Billions of Hours, All Audience, All Video: A Conversation with Will Stewart
by Jeff Carver on January 8, 2018.
Video is taking over the world by storm. And it’s become a significant part of brands’ marketing strategies. We recently sat down with Will Stewart, who runs 9/8 Central, a video production company here in Greenville. Will has a portfolio of video work that features clients including Michelin, TD Bank, and Fatz Cafe. In this episode, he shares with us why he’s so passionate about video and what it can do for businesses.
Will started working with digital media, initially as a web designer, to help small businesses grow. He’s always been passionate about business, dating back to high school. He wanted to be an entrepreneur, and he founded a web design company that he grew and later sold.
At that point, Will began working as a creative director at an agency, where he first discovered the power of video. That experience was career-changing for him. What he learned at the agency started him down a path that led to the founding of his video production company. Will shares, “You need some kind of apprenticeship, some kind of mentor. You need human interaction to guide you.” The mentors he benefited from at the agency influence him even today.
The Power of Video: Verbal and Nonverbal
Will describes video as the evolution of communication. Describing his time at the agency, he says, “I fell in love with video. You ask me, ‘Why video?’ The reason why I love video is because communication is both verbal and nonverbal. You can’t capture that with other mediums. Video is a natural way of communicating.”
Calls-to-Action in Video: Make Your Request
Businesses use video to prompt a purchase, or to move the sales process to the next stage. A business video isn’t typically just for entertainment. A call-to-action invites the viewer to take a specific action after watching your video. Will says that we all need to know what to do as a next step to put into practice what we’ve just learned. A call-to-action at the end of the video is a great way to accomplish this.
Focus Creates Success
After working at the agency, learning how video can benefit businesses and move their marketing strategies forward, Will decided to go out on his own. “I learned quickly that to be an expert you have to focus on one thing. To be successful, you need to be an expert. I decided to focus on video because I was so passionate about it and I wanted to do it well.”
Will encourages other business owners and entrepreneurs to focus on a niche. He sees that small businesses that dedicate themselves to one specialization are much more successful than those who try to be all things to all people.
Quality Attracts Quality
“I’ve always believed in creating the work that you want to do.” Will urges businesses not to be out for the quick buck but to produce work that attracts top-quality clients. When he was first starting his video production company, Will created a list of the clients that he wanted to work with and then reached out to them with ideas on what he wanted to do for them. His vision caught on with several of his targets, and his company began growing as a result.
Compelling Stories Sell
Storytelling is essential to a strong brand. Will says that he frequently encounters companies that are focused on marketing tactics like video, but they’re missing foundational stories to support their marketing efforts. Good video production companies can help guide clients to create compelling stories.
Will says, “There are a lot of businesses out there that have a great product, but they don’t know how to communicate. Know your target audience.” Buyers make purchasing decisions based on which company clearly communicates their product’s value in a way that the buyer can identify with. A story that shows your buyers how you’re going to make their lives better and make them the hero is a powerful one.
Various Content for Various Platforms
There are a variety of different platforms where businesses can share their videos. Websites, blogs, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram. . . the list goes on and on. What should businesses consider when thinking about what to share where? Will advises, “All these different platforms are moving targets. For example, because of the way people use Facebook today, videos you post on Facebook need to have subtitles. You don’t have that same need for video on a website or blog.”
Different platforms also call for different styles. Instagram Stories, for example, are more in-the-moment and shouldn’t appear over-produced. Videos that appears on your website, on the other hand, will be more effective if they’re edited, and may even appear cinematic.
Planning Makes Perfect
A successful video requires planning. You need to understand your target audience and what their needs and pain points are. You need to decide what your goal is for the video. You have to determine what action you want people to take after they watch the video. Also consider what you’re looking for when it comes to ROI. Will explains, “Once you know all of this information, creating your video becomes straightforward. This is the platform I need share on, this is when I need to share it, this is how long it should be, this is the messaging I need to communicate. You know what’s going to stick.”
Will wrapped up the conversation with this summary: “Video humanizes your brand and makes your brand something people can trust. It’s a powerful tool.”
Hear all that Will shared in the conversation.