Using video to generate leads in B2B marketing with the Contented Brothers

contented-brothers
Fiona Jensen
By Fiona Jensen
Fiona hosts our podcast Market Mentors, and helps our clients source and hire the marketers they need to fuel business growth.

 

 

Listen on iTunes

 

Listen on Spotify

 

TRANSCRIPT;

Fiona Jensen: Welcome to Market Mentors, a podcast for the marketing leaders of today and tomorrow. I'm Fiona Jensen, a director and co-owner of Market Recruitment. For over a decade, I've been helping B2B marketeers find the best jobs with great companies. Together, we'll discover how marketing experts reach the top and learn from their experience. Ask career related questions you can't get answers to elsewhere. Be tough. Be challenged. Be mentored.

Fiona Jensen: Welcome to the Market Mentors podcast. Thank you ever so much for joining us, Tom and Birdie, from Contented Brothers.

Tom Hall: Thank you for having us.

Birdie Hall: Thank you. Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: Fantastic. I'm so excited to be here amongst all the tech and the amazing bits of equipment, and the goggles that you've promised me I can have a go on later. I am so excited. So, why don't you share with the audience what it is that you guys do and the type of knowledge and experience thereabout to deep dive into?

Tom Hall: This is Tom, for the fact that you can't see faces, Tom, the elder of the two Contented Brothers. We are a creative content agency who now specialise in what we call pipeline content. So, we work closely with our clients to really dig into their customer journey, or their sales pipeline, or their employee journey, or their patient journey, in the case of our healthcare clients. And we dig into that journey to identify the key inflection points where the application of minimum effort, in terms of resource and cash, is going to have maximum output in terms of behaviour change.

Tom Hall: We advocate less rather than more video, but we advocate for making smart video. We also try and work with people strategically, so that we can devise a campaign of content that will last a long time. So, rather than people making one thing, and then thinking, that worked really well, what can we do next, or making one thing and thinking that didn't work really well, let's can it, people have a full roadmap in their mind of all the things that they're looking to deploy, so that they can be really agile about getting new things up and out.

Tom Hall: I think one of the concerns, which we were talking about before we started recording, was that people tend to think of video as a relatively labor-intensive, time-intensive, potentially, cash-intensive medium as compared to sort of text or imagery. But you can actually bring the per-asset cost right down by being strategic about it upfront.

Fiona Jensen: Oh, now you're talking. That's going to be music to a lot of people's ears. So, keen to find out a little bit more about that. Birdie, what is it that you do with regards to the agency, apart from putting up with Tom?

Birdie Hall: Yeah. It's interesting the way that we both came into this, because obviously, we're brothers. We have a lot of shared history together. But we also have very, very different skill sets, and kind of different backgrounds, which I think, hopefully, has been part of our successful kind of journey. My background really was in kind of pure video production. I worked in a small independent production company making documentaries, lots of Channel Four, and other broadcasters. So, I really came into it from a kind of super practical side of things.

Birdie Hall: And, Tom, which he can probably say about, came from a kind of very different path. Really, our kind of two roles have been relatively clear from the beginning. I've generally been about the kind of delivery and the kind of creative side of the content, and the things that we produce. I've always been kind of very hands on as well. So, I've kind of always been a lot of part of the stuff that we're making. Then, Tom has been looking after the more kind of commercial side and the client side of things. So, that's it. Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: Perfect. And I can confirm, Birdie definitely knows his stuff, because I had plenty of technical issues upon arrival, all of which been fixed and everything is running smoothly. Thank God for Birdie.

Tom Hall: I can tell you a story about how hands on Bernie is. In the very-

Fiona Jensen: Oh, here we go.

Tom Hall: Very early days-

Fiona Jensen: Keep it clean.

Tom Hall: Yeah. The very early days of Contented Brothers, we were working for a large media publisher, who is our main client for the first few years. And we used to turn around how-to versions of their iPad edition to their magazines. The problem is, given the publishing world, the magazine would only be signed off days before we go to the press. So, we had to turn around a full film based on assets that had only just been created in sort of 24 hours. It was quite stressful. It was just the two of us.

Fiona Jensen: I can imagine.

Tom Hall: There was this one time where they said we really want a... it was for a tech magazine in their portfolio. We really want like a 3D wired hand flicking through the iPad edition in this how-to film. And we got a quote for this from someone, a 3D graphic artist, and the quote was more than the total cost of the film that they were going to be paying us. So, Birdie went away and taught himself how to use this 3D package in the weekend. By the end of the weekend, we had managed to produce this 3D hand that Birdie had just sort of taught himself how to do. So, that's what he means by hands on.

Fiona Jensen: He's a magician, basically, like magic.

Birdie Hall: I like doing stuff.

Fiona Jensen: That's cool, isn't it? And modest, too. I like that. I like that. So, speaking of video and content, Tom said something magic to me before we started recording, which was content that closes. And I was like, "Oh, yes." I think pretty much every tech marketer in the whole world at the moment is looking for that. So, I'm really keen to dig into that and really understand a bit more about how you can go about creating something, and what the whole thought process is around trying to come up with video content that closes. What can you tell me about that?

Tom Hall: Yeah. Well, if you don't mind, if I could take a step back.

Fiona Jensen: Absolutely.

Tom Hall: Having given you the sort of short capsule version, I think it's sometimes interesting to dig into the rationale for what we're doing. A lot of this will be obvious to people, but I think it's sometimes good to sort of restate it.

Fiona Jensen: Absolutely.

Tom Hall: The rationale for what we do is based on a number of different factors. Materialism and innovation are both on the rise, which are... probably, the fact that materialism on the rise, people, we have different opinions about, but there's no doubt that people are more acquisitive than ever. That is being matched by or maybe driven by an increase in innovation that we've never seen before. And apologies to the Victorians who thought they were good at this stuff. I mean, 660,000 businesses launched in London alone last year.

Fiona Jensen: No way.

Tom Hall: Which is bonkers.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: And all those businesses on are out there competing for mind share, being noisy, talking about their product, nipping at the heels of the legacy brands. So, you've got this really incredible environment of an explosion of new things that people can buy products or services. Actually, even the the idea of a product or service being different things now, that's a wall that's being dissolved very rapidly. Matching this is also the growth in communication channels. Someone quite convincingly argued the other day in a talk that the first advertising channel was the poster, and that the first poster went up on the wall in the 1860s or something. So, for a long time, there were posters, newspapers. That was it. Maybe someone going around with a soapbox.

Fiona Jensen: Oh, yeah. Or a placard.

Tom Hall: Exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Fiona Jensen: Is that the right word?

Tom Hall: Yeah, exactly.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The sandwich man.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah, sandwich man.

Tom Hall: Yeah, sandwich board man. You don't see many of those around anymore.

Fiona Jensen: No.

Tom Hall: Maybe that's an opportunity.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: There you go. That's the first idea we have.

Fiona Jensen: There we go. Whoa, like it.

Tom Hall: We'll track the idea- [crosstalk 00:08:27]

Birdie Hall: They'd still be around on Oxford Street a bit, wouldn't they? I've seen them from- [crosstalk 00:08:30]

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Yes. Dove sale.

Birdie Hall: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: The problem with this is that, suddenly, you've got this massive proliferation of communication channels. And again, I was talking to some marketer the other day that was saying, "You have to be over 200 marketing channels daily with your message. And if you think about that, that is absolutely insane. It's not that far away from when there was only really... there was the one channel that mattered, and that was TV. That's not that long ago.

Fiona Jensen: No.

Tom Hall: We do live in a period of a massive explosion in communication channels as well. You got people wanting more stuff, more stuff being produced, more channels for people talking about how to get it. That is the kind of macro context, what we're talking about. The other thing, the other sort of factor, which I find absolutely fascinating, which is, everyone talks about the fact that attention spans are going down. And until recently, that was a unsupported, unscientific observation. But there was a scientific study-

Fiona Jensen: [crosstalk 00:09:28]

Tom Hall: No. But the first study that proved it was conducted quite recently. It was the first time that they actually able to prove that the attention spans have gone down. They don't talk about attention spans. They talk about patience, and so patience is decreasing. They call it, the study, which I should probably send you a link, too, so you can reference it, but the study talks about social acceleration. So, the fact that there's the feeling that there's more stuff that we should be absorbing all the time has actually reduced our ability to absorb any of it. See? It's really, really interesting context. For marketers, as we all are, this presents a unique set of problems. There's more ways of reaching people, but there's more people doing it about more stuff.

Fiona Jensen: We've all got less time and interest in reading it, or looking at it.

Tom Hall: Exactly. Exactly. Our argument for this is that people say, well, what... and again, we were talking before about different ways of reaching, e-books, which you were talking about, and that's very effective, blogs-

Fiona Jensen: White papers.

Tom Hall: White papers.

Fiona Jensen: Social posts.

Tom Hall: Exactly.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah, there's so much written content now, but actually, they're starting to figure out that you've kind of got to get your point across within the first two or three lines in order to engage people now, because they don't even have time to read through in that. It's like literally gets the point. Then if it's meaty enough, and it's going to help me with what my question is, what my problem is, then I'll read the rest.

Tom Hall: Yeah. Exactly. That's interesting. We can come back to that, actually, with reference to the YouTube and Facebook video production guidelines later, which are quite chilling. [crosstalk 00:11:07]

Fiona Jensen: I'm excited.

Tom Hall: If you're someone who likes making really narrative-driven video.

Fiona Jensen: Absolutely love that.

Tom Hall: Our argument actually is, in that context, video is the best way at the moment of reaching people.

Fiona Jensen: Why is that, do you think?

Tom Hall: Well, it's visual. I think the way that we're designed, we're set up to absorb imagery. You can get a message from a video in a really human way very rapidly. Ironically, I'm a real words person. I'm a voracious reader. But still, you can get a message from a video quicker than you can absorb it from sort of a white paper, for instance. Apart from the reasons of why, it is just how people are getting their information.

Tom Hall: There's all these stats around, I think there's... I'm going to forget who it was, but there's one of the big reports on the future of the Internet think like 80% of Internet traffic is going to be video by 2022 or something. It is the main medium now for the transmission of information.

Birdie Hall: Yeah. It's already very much expected as well, isn't it?

Fiona Jensen: We've got stuff like TikTok. [crosstalk 00:12:20]

Birdie Hall: From anyone, any user, anyone wants to find out anything, I think the first thing they'll probably do is go and seek out a video on it. I think that tends to be the thing people do.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah, they hop on YouTube.

Birdie Hall: If they're going to seek out that information, it's not there, it's very strange, and they'll probably go somewhere else, pretty quickly.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah, that's very true.

Tom Hall: Absolutely. Yeah. Again, there's all these stats around it. 90% of consumers say that watching a video helps them make a purchase. As Birdie says, it's the first thing that people go to. I think it's sometimes easy for people to forget that. Really interesting, we were having a meeting with someone the other day, and this was in a different context. This was actually in the context of healthcare. And we were talking to a surgeon who was that he... it was part of our team. He was on the medical side of a marketing team that's commissioning some content they didn't know what yet.

Tom Hall: When we went into the room, he was watching a YouTube video on his iPad. Then he started talking about, "Well, why shouldn't we commission a white paper?" And I've said to him like, "What were you just watching?" He's like, "Oh, I needed to fix something." Like, "And you went straight to a video. But why would you default in your "professional" life to another format? This is how people get their information now. You need to cater to people in the language that they want to absorb it."

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: This is why we think video is so important. We can talk later about how you make it cost effective and efficient and strategic. But the problem with video, and again this might make me unpopular with some people, but I think the vast majority of the stuff that's made now is rubbish. And I think that video, sometimes, is taken out of the world of observation and objectives that everything else is in. So, it's like people know that they need to produce a high volume of video.

Tom Hall: For instance, we sometimes will have someone commission a video from us, and we'll say, "What is the objective driving this? What's the KPI behind this? What's the business need which has created the brief for this video?" They'd be like, "All I know is I need to commission three videos." Our conversation is, "So, our KPI, we have hit our KPI if we deliver you three videos." Doesn't matter what they do. And that's bananas. There's no other context in which that would happen.

Fiona Jensen: No.

Tom Hall: [crosstalk 00:14:43]

Fiona Jensen: There's no other conversations like that happening in marketing and briefing agencies at the moment.

Tom Hall: No.

Birdie Hall: Right.

Tom Hall: It's because sometimes video, it feels like it's out... It's sort of like treated as a different thing, sometimes.

Birdie Hall: I think also part of that, just interrupting there, is that we work with more and more people now who are very new to commissioning video. Whereas, before, there would be one person whose job was to commission video. And now we work in all sorts of different departments, and that it could be one business owner who has a very small business. He wants to create something, never done it before. It could be someone within a huge scale of a enterprise-level business, and they're all kind of having to commission video, but a lot of them don't really know how to, have never done it before. So, that's kind of all ties into that as well, I think.

Fiona Jensen: Well, this is fantastic, because that's exactly why I'm here. So, how do you commission a video? How do you go about this? What do we need to know?

Birdie Hall: [crosstalk 00:15:42]

Fiona Jensen: No. They're fighting over you, ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you now. Fisticuffs.

Tom Hall: That was much better put than I could have put it. Absolutely. It's people commissioning stuff who don't know how to commission in teams that aren't set up to commission. And again, I've heard it on your other podcasts, traditional structures within organisations are breaking down. There used to be these, I think, choke point is the wrong word, but there used to be like this focal point that commissioning went through, people who were expert at doing it, had probably worked on both sides of the fence.

Tom Hall: But now, lots of people we work for are like product leads, whose jobs aren't to commission video. How do you commission a video? Well, you need to have really dug into the audience. You need to think about what your audience is watching, where your audience is watching it, when they're watching it, what they might be watching before and after it. What video journey might your audience be on to find your video?

Fiona Jensen: Where would you go to get that, if you haven't done it before?

Tom Hall: You could do research. We'll commission research, people's viewing habits. We will, in a nonscientific way, sort of go out and hunt for it ourselves.

Fiona Jensen: You can just Google it, can't you? You can literally hop onto YouTube and type in what you think the problem is that you're trying to solve with your video and literally see what comes up.

Tom Hall: Absolutely.

Fiona Jensen: Is that right?

Tom Hall: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. But also, it's like if you can think through the sort of journey that they might be going on.

Fiona Jensen: Why are they looking for it?

Tom Hall: Yeah. What might they be looking for beforehand? Because you want to be found when they're looking for you. You also want to be found when they're not looking for you, when they're looking for some... when they don't know that you're the solution yet, when they're exploring the problem.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: So, yeah, we've done a bunch of work around that. We had a really interesting client who came to us. It was one of those great clients who were really, really confident in what they were good at, and therefore quite open about whether it needs to improve, which is a dream client.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: They said, "We know our core audience, really, really well." They physically shop with us. They'll buy everything we put out. We have a constant running dialogue with them. We know them really, really well. What we need to do now is meet the people outside that core, and we don't really know how to go about it, because we're so good at the middle stuff. And the middle, power to them, because the middle stuff was a really, really big business already. So, they said to us like, "How can we look at creating a content brand that will appeal to these people which don't know that they want us yet?"

Tom Hall: That was a really interesting brief, because we went off and we commissioned some research about... we went through all of the processes that you would go through, and it's intelligent campaign. We did a whole bunch of persona building. Then we went and found those personas and talked to them, and we found out what their viewing habits were. We were able to construct a content plan for them, which appealed very specifically to this audience, who was sitting next door to the people.

Tom Hall: It actually threw up some really interesting ideas for finding them. It was around sort of a leisure activity. So, we actually started going out and trying to find them when they were thinking about family plans for the weekend. And we wouldn't have got to there, if the brief had been, "Go and find me these people." We wouldn't have started thinking about creating content that sat in that space. So, I think a very long answer is, understand your audience.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Then I would say the second point, and jump in whenever you want, Bird, but the second point is, understand the medium that you're going to reach them on.

Birdie Hall: Yeah.

Tom Hall: We were talking in brief before about YouTube and Facebook. YouTube, I think, I can get the details up, but YouTube recommends that you put your whole message in the first three seconds of the video.

Fiona Jensen: Wow.

Tom Hall: From people-

Fiona Jensen: That's some delivery, isn't it?

Birdie Hall: It's not a lot of time.

Tom Hall: Yeah. We make videos of the duration that they need to be, but there's a pleasure to be had in making something with a narrative and a beginning and an end and a middle. So, it can be depressing being channeled-

Fiona Jensen: We have stories like that.

Tom Hall: Yeah, it can be depressing to tell the story in three seconds, but you have to work to the medium. Whereas, on platforms like LinkedIn, people are prepared to watch things, which are a lot longer if they've got substance there. But again, in this piece of research I was looking at, people will watch much longer things if the substance is there. So, know your medium, I think, is the next point.

Birdie Hall: Yeah. And I guess that kind of goes along with that is the point at which they are in their kind of journey of discovery with whatever it is they're trying to find out.

Fiona Jensen: That's true as well, isn't it? Yeah.

Birdie Hall: Obviously, the more kind of social side of stuff, you've got to get people straight away, and it has to be a certain type of content to hook people in to stop the scrolling. But then, obviously, if they're really specifically interested in a thing, and they already kind of think of buying something, they go to a website. It's a very different type of content. You have to have that plan very clearly laid out as to the different parts of that kind of discovery journey. What are they going to be seeing? And what are they going to be interested in? Gets kind of more information-rich kind of thing, as you get along the line, generally, I think.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah. No. Does the length of the video or the content that they are sort of accessing change during that journey as well? What's the longest that you can expect someone to watch?

Tom Hall: Birdie recently made a half-hour long thing for a media agency and people watching the whole thing. We do live in the era of binge watching.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: I would be loath to put, I think-

Fiona Jensen: A specific time?

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: Right.

Tom Hall: I think people will say to you, "Oh, it's 90 seconds or two minutes." Apart from specific advertising restrictions, you need to be sensitive to the audience and the medium. So, we-

Fiona Jensen: And what you're communicating as well, because there's obviously some really complex concepts that I think people would struggle to take in and really understand within a short snippet. Yes, you can plant a seed, but you can't take someone on a journey of discovery in two minutes. I think it probably would need to be a little bit longer to give them a bit more meat on the bone to buy into it. Again, this is what we were talking about, that sort of content that close, which is my favourite, favourite phrase, forevermore.

Tom Hall: Yeah. TM.

Fiona Jensen: Totally awe-inspired.

Tom Hall: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Fiona Jensen: Contented Brothers, Tom and Birdie. But, yeah. So, we're talking about the medium there. What's next after that?

Tom Hall: If I could just take a step back to Birdie's point, again, around the sort of pipeline. So, I think what Bernie was illustrating very neatly there was the idea of matching your content type to the sales pipeline with the customer journey. We recently worked with someone who actually wanted, if you're thinking about the sort of retention point of a customer journey, they wanted a whole bunch of content that was going to sit behind a password-protected part of their website.

Tom Hall: This is really interesting to think about, because we were able to make versions of it that sat outside the password, but they really wanted people to log in and be opted-in customers to get access to the full length content. And that was really, really interesting way of thinking about it, because you're then looking at content as a reward, as well as an information channel, or an advertising channel. You can devise content, and that content was really long. It was like seven, eight, nine, 10 minutes of quite detailed information. But by that point, people had opted in. They wanted it.

Tom Hall: Again, I think another really important point is, are you interrupting someone's day? Are you asking them to watch something when they're doing something else? In which case, you owe it to them to keep it short, and really snappy and interesting. Well, have they decided that they want to watch this? Again, that will drive the sort of content type.

Fiona Jensen: Very interesting. And then measurement?

Tom Hall: Yes.

Fiona Jensen: Where do we start talking about the big bucks coming back to us and the return on investment and-

Tom Hall: Well, again, I think you really need to think about different measures for different parts of the pipeline. I think one of the problems that people find is that they just want a standard video measure. But if you can imagine, like the example I've just given you, people watching a video which is behind a login is going to have a completely different measure to someone, a brand awareness campaign, where actually what you're looking to do is get it out to your audience, but more widely.

Tom Hall: Again, it's probably an annoying answer to a really simple and sensible question. But we try not to have set measures. We try and work with people on a campaign basis, and agree what the key measures are for each aspect of the campaign that we're devising, because, again, we work in lots of B2B. And you're looking at some of these B2B sales cycles that are going for years.

Fiona Jensen: They always care about leads, leads and the funnel, as in how much revenue can we put in the funnel for the sales guys to close. So, around that sort of B2B space, how is video performed? And have you got maybe an example? I know you can't talk about names, because then we'll be giving away all your wonderful clients, which are amazing, by the way. Have you got sort of any types of examples where it was a video specifically around a lead generation activity?

Tom Hall: Absolutely.

Fiona Jensen: [crosstalk 00:26:08] Even a part of that journey, but something around that, because a lot of our audience are going to be lead-gen, demand-gen focused, trying to use content to drive people down a funnel, or a tunnel, or a journey, or whatever you'd like to call it. Either way, we're getting them from A to B, and we need many. How do we do that?

Tom Hall: To that point, what I was saying before, if you've got a one-size-fits-all video measurement metric, but actually you're selling tractors, and they cost 2 million quid each, you actually need the right people to watch this video. So, it might be 10 people watching the video could hit your KPIs. You know what I mean? Again, that's why we talk about these metrics in different ways. But we can absolutely talk about, just explain to your users, the reason that we're playing slightly coy about clients is that we do a lot of internal engagement work, and we do quite a lot of white-labeled work in partnership with in-house agencies.

Tom Hall: In both those cases, we don't talk about who it is. So, as we got so relaxed in your presence, I thought it'd be easier just to not mention anyone. But we have worked a lot with SAP and I know that you've had Jack Dyson on your podcast, and we work very closely with him and his team. And he's brilliant. He's a great example of a very smart marketer. I'm looking forward to hearing his podcast.

Fiona Jensen: Coming out soon. Very exciting.

Tom Hall: Brilliant. Yeah. Well, props to Jack Dyson. So, with them, it was very interesting, because we obviously... the SAP, the value of a sale for SAP is enormous. Their sales cycle is that kind of scale enterprise, large ticket price service.

Fiona Jensen: Long sales cycle.

Tom Hall: Exactly.

Fiona Jensen: Multiple buyer, complex decision-making.

Tom Hall: Exactly.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: We work very closely with Jack to devise a sort of content strategy for SAP that was producing really strategic content at volume in a number of different languages, and tying up a number of different functions. In the end, I think we talked to seven different functions within the business. We produced the films in English and German. We did it in three months. And we produced over 50 of them.

Fiona Jensen: Wow.

Tom Hall: What we designed these films to do is they were, essentially, the core of the campaign with product demos. They were really high end, as far as a product demo goes.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: All shot in studio with a roster of seven or eight presenters that we kind of hand picked, because they brought a certain aspect of the SAP customer experience in life. We were able to produce seven or eight of them in a day. And then, each of these film-

Fiona Jensen: Was that a hard day for you, Birdie?

Birdie Hall: It was a big day. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was definitely hard work. But, yeah, that was good.

Tom Hall: But if any of your listeners have a look at them and are familiar with video production, the fact that we've got seven or eight of those done in a day, then they will understand that that is-

Fiona Jensen: Huge.

Tom Hall: ... quite an achievement. Having devised a very slick production process, we then had an equally slick post production process. So, of each product demo we made the hero film, which is usually between 90 seconds to two and a half minutes, depending on how detailed the film was, but then also there was a 32nd social cut, there was a 15-second car, and then there were also a series of bite-sized bits.

Tom Hall: Now, the bite-sized bits were really important. The initial films we made were designed to be used by the marketing team. They resided on what used to be called SAP Hybris, and is now SAP CX website. So, they formed part of the CX rebrand, but they also were then designed to be pushed out by the marketing team on social, but also reside on the different product areas, micro sites. Also, they were designed so that the sales guys who are having a very specific conversation with the prospect could then put these videos onto a timeline in whatever order they deem fit. And they could preface it with a little personalised message, which I've seen you do.

Fiona Jensen: Yes.

Tom Hall: It's a great technique.

Fiona Jensen: Love that.

Tom Hall: Then finish it with a very specific call-to-action for that prospect. So, you've actually got videos which are very high end at the core, very specific to a prospect's needs, prefaced by something absolutely bespoke. From a sales perspective, that's a really, really powerful tool. We designed these videos to work really, really hard, and to join up sales and marketing so that the collateral that they were using was completely-

Fiona Jensen: You mean sales and marketing need joining up.

Tom Hall: Well, to help the seamless journey that they were already embarked in.

Fiona Jensen: That's a whole another episode.

Tom Hall: Yeah. I think it was designed more... I think it's very easy in big businesses, and this is not with a reference to SAP. But I think it's easy in big businesses to, and this probably comes back to our commissioning process, to create commission and create videos in silos. Then, what you have is a whole bunch of videos which are unique to the commissioners' interpretation of the brands.

Fiona Jensen: And perspective.

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: And you could just go on. It's an exercise that we actually do for clients, like sort of a video audit. You can go onto someone's YouTube channel and they will just be like... usually, it's quite interesting, because if you do it by date uploaded, you'll see like geological strata where different people have uploaded their chunks of video, and they'll all be like... It looks different from a colour perspective, because everyone will have one like title page. Then you have someone else releasing a bunch with another title page.

Tom Hall: It's really like immediate way of just take a screenshot of that, and taking it back to who you're talking to about this strategic content conversation and go, "There you go." You can immediately see that there's no sort of homogenous look to your video, and find different videos doing different jobs are going to have a different feel to them. But they need to be constructed under the same sort of aegis, really. You cater them to B2C one.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: We were working again with a client we love to make sort of games and stuff, and they wanted to reach this new audience. So, what we did, and again, with our sort of product demo hats on, we devised a campaign which was actually getting physical product in potential customers hands, and we did this by... the concept of the game is that it's built around train journeys. So, we actually created this character, brought them to life, sent them on a train journey across Europe.

Fiona Jensen: Oh, wow. I want to go on it now.

Tom Hall: We'll send you the-

Fiona Jensen: Yey.

Tom Hall: We'll show you the games and send you the video. But it's a great game called Ticket to Ride. Actually, I think we can... It's all very public.

Birdie Hall: [crosstalk 00:33:11]

Fiona Jensen: Got the scene going on in my head now.

Tom Hall: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, in Ticket to Ride-

Fiona Jensen: I won't sing. No.

Tom Hall: It's a really, really lovely game. In the game, you have to build train routes between European cities. So, it's got lovely connotations of travel and the golden age of steam.

Fiona Jensen: Lovely.

Tom Hall: This is a whole different tangent, but in this day and age of division, it really showed tangible links between European cities. I loved it. But what we did is we had a character from the board game kind of come to life and we sent them off on a train journey across Europe. And their challenge was to play the game with as many people as they could, that they met along the way.

Tom Hall: We set up, pre set up a couple of games for them, so that they kind of like the pump was primed as it were, but they had loads of people coming up to them and playing with them. In this day and age where everyone is an influencer, loads of people kind of came up and were like, "Well, can I take a picture with you for my 50,000 followers?" Whatever. So, this-

Fiona Jensen: Well, yeah, sure.

Tom Hall: Go for it. There we go. We've devised it. We've invented it so that we can. So, this was a great success. And it was success because the content looked lovely and it stood up as content. But it also got the physical product into potential customers' hands and created a core of really passionate advocates who felt a part of the campaign. And this was great as well. We ran this, and there was a really, really easy measure, which they were just like, "We just want to increase sales." And there was-

Fiona Jensen: Love those.

Tom Hall: ... 163% increase in sales through Amazon for the duration of the campaign.

Fiona Jensen: [crosstalk 00:34:46] How many?

Tom Hall: 163%.

Fiona Jensen: 163%?

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: Wow.

Tom Hall: For the duration of the campaign.

Fiona Jensen: [crosstalk 00:34:52]

Tom Hall: That's a really nice tangible result.

Fiona Jensen: There you go. Video does work.

Tom Hall: Video works. So, yeah, so that's a case study.

Fiona Jensen: Quality content all the way, and that's a lovely case study. Thank you. Thank you. If you were someone within a software business now, and you've been tasked with obviously driving leads and demand generation, and you really want to try video, but the company you work for is more, should we say, old school with regards to their approaches and, "We've always done events. We really like events. We like going to events. We like seeing Bob, who we always say hello to every June at this event. We need to go do that, because otherwise, Bob will say we don't like you anymore," but you're trying to get that budget so that you can do this much more strategic video content, how would you have that conversation, if you were able to sit down with someone, CEO, who is old school and concerned, and has issues potentially with turning into this much more modern approach to marketing?

Fiona Jensen: What can you do as a marketer set within that organisation to either bring them closer to it? Or is there a way of testing this? Is there a plan that we can give someone, where literally we can send marketers armed with your plan into a meeting room to say, "Right, Mr. CEO, sit down here a minute. Let's have a chat"?

Tom Hall: Sorry. [crosstalk 00:36:31]

Birdie Hall: I think you'll probably have a much longer and more detailed technical answer, which is pretty much better. I think a very, very cliched one, which is very, very short, is that, I think, this gets used a lot, but have a look at the competitor who is doing video well, and then have a look at what you're doing, and see who's going to be doing better in the end. I think it'd be really clear, I think.

Fiona Jensen: I like it.

Birdie Hall: We'd obviously have to back that up with some kind of data. But for me, that's got to be the simplest answer.

Fiona Jensen: Like it.

Tom Hall: I don't think I can improve on that.

Fiona Jensen: No. Perfect. So, go out-

Tom Hall: I could go on for ages and not getting it any better.

Fiona Jensen: There are certain industries where they're all a bit old school. If you are someone who wants to be brave and who wants to challenge the status quo, and who wants to test something, and you've kind of been told, "We want to test something," but really, you think they're going to be a bit nervous about it, but if you can't find someone in your current industry doing it, what would you suggest they do in that sort of instance?

Tom Hall: Yeah. There's myriad examples of this. I think, actually, all you need to do, the rapid pace of innovation that we're talking about before, and the fact, the word that I am quite ambivalent about, the disruption and disruptors, I think what you would do is you would find an example of a related, an orthogonal industry, and show how an incumbent had just been destroyed by someone being agile and quick and visual. Not that they've been destroyed, but you could have a look at Regis and WeWork.

Tom Hall: WeWork is such a smart brand when it comes to their visual communications. They bake that in from the outset. They have facilitated the storytelling about their occupants from day one, which was a brilliant strategy, I think. Airbnb and the whole hotel industry, Airbnb now tell beautiful stories about the people whose houses are on their platform, and you feel like you get to know people and the whole... one of the challenges that Airbnb had to overcome was the idea of having other people in your house or staying in someone else's private space. Telling stories about these people whose houses you're going to stay in destroys that barrier.

Tom Hall: Well, depending on how aggressive you want it to be about this process, you could say, "Look, this is what happens to people who don't think like this." You can't afford to maintain the status quo. We do work with people on tests. We've actually, funnily enough, had a briefing yesterday, almost exactly. I'm wondering if I left it on the board. This is why-

Fiona Jensen: Did I see it?

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: Did I steal it?

Tom Hall: Well, you've given us-

Fiona Jensen: I am quite open to stealing ideas.

Tom Hall: Brilliant.

Fiona Jensen: Especially, when they're a million times better than mine.

Tom Hall: Right. No. It was funny, because the brief was, we're working with a client who is very traditional. They know that they need to move into this space, but they need to do it. They're in a heavily regulated market.

Fiona Jensen: All right. Okay.

Tom Hall: There are risks to do with the way that they articulate their proposition in that space, but they were like, "Can we come up with a low-risk test that will get them to the next step?" Now, I'm always a little bit wary of the word 'test' because in our adventures in other mediums like AR and VR, we found ourselves spending people's test budgets, inadvertently commerce, and people measure tests in a very different way. A test is usually, in our experience, a one-off, or it wouldn't be a test. It would be the thing.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: We try not to talk to people about tests. We talk to people about pilots. It's just a synonym, but it's a mindset change. You know what I mean?

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: It's like test is an isolated thing.

Fiona Jensen: Completely worked for me. Switch word.

Tom Hall: Yeah. There you go.

Fiona Jensen: Oh, yeah.

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: It's a pilot.

Tom Hall: There you go.

Fiona Jensen: Might be a series.

Tom Hall: Yeah. A pilot is devised with the intention of making the rest. A test is, "Let's do this one thing in isolation, and see if it works." But there are absolutely ways of piloting content, video content, in particular, in a sort of safe space. A lot of stuff that we do with people is internal comms. Actually, it's well understood now in certain markets, probably all, that your internal audience can be your toughest audience, and they can be the audience that has the most ability to affect your success.

Tom Hall: Actually, a campaign run internally, the idea of... it used to be, when we were starting out, the internal comms and external comms were completely different things, commissioned by different people, looked differently. Now, I think people are beginning to understand that that's a meaningless division. That would be one way of piloting something for someone who is very nervous. Let's make something. Let's get a team really excited about an initiative you're going for, and then see how that plays out.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah, it's a really good idea, actually. Yeah, I might steal it. Everyone, steal it. Use it. Use it.

Tom Hall: Steal it, and then call us. And we'll do it with you.

Fiona Jensen: Absolutely. I've been very privy to quite a few different conversations with Contented Brothers, which I feel very lucky about, but you guys have been on quite a journey. I have been so excited to sort of get into all your knowledge pool and what you're doing now, and what the future holds. But, really, I know that you've kind of ended up here after quite a lot of journey and various different experiences.

Tom Hall: Do you want to hear the the journey of the business?

Fiona Jensen: Okay.

Birdie Hall: Let's do the journey.

Tom Hall: [crosstalk 00:42:26] customer journeys.

Fiona Jensen: And we're on the train already.

Birdie Hall: Yes. Yeah.

Tom Hall: [crosstalk 00:42:28]

Fiona Jensen: Choo-choo.

Tom Hall: Listener journeys. We started Contented Brothers, Birdie and I worked in a well-funded, high-paced, high-growth, completely bonkers startup. And it was a sort of video-based startup. The founder had this vision to get to a billion pounds.

Fiona Jensen: Who doesn't? That's every startup's dream, isn't it? To get to a billion pounds- [crosstalk 00:42:58]

Tom Hall: I'll be happy with 100 million.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah. Will do.

Tom Hall: Birdie and I were effectively running the content studio within the startup. But the way that startups are, is we were effectively running a service business within a startup. So, the bits of revenue that we were making were kind of like disappearing into the startup black hole. That's when we decided to kind of go and do a service business as a service business. We set up Contented Brothers as a branded content agency. But, actually, for the first years, we were functioning very much as a digital production company. And that was never our ambition.

Tom Hall: As we grew, we kind of like moved closer to the promise of the sort of agency promise, caveating that by saying neither of us had ever worked in an agency before. So, we were a little bit unclear about what the promise was, anyway. That that preamble is to sort of be clear about the fact that we didn't really have a nailed value proposition. We were very good at what we did. We were creative and are creative. We were very diligent and we are quite strategic, but we would take on anything that we found. We would do our best at it. That would move to the next thing and it would quite often be completely different.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: There wasn't really a thread running through the work that we were doing, and our new business was coming through referrals and word of mouth, and clients moving.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: And this was all great. Not having a proposition is fine when you're growing organically like that. We reached a period of rapid growth. So, we really crewed up. Suddenly, we had this massive burn. We'd had quite the money in the bank at that point, but we realised, that was the point at which I was briefing our new business development manager saying, "Right. Go and find more stuff for us to do." He was like, "Great, what do we do?" And I'm like, "But this is what we do. What's the stuff we've done?"

Tom Hall: Even I realised at the time, that's a [inaudible 00:45:01] answer. It's not as bad as it sounds, but we didn't really have a "We are an X that do Y for Zs." Because of that, we found ourselves going down a number of odd paths. So, one of these odd paths where we we've always kept abreast of new communication innovations, so we worked a lot in content for AOL. We did the world's first augmented reality hotel for Holiday Inn during the Olympics.

Fiona Jensen: No way. That sounds cool.

Tom Hall: Yeah, yeah. [crosstalk 00:45:35] We had-

Fiona Jensen: Mind blown.

Tom Hall: Yeah. We had Father Christmas land on the fuselage of a plane in flight between Heathrow and Boston using mini projectors projecting imagery onto the ceiling of the plane.

Fiona Jensen: Wow.

Tom Hall: Yeah, we've done lots of cool stuff. Then, one of the things we got into is VR. And we realised that, A, we were quite good at it, and, B, it wasn't going to be the paradigm shift that some of the technologists were talking about it for a number of limitations. But we produced three or four experiences, VR experiences for clients using the agency model. So, very much scoping out the brief, doing it to a commercial budget, making margin on it, etc., agency stuff.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Off the back of this, we got so excited about the potential for VR for training assessment. Again, for marketing, a percentage of marketing briefs have got large numbers attached to them in terms of viewership. We need X amount of people to experience this. VR is not going to do that.

Fiona Jensen: No.

Tom Hall: The headset adoption just isn't doubles, that you need it now.

Fiona Jensen: It's not a great look, if I'm honest.

Tom Hall: No, it's not, physically, and that's-

Fiona Jensen: I'm not sold.

Tom Hall: That's more than a joke.

Birdie Hall: It's always been a barrier for me.

Fiona Jensen: It's a bit embarrassing.

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Birdie Hall: Yeah, it's a big problem.

Tom Hall: There are a percentage of people who have headsets at home now, but they're a very specific demographic.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: If you're working with a makeup brand, and they're like, "We want to get a makeup tutorial into people's homes," the people buying your product do not have headsets at home. So, we looked at VR and we're like, actually, as a marketing tool, it works when you have a captive audience that you understand really, really well, and that you've got a really specific behaviour change objective. As an empathy machine, it is off the charts. It is an empathy machine, which is crazy to think about.

Tom Hall: We did a healthcare experience where we wanted to introduce the business to a patient, because they've been thinking of the patient as a series of numbers and zeros, remission rates and [crosstalk 00:47:42]. And this was off the charts successful. They were going to do it with 10 people. They rolled it out all across Europe. They hit their number within six months. They yield a number within six months. It was a massive success.

Tom Hall: For things like that, I think VR is really, really effective, but it's for... and again, in B2B, it can really work, because you've got potentially a small pool of well-understood people that you can get into a physical space. For Bob, who we were talking about earlier, and his-

Fiona Jensen: Events.

Tom Hall: Yeah, Bob with his complete resistance to doing anything other than events, "Hey, Bob, how do you want to take the people at your event and completely blow their minds, and get them to do something then and there that you've been trying to get them to do for a year?" Bob would be crazy not to at least explore it. Right?

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: With knowing how much events costs, VR can sometimes be a marginal increase in the cost, as opposed to if someone is commissioning a video. Anyway, we could talk for ages about the pluses and minuses of VR, but what we got really excited about was VR for training assessment. So, we ended up, almost by mistake, launching effectively a second business, which was a virtual reality training and assessment app that we launched with an incredible team at L'Oreal, who are off the charts innovative, and I think one of the best teams I've worked for, for sort of seeing the future and running at it.

Tom Hall: We worked with that team to implement the first version of our own platform that we've been developing. And it was great. We've been talking recently about the next iteration of it, and it's been a great success. The issue for us as an agency was what we then had was, effectively, a separate business model that was sitting next to the agency business model that needed to be developed and financed, and resourced, and rolled out in a very different way.

Tom Hall: Stepping into advice for agency owners, that was an interesting lesson in actually incubating a product within a product business model or your service business model within an agency business model. I was talking to another agency owner recently, and he was saying that he almost did it and it almost killed him. So, that's why we're still heavily involved in VR as a medium that we will use, and we are still developing this platform. But at the moment, we're very focused on the the agency proposition. The agency proposition is video strategist who work with your pipeline to devise content that closes.

Fiona Jensen: Got you. And you can help produce it, if you need it?

Tom Hall: VR?

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Yeah. We're really, really good at it. But I think we're good at it because we're not wedded to it. We spend a lot of time still talking about VR briefs. I've got two live VR briefs at the moment, one of which I've said, "This is not a VR brief. Why don't you make a video? We can make you a really, really good video for half the money that will be more effective."

Fiona Jensen: Because you've already mentioned this training and development., you see that's the future of VR? How would that be applicable for B2B tech companies, if they're looking at that? I was thinking that that might be something worth exploring in the future? What would you suggest they consider around that?

Tom Hall: Well, absolutely. B2B tech, off the top of my head, sales training.

Fiona Jensen: For the sales team when they start?

Tom Hall: Yeah, yeah, yeah. One of the things that you really need in a B2B tech sale is really consistent language across the business. You need to articulate the value proposition consistently. You need to talk about the benefits in a consistent way. You need to tailor it to your audience, but you need to be singing off the same song sheet. Actually, the thing with traditional training is that, the best training, and we can get into the sort of pyramid of learning and all that sort of stuff, but the best training is conducted by people to people. And the best training is conducted in live environment. So, paper learning, and all that sort of stuff is great, but it's not as good as someone who does it well showing you how to do it.

Tom Hall: The problem with that is, because us wonderful human beings are unique and peculiar and inconsistent, and ourselves, and all the things that we love each other for, it means that actually training can get delivered in a very inconsistent way across a big organisation. We were recently talking to a financial institution. And they said, "We understand quite clearly when we have the best training outcomes. And that's when we get our best salespeople to train our best junior people. That works really well. Unfortunately, our best salespeople make us more money when they're out selling. So, we can't have them training them." But with VR, you can.

Tom Hall: We can then construct an experience whereby your top salesperson does a immersive training session, and then that can be watched by everyone else. So, I think in the B2B tech space, you know, VR for training, really effective. I think it's quite well understood now that it's quite effective at conferences and at roadshows, so you can really immerse people in your product, almost literally, most of them in the product in some ways, or you can have them meet senior members of the team. How would it be if you're on a trade show, and you get to hear a presentation from the CEO of a big enterprise business?

Fiona Jensen: That'd be amazing.

Tom Hall: That would be cool, wouldn't it? Obviously, that's not going to happen in real life, but it can happen through VR. When you want to bring someone into a space, and they can't be there, it's really powerful. Again, captive audience, you want to make this big change. It's really powerful. I would say, seven times out of 10, if not more, actually, what people need is a video.

Fiona Jensen: Video is the main focus and where a lot of the time is spent, but there's options.

Tom Hall: Yeah, absolutely.

Fiona Jensen: If they want to be-

Tom Hall: Absolutely.

Fiona Jensen: If they have something specific-

Birdie Hall: [crosstalk 00:53:54] Sorry. I'm interrupting you.

Fiona Jensen: No. Carry on.

Birdie Hall: We actually created a product, essentially, for a big media agency, which they kind of called their... I can't remember what they actually call it.

Tom Hall: The Ultimate Pitch Tool.

Birdie Hall: The Ultimate Pitch Tool.

Tom Hall: Whoa, that's cool.

Birdie Hall: They'd essentially kind of walk into the meeting with a headset, and this was a couple of years ago. So, it was still kind of quite a kind of new thing for a lot of people. And this was essentially something to, rather than kind of get the PowerPoint slide up on the wall, when they're kind of meeting a prospective client, kind of show them some slides with some Shutterstock images, which is fine. But they wanted to do something different to that.

Birdie Hall: The brief to us was, we just literally just want to create something which will kind of blow their minds, completely change the beginning of that meeting, so that they'll kind of watch this two-minute thing, take the headset off, and we've kind of completely readjusted how they're going to see us as the way that we approach our clients, and so on. So, that was another way that we actually did this to someone.

Fiona Jensen: How did they get them to put the headsets on? I'm still on that.

Birdie Hall: Yeah. I don't know. We haven't asked them about that.

Tom Hall: In this case, it's quite-

Fiona Jensen: Forcibly.

Tom Hall: In this case, it was a nice... the physicality of the form factor was nice, because actually what they could do is send a flight case, a monogram flag, because we're talking about like, if this sale goes on, this is like tens or hundreds of millions of pounds. Right? So, a 250 quid headset couriered somewhere. Jack Dyson talks about this very convincingly. People are also falling in love with the physical again.

Tom Hall: Jack did this really interesting campaign when he was a journalist, of sending a newspaper that he had made for a brand in a car to CMOs and had it put on their desk. And I thought was brilliant, because actually, people are falling in love with the physical again. Shipping a headset to someone, they're going to get buzz from that.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah. Certainly.

Tom Hall: I think, actually, you can play with limitations. But, yeah, I think, Bird, that was one of Birdie's mastermind campaigns. That was brilliant. Again, in a way, we work with lots of copywriters and people who write text, and we do stills and all that sort of stuff. So, we try with, primarily, video, but we are also an agency. So, we work with people on the problem.

Tom Hall: If the problem needs an event, we'll work with them on an event. If the problem needs VR, then we have the expertise. And if the problem needs a expertise that we don't have, we will find that for them, or we will just introduce them to it. This is what I was saying before. There's quite a lot of VR businesses out there.

Fiona Jensen: You understand the whole community of what it is that they're trying to achieve.

Tom Hall: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:56:56]

Fiona Jensen: You're not going to-

Tom Hall: Let's really dig into the problem, right, and be-

Fiona Jensen: Because you think that's a particularly strong skill for people who work in agency, because I think often you kind of have to get people to talk about stuff that they're not very comfortable talking about, with even their colleagues or maybe even their family. Sometimes, it's like, "I don't really know why we're doing this. So, gut says we have to." I think that's probably one of the biggest talents in agency, is having the ability to call stuff out, and have those really difficult conversations that are there to help people, not make their life difficult or uncomfortable, but you have to be able to get that conversation going to be able to help them achieve what they want to. Right?

Tom Hall: Absolutely. Why are we doing this? Why are we all- [crosstalk 00:57:57]

Fiona Jensen: Well, why are you doing it?

Tom Hall: But that's the question for the client.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: If you sit down and embrace some of the clients like, "Why are we doing this? Why are we all in this room? Are we all in this room because we all feel obligated to make a video, because it's what everyone else is doing? Or do we know that our audience really engage with the video at this time, and the behaviour change you're trying to affect is going to be achieved through video?" Then, great. Let's get into it.

Tom Hall: But I think you need to know what that is. And that's why lots of these conversations have appealed when it's VR, and it can feel like you've got excited about a new medium. So, you've got a really neat brief over here, or a really nice business need or a challenge over here, and then you've gone, "Oh, VR is cool." And you stuck these two things together. So, that's why I think you need to dig into that, sometimes.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah, to make sure it's actually going to create the outcome that they're looking for, because sometimes it's a case of it's not going to work, or it's not going to achieve what you're looking for.

Tom Hall: Yeah. And I think that, even within the video space, I think there's sometimes... this is why I think the conversation with Jack was so insightful on his behalf, was that lots of people go, "I have a budget of X. Let's make a video asset or a film that costs X, because that's going to give us the best chance of like winning awards, all that sort of stuff."

Fiona Jensen: What the motivations are behind it aren't necessarily-

Tom Hall: Yeah. Exactly. It's actually, well, you have a budget of X. We can make you 25 films, which is going to last you for a year and talk to three different audiences. No one of those films is going to win an award, but they are going to-

Fiona Jensen: Deliver results.

Tom Hall: ... make you money and engage your customer base. So, again, it's sometimes you have to have those conversations. You're nodding or shaking your head?

Birdie Hall: I'm nodding. Yeah.

Tom Hall: Birdie wants some awards.

Birdie Hall: Yeah, I want the awards, too. No, no. I'm nothing.

Fiona Jensen: You can do both, right? You can do both.

Tom Hall: Yeah, you can. But it's very interesting. I was having this conversation with someone the other day. Again, this is potentially a controversial point. But I think some of the well-respected awards, organisations in the marketing space haven't fully caught up yet, because I think actually they are still geared to the glossy film, big camera...

Fiona Jensen: Big budgets.

Tom Hall: Big budget world. And actually, what is effective these days can be a really strategic use of that budget to do as many different things as possible across as many channels as possible, and actually no one of those things is the sort of firework. But, actually, it lights lots of little fires, which does the job.

Fiona Jensen: I like that analogy. I'm up for that.

Tom Hall: It's a live debate for us because it's not actually... we're in the space at the moment where lots of what we're working with people on is called quietly effective, if you know what I mean.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Is that a problem?

Fiona Jensen: No. That should be the way forward, because you can win as many awards as you'd like, but at the end of the day, you can be the best award winning whatever, but unless you can actually deliver results, businesses won't come back. They might say, "Thanks very much for our award. We can use that for 10 years," but they might go elsewhere for content that's going to deliver the results that they need. So, I know what I'd prefer to be known for. Definitely, results every time, every time.

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: What does the future hold for Contented Brothers? With regards to you guys and what you're looking to do moving forward, what can you tell me about that?

Tom Hall: Well, we're growing again, which is exciting. We are looking to expand with some key talent that can support the new proposition. So, people who can really understand businesses, challenges, insights, needs, and help to deliver strategic content campaigns that achieve those. So, that's great. We're actually building out our partnership network. I think it's really interesting in this day and age, you can create really effective sort of portfolios of different businesses. You can come together for a specific campaign.

Tom Hall: It's good to know who those people are before you're asked. So, I'm out consciously meeting as many people in the sort of PPC space, search space, social space, research space. That's quite exciting, because, again, I think collaboration is such a key for a business of our size to compete. Yeah. And I think we're going to do more effective campaigns with exciting clients. I think we're very lucky that we work with exciting clients. But I, for one, am looking forward to meeting the new team when they arrive.

Fiona Jensen: The future, the future of Contented Brothers. I love it. I love it.

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: You guys are really creative. You're full of ideas, full of experience. Some of the stuff you've been talking about is really exciting. But where do you go for your inspiration? What things do you read? Where do you go for that sort of, right, I just need to refresh myself or come up with an idea, or I need a bit of head space? What do you do? How do you cope with it all?

Tom Hall: See, I've been dreading this question. I've been dreading this question, because this is one of the-

Fiona Jensen: You're my fountain of knowledge. I have high expectations here, Tom.

Tom Hall: This is-

Fiona Jensen: Better deliver.

Tom Hall: I think Birdie and I both-

Birdie Hall: This is your development plan.

Tom Hall: Yeah. Well, Birdie and I are both coming from-

Birdie Hall: [crosstalk 01:03:45]

Tom Hall: At least, Bird having worked in an agency before running one. When I finish my working day, I need a break. So, the idea of reading about a book that is about marketing, or entrepreneurialism, or rapid growth businesses, or any of that stuff, is anathema to me.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: I read voraciously, but I read other stuff.

Fiona Jensen: Like what?

Tom Hall: What's the last thing I read? Just Circe. Circe by Susanna Miller.

Fiona Jensen: Okay.

Tom Hall: It was incredible. It's a retelling of... So, you know the Odyssey?

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Yeah. So, this is his journey back to his wife from Troy. Women don't get the best press in it.

Fiona Jensen: No.

Tom Hall: This is a retelling of the story of Odysseus arriving at Circe's Island, from the eyes of Circe, and it is mind blowing. So, that was a sort of transformative read that really took me out of myself. Actually, I really love things that revisit well-worn stories from new angles. So, that's the kind of thing. But it's this thing I kind of feel like, I think, as a business owner... well, I'd be really interested to hear this from other business owners, but I maintain this sort of low level of background guilt, which peaks in massive, massive sort of geezers of guilt, and you know that, and not reading more about that self is one of them.

Birdie Hall: Yeah, from my point of view, I think there's a few things. I probably have a lot more development to do as well with that. But I think, as a team, we really try and share stuff. So, any kind of knowledge or people have been to events, and we have our kind of Slack channel, obviously, which has cool stuff there, if one is found.

Tom Hall: Yeah.

Birdie Hall: And that's a really, really useful way of doing it, a very simple way. Going to events, which I don't do enough, but I think there's always something, even if it's a really bad event. You always come back to it, and you're like, "Actually, there's that one thing that is really interesting, or that actually could really relate to something else completely different." And I very much have that with podcast as well, because I listen to a lot of podcasts.

Fiona Jensen: Which ones do you like?

Birdie Hall: Including yours, obviously.

Fiona Jensen: Thank you.

Birdie Hall: Recently, I've been listening to a few ones from other kind of agency owners. There's one in particular called Build a Better Agency, I think, by Drew McLellan, who has an agency in the States. Again, you have to listen to a lot of these, but you really kind of farm out really, really good bits of information by doing so. So, I think there's just so much information out there, obviously.

Fiona Jensen: There is, though. That is the problem, isn't it, nowadays?

Birdie Hall: Yeah.

Fiona Jensen: There's so much to go out that sometimes you do kind of say, "I don't have bandwidth for any of that podco, pachelo."

Birdie Hall: Yeah. The way that I do it, which again, might not be a good way, is I almost binge stuff, and then I kind of give myself a break for a while. Then, I'll listen to a whole podcast, like almost every episode.

Fiona Jensen: [crosstalk 01:06:55]

Birdie Hall: Then I'll just stop for a long time.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah. Yeah.

Birdie Hall: But I do. That's where I get a lot of the kind of info. But, yeah. And just watching lots of good TV and stuff like that. It's really simple, but actually you always kind of get good ideas and stuff from that.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah, I agree. You can draw inspiration from pretty much anywhere, any walk of life, can't you, if you've got that sort of brain? And I think you guys probably never know exactly who's going to be walking through the door, what market they're in, and what they're going to be looking for. So, I think a mix-match and a variety, and depth and breadth across a huge number of different things is actually playing in the favour.

Tom Hall: I read quite a lot of science books, as you get now. I read an amazing book, which is relevant for our space, in a kind of Machiavellian way. It's called Persuasion, and it's by this psychologist. And he studies a very specific set of biases and that we're susceptible to what we have about how we can be persuaded to do things. It was one of those books where I read it, and I kind of looked at the world differently after it. I felt like we are such an easily gamed... we think of ourselves as these sort of autonomous creatures with freewill and I'm the master of my own destiny. And you read this book, you're like, "Oh my god. I am-"

Fiona Jensen: I'm not in control.

Tom Hall: I am so susceptible to a million of these little hints, and these little things that people can make me do. There's a really interesting chapter on negotiation around how you make a first offer, and then how you back it up. And it is empirically proven to work. It's like the anchoring bias that they talk about with planes. The fact that when a first-class seat costs eight grand, then two grand for business class, you're like, "That sounds kind of fair to me."

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Actually, if someone says, "This is two grand, the seat," you'd be like, "No way." That was a really, really good book, actually.

Fiona Jensen: Yeah.

Tom Hall: Yeah. A good book in the sense that it made me question everything. Anyway.

Fiona Jensen: Love it. Well, on that note, thank you ever so much for your time. I've thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and learned sort of huge amount with regards to video content that closes, and potentially what the future of VR looks like. So, thank you both so much.

Tom Hall: Thank you.

Birdie Hall: Thanks very much.

Fiona Jensen: So, there you have it, career advice from a real marketing expert and leader in the field. Thanks for listening. If you're enjoying this podcast, then please leave us a review in iTunes. We'd love to hear your feedback.

2019 B2B Salary Survey   * Salary data for the most common jobs in B2B marketing   * What you should be paying your current team to retain them Download Now