Marketing Lessons At Austin Visuals Animation Studio
This is an informal break down of some important marketing lessons we have learned while working at Austin Visuals and for other companies we were contracted for. We are all working to succeed in an increasingly confusing and competitive marketplace -- and that’s no exaggeration. Austin Visuals has been working with a greater than ever variety of dreamers, scientific marketers, technical innovators, multi-national companies and new to the world entrepreneurs than ever before in our history. It’s caused us to stretch and improve our technology, staff, and resources. We’re enthusiastically grateful for their trust!
To Start Off…
We would like to share what we have learned this year from experience and from our clients at our Texas-based animation company as we serve our customers’ coast to coast and abroad. We would love to hear your success stories and your frustrations, your triumphs, and trials by emailing [email protected].
Marketing is a complex process
It involves knowing your customers, researching their wants and needs, coming up with a great product and/or service and making sure it’s available. There is no one advertising or promotion answer once you are ready to advertise. There are an enless amount of options like live video, drone shots, 3D animation, 2D animation, Motion Graphics, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), or a combination of these.
Marketing Lesson #1 -- It’s about content, content, content
It starts with words. Yes, it’s fun to start right with the pictures but you must resist. Even if you don’t plan to have a narrator read your script, you need to make a word map or script to make sure you include everything you want. Once you have that information you can organize it into a beginning, middle, and end or call to action.
*For more detailed look on that subject, check out our StorySelling blog.
You know your product, idea, service better than anyone in the world
So, it can be easy for you to get lost in what you want to sell. My role as creative director at Austin Visuals is to keep an eye on what people want to buy by researching categories then weaving your message into a video script that will make you stand out. This will move your products, explain your process, or excite customers about your idea within your budget.
What Does Austin Visuals Do?
We do legal/forensic animation and medical/scientific animation frequently and work with corporate teams to script the technical necessities into a visual world. By adding our experience to your knowledge, I’m sure we can come up with something amazing!
Austin Visuals creates realistic 3D animation in combination with live video for some of the world’s largest producers of scientific advances. Content and story selling is not critical for just “the big guys.” At Austin Visuals, we also spend time interpreting the message to be delivered by smaller (but no less important) clients. The challenges of marketing are not always easy, but sometimes the inspiration is the key. We were lucky to have the opportunity to work with an emerging artist on a VERY limited budget to promote his latest hit. 2D animation can be used to story tell and storysell very effectively by our USA artists.
Marketing Lesson #2 -- Quality, quality, quality
Even constrained by budget, quality is everything in the competitive marketplace. Your customers are flooded with images throughout their daily life so whether you’re doing live video, 3D animation, 2D animation, motion graphics, VR or AR, your images must stand out.
Have Budget Issues?
If you have to use fewer images or a shorter video to meet your budget do that. Many would be surprised that they can still portray the same idea even with taking 10 seconds off a video. If you have very severe budget constraints, our animation professionals can even make those “do it yourself” programs look superior by adding in their Photoshop, Illustrator, or After Effects motion graphics skills.
Premade 2D animated characters augmented by skilled motion graphics artists at Austin Visuals produces budget videos that pack a punch.
Marketing Lesson #3 -- “Offshore” Mostly Isn’t Cheaper OR Easier
(We learned this from our customers!!)
I know you’re getting those emails from offshore providers promising great videos at bargain prices. No doubt, it is tempting to save money. For some reason I can not understand, those folks send Austin Visuals their inquiries too. (I guess they don’t scrub their email lists very well.) Let me just tell you right now, you are probably not going to save money. Along with probably not going to get your product on time, or really enjoy working with the time difference.
This year we’ve worked with several who thought “why not?” and gave it a try.
We ended up starting all over with them. They ended up spending more than they should have because they paid twice instead of once. Working offshore challenges include not just a lack of accountability along with language and culture barriers -- it’s also staying up until midnight to talk to your vendor. Out artists at Austin Visuals make sure to deliver value for your investment. Our prices for artists right here in the USA are often very competitive with offshore providers.
Marketing Lesson #4 -- You are your brand -- everywhere.
Remember that the sometimes elusive thing called “branding” extends beyond the formal videos you prepare for commercials, investor presentations, and social media. We can create the most dynamic video or logo for you, the best website, the most incredible Virtual Reality or investor presentation, and the positive effects from it can be undone in a minute. All of us are familiar with the spokesperson disasters and negative brand fall out that hit Subway with Jason Fogel, not just those of us in marketing, because media coverage made sure we were all aware.
For some of our clients, a spokesperson solution is an animated character.
They work 24 hours a day 365 days a year and are never going to let you down. Sock City’s knitting sock monkey is their logo and appears as a quick ad in movie theaters. For example, Sunny is a 3D spokesman that spreads sunshine for a car dealer:
A spokesperson is only part of the equation.
Another thing that is just as damaging to a product -- is what happens when the face of a brand (like Elton Musk) gets caught failing. If you’re the face or name of your brand, everything you do matters.
Are you doing something to sabotage your brand? Posting parties of your staff on Facebook? Showing gala’s or golf outings too often? Sure, you want to humanize the company but you need to stay in tune with your brand and generating trust among consumers. This is critical if you’re a startup or a solo entrepreneur. Ask yourself, “Do I look like the kind of person someone would invest money with?” Reconsider those vacation photos, nights out with a “babe” postings, and more importantly, how you conduct yourself at meetings and networking events. Fair or not, it all adds up and in the world we live in now someone is always watching, taking a video, and forming an opinion.
Marketing Lessons #5 -- Ask for the business and say “thank you” for getting it.
In videos, we refer to this as the “call to action.” That tells the viewer what to do after they’ve been convinced to take action after watching your video. Most often, it sends them to your website. Pretty passive. Going to a landing page that is not warming is bad news.
We always counsel our clients to make a special landing page.
I’m not a fan of going to a site and getting a robot AI person. That’s just me and it might work for you. Mostly it’s just one more step you’re making me take to do what I was excited about doing. Make sure their comments relate to what you’re advertising. Personal note: one of the BIGGEST frustrations for me as a consumer is to see a Facebook ad with a piece of jewelry or a dress I like. I hit their button and go to a catalog page. Hey! I wanted to see that particular thing I liked, I’m not going to spend fifteen minutes to try to find it. Let me see what I want, and THEN invite me to look around.
Give an email address direct to someone that can help you personally, or a phone number that will be answered.
For example: I’m Nancy Schirm, Creative Director at Austin Visuals. And, I’d like to have the opportunity to earn your trust. Email me directly at [email protected]. I do not give a phone number because we work with clients all over the world. I am not at my best at when it’s 9am in London and 3am in Dallas 🙂
Marketing Lesson #6 -- Say Thank You
Our client relationships last from four to six weeks for 2D and 3D videos or up to six months for larger Virtual Reality projects. So I try to express gratitude along the way, and always say thank you at the end. It is important and it is sincere. So, thank YOU for sticking with this blog about important marketing lessons and reading it to the end!