Notes from the Show
In this episode, we join In this episode, we join Ethan Beute, VP of Marketing at BombBomb, in a discussion about how to market through personalized videos:
- How you are your best differentiator
- How polished videos can put people off
- How we say something is as important as the words we use
Intro: You’re listening to Dare to Differentiate, a podcast for business owners in crowded industries who want to learn how to rise above the noise. In this show, we focus not on doing everything for everybody, but on doing a few things for the right people with excellence. So, if you’re ready to leave the herd, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get into the show.
Susan: Welcome back. I’m Susan Tatum and today, I’m talking with Ethan Beute, VP Marketing at BombBomb and author of my new favorite book, Rehumanize Your Business. Ethan, welcome to the show.
Ethan: Thank you so much, and thanks for reading the book and sharing kind words about it.
Susan: So, Ethan, before we dig in, to give our audience some context, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Ethan: I’ve been here at BombBomb for, gosh, almost a decade all-in. I was doing project work with the two co-founders before I joined full time about seven and a half, eight years ago. And so, I’ve been on this journey of learning how to replace some of our plain, typed-out text with simple personal videos, and so I’ve sent nearly 10,000 videos myself. I’ve written hundreds of blog posts and done webinars and staged presentations all around things I’ve learned with, through, and for our customers about just a better, more personal way to work.
And so, I’ve been doing that for a long time. I love it. It’s the reason I wrote the book. You know, my name’s on the cover of the book because I care about what’s in it. I don’t care about it just because my name is on it. So, it’s all these awesome things that I’ve learned and I’m excited to share with other people about a more effective and more satisfying way to work every day.
And prior to that, I worked in local television. I ran marketing teams at like your local ABC or NBC or Fox station in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as I regard as my hometown, Chicago, and then out here in Colorado Springs, where my family and I have lived for just over a dozen years. So, yeah, that’s just a little bit.
Susan: Well, cool. So, this is the Dare to Differentiate podcast and we’re talking about the benefits and the challenges of doing that, of being different, of not being another “me too” company. And we were talking about this just before the show here, one of the biggest challenges that I face daily in my day job as a LinkedIn strategist is cutting through all of that noise that is on LinkedIn now and, I mean, inboxes are certainly the same way. The messages that we get that are auto-sent, it’s the status updates that are not relevant and trying to find a way to break through that without being obnoxious about it.
Someone mentioned to me, and I can’t remember who it was, and it was before I knew you, but he said we’ve gotten to the point where actually being human becomes a competitive advantage. And I think that you potentially have a very, very effective way of doing this.
But let me start by asking you talk about personal video. What do you mean when you say that?
Ethan: Yeah, thank you for asking because I think there’s a big idea here that’s important to draw that will open up the world to someone who’s thinking about pursuing video in this style. And the way that we describe it is there’s marketing through video, and this is written, produced, scripted, cast, lit, edited, et cetera. It’s video in a traditional way. You know, it’s video that aspires to be like a television commercial or a film trailer. It’s typically regarded as somewhat expensive and somewhat time consuming, although both of those barriers have been lowered over the years.
People act as if the video needs to be good enough to host on my homepage. That kind of thing, right? And that’s okay if you’re doing that style of video and your team and your company are. That’s awesome. You should continue to do it. But this personal video style is kind of what we’re doing here through Zoom, which is unscripted, unproduced, casual, you’re at your desk, I’m at my desk and we’re just being who we are and we’re in conversation with one another.
So, when I say “personal video,” I mean casual, unproduced, honest, real. It’s just you. And the point of reference here is not, “Is this as good as a television commercial that I saw last night, you know, between the videos I was streaming online?” It’s, “Is this better, is this more effective than if I typed out the exact same message and sent it?” And, of course, in so many cases, the answer is yes because you are you own best differentiator. When people say yes to your product, your service, your offering, your price point, your feature set and they sign that contract, they’re not just saying yes to the features and the benefits and the price and the terms and all these other things. They’re saying yes in part to you, to the trust and rapport that you’ve built with one another.
And so, this ability to be yourself and to share yourself and to communicate with your face and your voice and your personality and your expertise, your enthusiasm, your sincerity, your concern, your gratitude, and all these other really rich elements that we do when we’re eye to eye, face to face and that are lost when we’re stripped out of our typed-out digital messages, all that can be restored and so, it’s more effective and more satisfying when you find some spots in your day to mix in some simple personal videos.
Susan: So, that makes me think of two things. One is that just video in general has certainly become a big thing in marketing. And we do see on LinkedIn that video being used in status updates increases the amount of time that it gets shown. A lot of that is because I think LinkedIn likes video and they will show it. But we have noticed that, on a few occasions, we’ve had clients that wanted to post something that was really slick, and even though it’s them talking, it looks produced. And inevitably, those do not get the kind of engagement as just somebody sitting there talking.
Ethan: I’ve heard that many, many times. So, I have good personal relationships with hundreds of our customers because I’ve been at it for a long time and, you know, back when we only had a few hundred customers, I wanted to know as many of them as possible. So, you know, I’ve connected with them for years now and watched their evolution and so, we’re at the point now where we have customers who, you know, they don’t just send simple personal videos with our platform and the variety of ways that we help people do that, but they also do fully-produced videos with drones and jibs and nice cameras and expensive equipment and all this, and they say the same thing. It’s, “I use video and all these social networks. I have a really vibrant YouTube channel. I do this, that, and the other thing.”
But the videos that generate the best response are the ones where it’s just me and my smartphone and it’s eye to eye, face to face, heart to heart, casual, unscripted because it’s approachable. It’s vulnerable, it’s different, and so, when we don’t put on all these airs and we don’t get all shiny – I call it the shiny authenticity inversion, right? And Seth Godin calls it the television industrial complex, you know? When he’s speaking to the shiny there. So, the shiny is, again, this polished, scripted, produced stuff that takes time and money, and it has its place but, you know, two decades ago, if you had a budget, you could produce a really expensive video and it bought you credibility, it bought you attention, and you could trade on that and sell things in return.
But there’s been an inversion where, once we see the shiny, we see it coming. You know, you think of it as like the guy in a bad suit making a beeline for you in the car lot or something, right? Like you know what’s coming. When the video opens with this big whooshy graphic and nice sound and all these things, you’re like, “Okay, what are you about to sell me?” Right? Whereas, you come at me standing in front of a whiteboard or walking down the street or something more casual, it’s like, “This is interesting. This person lives in a particular place. They have something in particular they want to share, something maybe to teach me, a provocative question to ask.” Whatever. It’s just more approachable. It’s more honest. And because we haven’t been doing this style of communication, video or otherwise, for very long, it’s very refreshing to have an honest and simple look into someone’s work life and into their mind and into their thoughts and into their, you know, feelings.
Susan: Well, it just seems more real.
Susan: You know, you didn’t get all fluffed up to be on camera and, you know, we all have a little bit of – we’re backing away from things that are automatically sales and marketing and we have, I think, a very good ability to realize when it’s not real. And so, this just really brings this back. You know, after the first conversation that we had, you sent me a little video and some folks that I have that are looking at my account are like, “That was really cool. Where did that come from? That really made sense. That made us feel good.”
So, in your book, you talk about – and I know that part of the differentiation of using video is that it’s not right now being done by as many people. But there’s also a scientific or psychological basis about why using video adds to your communication. So, can you talk about that for a little bit?
Ethan: Yeah, there’s a lot there. I mean, in the book, there’s a lot of science around the use of hand gestures, the power of eye contact, some of the gut decision that we make, the idea of breaking patterns, right? If I’m going through my inbox and there are 180 emails and they all look exactly the same, it’s the same black text on the same white screen in the font I selected in my Google Apps Gmail inbox, just breaking the pattern alone. But, you know, we’ve been communicating eye to eye, face to face almost exclusively since we’ve been on two feet as a species, right? It’s only been, you know, a handful of generations in which we could transmit our faces and voices across time and distance.
And so, it is deeply, deeply, deeply baked into the human experience to be able to read and write expression and meaning to and from our faces and our bodies because we use our gestures and head turns and arms and posture and all of this rich nonverbal communication to convey our meaning. Something that I mention in there is the universality of facial expression of emotion. It’s both universal and innate, and that’s just a fancy way to say that we all do it the exact same way. So, if I only spoke Mandarin and you only spoke English, you would know by the way I’m speaking – certainly, there are also some cultural nuances to it as I draw this line out, but you would be able to tell by my pace and my tone and my facial expression is this good news? Is this bad news? Am I curious? Am I excited? Am I angry? Right? So, there’s just so – and I offer all that. I’ll bottom-line it here: We say so much in how we say something, not just through the words that we choose.
Susan: And I noticed that you talked about that study that came out of UCLA that’s so often quoted about whatever percentage being –
Ethan: Nonverbal. Yeah.
Susan: Nonverbal, yeah.
Ethan: 93%. It’s Albert Mehrabian, who is an amazing psychologist, and even he actively denigrates the way that his work has been cited and used. But I’m sorry, I interrupted the question.
Susan: No, I was just going to say, you know, and I’ve not read the whole study myself, but I have seen where apparently he was saying this works if you’re talking about emotion. If you’re looking at the emotion that the person is showing and not trying to – I guess the example I saw in a book I read, and at this point, I can’t remember who it was. But they said if it were true that 90-whatever percent was nonverbal, then, to go back to the Chinese versus English conversation, I would be able to understand what you were trying to communicate exactly in Mandarin, and that just doesn’t happen.
Ethan: Right. Yeah, there’re a number of flaws in it. You see it cited a lot. I did that passage on – I don’t know, I think I took on four or five or six things that I see cited all the time that are just kind of ludicrous on their face and/or irrelevant.
So, you know, the point that people draw out of this 93% of your communication is nonverbal is fair, which is we maybe overvalue the meaning and the words that we select and undervalue the way that we deliver it. You head that all the time, whether it’s, you know, an argument with your spouse or your child or something where it’s just a simple miscommunication, like, “I didn’t mean it that way!” You know.
Ethan: So, if that’s what you take away from it, that’s a good takeaway, but to your point, I mean, if that were true, I could get 93% of the meaning from a message even if I didn’t understand any of the words, and that just doesn’t make sense on its face. And the point here is people use these, like companies use these to argue for why you should be using video. And, you know, if that’s what it takes to get someone over the line, that’s fine.
I’ve done some quantitative studies on my own to try to prove the efficacy of putting some videos into your emails to generate more replies, to get more clicks through your emails, to convert leads at a higher rate, to increase referral generation, and it does all those things, too. Like, if you need numbers, you need numbers, and take whatever motivation you need because I am, again, a decade into this style of simple video communication. I am as convinced as ever that this produces better work and more satisfying work.
When you find this comfort in your own skin and you’re able to more of yourself more often during your day and have people enjoy that gift of your time and that gift of your attention and to fully understand what you’re trying to convey, right?
Think of like a handwritten note. The two roles of a handwritten note are, one, to kind of put your personality on the page, right? Like, only you could write that note. You might write the exact same words that I would to our friend Bob, who did us both a kindness, but yours would look different than mine and it would feel different than mine because you’re handwriting is different than my handwriting. So, one is you’re kind of putting your personality on the page a little bit.
And then the other one is it’s the gift of your time, it’s the moment of your day like you can’t fake. I take that back. There are services that will fake handwritten notes and it’s a whole separate thing we could go down. I just think it’s so dishonest. It’s so against the spirit of the gesture, it just makes me ill. You know, it’s a moment of your time. And so, when you record a 45-second thank you video for somebody, you just fake that you took 45 – or just to check in, right? Like, you know, “Hey, I know you were supposed to connect with this other person that I referred you to, and this, that, and the other thing. How did that go?”
These simple gestures, the thought, the time, the care, and the attention, A, produce better customer experiences and stronger relationships, and then as a consequence, B, it just makes it a more healthy and vibrant and, frankly, more fun business.
Susan: Yeah. It all makes sense. But another thing that interested me was that you said, “Back away from the camera,” which is kind of what you’ve done now so that I’m seeing your hand gestures, I’m seeing more of your posture. You’re not just a talking head.
Ethan: Yeah, I think, you know, stepping back from the camera does a few specific things for you. One, it’s going to be a little bit more of a flattering shot. One of the things that stops people dead in their tracks is they hit Record and they hate the way they look and/or they hate the way they sound. They’re not used to seeing themselves and hearing themselves, even though everyone you work with already knows what you look and sound like. it’s not a secret. Just because it was finally revealed to you when you turned your webcam on doesn’t mean it’s been a secret to anyone else, right? And so, it’s something you just need to work through.
But when you step back, it’s going to be a little bit more of a flattering shot, and then if you can include, you know, kind of your head and shoulders and maybe even your upper body, this allows you to be even more expressive, even if you’re not a big hand talker. I’m kind of somewhere in the middle. I’m not a big hand talker, but I do use them. You know, it allows you to be a little bit more expressive and there’re some trust components in the ability to see peoples’ hands. Even that is deeply, deeply survival based as a species. It’s this idea that if I can see your hands, I trust you more because I know you don’t have a rock or some other kind of weapon hiding behind your back, like deep.
I mean, we’re all wrapped up in who we are in 2019. We’re so enamored of ourselves and the way we dress and the electric cars we drive and our ability to, you know, use video cameras and all this other stuff. I mean, this is a grain of sand on the beach of the human experience on earth, right? Like, this moment, this day, this year. We’ve been at this for a long, long time, so we’re so deeply coded with this stuff, and so, when we try to overcontrol our communication, when we strip ourselves out of our own messages, when we’re communicating – you know, when you think about nasty comment threads and flame wars, like YouTube has just some nasty, nasty comments. If you follow your local media, you know, your local newspaper or Independent Weekly magazine or a television station or whatever on social media, just nasty comments, and these are things you would never say and never do if you had to look the other person in the eye and tell them the exact same thing.
So, this disintermediation where we let our words, our typed-out words represent us is, in a way, I feel like antihuman. I mean, it’s useful. It’s effective. You know, I don’t need to send you a video to say, “Hey, are we still good at 2:00 today?” I could just type that and it’s quick and it’s transactional. So, you don’t need video for everything, but there are some moments that we choose just the wrong medium. Video’s simply a medium, right? People think video’s a tactic or video’s a strategy. Video’s just a medium for a message. It’s a wrapper. You have something to communicate, you wrap it in something, you send it over, and someone can decode it, unwrap it, and get your message, right? And video’s just a better, richer way to communication a lot different things and it builds this emotional connection, psychological connection that facilitates sales and relationships in a business context in addition to a personal context.
Susan: Because I feel like I know you when I see you, right? More so than even through a voice message.
Ethan: Yeah, the –
Susan: I can now put a face with it, your eyes. Yeah.
Ethan: Yeah, the video I sent you would’ve been even more powerful if we had not done a Zoom call prior, if you had never met me and we had only exchanged emails back and forth or we had done a phone call, right? When I send you that video, that locks it even more. Like, there’s a very, very strong – and so, to go to this idea of connecting with people on LinkedIn for the first time, for example. These are people you may never meet in person, and so you can swap digital stuff back and forth, they might watch some video content you’ve produced, but when you look someone in the eye through the camera lens and greet them by name and provide some information or an offer or a piece of entertainment for them or whatever the case may be, it’s a whole different experience and people will feel like they know you before they ever meet you.
There’re a number of stories in the book about that. One of them is, you know, I met a guy in person and neither of us could be sure – because we’ve known each other for years through video and through social media – we ran through a list of, “Were you at this event?” “No.” “Were you at that event?” “No, I wasn’t at that one. I was at this one. Were you there?” “No, I wasn’t.” We couldn’t – it took us a minute and a half to figure out whether or not we had ever met in person before, but when we greeted each other prior to unpacking all of this and trying to figure it out, big old bear hug. Like, I’m not a big hugger, but I’m a hugger. And we greeted each other like old friends and we had never met in person before and felt so connected through all this video exposure that we weren’t clear if we had ever done so.
Susan: That’s interesting. You know, I have so many clients that I’ve never met personally, one to one, but we do the video conference calls and that sort of thing.
So, we talked about using this for initial outreach. Can you do that? I should know this, but I’m not the implementation part of our team with LinkedIn. Can you send a BombBomb video in a connection invitation?
Ethan: You could drop the link in there. So, you know, the easiest way that I use these videos in LinkedIn – and I expect LinkedIn to roll out native features around this. You know, they finally allowed video uploading.
Ethan: Now they’re testing live, and I expect that – it would be foolish not to put a video recorder directly into the messenger. Right now, I use our Google Chrome extension. It’s just called BombBomb and you can add it to Chrome. So, you can start a two-week free trial. It does require you to login. But I record it there, I grab the URL, and I throw it into a LinkedIn message. I expect that if you drop that into a connection request and you added a note, it would, upon acceptance, turn that into an active link because it does have the https in front of it. It’d probably turn it into an active link.
Typically, if you’re already connected and you drop one of those in and you add a line about why they should play the video, you should always add a little bit of text to compel the video play and maybe to reinforce whatever your call to action is, whether it’s in an email, a text message, or a LinkedIn message or a Facebook message or beyond. It will typically populate the thumbnail image for you as well.
So, on a connection request, you can definitely drop it in there. It will definitely be clickable. I don’t know if it will populate the thumbnail image of the video itself.
Susan: I’ll have to test it as soon as I sign up for my trial account.
Susan: So, when does this work best? We know we’re talking about outreach to people from a sales perspective to try to get through the noise. What else is this good for?
Ethan: Sure. I’ll just walk through a handful. I’ll start with the big idea, which is anything that has detail, nuance, emotional charge, either positive or negative. Again, like, a thank you or a congratulations is a positive emotion, or an “I’m sorry,” bad news, apology is a negative situation. Be able to control the emotional tone using a screen recording video, again, or, you know, if you’re doing an update for your client on something that’s going on and you’re going to walk – instead of just sending them the report they have to dissect, send it with a little 48-second or 90-second video telling them what to look for in the report and even show it on your screen with your little head in there, too.
So, there are a number of, you know, detail, nuance, emotion early in the relationship and important valuable moments in the relationship. That’s kind of high-level. Specifically, cold prospecting and introductions, trying to engage non-responsive leads, right? Someone engages with you online, attends a webinar, downloads a guide, or fills out a form or whatever. You’re doing your traditional follow-up, whatever your system or process is, they’re not engaging, they’re not scheduling an appointment, they’re not returning your voicemails, they’re not replying to your emails. Mix in some video there to let them know that you’re a real person, put a face with a name, and try to compel them in a more unique and personal way to engage with you.
I’ve been assuming a lot of this time that we’re talking about simple, pure one to one, like Ethan to Susan videos, but you can record a video once and use it over and over again, and the context for it may make it feel personal enough that it is going to have that effect. You can also do one to many, like a lot of folks that are running, you know, a database, let’s say an insurance agent or a financial advisor or a mortgage loan officer or real estate agent, somebody like that who has a database of a few hundred or maybe even a couple thousand people, doing videos to the entire database and then using the tracking, the analytics to know who to follow up with.
So, engaging responsive and nonresponsive leads, right? With a responsive lead, it’s like, “Hey, Susan. Gosh, it’s been a couple weeks since we connected. Last we talked, you were doing to do this, that, and the other thing. I haven’t heard back from you. I just wanted to check in and make sure that this thing was still a go for whatever, whatever.” So, keeping those processes going until there is a signed contract or the desired outcome or whatever.
Training and onboarding, whether it’s a – you know, any of the cold prospecting and lead-oriented stuff could be used for recruiting people to your team or your company. From there, onboarding and engaging new customers or new employees, thank you’s, congratulations, holidays, special occasions, all of those have emotional charges.
A lot of folks are looking for a reason or an opportunity or an excuse to reach out to a past client, but they don’t know what to say or why to reach out. Holidays and special occasions or even news you pick up on social media gives you a very specific reason to reach out. “Hey, Bob and Mary. It’s Ethan. Gosh, I saw that Timmy made captain of the soccer team. I just want to say congratulations. I hope he has an awesome season. Gosh, it’s been too long since I’ve seen you both. If I can ever be of value, reach out and let me know. Take care. Have an awesome day.”
So, holidays and special occasions or news or updates give you a reason to reach out in a timely way, especially if it’s personal and/or has a positive emotional charge. Process and project updates, right? Like, if you have four or five people involved in a project or a transaction, how do you keep everyone updated without calling all of them individually or emailing them all separately? You know, like, you make one video message and then you use the tracking and analytics to make sure everyone gets the same message and you can confirm that they actually received it. If they haven’t watched it, you can follow up again and say, “Hey, be sure to check this out. This is the update I gave the team,” or, “This is the update I gave the buy side and the sell side,” or, you know, whoever’s involved in it.
Internal communication keeping people up to speed, and those can be, you know, I think you read some examples in there about some leaders and CEO types who are using it for what you maybe would’ve used a cold email or – not cold as in you don’t know the person, but like you might’ve used an email or maybe a handwritten note for, like, “I’m sorry for your loss,” “Congratulations on the promotion,” “Hey, I heard you’re doing an awesome job,” “Hey, happy birthday,” “Hey, happy five year anniversary,” “Gosh, you’ve added so much value to the company. I appreciate you.” All those little touches, again, going back to the idea that if I give my time and I give my attention and I let you know that I’m thinking of you, it is deeply meaningful, and that’s the kind of thing that creates employee and customer engagement. So, those are just a few ideas off the top of my head.
Susan: So, I could talk about this for a very long time, but we’re going to run out here.
Susan: So, there’re a couple more questions. How long do you think this will be a differentiator, that this could be used as a competitive advantage?
Ethan: Yeah, I think from the act alone and the medium alone as differentiating, it could be as little as a year, it could be as long as three years. I mean, honestly, when I started with the company full time back in 2011, I thought that there was a high likelihood that someone else would just roll out and plow us under. You know, someone with a lot more money and a lot more people and whatever. It is shocking to me how long and slow this curve has been for adoption of video, and it’s really tied to human discomfort with the vulnerability required to effective record personal videos. And so, that’s a deep human condition, so I would say it could be as little as a year. It could be as much as three to five years.
Susan: Well, a point that you had made previously was you’re the differentiator, so…
Ethan: Yeah, ultimately, when this is a much more common practice and this becomes a standard or a norm – like, people didn’t do business by telephone X number of years ago. I don’t know when that transition happened, but you only did video by mail and in person, and at some point, the phone got adopted and it was like, “Gosh, how do I do this? I can’t see the person. It’s weird.” Right? Like, we’ll figure it out. It’ll happen. Ultimately, as this becomes as common as a video chat or a phone call, ultimately, you are your own best differentiator. There’s no one more uniquely qualified to do things how you do them, and video allows you to be your unique self in a way that no other medium does.
Susan: And I love that because that means, yeah, you can automate things, but at some point, you’re going to have to get in there and be real and talk to people, talk to people like a human.
So, I highly recommend that everybody reads this book because it’s good, and I could hold up a copy but it’s going to be audio only and that’s not going to help anybody. But how do people get in touch with you and stay in touch with you, get connected?
Ethan: If they want to heed your advice and check the book out, you can learn a lot more and get links to all the places at BombBomb.com/book. You can learn more about it, read some nice endorsements, and access any of the buying sites. My name is Ethan Beute. I welcome your email. [email protected] I love this. I care about it a lot. If you have a level of interest, if you’ve tried it out, if you have thoughts or feedback or questions, I welcome that. I’m Ethan Beute on basically all the social networks and I welcome a connection. We are BombBomb on basically all the social networks and we’re at BombBomb.com.
Susan: All right, well, I guess that wraps it up, and thanks again, Ethan. This has been really good.
Ethan: Thank you so much for the invite and the conversation. I appreciate it.