like Ted Lasso is technically I see that as branded entertainment, there's Apple products every five minutes in that show. You could do a Ted Lasso that has nothing to do with what Apple does. They're just using it.

Hope Morley: Yeah. There's a lot of different options for that. And I think in our audience and our clients are B2B. So you might feel like, you know, Apple is a B2C brand. So you might feel like they have a little easier way of doing product placement if you're not selling Pepsi or some product like that, but there's a lot of different ways that you can subtly get a product into a story.

I mean, we've all watched The Office a million times, so you can do workplace things or the Apple at Work is a workplace story. You can tell a workplace story and use your B2B product in there while being engaging. And at the end of the day, you know, it's not about the software that people are using. It's a story about the people who use software every day, which we all do.

You're still telling your story and getting your brand out there and get helping people learn more about you while being entertaining. 

Guy Bauer: Yeah, I mean, really the play here is boy, is this good? Who put this out? And then at the end of the piece, it's your logo. And that's it. It's a very early, early, early, early introduction to your brand. And if it's good, they'll remember it. And again, it's, it's starting that brand awareness train to roll out very slowly. The way I equate it to it's almost like imprinting, you know, like, are you, you know, you look at a baby duck or whatever, like it's a good chance to imprint early on.

So that they remember that piece, like, wow, do you remember 10 years ago? This brand came out with that thing. Oh my gosh, that changed my whole life on how I think about whatever. And again, they, they don't say like, boy, the features and benefits demonstrated in that was, were great. They just say, do you remember when X brand came out with that thing 10 years ago?

Did you ever see that? And that's kind of how it starts. And then maybe five years after they see your, branded entertainment, then they encounter an ad and they're more apt to like, oh yeah, I remember they put out the thing. Right. And then your brand starts to kind of infiltrate their brain and then if brand affinity goes up and then you have a chance of actually converting a client.

Hope Morley: Here's a question. So we've been talking about Apple at Work and Ted Lasso, and these are all really big budget things. Not everybody has a big budget and I'm worried, you know, as we talk about this people, aren't going to hear what we're saying and think, oh God, my marketing budget does not have enough money to do a Ted Lasso series or to do something like this.

Do people need a big budget to start with original content? 

Guy Bauer: No, I don't think so. I mean, I think original content is TikTok. Honestly. There's dermatologists on there that just answer questions about pimples and stuff. To me, that's branded entertainment. You know, like if there's no marketing message, it's just, Hey, it's doctor, whatever. And here it is. 

I mean, if it wasn't a video, it would be a blog. That's kind of what branded content is, right. Or at least that's what you're supposed to do. You're not supposed to market your company. You're supposed to actually give value. So this is just in the video realm. And so yeah, I would say, no, it doesn't need a crazy budget.

You could start with TikTok. You could start with YouTube and the sky's the limit from there.

Hope Morley: And if you get traction on TikTok, you know, you start with iPhone videos or webcam video, you can always expand into getting some higher production value, if you're seeing traction from it. 

Guy Bauer: As with anything, you know, reinforce winners, ditch losers, and actually that's a great idea to start on TikTok, start on the free channels and see if anyone cares. Honestly, that's a great way to start it before you spend a bunch of money on a series that maybe no one cares about. TikTok is a really good way, because of its format.

You know, TikTok isn't really about subscribers and stuff. It's really about tagging your video properly and letting the algorithm do its thing. If you tag a TikTok video properly, there's no reason why you shouldn't get more than a thousand views within the first couple hours. So it's a great way to test. Does anyone actually care? And then you can always ramp up, you can increase the production values, but there may be an argument to not increase production values. 

Hope Morley: I was just thinking that too. 

Guy Bauer: Right. So I would say definitely start there, then reinforce and tweak. And you could find out like, ah, this isn't for us. No one cares and that's okay. Not everyone needs to care about everything. It doesn't mean that we stank or the message stinks.

It just means that maybe, you know, there's not enough audience there or no one doesn't match the medium that we've chosen. So yeah, I would definitely test first.

Hope Morley: Any other thoughts we want to share on how to get started or what to explore if someone's trying to sell this to their boss, perhaps, or pitch it to a client? 

Guy Bauer: But I would do is work at just like Hollywood does where there's a script for the pilot and then there's an outline for the rest of the season. The cool thing with branded content, branded entertainment is that there's the short form story arc, right? In the actual episode or whatever, we're calling the one unit, but then you also can do just like a real series has a season long arc or little mini arcs and A plots B plots.

So what I would do is come up with what is the season, how many quote-unquote episodes are there in a season? How long is each show, what does it involve? How many minutes? I would make sure there's a macro outline of not just this season. And then what you could do is also outline future seasons.

And you don't have to come up with the episode breakdowns, but you can kind of plot out where it's going to go. 

Hope Morley: Yeah, don't be Lost. Know where it's going. Yeah. 

Guy Bauer: Yeah, exactly. Or Game of Thrones. Or Star Wars, the new sequels, my gosh. 

Hope Morley: You know, once you start talking about seasons and episodes, again, it might start sounding like a really intimidating thing. I want to reiterate that this can be very short. Like we, you can be talking about 60 second videos. If we're talking about TikTok, You can be talking about 45 seconds.

This can be very short little nuggets. If your story lends itself to that or on YouTube, you know, it, we're not talking necessarily about 28 minute sitcom episodes. In fact, that's probably way too long for a branded content series. 

Guy Bauer: If you look at how TikTok-ers do it, they kind of have little seasons. So what they'll do is parts. So they'll say, you know, so now I'm getting into bushcraft. Do you know what that is? So these guys go into the woods with just like a hatchet and a saw that's it. And then they make a house out of like clay, whatever they find.

Like they, like they use like vines for rope. Everything is all like from the forest, they don't bring in anything just like a saw and like an ax or whatever, a hatchet and that's bushcraft. So anyways, these bushcraft episodes on YouTube, they're like 20 minutes long, but on TikTok, it's like making a bushcraft house, making a survival house. Part one, and then they'll break it down part two. And what that does is it gets you swiping. It gets you to go in and like check out all the other episodes. And it gives people little self-contained pockets that they can, you know, watch an episode and then pick it up later. 

An episode is a way to break down a more complex, larger topic, but the main, the main thing that all these have in common is that they're not marketing. The altruism is very high there. The main event is entertainment and then either it's a logo or just the channel itself. 

It's a very soft, soft, soft marketing message. It's main purpose on the planet is to deliver value in a very altruistic way.

Hope Morley: And that's probably the most important thing that people need to keep in mind as they're creating this, that it's the moment that you're brainstorming or working on a script or running it through your team to get approvals. And it starts to become a hard sell then either pivot and make an ad or pivot the other way and like clean up some of the hard sell and take it out. 

Guy Bauer: Whatever you do, don't combine both, because when you combine both, then it's a stinky ad and a stinky piece of branded content, and then it serves nobody and nobody's watching. And that's what a lot of brands do too. They're like, we're making thought leadership, but then there's a hard call to action everywhere or where we're making an ad, but then there's no ad or there's no logo.

There's no hard sell. Like you got it. You know, you could do it. Pick one.

Hope Morley: Yeah, pick a lane. I'm excited for this. I really want to see what brands do. If these marketers out there who answered this survey really are going to be expanding into this branded content. I'm really excited to see what people can do. 

And I think that there's a lot of creativity out there in B2B that hasn't been tapped as much as in B2C and DTC marketing.

So I would love to see more of these brands start to. I hope people really release these series. 

Guy Bauer: We should do one too. I mean, after we're done with all my other million things we got to do, but we should add another one to our plate, or the other thing is like, just kill a channel that's not working for us and see if this can work. That's the other thing is. I mean now we're whatever, this is a, the bonus round of this episode is a, this is over time.

If you're going to do this, perhaps cut a channel that's not working. I feel like as marketers, we only add channels and we only add things and we're very bad at cutting them. I think we have to get better as marketers are just killing off things that just aren't working.

It's okay. It's okay to kill it. Like, you know, it didn't work. It's fine. There's like a fundamental thing that like, just because a channel didn't work doesn't mean we don't work or our brand doesn't work. It probably means either the medium wasn't right. The creative wasn't right. You know, whatever wasn't right.

But it's okay to just say, yeah, it doesn't work for us. Yeah. Cool. Well, yeah. I'll schedule a meeting to brainstorm our series with you.

Hope Morley: So keep an eye out at the end of 2022 for that. The Umault original branded series. 

Guy Bauer: Maybe we'll make like a murder thing, like where somebody's like a murder show 

Hope Morley: True crime. 

Guy Bauer: Yeah. But like, and then how do we swing it to us though? 

Hope Morley: Yeah. What's the product placement? 

Guy Bauer: I don't know. See, that's the thing that's really hard. Like, honestly, cause this is like, well, what if we do this? And I'm like, well, how do we relate it back to us?

Like, I don't know. It's hard. It's hard. Cause like, yeah, like, I mean, honestly I honestly we could gain this out. What would we do? Because like you can't make a series about, well, I mean, honestly, okay. Here's what I would do. If anyone's seen our slow motion conference room spot it's this group that's like caught in a slow motion corporate video, but you could actually make a show like, what would work for us, I think is like B2B marketers, like stuck in an old company, right.

Hope Morley: Or it's like a Twilight Zone thing that you kind of have these people stuck in these horror scenarios that they can't get out of. 

Guy Bauer: That's pretty cool. Like a corporate horror scenario. Right? Right. I mean, like, honestly, that could work and then what it does is it also symbolizes kind of like our brand vibe too. And the people get a feel for your brand by the content that you're putting out.

So if it's silly, you start getting that kind of rub off on you of like, oh, that's a silly brand. They're cool or whatever. 

Hope Morley: Yeah, it's your brand voice. So this is another way to get it across in a way that's still professional and entertaining, but it could be funny or could be informational, serious. You could try to be focused on being a thought leader if that's what your brand wants to be. There's a lot of different ways you can take it. 

Guy Bauer: Can't wait to hear them.

Hope Morley: Yeah, we'd love to hear more about it. And if anyone wants to brainstorm some, any listeners you want to brainstorm original content, I will say right now you can shoot us an email hello@umault.com. That's U M A U L t.com. And we'd love to talk about it because this kind of stuff is a lot of fun. 

Guy Bauer: Fun. All right. Thank you Hope. Goodbye. 

Hope Morley: Thanks for listening today. You can find us across all the social media channels at Umault. Again, that's U M A U L t.com. Follow us, check us out, you can see some of the work that we're playing with for our own brand on our LinkedIn and our YouTube.

Thanks for listening today. Go out there and make something cool. 

Guy Bauer: Buckle up.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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