Transcript: That Smartphone Video Marketing Episode

Daryl Cygler deals with the objections marketers often have to shooting video on their smartphones. 

Listen to the full conversation here.

Now video obviously is not a new thing, but I think creating video on your smartphone is probably, it feels like a big step for a lot of people and it still probably has connotations of you need a studio, you these big lighting rigs and high definition cameras and all and all the all these things that, you know, sort of a film studio setup, when did we get to a point when a smartphone, was it good enough to take the kind of video quality that businesses need or think they need?

That’s a great question. I mean, I first came across the concept of recording broadcast-quality video, on a smartphone, back in 2016. Mobile journalists were actually doing it. They were recording content on their smartphone. And it was going out on news stories; it was going out on primetime news productions. And for me, that was very much my lightbulb moment. I mean, these were journalists that were reporting for the BBC, RT in London. I just thought, “Well, you know, if it’s good enough for them, hey, why can’t it be good enough for the business operator that wants to market their company?”

And coming back to your first point, the reason it works so well is that people have this, as you said, perception that, “If we’re gonna do video, it’s got to be a 4k camera, we’ve got to have production studios.” And, you know, the fact that these mobile journalists are doing what they’re doing in terms of the way they package it up in primetime stories just proves that that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case. And your smartphone is a great way to start on that journey with video.


Once we’ve got the equipment part out of the way, what are the other big objections you come up with? When you said to people, “Okay, your equipment’s fine, you’ve got your iPhone, your Samsung, or whatever it is in your pocket. That’s all the equipment you need.” What are the other kind of big objections that people come back at you with when they’re probing how they can do video marketing?

I mean, just to be clear, I mean, the smartphone is one element of the equipment. The other things I do recommend are getting a tripod because that gives you stable shots in the first instance, improves the quality of the type of video that you record. Upgrade your audio, in terms of either use lapel mics, or shotgun mics that you can plug in your smartphone as well. And also, when you shoot, make sure that you have good lighting as well. So it’s the combination of stable shots, good audio, and good lighting, which really elevate your video in the first instance. And you just plug that all into your phone. And it really does make it happen.

Now, the other things that generally come up in terms of people’s objections around video is time, the time associated with making video, learning the process. And, I argue that that relates to everything, it’s a cop-out, really. We’re all learning new things, we all have to put that time into understanding the process. But I take the view that if you’re a business owner, and for instance, you’re explaining what your business does, and you have this conversation day in, day out, I mean, why not capture that conversation on video? It’s very much you, it’s very much your personality, capture that once on video, and then you can just start to get that out. And that, in essence, will save you time in the future. So that’s why I’m a big advocate of systemising things on video because it saves you time. There’s the learning element. Yeah, I mean, understandable. But like I said earlier, you know, we all have to learn something. And we very much work on the idea of imperfect action. Just do it. Work your way through it. Yes, you’re going to make some mistakes. Yes, you’re going to learn from that. And by pushing forward and onwards, you actually learn the process of video. That’s a great thing.

I guess the other one is probably content. People are always trying to understand what sort of content to create, in relation to their business. And there’s so many aspects to that. I mean, sometimes the simplest place to start is, with existing processes and systems; if you have a thank you page, if someone comes in, downloads something, does a process, you know, a contact form, why not take that interaction, and create a video and make it a personal experience? You could very much welcome them, “thank you for doing whatever action it was that they’ve done”. When you do that through the form of a video, you’re introducing yourself, you’re introducing the business, you’re introducing what’s next. It’s a very personal way of doing it. Because ultimately, business is all about personal connections; you do business with people you connect with. So that’s one aspect. Depending on the type of business you run, I mean, you can start to do FAQ videos, you can start to do product service focused videos, objection videos around what you hear a lot of. There’s quite a lot of opportunities there in terms of content creation. It’s just, I guess, giving people the insight and what is possible, and then often I start to see their mind go off on this creative process. And they move from there. So it’s just showing them the sort of the initial path and then I go from there.


Yeah, I suppose the imperfect action element applies equally to what content you create? You could spend ages on analytics, where you say, “What content do people want to see, what do they download?” Or you could put out a quick video and say, “Well, okay, people didn’t like that resource as a video. So we won’t do that anymore.”

Yeah, I agree. I mean, Richard, that’s the thing with smartphone video, that I see as a real benefit. Because, if you were to go down the traditional route of video production companies, it’s very much a project-based setup. They’ll come in, they maybe film one day, two days on a project basis. And it’s all based on hunch and gut feeling, maybe some data and so on and so forth. But necessarily, you don’t know how that video is going to perform. And the one thing about having your smartphone is, yes, you can do videos really, really quickly, you can shoot them in a relatively quick setup once you understand the process. And yeah, I mean, it’s a trial process. And you’d be surprised really what things get traction when you least expect it. In terms of the video content.


Yeah, I was watching a welcome video recently. And it was really focused around the kind of people that would use their software but had no shots of the products in action. And I immediately thought that’s what I want to see, the product! If you’re trying to sell me a software, I want to see the software, as a first step. Is there a hard and fast rule for balancing talking heads versus screenshots or product shots?

Yeah, I think it’s a really hard one. And like you say, it’s all about context, the context of where the video is used. As you said, in this context, if it’s something to do with software, it may pay to actually have some shots of the software itself. But equally, I mean, what did you say it was a thank you or welcome video or something like that?


This is on their website. It was on the front and top of their website.

 Yeah. So, it’s a fine line. And I mean, exactly, that’s something you would test, you can start to look at the analytical data around that, the watch time around that. And if it’s coming up short, well, then hey, you maybe shoot another video. Throw that up, and then see if you can improve on that. And go forward.


On the assumption that pretty much everyone now has a smartphone in their pocket, is it sensible to say to everyone in your business “Start filming these videos?” Or do you think you should have one or maybe two “faces of the business” that are producing the majority of the content, for consistency’s sake?

Yeah, you’ve definitely got to have a plan. Everyone just going out and shooting everything with your smartphone is just going to be a chaotic mess. And in terms of your brand values, your brand positioning, what you want to put out, you want to take control over that. And what I would say as well is yes, you definitely want to have some advocates of the process that really push the process internally within your business. But as it goes on, you can start to educate the broader team on the concept of it. And they can capture moments as and when they happen. But ultimately, all that video footage that is captured, comes down to one place, where you collate and you collect all that footage. And from that you’re able to put together a coherent and consistent message that actually goes out on behalf of your brand.

I guess the point is, as you said, you know, you can have 10, 20, 30 employees, depending on what type of business you do. I mean, for instance, let’s just say you’re a manufacturing business. So you have 10, 20, 30 employees, potentially, that’s 10, 20, 30 cameras, capturing moments, wherever they may be within the warehouse, or out on site, and they’re moments that you can then bring back to the marketing team, package up and get them out through your marketing channels. And that’s the real power of it.


In regards to the editing, I think that’s probably the first thing you think when people say “I can do smartphone video” is, “Yeah, I’m walking around, I’m going to film it and live stream onto YouTube, I’m gonna live-stream it on to Facebook, and that obviously does have its place. Before 2020, the example I would have given would have been backstage at conferences; that might be quite interesting to have those live streams. But beyond that, you do have to have the editing process and some polish.

Yeah, you’re right. I mean, “smartphone video”, is such a broad term, because, as you said, there are so many aspects to it. There’s the social media aspect, which is doing the Instagram, the reels, the TikToks, those elements. But what we do is, we try and put together more of a marketing style of video, so it’s very crafted. You’ve got lots of supporting shots, which tell a visual story. It’s not just sort of rough and ready, in a social media, Instagram way. It’s very much structured in its approach, almost like a mobile journalism article in the way that you position it, the way that you tell the story. You want to deliver an action take away from the end of it. So it’s quite, quite strategic in that sense.

But equally, you’ve got the other way as well, where you can actually just go into what is a live video stream through your smartphone. So there are nuances and intricate intricacies around the type of video that you shoot with a smartphone. Initially, we try and position ourselves for the traditional video production angle, but encompassing that through the medium of your smartphone.


I mean, the first nuance that jumped out at me is vertical versus horizontal. Obviously, if you’re shooting for social then vertical is perfectly acceptable, but you’ve got to have that blend. Is the smart thing to do, to have someone filming it vertically and someone filming horizontally and capture both angles?

Yeah, exactly. I mean yeah, that’s a discussion, vertical versus horizontal. And what I would say to that is first, “Where are you going to put your video?”, because the medium, the platform that you are shooting into, very much dictates that profile you shoot in the first instance. So if you’re going to go more into a TikTok or Instagram, style of video, vertical is definitely more appropriate. If you’re going to go into a LinkedIn or Facebook setup, I would say I would lean towards horizontal. By default, we recommend horizontal because it actually gives you a lot more editing options to be able to take what is horizontal footage and then package that up into a vertical profile in post-editing work as well. So it just gives you more options, I think to go from a vertical instance. Sorry, horizontal instance. That’s what I meant.


Okay, we can edit that out. There we go. The benefits of editing shown live on the podcast. But the other thing is, when it comes to hosting videos internally, we’ve played around with a few different things. And we’ve been on Vimeo for a while, we reorganized our YouTube channel, we posted things on our internal site. How far does that need to play into the calculation of what you film and how much you film? Do you need to have a kind of video library somewhere, or is it easier to store them somewhere like on YouTube, then repackage them wherever you put them?

Yeah, that’s an interesting one. I mean, what we are seeing, in terms of the search results, like on the Google search results, generally, when you see a video thumbnail, the majority of those videos that you may see within the search landscape are generally hosted on YouTube. So from a search perspective, YouTube is definitely a stronger platform to go with, seems to be more favoured

Years gone by there were other platforms that self-hosted videos that would show up, but now it just seems to be more favoured towards YouTube. But yeah, it’s an interesting one. I mean, there are, as you said, other platforms out there that self host. Vimeo is one, I find another really good one is Wistia. That’s got quite a good lot of value-added features that come in as well. So for instance, you can host a video with them, you can then host that video on a particular web page. But, you know, during and after the end of that video, you can have a call to action that pops up, and that is a stronger element that could be incorporated within a web page environment.


Yeah, I’ve noticed that on particularly YouTube videos that my son watches, but I think YouTube’s changed how it shows the “Next Up” or “Watch this next” videos. In quite a lot of the videos from a couple of years ago, the host sort of points to the screen there and there’s a circle they’ve superimposed, but actually the pop up, or the overlay, or whatever you want to call it, from YouTube isn’t there anymore. Video feels like it’s a very now, in the moment type of format. But does video have a shelf life as such? Or does it last much longer or as long as any kind of written resource does?

I think it’s the nature of the content that you put out. Are you talking about video as a concept or the content within the video?


I mean the content within the video, I think as a concept we’ve got so used to watching things, especially now. I was on a customer call the other week, and the guy didn’t put his webcam on as part of the Zoom call. And I found that really weird after a year of seeing everyone like we’re talking now. So I yeah, I wouldn’t try and make the argument that video is going to go away, I’m thinking about the content.

Yeah, I agree. And I think the medium of video is only going to improve and get stronger. And I say that because as technology gets better, it’s going to make the transfer of data easier, more seamless. I mean, video is a very heavy data medium, it produces massive, massive files. And as we go into what will be 5G, the ability to upload, download, and stream video with that huge bandwidth, will be easier. So I think that as a concept will make video more broadly appealing. In terms of it’s just from a technology point of view.

But coming back to your point about content, yeah, you’re right. It’s like anything within a content strategy. There are some articles that are very timely, and they serve a purpose. And then there are other articles that you want to do from an evergreen perspective. And that’s something you very much want to try and understand when you are creating a video. Is this something that’s going to be here and now and is only going to serve a purpose for something that’s newsworthy or current? As opposed to something, it’s going to sit on a web page and maybe serve that page for an ongoing period of time and you know that that provides real value? And because it’s ongoing, you may want to invest more time in actually focusing on that because the rewards are greater.


Sure, yeah, you can write something out up quite quickly, you can easily correct mistakes, but it takes longer to correct a mistake on a video because you might want to refilm an entire section, but it lasts six years, whereas the content doesn’t last as long.

And you never know. I mean, the video that you just do, here and then, might get really good traction with it. And this is the beauty of doing imperfect action sometimes, because you put something up, and all of a sudden, you’ve got traction with it, and you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, we can’t change that now. It’s taken off, we’re getting really good views”, and so on and so forth. And you’re like, “Okay, it is what it is. Let’s just leave it and go with it. And it’s working for us.” So, that’s what I like about imperfect action, you get pleasant surprises every now and then.


Yes, you know what the perfect script was, but the guy watching it doesn’t.

Exactly. I mean, case in point, we’ve got a business in Australia. And my first smartphone video I shot was all about highlighting a product, which was around big square fuel tanks, you know, it’s an industrial market we serve. And I very much showed what we did and how we did it. And hey, it wasn’t perfect, but I thought, “Let’s just get it out there.” And I mean, that video now is pushing 3 million views. It’s delivered over 100,000 clicks to our website. And yeah, no way am I changing that video. And I like I said imperfect action is sometimes great, just because it’s action.


I think that’s a great point to wrap up on, the live case study of “simple video gets traction  it lasts long, and it was well worth a minute or whatever it was with the smartphone.”

That’s been a really good canter through getting your smartphone video projects up and running. Where’s the best place for people to reach out to you if they want to follow up on this discussion?

We’ve got the website. So it’s And we’ve actually got an e-book there, which is all about breaking down the seven. It gives you seven “aha “moments that will hopefully enlighten you on why smartphone video marketing can work for you. So if you want to know more about it, go down and go to smartphone video dot marketing, read the e-book, and we’ll go from there.


Great. Once again, thank you so much for being on being on the podcast. I look forward to going out get my phone out and making some videos.

Excellent. Richard, I look forward to seeing them. Thanks for your time.


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