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Unusual video marketing advice for nonprofits

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

David: This is episode two of Nonprofit Video Comms. We talk about video marketing tips to help your organization be seen, be funded, and simply be more helpful to more people.

So what makes the video work? How do we know it succeeded and what does succeed even mean in my work? I hear a lot from skeptical or maybe disappointed or disgruntled people who have an opinion about how they think video is supposed to work or what they expected from an old video that they made. I hear things like, “oh, we only got 20 views on that video on Facebook or on YouTube, wherever.” “Yeah, we had a video, but it's somewhere on YouTube now. I'm not sure where it's at” or “it was a tedious process. We had a video crew. We had this, I don't know, this long process and the lights were too bright. It all turned out fine, but nothing really happened after.” I think these kinds of comments and stories make up a good 60% or 70% of the things I hear from people I talk to.

I want to point out two ideas here, two things that might help us shift what we consider success and how to get that success. So this applies to you if you have made a video in the past that did not do well, or if you're thinking about getting into video, but you're not sure how to define that success, or maybe you have an idea of what success looks like, and I might adjust your beliefs here.

So the first thing is, there seems to be this collective idea or belief that online video is its own thing, that YouTube has videos, and therefore people watch them. So at my nonprofit, I declare, we shall make a video and it shall be watched. But it doesn't work that way. You see, think about YouTube or think about a Google search engine, or think about Facebook or anywhere that videos end up as just a busy street, a busy highway or a busy mall. And if you threw a business card or a brochure in the wind and it landed somewhere in that busy street or mall, it might hit somebody on the forehead, but that's about it. Nobody goes to the mall just to go to a mall. You go to the mall for a reason, and it's for all kinds of reasons. It's to hang out with your friends. It's to go to a store, it's to very quickly buy a pack of T shirts and get the hell out of there. But it's always for a reason. You don't just go to the mall for the love of malls, just like you don't go to YouTube just for the love of videos. So keep that in mind. You don't post a video, assuming that people just want to see a video, whatever kind of content you're putting up a blog post, an article, a meme, a white paper, a podcast. It has to address a need. It has to be of interest to someone. And that is where we get into what's called positioning. And so the video….

But what about the video? “It was so good. The video was well made. It was beautiful. We had so much fun making it. We told some great stories. We got some good interviews out of our volunteers. It was great. Also, it costed a lot. It might have costed lots of money or lots of volunteer time, one or the other, maybe both.” I'm always scared to say this. I'm always afraid of criticism and backlash, but I think that the quality and the cinematics and all that stuff matters a lot less than a lot of us marketing and communications people believe. I'd like to back this up on some other episode, but for now, I just want to say generally, I have not seen research that backs up higher quality cinematic heart strings, storytelling, equates, more views or more donations. There's a correlation, but we don't understand all the factors in the middle. It's not a cause. But what I have seen proof of is good positioning leads to getting the right attention. Which brings me to my second point.

The actual work of the video is not the video itself. It is the positioning your work is to do the positioning once the video is finished. That's actually only 5% of the work. Weird, right. All that filming, writing, interviewing, whatever, figuring out YouTube, you've only gotten 5% there. The rest of it is testing out different titles, writing an appropriate and rich and full description, finding the right keywords and Tags to include on the back end of that video, equipping the right people to share it, maybe cutting it into little clips and repurposing it. The video itself is not going to do anything for you. It has just become a source of other ways to position and talk about your organization in order to lead people towards you. So you've still got 95% of the way to go. Those things I told you at the beginning where people said, Well, we only got 20 views. The video did nothing. That's because they stopped at the 5% Mark. So the actual work is in the positioning. Some examples of this would be, well, if you decided to make an introduction video for your newcomers Job Skills Workshop and your main source of clients is referrals from partners, other agencies. Instead of just posting that video on YouTube and thinking, “oh, well, the kids are going to watch this video.” You might consider calling up all of your partners and equipping them and making it as easy as possible for them to show that video to potential clients. Ask, “what are all the channels you're using? What are the ways you're getting in touch? What happens during the inquiry process? And can I inject that video into the process?” Then you can start observing or measuring little things that start to come in and happen all because somebody saw your video. So to wrap this up, we talked about positioning, what really makes a video work. And how do you define success? I personally would define success in terms of my work. Any way for a video to move somebody forward in the littlest effective way and not just post onto YouTube and pray. the actual work is in the positioning. And we got to stop thinking of the Internet the same way we think of a mall or a street that it's just some busy place full of people. The first part of the opportunity is that people are there at all. And then it's the job of you and your video to find the right message for the right people.

Thanks for listening to the episode. I would love to connect with you. I try to keep my life simple. I am only on LinkedIn. And if you happen to be a fellow LinkedIn, linkedinner and search me on LinkedIn. My name is David Phu. P-H-U. You'll know me by the circle around my picture. Hopefully, I can meet a few of you there pretty soon. Thank you for listening.


Learn about our services at Nonprofit Video Comms or follow David on LinkedIn.

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