Real talk, not all marketers actually studied marketing. You know, its just not one of those sexy subjects that catches the eye of a teenager applying to university. For me, it was political science. I was already avidly following the politics of my country, and it sounded pretty cool to study. Now, as you probably know, that degree doesn’t really have a clear career path. I write pretty well, so I started working in marketing, thinking that my studies would be just a piece of paper on the wall. I was actually fine with that outcome.

However, as I delved deeper into the world of marketing, I realized that there’s a lot of parallels with what I spent four grueling years focusing on and the recent theme of failure in the tech marketing world. You know: the whole “fail fast, fail often” kind of mentality, and learning from these failures. If anyone knows about failing hard, it’s Niccolo Machiavelli, a fundamental author to political science. You’ve probably heard of him because of the adjective “machiavellian”, which generally means evil, crafty and disloyal. The reason his name carries such a dark connotation is largely because of his most famous book, The Prince.

That book is indeed pretty dark stuff. It does, after all, recommend that if a prince is to attack someone, he should at least wound his victim gravely enough as to not suffer vengeance. What a lot of people don’t know is that this book is one big metaphor and it’s not to be read figuratively. It is also the result of a massive fail.

In 1512, Machiavelli was a highly regarded public official in Florence. Long story short, he really pissed off the family that ruled the city, and he was accused of treason, imprisoned, tortured and later sent into exile. It’s during that very exile that he started writing The Prince, presumably as a way to get back in the good graces of his former rulers, or to find a new master in another city.

He had some very grim tips and tricks, but he also offered some extremely valuable insight into what can only be described as primitive marketing.

As we all keep producing campaign after campaign, video after video, and try to keep up with whatever the market is dictating, it can be hard to remember the basics. Just give Niccolo a listen, he’ll teach you about keeping up with technology, how to stay true to yourself, making the necessary preparations, and how to analyze the results of your campaigns.

Marketing success is about keeping up with the times

“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”

Good old Nick might have implied that about ruling people, but what he really means is that you shouldn’t follow preconceived notions. We’ve all done it, we get one quick video win, and we spend the next year chasing that initial success. We redo the same kind of video, and scratch our heads when it doesn’t work as well as that first time.

If your audience is very engaged with you, the same type of video over and over might work well, but for most B2B companies, that just isn’t the case. For most of you, the better strategy is probably to explore new strategies that help you either get better click-through rates, or convey a better story. We’ve seen some amazing results with personalized video to catch the attention of an otherwise disinterested audience, and there’s been some very interesting forays into 360 video to tell a more compelling tale. 

These technologies might seem gimmicky or not mature enough sometimes, but as Machiavelli told us, you can’t expect constant success if you don’t go with the times. The same logic applies to your old content. It’s okay to be attached to that video that performed really really well, but you can’t expect the same engagement by just reposting it a year later. Use that success as an opportunity to revisit what made that video successful. Maybe you need to update the graphics, maybe the stats you talked about are no longer relevant, maybe you just want to reuse the concept to do something different or maybe you need to produce new content altogether. Refreshing your content is a very important process to put in place, and it’s one that will immediately show results.

Are You Ready?

“The prince who has relied solely on their words, without making other preparations, is ruined.”

In medieval times, a prince who relied only on words and treaties could expect a sieging army at his doors pretty quickly. That’s why leaders in ancient times had militias, armies, and mercenaries at their command. Well, it’s kind of reversed, but if all you have is a video, you can’t expect your sales team to be sieged with leads. Just like any other type of content, you have to promote your videos. Whether you share them on your social channels, email them to your prospects or integrate them into blog posts, you constantly have to make sure they are working for you.

Having a channel on YouTube is a great start, but that’s all it is. You need to figure out where that video is best viewed, and in some cases what needs to happen before a video is shown or found. Great battles have been won and lost because troops arrived first and had a terrain advantage. This kind of advantage also applies to video content. A product overview is kind of awkward if it’s viewed on YouTube, but if it’s embedded into your own product page, then it has incredible home field advantage.

The Performance Game

“In the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.

In Machiavelli’s times, if a prince successfully defended a stronghold, but lost his entire army in the process, it wasn’t considered a win. In the grander scheme of things, it left him exposed to other warring cities, or even to dissidence within his own ranks. However, many leaders have fallen into that trap, thinking that defending an outpost was their ultimate goal.

You don’t risk the same consequences, but there is a similar pitfall with video. A video that generated a lot of views might seem successful at first, but views are not a very telling metric. You wouldn’t base the result of a war on a single battle, and you shouldn’t claim a campaign was successful because of one metric. A view only tells you if a prospect has clicked on your video. It’s the same as downloading a text asset, you don’t know if they read it the whole way, or watched it the whole way through.

You should be seeing your videos as important tactical pieces instead of just another asset. Gating a video with a form can allow you to generate leads from top of funnel content, and a short video can act as a great teaser to a piece of content that might not seem very exciting at first glance.

Power is in the Details

As everyone who misunderstood Machiavelli in the past, the subtleties of video are often overlooked. It’s not a produce and dump kind of content. A video is just one tool in your arsenal, one element of your general strategy. Machiavelli told leaders to listen to what their surroundings were telling them, and to always use that to their advantage.

What you might not realize, is that your video content is talking back to you. Not in a creepy ghost-y way, its actually telling you what your leads are looking for. You just need to be listening, and adapt along the way. Machiavelli was blinded by his ego, and that led him into exile. As we can see, he understood the error of his ways, but you might want to listen up before you find yourself in such a dire situation.

One last quote to get you pumped: “Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great”. Now, if you’re willing but all you need is a place to get started, the guide below is just that:

Max Doucet-Benoit