Ex-BBC Producer on what makes video resonate – and how to build a strategy around it

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

If you’re looking to rethink or create your video strategy, the new book ‘Resonance’ could offer a good starting point.

Author George Hughes is the founder and creative director at video production company Small Films, which boasts a roster of clients including ALDI, EDF Energy and Eton College.

The book is designed as a manual for businesses to create their video strategies. In writing the book, George draws on his background not only working on corporate content but also his time creative content for major names such as the BBC and Channel 4.

Where the book is most useful is in its marrying of video production with business strategy. George talks about how creative vision is not enough to make a video work and offers guidance for creating video from conception to promotion.

The book makes it clear that much of the most important work is done outside of filming and editing. He argues that creating video without first setting a clear objective will inevitably lead to poor outcomes – as will producing a great piece of video without planning proper promotion of it.

The acronymic “VIDEO” framework – vision, idea, drama, execution and outcome – offers a framework to plan all of this. Each heading is given a chapter filled with plenty of worked examples, from Patagonia to Pepsi.

Later chapters dip into the production side of video but inevitably as budgets vary so dramatically the book is unable to provide a one-size-fits-all blueprint here. However, what is offered are good starting points for deeper thinking.

Of course, as with any B2B book, the book is also selling George and his company. What comes across is not just a great passion for the medium but an ability to place himself in the shoes of the businesses he works with and to understand how that medium fits into an overall business strategy.

George Hughes spoke to the FSF about some of the thinking behind the book.


George’s tips for financial services marketers looking to use video:

Be prepared to push back against other parts of the business

Other stakeholders within a financial services firm can hinder video projects by overloading them with detail and disclaimers.

“It’s about remembering video is about capturing people’s attention – that’s how you use it in a marketing sense. If people want to get more information they can get it through PDFs.”

George says it is the job of compliance to cover themselves, but ultimately a simple page advert in an industry paper wouldn’t be packed full of information.

“If you see any advert for a financially regulated product, the disclaimer is in tiny print at the bottom.

Resonance is focusing on the specific

As the title of the book, the concept of ‘resonance’ comes up frequently, which George essentially defines as content that “feel[s] like it’s speaking to you.”

His perhaps counter-intuitive advice is that content resonates more the more specific it is.

He uses Small Films as an example. A video saying “come and work with us, we work with everyone” will not resonate with anyone in particular, while one talking about the specific challenges in a specific industry and how the company can help will.

For example, the Small Films website has a microsite dedicated to all the work the company has done with schools.

Audience-first content

George encourages companies to think broadly about what video could do for them. Patagonia and Red Bull are both given as examples of how companies can make themselves a hub for content which is not directly promotional – outdoor activities in the case of Patagonia and extreme sports in the case of Red Bull.

This type of “audience-first” content should be either entertaining, informative or educational. A financial services firm could tap into this by being “the go-to place for financial advice”.

Why video

George argues that video has gone beyond just being a “nice-to-have” or a “vanity project”. There have been huge changes in how consumers absorb video, with many people watching several hours of video a day on their smartphones.

He likens it to the advent of print and radio, arguing that every company now has to get to grips with it.

“You have to think about video as not just a bolt-on but as a whole avenue in its own right for marketing.

“You’ve got PR, branding, events and digital advertising – you’ve got to have a video content strategy as well so you stand apart.”

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