Adrian Sandmeier spent seven years working in television production for the biggest station in Switzerland. He happened to be there up front and center, during the period in which video shifted from broadcasting to online streaming. Adrian took what he learned from this experience and applied it to the business and marketing sectors.
As the founder of youstream, an award-winning video and marketing company that serves companies across Europe, Adrian helps businesses create video content that actually works, resulting in more sales and qualified leads. In his new book, Video Marketing for Marketers, Adrian shares his insights.
Nikki Van Noy: I want to start out by having you explain to me and to listeners how you made the jump from studying business administration to getting into video production?
Adrian Sandmeier: Basically, I was involved in many hours in front of the computer and something was missing. I was just not engaging enough with creativity. I got in touch with a man that became a friend, Andreas, he’s called. He’s an actor. He started acting in Germany in Berlin. With the many conversations with him and him explaining how acting and filming works and behind the scene situations, it made me curious. I wanted to deep dive into that topic.
I wanted to go a bit deeper into certain topics and explore, and that pulled me into the whole topic.
Nikki Van Noy: So, basically, it sounds like you were following your passion?
Adrian Sandmeier: Yeah, that could be. I mean, it became a passion and it also threw me into a new area, because it’s so versatile. You have the acting part, you have the story part, you have the technical part, and everything comes together. And in the end, you bring your message to the audience and the whole thing is a huge experience and every time you grow and learn from it.
Nikki Van Noy: It’s a world that’s so fascinating to me. You went beyond just being interested in studying video production. You actually worked for seven years in TV production for the biggest station in Switzerland, correct?
Adrian Sandmeier: Yeah, that’s correct.
Nikki Van Noy: My understanding is, also, that you were there during an interesting point when things were shifting from traditional broadcasting to online streaming, is that right?
Adrian Sandmeier: Yeah, that’s correct. Basically, the media landscape now days is changing. It has been changing at a speed we have never seen before. I was in the middle of that. Every couple of months, we were thrown into new technologies, a new way of the whole TV experience. So, you could see that the TV station was under pressure, fighting for audience–fighting against the online consumer. The whole thing is shifting and everybody has to reinvent themselves, not just monthly, almost daily.
We don’t know where it’s heading, but it’s really changing at a fast pace and it makes it exciting. That’s also why I like this because it’s quite an environment where you have to focus on what the video is about and what the content about. That makes it exciting for me. It is also exciting to give my experience to our customers, to the consumers, and to the enterprises that we are working with.
Nikki Van Noy: So, speaking of that, you went on to become the founder of youstream. For us Americans, this is an award-winning video marketing company with clients all across Europe. Why did you decide to make that jump from television to this marketing focus?
Adrian Sandmeier: It wasn’t a jump from one side to the other, it just developed within a couple of years, so I really had the chance to gain experience over time. And at the end, of course, I also am on the other side now with content marketing, online marketing, and video marketing. It never felt like a jump though, it’s very hard to actually describe it but it was like a flow, you know?
The media landscape was changing and about 11 years ago, I founded youstream and step by step, I just grew up with youstream. We started with a small project, and then small enterprises, and then bigger companies worked with us. We got bigger projects. We got more people involved. It was a steady growth of our company, of the projects, of the experience, and of the excitement because every time we were thrown into more difficult tasks there were also higher expectations.
The more budget you have, as more people get involved, also the expectations rise. What happens is that you start realizing you can actually only create this project with a team. And so somehow that makes it even more fulfilling because as a team, you get all the different expertise together.
As the CEO of this company, I’m able to guide people to get the focus and tell them what it is about. It’s not just about doing a video, especially in video marketing. It’s about focusing on a goal, understanding how we can reach it with video.
The whole thing was a steady process and I got into this quite naturally.
Nikki Van Noy: I love how you describe that as the flow. And I feel like that is one of the things that’s so cool about being in the media, or in most creative fields, especially over the course of the last decade, things have been changing so rapidly that you can kind of start in one area that it might seem, at first, like you’re pretty locked into. And as things evolved, you sort of find yourself making these transitions and doing these new things that you would have never even thought about when you first started out because they weren’t possible in the first place.
Adrian Sandmeier: Yes, that’s true. Also, it’s a step-by-step process. Video is so complex. You have so different aspects. And in every aspect, you actually are able to improve with every project. There’s never been in my past projects where I didn’t learn something, whether it’s in a pre-production–preparing the project–or actually within the production, or in the distribution. There’s always so much potential to always do better and learn.
Nikki Van Noy: So, even though you’re the CEO, I’m getting the gist from what you’re saying that you’re still very hands-on and interested in all the different elements of putting these videos together, you do not sort of up there floating above, just letting everybody else do the work.
Adrian Sandmeier: It’s not possible for me to get in or deep dive into every aspect. For example, let’s say, in the early days, I was editing the videos. And now, it’s not possible to do that on my own because I have my colleagues who support me. They do a really marvelous job, they have all the tricks in editing, and all the things I cannot keep up with because it’s so wide, the video marketing.
I mostly focus on pre-production and make sure that all is set up for the production and also for editing and for the distribution, I make sure everything is prepared to run smoothly through the process.
Nikki Van Noy: That’s a lot though, you’re still engaged in the big picture of it very much. It sounds like you’ve got your hands in the pot with everything.
Adrian Sandmeier: Yes, for sure. I wouldn’t say with everything. I try to let go of certain things because I simply cannot do everything. That’s the art of entrepreneurship. When you grow, just to find those spots where you can give away responsibility and trust the people you are working with. It is a great feeling when you feel that giving away trust actually pays back.
Nikki Van Noy: Right. Okay, let’s turn our attention toward the business aspect of this. Talk to me about why video is so important in business marketing strategies today?
Adrian Sandmeier: If you look at video, it belongs to the content marketing family. With content, you are able to reach your business goals, because you communicate over the internet by text, and by pictures, and by video. With video, you are able to transmit, not just information, but also emotion. You are able to actually spread empathy. You are able to tell your story. You are able to connect with your audience, build trust with your audience, and many other aspects, like to entertain them.
Video is so effective and it’s going to be in the future more important. You see that in the numbers that we see every day or every year–the rise of the consumption of videos and the engagement of videos.
It’s a topic that many companies haven’t even started to jump into. Many companies that started haven’t really begun to explore all the potential of it and I think there’s a lot of exciting possibilities to come in the future.
Nikki Van Noy: You know, it’s really interesting to me. As you were talking about the power of video, you were discussing things like story, empathy, and trust. All of these very high touch human ideas. I feel like when we think about technology, just in general as an umbrella term, we think about it as being a colder way of communicating. Marketing, selling, whatever the case may be.
But actually, there are these areas of technology, and this sounds like one of them, that allows us to be more human and to connect in more human ways than maybe we could at earlier points.
Adrian Sandmeier: Yeah, actually with video, we have the possibility to show our face as a company. There are still many companies that on their websites, put up stock footage and you don’t know who is behind the company. Who are the people? That is exactly the potential that you have as a marketer.
Companies can actually show their faces and connect with the audience. The audience is attracted to faces. Since we were a baby, we are always looking for faces. In our brain, we have the fusiform gyrus. It’s actually made to recognize faces and to recognize emotions. As you see faces, for example, in thumbnails of videos–thumbnails with faces have a higher conversion rate and click rate than without faces.
In the videos, there’s a character, an emotion, people involved, and they convert better than when you just show a product. It’s all about the people, the faces, that make a story exciting. Also, the depths of the character and we are not talking here about movies. We are talking here about your company, because if you, for example, explain the why of your company, you explain the story, and you explain in an authentic way why you can help with your solutions, then that’s much more powerful than if you’re just comparing to text or a simple picture.
Nikki Van Noy: Interesting. So, in addition to this idea of businesses, perhaps not yet understanding how important this element of connection and literal human faces is to effective marketing, are there any other big keys that you feel like a lot of companies still haven’t quite cracked the code on yet?
Adrian Sandmeier: Yes, your most important channel as a marketer is your website. So, what happens is whether you use other channels such as social media, in the end, the goal is to drive your target audience to your website to get to know the company, and to get to know the products, and your services.
That’s where people gain trust and also learn about whatever you offer. That’s also where you actually have to work to make sure that your strongest channel, or let’s say your most important channel, is actually a strong channel. You have done your SEO homework, your search engine optimization homework, that actually when people are looking for your product–let’s say you sell chairs and you’re looking in Google for chairs–that you are visible, and that people find your webpage.
You can do explainer videos–you can do tutorials. You can also do testimonials of customers that are happy with your services and who tell the story about how they actually experienced your company.
Nikki Van Noy: You are making a really interesting point there, which it sounds like this is very much a fusion of creativity, but also is firmly rooted in this sort of statistical analysis and really doing the work to understand your customers in a real way.
Adrian Sandmeier: Yes that’s right. So how I explain it to our customers or potential customers is they have to imagine that video marketing is like a sailing boat. The base of the boat is actually your online marketing efforts that make sure that you are visible, and that includes SEO, that includes your website, and the design of your website. Also, that includes the technical aspects of your website such as it is fast, and it is loading properly. You can imagine all the people that jump off your website if it is not loading fast enough.
The videos are the sail and they work with the base of the boat to make you go forward and reach your goals. So, you need both in order to have strong video marketing.
Nikki Van Noy: Another thing that you talk about in your book, which is interesting to me is that as you are creating these videos, you want to think about the customer’s journey. And you will use specific types of videos based on what phase of the journey the customer’s at. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?
Adrian Sandmeier: Yes, so basically you have to understand that not every customer is at the same point of their journey. We separated everything into cold traffic, warm traffic, and hot traffic. That means that people that have never heard of you, you actually have to grab them differently than people that are already on your website, or people that are just about to hit the buy bottom.
If you imagine the journey that your customer goes through, you have the possibility to address them with different videos. It means that at the beginning of the journey, for example, you could address them with social media videos on YouTube and you can put pre-roll video ads and then drive them to your website. That means you have to build up much more attention. You have to create shorter videos. You have to put stronger call of actions in order to get their attention at the beginning of the journey because people at this stage are not explicitly looking for you.
Once a customer is on your website, they already have a certain interest, otherwise, they wouldn’t be there. So, this means that you are now able to share the image and brand video. You can introduce your company and you can introduce your unique value proposition. You can actually position your company with an exciting story, to make sure that they connect with you, and that they understand you. You build up to transmit empathy.
In the later stage, let’s say you introduce them to a product video later when they are about to decide whether they should buy from you or from a competitor. You can jump in with a testimonial. Of course, we recommend producing several testimonials just to give them all of that throughout the customer journey. You can build and gain trust in every point of that customer journey. There are perfect videos that hit the needs of the customers.
The Customer Journey
Nikki Van Noy: So, as we begin to wrap up here, thinking about listeners who may own a business or make marketing decisions for a business and have some sort of video program already going, but perhaps have not put so much thought and strategy into it, what is the first thing they should do as they start to think about how they can revamp their videos and make them more effective?
Adrian Sandmeier: So, every company is in a bit different situation but really the first part is to actually evaluate your channel. Do you have a channel, let’s say in this case the website, where you can build up an audience, and where the people have an audience that is going to see your videos? So, as I said earlier, you can invest in video marketing and nobody is going to see your videos.
Really the foundation of the whole video marketing is a strong channel, which is your website. That is the first thing you should check. Once you have built that up, your audience or your website, your channel, you can think about where you actually have the most potential video. For example, you need to see in your customer journey where your weaknesses are.
Let’s say you want to use video marketing and you have a weak website. You don’t have many visitors, and you say, “Okay. I am going to do some social media ads and drive people to my website.” That is effective, but it is not sustainable because the point is once your media effort is over, there are not going to be any more visitors on your website.
Our customers invest in their websites, in their SEO efforts, in order to get sustainable marketing for the future.
Let us say you invest in SEO, and if you invest in blocks on your website with videos, that still will be effective in 10 years. But when you invest in social media ads on YouTube, it is very effective now, but once the media spending is over there are not going to be any more people coming to your website.
So, you really have to think about, “How do I drive traffic to my website? How do I maintain it? Where are my weaknesses?”
For example, we have customers who might have a lot of traffic on their website but a low conversion rate.
That means customers just jump off without buying, and there is a huge chance to build up trust. You can see in many products that need explanations, people don’t understand the product, or they don’t understand the advantages of a product or service. So, you need to be able to communicate fast what your product is about. It is even better if you can put in some emotions, and some authority that you can engage with the customers.
If you find the spot where you have the most potential, then you really can make a difference with video marketing.
Nikki Van Noy: Excellent. I think one of my big takeaways here has been that there is so much focus on social media and sources like YouTube now, I can see how it is almost like we don’t think about websites as much as we used to. So that is a really valuable message. I think people in some ways perhaps need to be reminded that that is still important. We have all of these other channels, but we want things to live on our website.
Adrian Sandmeier: Yes. That’s right. Of course, you have a different strategy with social media. You can, for example, just feed your existing followers. Let’s say your company has 200 followers. There are some out there and that have put effort for 200 followers. They don’t put any ad spending, they just feed those 200 followers with their video and with their content and the things that can make a difference that way.
The point is, many of those are not ready to buy. Many of those don’t have the attention to look at your ads. So social media, in order to be effective, you have to have a lot of followers. You have to post frequently, and you have to post value.
Don’t just talk about you, talk about the value that you can give. You have to transmit messages. A reader always gets smarter with your messages and in order to do that, you have to build quality content. That is a lot of effort and many of the social media posts that you actually publish are gone within a couple of days.
If you put a block on your website that is of quality, that is relevant, and that transmits value, if you put it up today, there are many of those that can still be found in 10 years.
Nikki Van Noy: It makes so much sense. Is there anything we haven’t touched on yet that you want to make sure listeners are in the loop with?
Adrian Sandmeier: Yes, I think that many marketers go to a video production company in order to produce a video because they think it is effective. Or it is because competitors are also doing video, but they jump in a little bit too fast. They don’t allow themselves to actually step back just one or two steps and look at the big picture to actually understand how video is going to get to the audience and how it is going to convert.
That is what you want at the end of the day as a marketer, you want to have more conversion. If you think about Hollywood movies that cost on average $65 million, and 50% of the budget is for marketing.
As a marketer and as CEO of a company, you can start with video and you are just going to start with video production spending. You think that is going to work, but it is not going to work.
You have to also invest in your distribution and that means that you have to invest in your website to be visible, to be found on Google or any other search engine. You have to make sure that once they actually are on your website it converts. If you put your image video on social media, maybe that is not the right place because people don’t have time for two or three minutes of video on social media, because there is so much noise on social media.
You have to communicate fast with a lot of intention and bring value and a call to action. You need to make sure that you have the right type of video at the right point in your customer journey. So that is important. What is also important is to actually know your target audience, know their challenges, know their problems, and know their language too.
The point is that with video marketing you are going to talk to them. You are going to connect with their challenges, and you want to make sure that you use their words. You are going to make sure that you have a story that they understand and that they are able to connect with. Being able to evaluate this aspect of the audience makes it much easier, not just for you, but also for the video production company that works for you.
Nikki Van Noy: Perfect. All right Adrian, so your book is called Video Marketing for Marketers. Readers can find that on Amazon and is there anywhere else that they should go to find you or your company, youstream?
Adrian Sandmeier: Yes, they can find us on our website, of course, which is youstream.ch, ch for Switzerland. They can find us there and that is the channel that we are most alert with and that is where we have success. Some people ask me, “Yeah, why don’t you put more effort into social media?” I put some effort. But we work with big corporations, and we have the privilege and somehow, we got them through our website and not through social media. I am such a fan of the website. That is where you can find us.
Nikki Van Noy: Perfect. Thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing all of this information, Adrian.
Adrian Sandmeier: Yeah, it was a pleasure, thank you, Nikki.