My goal is always to practice what I call “real marketing.” In other words, leveraging the perspectives of your end customers or stakeholders to tell future prospects why their lives will be better using you, your products and/or solutions. Therefore, I have invested considerable dollars and time in to pursuing thought leadership in videos, case studies, articles, whitepapers, profiles, etc.
Most of the videos I produce are from the perspective of real executives speaking to the facts. But in the case of this most recent video, which highlights the strengths of Georgia’s cybersecurity, fintech, health IT and general information technology sectors, I needed to take a more commercial approach. Why? Well, part of the reason is due to how fast technology companies change. The other is because cyber and fintech companies are reluctant to share too much information. I wanted this video to be as evergreen as possible.
So instead I leveraged my 15+ years of experience in software development and interactive marketing to convey these strengths with real statistics, a tight script, and some visually stunning graphics. Much of the imagery runs contrary to one another in the natural world, and yet, they metaphorically relate in this context. The bonus is that it works really well on a really big flat screen at tradeshows even with no sound.
This is the 3rd in a series of foreign investment videos I have produced for the state of Georgia. I would have preferred to conduct actual interviews in Korean with the executives, but I was not able to get any of them to do so. Obviously a cultural nuance. They only want to be perceived as working, and speaking on behalf of the company is very uncomfortable. Therefore, I went the script route with a professional narrator.
As always, I thoroughly enjoy getting inside these companies and see how they function. My other favorites were shooting at a very popular Korean BBQ restaurant in Atlanta called, Breakers. In addition, we had a Saturday shoot at the Korean International School where over 400 students practice their Korean almost every week. The same day we visited the Korean Fest where we captured wrestling, dancing, drumming, and my favorite – I was able to get a calligrapher on camera drawing out, “Welcome to Georgia” in Korean.
This is a project I worked on in conjunction with Dad’s Garage to bring a little fun and light to the competitive nature of economic development. The whole nation is competing for 50,000 jobs and the economic injection that come with Amazon’s second headquarters.
On the surface it would seem to be a relatively fun project to work on, and it was, but it was also fraught with ways to go terribly wrong. Any time you are taking jabs at your own city and state with good old sarcasm, it has the potential to go either way.
Certainly tested it on a variety of demographics and ethnicities before releasing. Fortunately, it was well-received.
The key was the redemption at the end that came from the dream sequence, and a little inspiration from Quentin Tarantino.
The launch was set to coincide with Christmas Eve, the same timeframe the original Scrooge goes through his transformation, and was coupled with a targeted Facebook spend both in the Seattle, Washington area as well as Metro Atlanta.
My most recent video production is the culmination of many other supporting video projects that have taken me across the state of Georgia, and behind-the-scenes of some incredible companies, over the past 5 years. In essence, I took a limited budget and made it in to a $250k production.
But I could not have done it without the great guys that make up the band, The Quiet Hounds. Their talent and genuine personalities carry the diverse scenes that are tightly edited to inform the next scene, and the next scene, and so on. I feel lucky to have been able to ink a sync agreement with them for this perfect song. I followed them to Athens, Georgia to record the live performance at the Georgia Theatre, and we spent a long night together at a recording studio in Midtown Atlanta. It has been a pleasure getting to know them.
How do you encapsulate an entire state in one video and do it well? That was indeed part of the challenge. I knew it could not be everything to everyone. Sure, there were sacrifices and difficult decisions along the way. But positive emotion is the great equalizer.
The video is now featured on Georgia.org and its affiliated social media properties – at all the Visitor Information Centers across the state – and baggage claim in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
I hope this experience provides you with a taste of the authenticity, beauty, diversity and “southern charm” that I have come to find in Georgia . I feel it. The band feels it. Georgians feel it. I hope you do as well.
Do me a favor. Pop the video full screen and turn up your speakers.
A special thanks to the Quiet Hounds for lending their creativity, time and music to this piece.
“Southern Charm” Lyrics
All the gardenia on the sideway dropping like they want you.
I’m a believer on the highway when they’re playing our tune
driving up slowly though the gravel nothing stopping Sunday
Summer love songing in my longing we can do this our way
Hot city you are mine
Storms on your shoulder and I call it Paradise
Everyone knows this thunder only means bright lights for us
Hot city you are mine
So pretty on my arm
Hot city you are mine
So pretty on my arm
Tell me that you’ll make this rainstorm ours
make it ours
dancing through the black night
Hot city you are mine
Oh say that you are mine
This is where my southern charm will lye
This city home, this home is you, you are my summer love song
how do you do it, how do you make it hum
My heart is warm, my blood is red, this sweat is all I have to make it up to you, make it up to you, love.
I am pleased to share that I won three Gold Excellence in Economic Development Awards for a China Investment and Trade Campaign, a project in the category of Video, New Media and Specialty Website of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
The honors were presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 19, during the IEDC Annual Conference, which was held Sept. 17 – 20, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
“On behalf of the IEDC board of directors and Excellence in Economic Development Awards Advisory Committee, congratulations…participation in the awards program sheds light on…stellar projects which other communities can now use as a benchmark.” – Michael Langley, FM, CEO of GREATER MSP, Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN, and 2017 IEDC Board Chair
The 3 IEDC Gold Awards for video, new media and specialty website are a result of a multichannel marketing strategy deployed in-country in China using cutting-edge technology and creative strategies to generate new leads and increase website traffic.
“The awards process is a thorough, non-biased and multi-layered process. These are extraordinary accomplishments for all winners, and an overall great effort by all participants. We look forward to next year’s awards competition,” Langley said.
About the International Economic Development Council
The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public-private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. Among many activities which benefit the economy, IEDC’s members create high-quality jobs and develop vibrant communities. www.iedcONLINE.org.
Georgia’s relationship with China is very important. We operate two offices in China – one is in Shanghai and the other is in Qingdao. Georgia exports to China have grown by 59% since 2007, exceeding $2.5 billion in 2016. The Sentury Tire announcement in Troup County, Georgia in September 2016, which represented 1,000 jobs and $530M in investment, is just one example of the 50+ Chinese companies operating in the state today.
These factors and many others were the catalyst for pursuing a new international investment video for China that would be used in digital marketing both nationally and internationally, in prospect meetings here in Georgia and abroad, as well as on international missions to China with the Governor’s office and various delegations.
It was extremely important that this new China video be credible, informative, different than your typical marketing video, and in their native language.
The video would then be further bolstered by a multi-channel approach using digital marketing.
The goal of this project was to create a Chinese investment video that would represent the business and lifestyle environment of Georgia, as well as showcase the Chinese companies that have already chosen Georgia as a place in which to do business.
The completed video would ultimately give senior-level decision makers from China a good understanding of what it would be like to live and work in the state. Through their experience with the video, they would ideally put Georgia on their short list of places to consider locating or expanding their company.
The video would also need to work well in 15 and 30 second commercials to be shown in China through targeted placements in both paid and earned media channels as well as hosted on Georgia, USA’s branded video, social and web properties both nationally and internationally.
The video would be further bolstered by supporting website and social media strategies and channels both nationally and internationally.
The video has been extremely well-received and has served as one of the primary vehicles for our Chinese web presence on Georgia.org (http://www.georgia.org/international-business-china) as well as our new in-country Chinese website WeSpeakBusiness.cn. In addition, it is prominently featured on our new WeChat site, YOUKU account and Tencent.
Furthermore, we have seen a 200% increase in traffic from China to Georgia.org since the video was launched. And since its launch in late March 2016, WeSpeakBusiness.cn has so far received 20,000 Unique Visitors.
Note: We use IP recognition to serve dedicated Chinese widgets and web pages on Georgia.org to visitors from China. In addition, the Chinese flag with a link to this section of the website is prominently displayed in the header of the Georgia.org. You can see some of that experience here – http://www.georgia.org/international-business-china
Taking the time and money to capture the life of an international person living and working abroad is incredibly effective in developing an emotional connection with the viewer. One only needs to watch the video to see this is indeed the case. But it takes a lot of careful negotiation and time to develop the trust and ultimately convince a very busy and private executive to invest the time it takes to create this kind of video. Before a video camera is ever turned on we have done quite a few things:
– An extensive amount of research on the company’s brand, operations, employees, and competitors.
– Met with company executives and stakeholders.
– Thought very carefully about the target audience and any cultural nuances.
– What kind of supporting locations and footage would bolster the story?
– How much can we realistically cover with the budget available?
– How much crew do we need?
– What filming permits do we need?
– What will be the timing for each shoot and where?
Once the video shoots have taken place there is a considerable amount of time spent selecting the right scenes and quotes, conducting the translations, developing the script and choosing music.
Video marketing is not new. But how these stories were approached and crafted is not only creative but very effective in bridging the gap between two very different cultures.
We have pursued some very innovative measures to publish the videos in China by getting beyond the great firewall of China and hosting our own native website, establishing a WeChat account to bolster the conversation in China, and investing in key influence leaders like Cheung Kong Business Review to further carry our message and results.
Both 15 and 30 second commercials were cut from the full length video to satisfy different audience behaviors and publishing channels.
By using IP recognition on Georgia.org we are able to serve dedicated widgets and landing pages to Chinese visitors that prominently feature our new video as well as our WeChat account.
We have also setup dynamic synching across both our American and China sites to ensure the translations and data are always up-to-date in real time.
Delta Air Lines recently hosted a warm and wonderful event at the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia to celebrate their new direct flight to Seoul, Korea. The president of Delta, Glen Hauenstein, Mayor Kasim Reed, and our chief operating officer, Bert Brantley were in attendance to say a few words in regards to the many country connections Georgia shares with Korea. Authentic Korean food and dancing were enjoyed by guests while the company’s rich aerospace history in Georgia was on full display.
I got a few nice photos and produced a short 1-minute video of the event.
The annual communicator awards have been announced, and I am pleased to be one of them for this video production:
The winners of the 23rd Annual Communicator Awards have officially been announced by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts. With over 6,000 entries received from across the US and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals. Please visit www.communicatorawards.com to view the full winners list.
The Communicator Awards are judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), a 600+ member organization of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media. Current AIVA membership represents a “Who’s Who” of acclaimed media, advertising, and marketing firms including: AirType Studio, Condè Nast, Disney, Keller Crescent, Lockheed Martin, Monster.com, MTV, rabble+rouser, Time Inc., Tribal DDB, Yahoo!, and many others. See aiva.org for more information.
“We are both excited and amazed by the quality of work received for the 23rd Annual Communicator Awards. This year’s class of entries is a true reflection of the progressive and innovative nature of marketing and communications,” noted Linda Day, executive director of the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts. She added, “On behalf of the entire Academy I want to applaud this year’s Communicator Awards entrants and winners for their dedication to perfecting their craft as they continue to push the envelope of creativity.”
Generally, I am an advocate of letting clients speak on your behalf verses cutting a straight commercial with voice talent and nice music. I call it real marketing. But in listening to my client I heard that what they really needed was a video that would set an energetic tone – more of a wow piece – that could also be highly informative. In addition, it would work well as a 15 or 30 second promotional spot.
Since I had already produced this Telly award-winning video for Trade that did have good testimonials, it was decided to pursue something different. This piece uses heavier animation work and a fast-paced rhythm to hopefully incite the target audience to take action. Because the International Trade team is predominately women, I was keen on using a female narrator of which I auditioned several. I was also very particular about the script and balancing practical information with some sales sizzle.
Here is my latest production. An inside look in to the lives and businesses of three German companies who fabricate elevators you ride, industrial systems you need, and most of the world’s pressure gauges you depend on. It offers a little mountain biking, Mexican food, running, welding, robots and virtual reality.
As is often the case with these video productions, it provides me the opportunity to meet new people and get behind-the-scenes of what makes global companies tick. Before a video camera is ever turned on I have done quite a few things:
An extensive amount of research on the company’s brand, operations, employees, and competitors.
Met with company executives and stakeholders.
Thought very carefully about the target audience and any cultural nuances.
What kind of supporting locations and footage would bolster the story?
How much can I realistically cover with the budget available?
What are possible risks that I may face?
How much crew do I really need?
What permits do I need?
What will effectively tie the piece together?
What will be the timing for each shoot and where?
And the list goes on. But one key factor that I think is often underestimated is getting very busy executives to open up their lives and their companies. To potentially spend a whole day with me while we get this shot, and that shot, and that quote and, can you say it again but like this?
Don’t ever discount what your mom and dad taught you about being a people person. These productions require a lot of moving parts, and the coordination of many different people.
Once the video shoots have taken place there is a considerable amount of time spent:
Selecting the right scenes and quotes.
Making sure the international translations have the right message, tone and inflection.
Developing the script.
Listening to dozens of voice talents if the piece requires professional narration.
Carefully choosing the right mix of music tracks and sound effects.
Ensuring that each scene informs the next scene for a seamless story.
Sure, I’ve had many 5:00am starts, flipped an ATV, crashed a drone, equipment malfunctions, no shows, bad weather and host of other issues, but it is all part of the process in telling a great story and learning a few things along the way.
I began this China investment video project 5 months ago with the initial scouting, strategy and budgeting. Fast forward to September and all the editing, translating, licensing and approvals are finally done. Trying to convey the business and lifestyle environment of a geographical location thousands of miles away from the target audience obviously needs careful consideration. My goal was to make it as credible and informative as possible while still keeping it brief.
These projects always require more effort than is evident on the surface, but it was a great experience and the chance to meet so many wonderful people that call Georgia home.