A Brilliant Piece of Content Marketing

June 08, 2017

A Brilliant Piece of Content Marketing

Salomon TV Out in the Sierra

Every once in awhile I come across a piece of content marketing that just blows me away and insists that I share it. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, social video is quickly becoming the new blog post and I am always on the look out for companies who are doing video right. I love this video for many, many reasons, but for the sake of this post I will narrow it down to five. Here are the five reasons I loved this video and felt it was an excellent example of content marketing and merited a more in-depth examination than just a superficial singular viewing.

  1. Not a commercial
  2. Simple, yet well produced
  3. Entertaining
  4. It creates emotion
  5. Audience-centric

Salomon makes all sorts of outdoor gear but specializes in running shoes and hiking boots. Prior to seeing this video pop up on my Facebook feed I was very familiar with Salomon but had no idea they were also creating videos of this quality. When I went to their YouTube channel  I was impressed to see they had about 25k subscribers and over the last five years have uploaded well over 100 videos, many of which have been viewed thousands of times.

The video in question, however, has been viewed more than 325k times and reposted by many blogs and media sites, including the Facebook page for Outside Online‘, the online version of popular Outdoor magazine, which is where I first watched the video.

Here is Salomon TV’s Out In The Sierra. Go ahead and watch it. I’ll wait and we’ll discuss it in like 20 min.

From the Salomon website:

Kalen Thorien, a professional skier and adventurer, decided to spend her summer on a 270 mile, 18 day, solo high traverse in the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range in the Western United States. Your immediate question is probably “Why?”, well, Kalen probably says it best, “We spend a lot of time seeking answers, hoping for outside forces to propel us into an elevated realm of thinking, the simplicity of a walk in the woods can provide the impermanence that we so often overlook. Out there it is uncluttered and simplified.”

Pretty epic right? So let’s talk about what makes this video such a great example of content marketing.

Content marketing isn’t an advertisement or commercial.

When you watched that video did you notice the Salomon watermark in the upper right-hand corner? Probably at first, but then eventually you forgot all about it and just enjoyed the excellent production, beautiful landscapes, and great music. Once in awhile the Salomon brand was the focal point, but it wasn’t very often or for very long. There was just as much attention on other gear brands such as Big Agnes and Goal Zero. Obviously, in the thumbnail above Salomon is very prominently featured on both her hat and jacket and there is one other scene showing her lacing up her Salomon boots, but these cameos are far from the shameless self-aggrandizing plugs you see in more conventional video marketing.

Salomon is far from an outlier in the world of video marketing. Redbull has become synonymous with high-quality adrenaline pumping videos that have nothing to do with an energy drink. Likewise, Orvis (high-end fly fishing and hunting gear) has made a significant investment in video. They have over 1,000 videos just on fly fishing. Like the video sponsored by Salomon, many of the videos on Orvis’ site don’t explicitly reference any Orvis product or service. Sometimes they may show the gear being used,  but it is almost always discreet and almost accidental. In some cases, like the video below, they aren’t even using Orvis gear in the video but are more concerned with posting excellent quality content they know their audience will love and share, even if it doesn’t immediately sell a product.

These videos are simple, yet well produced.

A good piece of content marketing doesn’t need to be a major Hollywood production. Some companies are going to have an almost unlimited marketing budget to create amazing professional productions. Likewise, some companies will only have a small budget, especially if they are just getting started, and won’t have much money for video. The Salomon video was pretty simple. They had one of their brand ambassadors take a long backpacking trip and film herself along the way. They had some drone work done by Getty Images, but the principal cinematography was done by only two people: Kalen Thorien and Dean Leslie. This wasn’t a huge budget feature film, but it was done in such a way that it has garnered over 300k views on YouTube. Your content doesn’t need to break the bank; it needs to be entertaining and it needs to evoke emotions. This video did that in an epic way.

Good content marketing is shared because it is entertaining.

This video is a valuable piece of a much larger content marketing strategy because it is so well made and so entertaining that people are naturally going to want to share it with their friends. Salomon’s video tells a story. It follows a heroine through an amazing journey of life-altering vistas. For a very short time, we are transported to the High Sierras and are hiking alongside Kalen. It is raw. This video doesn’t make the backpacking trip out to be a simple walk in the park. I also loved how real and visceral Kalen’s experience was. I felt more involved with the story as I watched this video than if the same story had been told in some other medium. The combination of music and video with just the right amount of silence and breath-taking panoramas created an incredibly impactful narrative.

A key component of good content marketing is the ability to stir up emotion.

In addition to being entertaining, good content makes you feel something. It gets you to agree or disagree with it or it makes you angry or forces you to reevaluate how you see the world. Emotion creates connections. Whether it is a video, song, or blog post, once the audience experiences some emotional response to that media, a connection is created. That is what this video did for me. As I mentioned above, it was raw and real. It didn’t attempt to hide Kalen’s discouragement or frustration. It also didn’t shy away from showing her incredible sense of accomplishment, even to the point of tears as she reaches her resupply. I found myself caught up in her emotions and her experiences resonated with me. The video forced me to feel something unexpected and I guess that is why I felt I had to write about it. It should be every marketer’s goal to create content that makes their audience feel something.

Good content marketing focuses on a specific audience.

Joe Pulizzi wrote an article called, “If Your Content Marketing is for Everybody, It’s for Nobody.” What I love about this video, as well as the videos on Orvis’ site is that they don’t try to be something they are not. They don’t try to please everyone. When Salomon created this video, they had a clear vision of who they wanted to reach and what that demographic would like. I am obviously in that demographic because I saw the video on my Facebook feed and immediately clicked on it. Outside magazine obviously felt the messaging was appropriate for their audience since they wrote a short article about it and published it to their own blog. The content would have lost its effectiveness had it tried to be relatable to anyone and everyone who might have stumbled upon it. You either make something for a specific group of people, or you make it for no one.

This one video did not get me to run to my nearest REI and buy a pair of Salomon boots. I didn’t buy anything. Yet. But I did go back to their website and watch a bunch of their other videos. It did create an emotional connection with me and will certainly impact my buying decision next I shop for running shoes or need some other outdoor gear. So how does Salomon judge the ROI for the investment in this video? Will they be happy with the number of views it has had on YouTube or the number of shares and backlinks it received from other websites? Or maybe they’ll just consider it a success because they created an epic piece of content that people love. They may see a bump in sales because of this video, and frankly, I hope they do because it means they will probably keep making awesome free content that is not only entertaining but educational.

For more information on how video can help differentiate your company from your competitors, as this video has done for me, check out my last blog on the importance of social video. 

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