If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a video worth? The Internet is quickly turning into a mutli-media platform, giving businesses the opportunity to express themselves in ways that were never possible before. Personality is now possible. That is, giving a personality to your business, something that is very hard to do with only text on a website. Enter video.
Recently, I did a little “spoof” video on building businesses in Los Angeles versus Silicon Valley. I have embedded the video into this post. I originally did this video for a conference that I was invited to called The Lobby, created by David Hornik. When going through the invite list, I realized that the conference was heavily loaded with people from Silicon Valley, and I was one of the very few from Los Angeles. Having spent a couple years in Silicon Valley building my last company, StrongMail Systems, I learned that there was a certain perception of how we do business here in Southern California. To sum it up, many people in Silicon Valley think we’re idiots here. We’ve all heard of the Silicon Valley one-sided rivalry with LA. Well, I should say, people in the Silicon Valley have heard of it because most people here in Los Angeles know nothing about it.
So, I thought it would be funny to do a little spoof on the stereotypes of LA business.
In typical LA fashion, I called a friend of mine, Ryan Byrne who produces and directs movies. I originally called to ask him if he knew of anyone that could help me out with a camera/editing, etc. I envisioned something basic and simple, pretty much a handycam with an apple laptop using iMovie… Well, being the great friend that Ryan is, he said “I’ll do it.” Next thing you know, we had a full on production… HD cameras, a full sound and video crew… He brought in his good friend Wayland (he’s the coffee shop guy in the video) to write a script. We met at Toast in LA (yes, the place you may have seen on the TV show Entourage) and they reviewed the script with me. The original script, while funny, was a bit too edgy for me (and even more so, for my wife). It involved massage parlors and topless valet girls. While I’m all in for “shock value”, I realized that the video is a representation of our company and there’s a certain brand image that we need to project and protect. Therefore, I asked them to modify the script.
I put the video up on YouTube for some friends to see. Next thing you know, thousands of people were viewing it… I even got an email from my cousin in Chicago (who I did not send the video too) saying that she saw it on Defamer.com. I showed up at a business meeting with a customer and someone walking by in the hallway said “funny video!”. And, I was literally walking down the street one day and was stopped by someone who said that she really enjoyed the video and it seemed like we were a fun and innovative company to work for. She asked if she could send me her resume.
Yes, these are isolated incidents in my small, little world… However, I learned that I didn’t just put together a funny little spoof video. What I had done, without knowing, was set a tone and a personality for our company. I also learned how quickly things can get around the Internet, so be careful!
I’m going to experiment a bit more with video (even though I hate being on camera). Recently, we decided to do a video press release (announcing our beta results thus far, we went from Zero to a Billion ads served in the first 6 weeks), versus the old school boring text press releases that read “ABC company announces Q4 results…”. We published the release last week, we’re still getting feedback on how it was received (versus the old text format) but initially, it seems as though people appreciate the fresh approach.
I’ll let you know how it goes… gotta run to my acting lessons now… =)
PS – if anyone needs to do an Internet video, let me know and I would be more than happy to introduce you to Ryan and Wayland…