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Why is video such a big deal?

Well, the time has come for me to leave Cary and travel to the northeast to shoot video of ASPE courses in action. I’ll be visiting four classes this week: BA Boot Camp, Agile Boot Camp, Google Boot Camp, and SharePoint boot camp. I’m sitting at the airport with an hour before my flight, so that’s just enough time to write a bit while I wait.

Why is video such a big deal?

So why is ASPE investing the money to send me to these four classes just to obtain video footage?

If you spend any time eavesdropping on the marketing department around here, you hear us talk about video a lot. It’s a very integral and important part of what we do as a marketing team. Furthermore, it’s even more important to marketing when you look beyond our own company at the overall business and technology landscape right now. Technology is developing in a way that makes it easier than ever to produce, access, and store massive amounts of video. This ease of use and huge popularity is having big impacts on how businesses work and what they can do. As a result, companies big and small are integrating video into their marketing and operational activities more and more. Even in our own company, we were able to drastically increase our organic web traffic almost overnight simply by incorporating video into our sites’ web pages.

So…businesses like video, search engines like video, and it’s easier than ever to use. But even more fundamentally, why is it so hot right now? Why does one of the most important marketing topics today revolve around a technology that has existed in some form for more than sixty years? Sure, surfing YouTube may be fun, but how do you explain why video is so transformative to marketing and to business?

It’s all about communication. It may seem basic, but remember that communication at heart is simply the transmission of an idea from one person to another. It may be a fun idea, it may be an emotional idea, or it may be a business idea that stands to make money. Or it may simply be the ordinary day-to-day communication that keeps a business running. No matter what it is, the capacity for communication is one of the most important factors in achieving success with anything you’re trying to do. And when it comes to the compelling mass communication we marketers are interested in, video is the best medium to do it.

Only about 10% of your meaning is contained in the actual words you speak

In our PMP boot camp, aspiring project managers are taught a well known management principle…that different methods of communication vary in the amount of information that can be conveyed. They’re taught that face-to-face interaction in person is the most effective way to communicate, because only about 7-10% of your meaning is contained in your actual words. The other ninety percent is transmitted by how you speak them…intonation, body language, and facial expressions.   So consider how much potential information is lost with something like email, which only contains your words. A telephone call achieves more, because intonation and attitude is easier to detect, but it still contains only about 45% of the potential communication experience when compared to face-to-face interaction.* So, the full payload of our thoughts is rarely communicated in its entirety unless we’re communicating in person.

I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. The reality is that when it comes to the communication channels we have available to us as a business, video is the only one that comes anywhere close to achieving the same type of effectiveness as in-person interaction.

To give an interesting real-world business example, consider Cisco. Cisco believes strongly that anything less than in-person communication is going to result in loss of business potential every time an interaction occurs. So they’ve invested heavily in the business case for purchasing better communication solutions. They’ve also invested in the development of those solutions as marketable product lines: network telephony, teleconferencing tools, and so forth. For their enterprise clients, they work hard to convince them that integrating video into their network solutions is always going to be a good move. If video is already integrated, then they try to convince them that better, higher quality will improve their solution. Of course, every time your network needs to support more or better video, you’re increasing the rate of data flow and bandwidth, and you’ll need more expensive routers and network gear. And you know who sells that? You guessed it: Cisco.

But lest you think that being champions of video is just a marketing ploy for Cisco to sell more hardware, let me share one last thing. Cisco runs its own in-house HD video conferencing network. And when I say in-house, I’m not just talking about the RTP campus or regional intranets here and there. No, they’ve built a global high-definition platform just for their own employees to conduct business via HD video. They’ve invested in this solution for themselves because they really believe in it. And that speaks to the core vision of the Cisco leadership: to dissolve the barriers of distance which rob people of their full communication potential, and use high-bandwidth technology to enable what they’ve termed “telepresence.” Because despite innovations in phones and conferencing equipment, the key communication factor that’s still lacking is actual presence: real, person to person interaction. Can that be duplicated without actually being there? Cisco believes it can, and they believe video is the key.

Seeing is believing

Now, all this gets a little high-minded, and it might not seem that relevant to us here at ASPE. And it’s true that the video I’ll be shooting this week will be a far cry from the hugely expensive type of video we see enabled by Cisco or big production companies…it will be pretty amateur stuff and it won’t be very polished. But we have to start somewhere. And I can guarantee that even a couple minutes of real, actual footage from a real, actual class will be a powerful marketing tool even if it’s low-budget. Because potential customers will still be getting a real glimpse into what happens in the classroom: the charisma of our instructors, the quality of our content, and the experience of our classrooms. No amount of marketing copy or words on a website will be as convincing as actually seeing for themselves what it’s like. When they get a brochure in the mail or speak to a training advisor, they know we’re trying to sell them something. But they won’t be able to argue with video.

Well, I’m off to catch a plane. Wish me luck, and I hope I’m able to deliver even a fraction of the potential marketing value video has to offer. If I can, this trip will be a success.

 *based on Total Message Impact, as contained in the Communication Model used in the Project Management Body of Knowledge, v4 (r)

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