Tell me a story!

Marketers in today’s crowded content landscape are producing engaging videos to tell better brand stories, and – as the rate of video production increases – this often means hiring creatives like videographers, writers, editors, and directors of video strategy to maintain a sustainable model for success.

Of course we’re not at this point across the board yet, but larger forward-thinking companies who have confirmed their commitment to video are indeed hiring these roles and have been for some time. After experiencing just how effective video can be, it’s pretty easy to make the investment in the medium, and your internal teams.

Telus StudiosAs we discovered, nobody understands this better than Canadian telecommunications company, Telus.

Telus Invests in an Innovative Studio

Producing over 500 videos a year, Telus Studios is the internal video production company at Telus and, as Manager of Marketing Communications Drew Jarvis told us, the video unit grew out of the need to communicate both internally and externally using truly human stories.

As Drew says, “We use video because there’s nothing more powerful than storytelling. Everybody loves good movies, good TV and it always fuels more discussion. Video has transformed Telus from a marketing standpoint and allowed us to have greater conversations with our customers. Telus Studios proudly showcases our team members and customers, enabling us to share the extended story of our brand and our values with the world.”

With a team of ten, ranging from video producers and directors with editing capabilities, a production coordinator, streaming media experts, and a digital media librarian, Telus Studios films across Canada and they’ve won three different awards for innovative approaches to video at the Cannes Corporate Media & TV Awards in Barcelona.

Telus Garden VancouverWhile the team reaps big rewards internationally, Drew told me that, originally, video production at Telus started with an internal news magazine program called ‘Team Vision’. This bi-weekly video was intended to connect team members across the organization. As the program evolved, Telus started telling even more video stories (including customer-focused stories) and Telus Studios grew. In fact, the work has been so well received, Telus has invested further in video production and in 2014 the Studio will move into Telus Garden in downtown Vancouver, taking up the entire second floor.

The Video Stories

Working with internal groups like product marketing, community investment, marketing communications and enterprise sales, the producers at Telus Studios work as brand journalists scoping out compelling stories. “We’re very much like a group of detectives”, says Drew.

And the detective work really pays off. Check out these two beautifully crafted video stories:

Why we Invest

“The Final Frontier”

As you can see, the brand creates documentary-like shorts about people rather than products. These are the type of video stories companies can use to connect with online audiences, and based on the comments on their site, that’s exactly what Telus is doing (the feedback has been awesome!):

Telus is doing it right

Advice for Marketers With Video Dreams

So what’s the secret to in-house video marketing success? According to Drew, it’s all about respecting your audience’s time, their interests, and telling customer-focused stories.

“When it comes to brand marketing, empathy works. If you really want to bring in a viewer – empathetic, engaging storytelling allows your customers to learn more about your brand in two minutes or less thanks to the combined power of characters, visuals, and music. Video gives you the ability to make someone feel something and change the way they perceive your company.”

In running a creative team devoted to video, Drew has also learned it’s important to develop worthwhile content to connect with:

“We learned early on that you have to take your brand and create a character, not a company. We didn’t even want to mention Telus in the first half of the Final Frontier, for example. If you create a character and a problem, your audience can learn and identify with that. We’ve found we can surprise them later by showcasing how Telus helped with that problem. You ultimately have a very short time to grab a viewer’s attention. You need to convince them to go on the ride with you. We’re asking a lot of our viewers to get involved in our story, so we combine all the elements to make sure they stick around for the ending.”

Overall, the team over at Telus is clearly onto something when it comes to crafting their brand through video storytelling. I love that they started out creating internal communications and shifted the focus to a larger scale and purpose. There’s plenty for enterprise B2B marketers to learn from these trailblazers. Check out more Telus videos and be sure to tell us what you think with a comment below!

Jennifer Pepper