We understand that creating professional-looking video content can be a costly and complicated process. For marketers on a tight budget, this is the channel that often gets overlooked. But what if there was a way to make professional video ads and campaigns with minimum time and cost? We chat with Kay-Anne Reed, Marketing Manager at Waymark about video templating, scrapping costs for COVID and just how it feels to have your product offering go viral on social media.
Podcast produced by Let’s Talk Video Production.
Kay-Anne's background lies in influencer marketing. After working in the Detroit start-up scene, providing valuable insight into deals between influencers and brands, she is now the one-woman marketing machine at Waymark — the unique video templating platform.
She manages all things content and advertising, whilst keeping an eye on the latest video trends. So, with so many hats to wear, it's important to use the right platform to make her job easier.
So Kay-Anne, the best place to start is to talk about the woman behind the machine! Could you tell me a little bit about your career journey from influencer marketing, which I mentioned in the intro, to where you are now?
I got involved in the Detroit start-up scene through an entrepreneurship fellowship called "Venture for America" and through them joined an influencer marketing startup called the Outloud Group. I helped them scale their business from five people to 25 people. It was at this time when influencer marketing was sort of the Wild Wild West. It went from being absolutely bonkers to more formalised. From there I went to run marketing at Waymark where I work now.
Now we always love a bit of gossip. Have you got anything that you can tell me about from your time working with influencers? Maybe one of the biggest influencer demands or stunts you've been involved with?
There are definitely some eccentric personalities out there. One of my favourite ads that we worked on at the Out Loud Group was for a video game called the World of Tanks. We had an influencer called Demolition Ranch. He actually went out and rented some tanks and drove them around and ran over some cars in a junkyard. It was one of the most effective things that we'd ever done because the target audience just ate it up.
Tell me a little bit about Waymark, and who you are.
We started in 2016. At the time, we were helping small businesses create Facebook still image ads, and then pivoted into video. We started out primarily serving small businesses a self-serve video creation platform for their advertising needs across different platforms. And then a couple of years ago, we made the transition to upstream and serve the enterprise market.
Now we primarily help enterprise brands, media companies and agencies create really high-quality videos at scale. We essentially allow them to make video quickly and affordably. It comes with a lot of brand control for all the different teams at their company. Their sales, marketing, their clients, their franchisees in their local markets, or whoever else needs video, we empower them to create video for all those different teams. The core of how we do this is through really easy-to-use self-serve video creation tools, so anybody can use them, even if they have no production experience. It's up to our customers to decide what teams within their company are going to be using that. But no matter what, the result is a brand-safe and beautifully powerful, video ad.
I imagine, particularly considering the market at the moment and the past year we've had, that this is an ideal tool for brands in general, for all of their teams to be able to self-serve.
Yeah, it's been crazy. I think COVID and the pandemic has made the need for local personalisation more important than ever before. COVID is affecting each community completely differently. So, you need to have personalised marketing for each market, because things are really different everywhere.
One of the most interesting things I learned about you guys was what actually happened during the pandemic. One thing that really stood out to me was that you'd made the decision to make your entire platform free to small businesses. I'm really interested in the strategy behind that, and what the outcome has been for your business. So can you tell me a little bit more about what the thought process was? And how you decided to make this happen?
Yeah, absolutely. First and foremost, we saw that small businesses were really suffering and a lot of them probably weren't going to make it out the other side of this huge catastrophic event.
We believed that fast turnaround advertising would help them get the word out about what was going on in their business right now. Whether they were closed indefinitely, promoting gift cards to help them get through this pandemic, doing takeout or, asking people to wear a mask, we were able to spin a lot of pre-filled messages around these issues and make them free.
It was really cool to see small businesses use our platform exactly as we had hoped and create up-to-date COVID-related messaging. Or, just really great branding videos to remind people in their community that they're were still there and they needed support. In addition, it helped drive a lot of traffic to our site and uncovered leads in the enterprise arena.
As part of this, and because of this great initiative that you put together, this was picked up by US entrepreneur and billionaire Mark Cuban! How did that come about?
Yeah, we have no idea how he found out about it. Obviously, he's an advocate for small businesses and startups. He tweeted about it, and posted us on LinkedIn, to the tune of I think almost 10,000 likes. So, that was a huge moment last summer.
And did you see quite an uptake at all when that happened?
Absolutely, for weeks after that. It was such a nice thing to wake up to. It’s a marketing dream.
So have you gone back to a paid-for model for small businesses? And what impact has it had?
Yeah, we have. I do think there was a bit of saturation. After the first six months of the pandemic, a lot of people were doing similar things. And people had adjusted a bit more, so we weren't seeing the same level of usage and impact by the time it got around to late fall. So reinstating the prices was an effort to help us qualify some of those leads that we had gathered from that experience because it becomes very difficult to sell enterprise software if you're giving everything away for free.
I know that you also work with larger brands, as well as media agencies and cable companies. You work with really big ones including Spectrum, which is one of the largest cable companies in the US. So, my understanding of what they do is they take videos and they sell them to small businesses, is that right?
Well, they actually use us as a creative sales enablement tool. They use our self-serve platform and put it in the hands of their sales team, and their sales team will take our video templates and personalise them for the small business that they're pitching to that day.
They'll be able to make a free spec ad, take it to that meeting with that small business and for those who are unable to afford a $5,000 commercial created by a local production team, now are able to put that same money towards their ad campaign playing on TV with this very low-cost video created on Waymark. Many times these videos result in an upsell into custom production for their clients. Wyamark's video, plus the custom production, means a business can get their message out even faster. Our videos have been known to help with the execution of a fast, professional, multi-channel campaign. It empowers these media companies to be a little bit more nimble and to compete with folks like Facebook for those lower dollar advertisers and introduce them to a new platform of TV or OTT streaming.
And one of the things I'm always really interested in is about localised marketing and how we can be a little bit more targeted with that sort of stuff. I wondered if you had any thoughts, tips or experience of working with brands that have had to do more localised video stuff?
Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things that we do for larger brands is we'll take their national-level campaign creative, and we'll turn it into an easy-to-customise video template that they can then offer to their local marketers, or local channel partners, franchisees that type of thing. The vast majority of this a frozen in place, unchangeable, brand-safe ad. But then at key points, you can add your local offers, your logo, your name, your address, and that sort of thing, to build that local connection.
We've seen this be very effective for some of our clients, especially this year, just offering your local partners the chance to come alongside and support your national campaigns at a local level. And to do it without concern. One of the biggest pain points for larger brands — national or global —is you want that really effective last-mile advertising in the local markets. But the things that your local marketers or franchisees are making are just totally off-brand and not at all what you're looking for.
It can be terrifying because it can feel like such a risk. It's so important to retain that brand equity to make sure that your stuff is on-brand. So what your'e offering is essential, you're saying that a lot of stuff is templated, so there's unlimited editability within the video? And, I imagine, that the video footage they're using would still be branded but it's purely the messaging and things they can lay on top?
We let clients add their brand kits of logos and different types of footage, brand colours, brand fonts and things like that, to make sure that amongst all of their options, everything is still going to be on-brand. It just takes away that element of concern about brand safety when people are making their local creative.
What are the common challenges that your customers face when they talk to you about video marketing?
For our customers, it's the timeline, and often the cost. Generally, the brand safety element is a huge deal for our customers as well. It's basically quality control. So if they had unlimited resources to dedicate to making sure that what every one of their teams was creating was phenomenal, then that would be fine. But they obviously don't. So they have to turn to tools like ours.
One of the real concerns that I often have about video production, and particularly when I think about templating tools is sometimes it waters down the creativity. What do you think about that? Do you have any tips for anyone that might be using a platform such as yours that can help them keep that creative edge?
We really try to partner closely with the creative teams at the different clients that we work with. We find that brands and agencies know their own brand best, or they know their client's brand best. So they are the most qualified to create their own templates. And so we actually empower folks to create their own templates with our Waymark After Effects studio extension. It enables you to pick what's going to be locked and what's not.
I find there’s quite a leap from the free version to paid subscriptions with some video platforms I’ve worked with. And I often feel a bit restricted. I'm assuming that if I'm working with you at an enterprise level, then I’d have that freedom to have more of that creativity. So for smaller businesses, obviously, that's not necessarily an option. But I've had a look at your site and there's a huge variety of different templates that people can choose from. Is that a subscription model? Or are they paid for off the shelf, like pay-as-you-go?
We have a set of templates created by our team that are publicly available, and you can buy individually off the shelf, or you can pay a subscription monthly to get a certain number of credits that then roll over and you can redeem them.
What I think sets us apart from a lot of the other video creation platforms is we really conceptualise our templates as professionally produced stories. We think of our user as the producer or director. There's a fully produced story and you are putting your own spin on it.
With the amount of large digital assets that you work with at the moment, I was wondering how you keep track of them? And I know that you use one of our products, which is our latest product called Dash. So, how did you find out about us?
Well, we had a team member going full-hog, diving into digital asset management and doing a full review of this space.
He really did a comprehensive review of the space and ultimately landed on Dash as the right solution for us. We work with a bunch of different brands and creative teams and so we use it to make sure that we have a really well organised set of our different customer's brand assets that we can use across our creative team and development team. This way we know that everybody is on the same page. And we also use it because one of the things it’s really helpful for is creating a lot of time-sensitive creative for different brands. Let's say your spring ad campaign has a certain specific logo. We need to make sure that we're not using any kind of out-of-date assets. It's been really helpful in that realm.
What were you using beforehand?
Just a mishmash of Google Drive, and all sorts of crazy things.
So for any marketers or brand managers or anyone working in creative services, if they want to dip their toe into video marketing, what would you say is the best way to begin, and what are some top tips you could give us as a starting point?
I would say we typically recommend, for smaller brands, starting with one fantastic, general branding video, and trying to slice that in all the different ways possible.
Across social advertising or any other ad platforms, video is really the format that performs the best. So, I would say start there if you have a minimal budget and upgrade your paid ads to video, but otherwise, I'd say invest in a really, really strong story-driven piece about your brand that can stand in any platform and in any context. Maybe it's a two-minute piece that you cut down into 30 seconds and six seconds for a Facebook ad but that will take you far.
Are you ready to try out video templating for yourself? You can claim 15% off your next template at Waymark with the promo code: BRIGHT21.
Simply choose a template, sign up and type in the BRIGHT21 discount code.
A big thank you to Kay-Anne for taking the time to chat with us about how you can make the most out of video templating tools. If you’re interested to find out more or book a demo, head over to the Waymark website and get in touch!