By: Alesia Hendley
Multimedia plays a major role in creating this AV community of techies. When I read about the history of the #avtweeps hashtag and listen to Dawn Meade and Kelly Perkins on AVSocial touching on so many different social subjects and incorporating them with AV I get excited because it ignites all my passions. The industry is very tech driven yet quite a few companies and industry leaders don’t have an online presence to connect with the young clients and consumers being sought out. Most of these tactics and online platforms aren’t being used to their full potential to build relationships with customers and generate leads like in other industries. Social media is clearly more of a hobby in this field than anything else; exposing a pain point across the industry.
Noble Crawford, the CEO of Video Social Creative,, an agency that focuses on video, social media and inbound marketing solely dedicated to the AV industry, is an emerging name combining AV, marketing, and media:
Alesia Hendley: Noble, give us a little background on why you made the pivot from integrator to digital marketing?
Noble Crawford: Alesia, thanks for inviting me to do this interview!
After working in the AV integration space for a short while I had a life threatening family experience that gave birth to the thought of starting a business and doing my own thing. My marketing agency was born both out of necessity and a desire to do what I love while giving back to an industry that has been so good to me over the years.
AH: I’m sorry to hear this, but It is interesting to see how life trials and tribulations can mold something so great into existence. Why is having an online presence valuable to our industry?
NC: There are many reasons why having an online presence is valuable, but I’ll focus on the primary reason it’s so important.
Largely due to the internet, the way consumers make purchase decisions has changed. In the past (and especially in the AV industry) the salesperson held the key to information that the consumer was looking for in order to research a product or service. Nowadays, that info is one Google search away. Buyers are performing their research online and are more educated today about what options exist than ever before. Having an online presence is no longer an option, it’s necessary.
In fact, studies show that two-thirds of consumers have already completed research online to solve a problem or fulfill a need, all the while, your company is not even aware they exist. You only become aware if and when they decide to reach out to you for more information.
It goes one step further, though, and this is why it’s critical to not only have an online presence but have readily available content that matches their specific search criteria exactly when they are looking for it.
Simple scenario: A consumer is looking for a digital signage solution and they type “digital signage” or “digital signage solution” into the search engine. You should have online content (based on that keyword phrase) that provides valuable information matching their search criteria: Why? Because you want to be the company or brand that educates that consumer more than anyone else; to the degree that they can’t narrow their purchase options without seriously considering your company as a viable contender.
AH: Is digital marketing about generating revenue or building client relations?
NC: Digital marketing is about both. The primary reason for digital marketing (or any other form of marketing for that matter) is to generate revenue. Without that, there would be no benefit to it. However, it doesn’t happen without building a relationship first. The best form of digital marketing for a company depends on what their goals are and what they’re trying to accomplish.
AH: Should a company be utilizing one form of digital like social media or mobile apps?
NC: I think companies should use every form of digital marketing that makes sense for their brand and for their customers. Social is a very effective tool for just about every company out there but not every social platform makes sense for every company. I think the same can be said for mobile apps as well.
Determining what digital tactics to apply requires a deeper dive into understanding the individual company and their objectives. From there, we’d look to put together a game plan to get them from point A to point B.
AH: When working with your clients, do you suggest being social on every platform?
NC: Definitely not, but be proficient in the platforms that you are on. We believe you should prioritize the social platforms that the majority of your customers frequent the most. But we do think that new platforms should be tested to see how and where they can be utilized as part of your marketing strategy. Start with this question: How can you add value to your customers through this social media channel?
AH: Video plays a major role in what you do at Video Social Services. How do you incorporate video when building a content strategy for your clients?
NC: The stats behind online video consumption are simply astounding! All you have to do is just Google it to see how effective it is. We believe video plays a major role in every aspect of the customers buying process. If we look at the three stages in a typical journey that a buyer goes through (Awareness Stage, Consideration Stage, Decision Stage) we look for opportunities to use video to help walk that prospect through the process. From the moment they discover a specific need, they have to decide on what to purchase to solve that need. It starts with knowing your buyer personas and how purchasing decisions are made or influenced. Then developing the video content that speaks directly to their needs based on where they are in the buying process. Check out this post for more detail.
AH: What are some of the best social platforms AVtweeps can use to brand their company or personal brand?
NC: I’d suggest starting with the big players first, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. From there, look at Instagram, Snapchat, and so on. Personal branding is something I went through as I transitioned from AV integration sales to running a marketing agency. Social proof does play a role in helping you develop thought-leadership in any space but it’s just the vehicle. More important to that is creating high-quality valuable content that educates, inspires, or entertains. Second to that is leveraging social media as the vehicle to promote that content (other curated content) and start or join the conversation. This is key! I think it’s similar with brands as well.
“Create Relevant Content + Promote Content + Add Value to Conversations = Good Brand Building Strategy”
AH: How can companies use social media to share their work culture within the office? Would you say this is a good way to attract young, new, fresh talent?
NC: There are multiple ways companies can use social to share their office work culture. I think a social video is by the far the best way to do this. Video is the most engaging content type. Mobile video views are ridiculously high. People are curious by nature. As consumers we want to see what it’s like to work at XYZ company, we want to see behind-the-scenes or a day-in-the-life type content to get a better feel for the company and its people. I think the best way to do this is with YouTube, Facebook Live, and Snapchat or Instagram, especially for the young talent our industry is looking to attract. They’re already consuming massive amounts of video on the platforms, so it only makes sense.
AH: Should a company invest in a content creator when building an online presence?
NC: The short answer is yes. However, the investment can be external (from a third party) or internal (utilizing their own resources). If the investment is made to go with an agency or outside content producer, etc. it is important that they understand the company’s product offering and customer profile. This can be accomplished a number of different ways, but it’s an important first step. One method we use to create content is via interviews. We’ll interview employees and even customers and prospects of the company to gain insight that helps us produce relevant content.
The alternative is to create content in-house using their already valuable resources — their employees. Employees, especially sales reps, can contribute a TON of valuable information to create content around various topics. One way to do this is to start creating content based on the most frequently asked questions the salespeople get. Every salesperson fields questions around a specific product or service that they’ve found themselves having to answer time and time again. These same questions are likely being searched online. So, it’s the perfect place to start with creating content. The great thing is that the content can be repurposed into many formats: blogs, images, videos, infographics, podcasts, etc. which provides for multiple ways it can be consumed.
The value we provide at Video Social Creative is based on the client’s goals. For example, if there is a specific revenue goal, then the value is based on meeting or exceeding that goal. Measuring content marketing ROI (Return on Investment) starts with understanding some important information. First, there are some key questions to answer about your current performance. Armed with this information, we can measure the success of a content marketing campaign and prove it’s value based on results.
AH: Finally, there was a post published leading into CEDIA from Julie Jacobson via CEPro on CEDIA changing the name of an integrator to a technologist. When creating content for any of your AV clients what do you prefer to use? Technologist? Installer? Hurgmurfle?
NC: Hmmm, what’s in a name? This is a great question. I haven’t read that article but my immediate thought was if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
I think companies should use the language that their customers understand. Not only that, I think it needs to be clear and straightforward. Customers shouldn’t get lost in industry jargon. That’s sometimes easier said than done (I tried to keep that in mind as I answered these questions, Lol)! Having said that, I’m sure most customers and the contacts we work within our industry are familiar with the terminology and the term “integrator.”
I suppose, the question to consider is: Are new prospects to our industry searching for our products and services online using “integrator” as their term? Have they even heard of the term before or do they know what it is? In my opinion, as an industry, we should be found using the search terms that our prospects are using when they are looking for our services.
Example: A new college graduate starts a position that requires them to research firms to install technology into a new space at their facility. What search terms are they using on Google, Yahoo, and Bing to find out who we are and what we do?
While I’m not a huge fan of the term “technologist,” I’m not opposed to using it if it makes sense, and if it’s a term that resonates with a large enough percentage of our prospects and customers.
Noble built his vision and made a pivot in business with social branding. I did the same when making my pivot from music to AV. During the remainder of #AVMonth join in on the conversation, continue to educate yourself and others and raise awareness for our industry. People aren’t going to find our industry without digging, now it’s time for us to go out and find them. We must be present where there is an audience and in these times the best place to start is online.