Months of hard work. You’ve developed a product that you’re proud of. One you’re sure that your audience will love.
A campaign has been carefully crafted. Hopes are high. You launch…
No one is buying your product. No one is even talking about your brand.
Instead of striking gold, you’ve stumbled upon indifference and apathy.
Yep, the apathetic buyer is a tough nut to crack. But as this article will show, not impossible with the right approach.
The problem of apathy
As marketers, we need to create a connection with our audience. We want to create products, services and content that resonates with them. Inspires them. Helps them to imagine a better version of the future, themselves and/or their business.
In a sense, we want to create desire inside of them. A fire that leads them to take the action that we want them to take and that also benefits them.
We want them to care.
But apathy is like pouring ice water over any potential fire. When someone is feeling indifferent or apathetic towards your offering, you have no chance of them engaging.
It’s not that they’ll hate or dislike your brand – it’s much worse than that.
It’s a “meh”.
So what do we do when we are faced with apathy?
An obvious approach might be to shout louder, hammer home the message, use fear and scarcity to kick them into action.
But how do you feel when a company uses this approach to market to you?
Yep – that’s right. Try to beat people over the head with your message and you’ll really push them away.
So what’s the answer?
Well, before we look at strategies and how we can use video marketing to help overcome this problem, we need to first consider the psychology behind apathy – which leads us to the need to understand how our brains are wired and how we process threats.
Our brains and apathy
When we create products or services, they’re created to solve a problem or fulfil a desire for our audience.
A video marketing agency exists to help clients grow their brand and increase sales. Accountants deliver peace of mind, delivering compliance with the tax authorities so you don’t need to worry. A yoga brand enables you to feel good about practicing yoga – looking the part and feeling part of the tribe.
We’re all trying to solve problems or fulfil desires for our customers.
Which should be a recipe for repeated success, right?
Well, it’s not that simple because depending on the nature of the issue we’re solving, our brains will react differently to it. Meaning, it changes our relationship to that brand and their offering.
If the potential customer doesn’t think that they have an issue in the first place (i.e. there’s no pain or desire), or if it’s an abstract issue (i.e. something that might challenge them in the future) then you’re going to have to be extra smart with your marketing to engage them.
Our brains are not wired to respond to slow moving or abstract threats. Also, we have an “optimism-bias” that leads us to believe that things will be fine.
For example, global warming is a big problem. But even though the threat is very real and it could wipe out humanity, it’s slow moving and abstract.
There’s no immediate pain, so it isn’t top of mind as much as perhaps it should be.
It’s not here and now.
Contrast this to our reaction if we get a small cut on our finger. We’ll rush to take action; running it under the tap or finding a plaster. Immediate pain = immediate action.
See the disparity in our reactions?
Our response has less to do with the objective severity of the threat and more to do with our perception of it i.e. how “close” and real we believe it to be.
Our tendency is to limit our thinking to what our senses provide so in the moment we lack perspective and consequential thinking.
What we need, in terms of a broad approach, is to encourage deeper and wider perspectives.
We need to guide our audience to look at the overall context of the situation not just what is immediately before them.
This can include helping an audience to imagine how things might play out over time. And how issues that are not apparent right now might suddenly become significant in the future.
The strategy to overcome apathy
So how do we go about encouraging consequential thinking in our audience to the degree that they take action?
The answer to this lies in thinking about threats as “embodied” vs “disembodied”.
Let’s zoom out for a second and think about the threat of terrorism. This could be thought of as abstract because the chances of us running into a terrorist are slim.
But responses relating to terrorism are often far more intense than that of the existential threat of global warming.
This is because we’ve seen “evidence” of terrorism. It’s often reported on the news and social media – we’ve seen videos, often shocking.
Plus, crucially, there are individuals and groups that personify the concept of terrorism.
This transforms the disembodied and abstract threat into an embodied one – making it human and real – so therefore, we respond to that in kind.
Let’s delineate the transformation we’re looking to engineer:
Take a disembodied and abstract threat and use evidence (i.e. content that our audience experiences) and personification communicated regularly. Thus transforming the threat to something more real, making people respond in kind.
Let’s use the less dramatic example of pet insurance.
Here we will also switch terms; we’ll lose the word “threat” and replace it with “consequences” – far more conducive to this context (and very likely to yours, whatever that may be).
When we buy insurance we’re guarding against something that might happen in the future. It’s not an immediate consequence if we don’t buy.
Therefore we will take it less seriously than something with more immediate consequences (i.e. “I feel hungry, I need a sandwich”). Our optimism bias, in these cases, leads us to think that things will work out fine without any intervention.
This means that there will be more pain attached to the thought of buying pet insurance than pleasure.
We need to switch these two driving emotions around if we want to grow our brand.
So, in this situation we’d need a campaign that took the consequences of a beloved pet falling ill from being abstract and disembodied – to something more real and embodied.
Why a campaign?
Simply because the messaging would need to be built over time, on the channels where your audience are, with certain elements being repeated.
Sure, repeated in different, subtle ways, but repetition is key to changing attitudes and beliefs (which, if we’re in marketing, is what we’re in the business of).
We need to be real and genuine. Not be over the top. Using fear and violin music to worry the viewer is not what we want to do for many reasons. We want to create an authentic story to craft our campaign around.
We need our audience to attach more pleasure to buying pet insurance than pain.
That’s the fundamental key. Pleasure over pain, when it comes to them buying.
If they’re apathetic, they think there’s more pain in relation to buying than if they save their money.
Our job is to reverse that.
Fortunately, video is an amazing tool to do this. Let’s drill down further now to look at some best practices when structuring such a video campaign.
Using Video to overcome apathy
Now that we understand why audiences become apathetic, and the broad strategy to overcome and reverse this, let’s look at some ideas to craft videos that can make a difference.
Forget the kind of camera you need, special effects or other such elements. The most important thing that will capture the imagination of your audience is the content itself.
We need to start with story.
How do we create the right story for your needs?
We do this by answering key questions that will help you to identify the most important building blocks of your narrative.
Here are some to get you started:
Question: If your audience doesn’t invest in your product/service, what are the consequences of this?
Don’t go all dramatic – be realistic, be authentic. It’s important to be relatable here – statistics are not persuasive, but a relatable story is. Help them to imagine the consequences.
Question: What benefits will they miss out on?
This could be peace of mind, financial return etc. Essentially what you’re looking to define here is the better version of themselves/the future that your product or service helps to create.
Question: If your product/service combats a disembodied threat, how can this be embodied in a way that is likely to resonate with them and be memorable?
Again, you must keep this relatable. Truly knowing your audience has never been so important.
The Campaign Canvas
Think of a campaign as your entire canvas. The picture that you paint will come together to form a full image, made up of many elements.
Understanding this will prevent you from making a long video. This is a rookie error. Brevity is beautiful.
I can’t tell you how many videos I’ve seen that are ruined because there are too many ideas – too much info. You end up with a 5 minute video that turns people off.
Exactly the opposite of what we’re trying to do!
Because you have an entire campaign canvas, plus a website, plus social channels, you have all the space you need to say everything you could possibly want to say.
But you need the presence of mind and discipline of practice to structure your story in the right way.
Furthermore, concise videos are better to leave your audience wanting more.
Also, if you’re working with an apathetic audience, you don’t yet have a strong relationship, so asking them to watching a lengthy video won’t work.
Create content and videos that are native to where they are. Make it easy and inviting for them to consume. Then connect all of these separate elements with your story.
The fundamental issue behind apathy and indifference towards your brand is that your audience don’t think you’re solving an important enough issue for them.
They either don’t think the issue itself is important enough to warrant your offering, or they don’t believe that your product or service is the answer to that particular issue.
In either case you have work to do.
Video is such a powerful tool for influencing beliefs and stirring emotions. It’s the most human and persuasive medium we have when executed well, so well worth making the investment in.