In the SXSW 2018 presentation “The New Age of Story: Marketing for a Visual World,” Killer founder and CEO Amy Balliett and StoryDriven founder and CEO Nathan Clendenin shared facts, explanations, and tips on visual content marketing. They shared several videos from each company that embody the 3 types of motion graphics: explainer, promotional, and emotive. And during the closing portion of the session, they dove into a set of questions to help determine whether the information you’re sharing in your content (whether motion graphics, static, or interactive content) is truly a story. The first question was, “Who is the hero?”
Your Hero Is Your Audience. But Who Is Your Audience?
Every story must have a hero. That’s because human beings fundamentally connect with one another, rather than connecting with a product or service. A huge reason we’re drawn to different brands is because of the stories they tell and the heroes they portray in storytelling. When audiences see themselves in the hero, they can get behind interacting with the brand telling that story. In order to see themselves in a hero, they must see a key motivation or driving factor that they can relate to. That’s why the hero of your motion graphic should be your audience, and you’ll need to understand their key motivations to make that work.
To tell a hero’s story effectively and hook the audience that you want to reach, you need to get to know your audience. Customer segmentation is an important first step that affords key insights into who your audience is. This covers demographics and preferences: age, location, income, likes and dislikes, etc. Without this knowledge, you’re simply throwing around ideas and hoping they work — or further, acting on those ideas by creating content without a true aim. That can negatively impact your bottom line. Save yourself time and money by targeting the right audience before you start to create content.
How Does Your Audience Inform Your Content Choices?
Knowing who your audience is allows you to make every single choice about your content marketing. This ranges from the types of assets you produce to the story you’re telling and the way you tell it. In the case of motion graphics, your audience’s demographics, preferences, and viewing environments can also influence how long your video should be, whether voiceover or onscreen text (or both) should be used, the type of score and sound design to use, and even whether it should be vertical (for posting on Instagram Stories and Snapchat) or horizontal (for Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more).
Your customer insights should drive all of these choices to maximize both efficiency and ROI. For example, if you haven’t honed in on the age range of your audience, you might spend unnecessary time and money optimizing your motion graphic for every major platform. Yet, this might include platforms your true audience avoids. Or further, you might create 1 video for Insta and Snapchat, another for YouTube, and another for Twitter and Facebook. This isn’t necessarily a wrong move if your audience is broad. However, if your audience is Generation Z, chances are your Twitter and Facebook videos will hardly be viewed at all. If they are, they’ll likely be viewed by older audiences for whom you probably didn’t target the content, tone, or aesthetic.
What If Someone Else Wants to Be the Hero?
It’s clear that your audience should be the focus of your story to engage a crowd. However, when ideating it’s very easy to lose sight of that and start to cater to our own preferences. Your colleague has this great idea that he or she saw on TV and loved. A department head crowdsources the interns and new hires for fresh ideas. Your boss saw your pitch, but prefers a different illustration style, her own cameo, and your company’s logo featuring prominently in every scene.
Everyone wants to be a hero! It’s understandable. And no idea is truly a bad idea if it pushes your creative in the right direction. But if you’re part of an organization that’s revamping its content marketing, you need to keep your audience — your core customer — top of mind. That may mean reminding your team who your content marketing is truly being produced for.
After all, it’s not about making motion graphics that your interns or boss will love. As simple as it would be if personal taste drove success and we all had the same preferences as our target audiences, that’s not the world of content marketing. Instead, it’s about connecting with the audience who’s interested in your product, service, or organization.
Explore our complete guide to motion graphics to learn how to produce high-quality, high-converting animated videos.