Drone technology: Taking your video marketing to new heights

Video content is booming. It’s everywhere. In fact, on YouTube alone, over 500 million hours of videos are watched every single day – and that’s just one platform. The trouble is, the more video content out there, the more challenging it becomes, not only to cut through the clutter, but to be the brand producing video that actually engages, connects and converts.

That’s where the drone comes in – a great piece of tech that has completely changed the video marketing world, forever. At VISUALAB Media, we’ve used drones in many projects and the outcome has been simply amazing. Our goal now, is to get more brands thinking outside the box on ways to use this great piece of tech to take their video marketing strategies to new, more impressive heights.

Wondering what all the fuss is about? Here’s a sample video captured using a drone, and if the content doesn’t speak for itself, we’ve listed just three of the many reasons we love capturing footage with such a great piece of kit.

A fresh, new angle.

New angles, new perspectives, new reactions. That has to be one of our favourite things about the drone. Simply being able to look at a tree, a bridge, or even a car, from a different perspective helps us as an audience to look at the world in a completely different way. And although that sounds kind of cliché, it makes drones a perfect tool for brands wanting to create something completely unique and memorable.

Unlimited potential.

Just by taking a look at some of the footage we’ve shot using drones, you’ll see it would have been near enough impossible to capture such breath-taking aerial footage without allocating a sizeable budget to hire a helicopter.

From runways to open waters, ground footage is now a thing of the past and a restriction we no longer have to worry about – with the right approvals of course. Exciting visuals are what gets us hooked, from panoramic videos of nature to cinematic shots of suburban life – there are no limits.

Originality.

Probably one of the most important reasons, albeit fairly obvious. For your video content to really stand out, consider capturing something your audience is going to be genuinely taken aback by – something they’ve never seen before and are highly unlikely to see anywhere else. Give them an experience to remember, to talk about and to share. That’s the beauty of the drone.

If your business is considering adjusting its video marketing strategy and looking for some pointers, drop us a message over or our contact page or email us at hello@visualab.media!

SEO: Your most common questions, answered

SEO, three letters that send all business owners into a frenzy. But what very few business owners realise is, not a single SEO expert out there knows every little secret behind it – search engines would never give that kind of information away. But what we SEO professionals do know, are the best practices associated with a search engine friendly website and how to boost a website’s ranking by taking advantage of the changing algorithms that search engines are letting us in on.

Common SEO Questions

Unsurprisingly, not a single week goes by without us being asked, “How do I increase my website’s visibility?”, “Is there something I could be doing that will boost my website’s ranking without me spending lots of money?” and “How long will it take for my website to appear on the first page of Google?”.
We thought we’d take some time and answer some of your most common questions right here in our blog.
  1. How do I increase my website’s visibility? First things first, get the foundations right – particularly before you start investing in ongoing SEO management services. Every website needs to tick a whole list of criteria to be considered ‘SEO friendly’. Your website developer and designer should know exactly what’s going to optimise your website and what’s not. If they don’t, our advice would be to seek the expertise of someone that does, because it’ll save you a great deal of time and money in the long term. Things like, image sizes, load speed, alt tags, meta descriptions will all come into the equation here. Once you’ve got the right foundations in place, you’re in a great start to begin working on your ranking. This will involve a great deal of analysis and ongoing monitoring, including your use of keywords, links – even competitor activities.
  2. How long will it take for my website to appear on the first page of Google? The million dollar question. Unlike paid advertising where you’ll witnesses results instantaneously, to grow your website visits organically, you’re looking at a minimum of three months before you start to see a noticeable difference. And to gain that number one spot, you have to earn it. Google needs to see that you’re a genuine site, with genuine visitors. It needs to trust you and see that you’re dedicating your time and effort to continually improve on your website’s user experience. This takes time and you need to remember that you’re not the only business working for that prime position on page one of Google.
  3. Is there something I could be doing that will boost my website’s traffic without me spending lots of money? Generally speaking, there are two parts to SEO, the content side, and the technical side. The most cost effective thing you can begin doing to boost your website’s traffic is to regularly update your website with user-friendly content that’s written with SEO guidelines in mind – perhaps a blog or a news page. Posting this kind of material on a regular basis shows Google that you’re taking the time to evolve your website but it also gives you a better chance of being found on Google when someone searches for keywords that are mentioned in your material. Sharing these blogs via your social media channels will also help to drive further traffic to your website that will, in time, help to increase its ranking.
  4. How much will you charge to get my website to rank #1 on Google? Firstly, if any SEO professional has guaranteed you’ll reach that number 1 spot simply through organic search, they’re mistaken. Not even Google could guarantee this. It’s not realistic to make these promises to clients and instead, we focus on how we’ve helped turn small local businesses into strong nationwide contenders by dramatically increasing their visibility online, regardless of whether they hit that number 1 spot or not. Our packages are based on monthly costs and are priced according to goals, budgets and so forth. They’re also completely customisable and flexible. Simply tell us what you’re looking to achieve from an SEO perspective (realistically) and how much you’re looking to budget. Our focus, and yours, should be predominantly on visitor numbers and conversion rates.

What’s next?

Finding an SEO specialist can feel like a daunting task, particularly when there’s a lot of businesses offering the same services. We’re always open to questions, so feel free to ask us anything that’s preventing you from investing in SEO. Or, for more information on our SEO packages, email us today on hello@visualab.co.uk.

Anamorphic lenses: The secret behind that cinematic look

This year has been a really busy one for us on a video front – we’ve shot everything from adverts and brand videos, right the way through to explainer videos.

But one of our most recent production pieces that we had great fun working on was creating the magical dynamic look for a recent Christmas campaign – all through vintage anamorphic lenses.

Of course, shooting a great video doesn’t just reside on the kit you use, but making the switch from spherical lenses to anamorphic can make the world of difference to the entire look of your film, especially if it’s the ‘cinematic’ look that you’re going for.

For those unfamiliar with this lens type, unlike spherical lenses that don’t affect the image’s aspect ratio, anamorphic lenses will project oval-shaped images, distorting them horizontally to a degree to capture that ultra-wide aspect ratio. They also produce really unique lens flares that again, help create that distinctive, and in our case magical, look.

Using anamorphic lenses as opposed to spherical for a client’s recent festive campaign for example, allowed us to not only make better use of the whole 35mm film frame, but the entire video has that distinctive dream-like look that you’d only expect from a great Christmas advert.

For me, anamorphic lenses are one of my favourite tools for adding greater depth to productions, with subtle out-of-focus areas making every one of our films completely unique in look and feel.

That’s not to say that anamorphic lenses are perfect for every video – sometimes spherical lenses will be more suitable, but if it’s a cinematic look you’re after, watch our latest production and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about!

Bristol Airport’s Christmas Campaign

Marketing support: To outsource or to employ?

There comes a point when every business owner needs to invest in marketing – a brand simply can’t grow without it. But more often than not, that decision is usually followed by the question, “am I better off employing a marketing professional or outsourcing to a marketing agency?” … Of course, as the Founder of a boutique creative studio, you’d expect me to say the latter, wouldn’t you – but you’d be wrong.

My answer in fact would be – it depends. It depends on a whole series of things, like, what your objectives are as a business, what your growth plans are, whether you’re planning to employ a team or an individual, will that individual be highly experienced (and costly) or entry-level (at a basic salary), how much training will they need, do you have the internal resource to oversee them… and so forth.

With so much to consider, only you as the business owner can decide what the best route to take is. But what I can do to help, is list some of the key reasons that my clients in particular, choose to engage with us on a monthly retained basis, as opposed to hiring full-time internal marketing support. So here it goes.

 

1.     Cost effective. 

Many of our clients that come to us for marketing support choose to do so on an ongoing retained basis, for the same cost every month. This gives them their very own account manager, access to our incredibly talented team, and guaranteed support each and every month that’s always pre-agreed. This means our clients know exactly what to expect from us every month, at a price that never changes, unless they themselves decide to adjust their package slightly to suit their budget, objectives and so forth.


2.     A highly skilled team. 

Let’s say you employ an incredibly talented Marketing Director, on a full-time basis, to implement a solid marketing strategy for your business. The likelihood is, they’ll probably lack a lot of the skills needed to actually execute a lot of the work they’ve included in their marketing plan, like video production, for example. Our team, on the other hand, that our clients have complete access to, is made up of copywriters, designers, artists, a production team and so forth – meaning for one cost, our clients get access to every skill-set they could possibly need, including marketing experts who apply strategic thinking.


3.     Industry expertise. 

When working in a creative agency, with so many different business types, from all different sectors, you gain an incredibly advantageous understanding of so many industries – all the way from digital signage through to recruitment. Many of our clients love the fact that we take the time to learn their business, what their brand stands for, as well as their industry, their key competitors and so forth. There are so many industries that our team are proficient in, both B2B and B2C, and even if we’re not, we do our homework to ensure that we become the industry experts that our clients need.


4.     Drive. 

Of course, for any of our clients to continue working with us on a retained basis – we have to deliver results. Without proving ourselves and delivering what we set out to each month, our clients can leave us much easier than they can let go an employee that’s under-delivering. Some might say that gives us a bigger drive to succeed and keep our clients happy, month in, month out.

One last point I always feel the need to make is to not assume that marketing outsourcing is incredibly costly, because in fact, it’s not. Boutique studios, just like ours, offer complete flexibility with retained marketing packages to guarantee a solution that’s beneficial to your brand but one that also fits your budget perfectly.


 

Six essentials for any Christmas content strategy

The build up to Christmas has begun, and for many powerhouse brands – this means their Christmas marketing and advertising efforts are already in full swing. In fact, most big brands that generate substantial sales over the festive period will put so much emphasis on their Christmas campaigns that they often begin planning months earlier – allowing them to maximise sales opportunities during such an influential period. 

Sales vs. Customer Loyalty

Every year, we love seeing the efforts taken by these brands to seize the potential of Christmas in having a real impact on consumer behaviour – from TV ads and social media campaigns, right the way through to digital-out-of-home content. But our absolute favourite campaigns are those that aren’t completely sales obsessed. We’re big fans of the type of campaigns that make us feel all warm and christmassy inside – it’s these campaigns that really stick, boosting customer loyalty and ultimately affecting sales throughout the entire year and not just for Christmas. 

Your go-to list of essentials

Of course, planning content for each of the digital channels will involve a very different approach, but there are a few essential things that are applicable across the board. So, if you haven’t planned a big splash for this year’s festive season, take note of these points or bookmark this page so that you can be better prepared for next year:

  1. Plan in advance – Give yourself enough time to establish all of the fundamentals of your campaign prior to launch, including who your target audience is, what your best channels are, whether you’re going to require the support of an outside creative agency and so forth. There’s a lot that goes into even the smallest of campaigns, so planning early will help to smooth out any bumps along the way. 
  2. It’s not just about sales – There’s just something about the festive season that allows brands to really push the boundaries and have a little more fun than they normally would – all in the hope of building a closer relationship with consumers and being THE brand that outshines the rest. 
  3. Review your last campaign’s performance – There’s just no way to beat last year’s numbers without reviewing them first. See what worked and what didn’t so that you can make more educated decisions this time around. 
  4. Consider your best channels & adapt accordingly – We work with a number of brands to conceptualise and deliver digital campaigns over the Christmas period and what we always encourage them to do, is repurpose the content for a variety of channels. So what may appear on a digital-out-of-home screen, will be cleverly reworked to also be pushed out across social media, in a way that will have the biggest impression. 
  5. Plan your message – So much goes into planning a campaign that sometimes even the simplest of things get forgotten. Choose your message and keep it simple – less is more, as they say! 
  6. Consider personalising content – Particularly powerful if you’re going down the digital-out-of-home route, is personalised content. Viewers love feeling as though they’re being directly spoken to, and this can be done very creatively with a Christmas campaign, making even the humbugs among us get into the Christmas spirit. 

Cost-effective marketing support 

For many marketing teams, whose task lists are already overflowing, seeking external help is often the best and most cost effective option to take, particularly for seasonal campaigns that can be incredibly rewarding – both in terms of revenue and customer loyalty. For inspiration, take a look at the digital Christmas content we created for Bristol Airport’s digital wall, or the Christmas video campaign we also created for their social media channels. Got a campaign you’d like our support with? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at hello@visualab.media or complete the form over on our contact page. 

New business? Here’s your first marketing to-do list

Starting up a brand spanking new business? Well, congratulations on the new venture. Feeling excited? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Either way, we’ll help get you off to a flying start with this handy go-to list – full of all the initial marketing actions you ought to be implementing from the very offset to guarantee your new brand the exposure that it needs.

In-house or external?

Whether you decide to take action yourself, employ an in-house marketer or seek external marketing support, hopefully this list will inform you of all the things your new business should be doing to guarantee that all-important revenue.

  1. Create a brand. Registering a business is one thing. But that business name alone isn’t a brand in itself – you’ll need to consider everything from what your brand visually looks like (i.e. logo, colour scheme, font type), all the way through to what it sounds like when talking to customers (tone of voice). Creating a brand will help your audience to distinguish you from others in your field, and will help to build a strong sense of trust as time goes on.
  2. Get online. No matter what your business does, you’ll need to exist somewhere on the internet – whether you have your very own website or simply setup social media pages for your company. Business type is irrelevant here – local cleaning service or recruitment agency – the first thing many of us do these days when looking for a product or service is head straight to the internet to run a search. Make sure your business is there, ready and waiting for people to find you.
  3. Start talking. Pick up the phone or jump on your email and start spreading the word amongst all of your friends, family members and professional connections. You never know you might need your products or services at some point down the line, or who your existing connections may be able to introduce you to.
  4. Get networking. Networking events are a bit like Marmite and admittedly, they can become a bit of a ‘sell, sell, sell’ platform. Do your research and find a local networking event that people actually recommend and have benefitted from in the past. From our own experiences, these can be a great way to meet new people – both potential customers and partners alike.
  5. Get active on social. The tricky bit about starting a new business is juggling everything, including things like social media. Make sure you dedicate time every day to the world of social media to let your audience know what it is you’re up to, any new products you’ve added to your collection, what your customers are saying about you and so forth. As your following builds, you’ll be surprised at how successful a marketing activity this will be in the long term.
  6. Drive traffic to your website. Simply launching a website and leaving it to bring in leads isn’t going to work. You’ll need to dedicate time to continuously add new content to your website, encourage your social media followers to visit your pages, invest in PPC and so much more – all of which will help to boost your visibility online, all while boosting your ranking as Google starts to build more trust in your website. This takes time – at least 6 months or so to start to witness the results, but you’ll need to keep on top of things or trust someone else to manage this for you.

Talk to us

If, like many of our clients, finding the time to do many of these simple but highly essential marketing tasks has become a bit of a challenge, we’d love to hear from you. We support businesses of all sizes, across a whole range industries, from a marketing perspective and there’s no reason why we couldn’t do the same for you. Email us today on hello@visualab.media.

Bring more digital content to your internal communications strategy

Every business leader in the UK with a workforce under their wing will have a huge interest in employee engagement and productivity trends. We, for one, are always looking for ways to enhance our engagement levels even further – mostly by streamlining communications and transparency within our business which is hugely important for teams like us, that aren’t always working in the same office, day in, day out.

From a UK standpoint, Britain’s employee engagement levels have been put to shame these past few years by our European competitors, which of course has had a knock-on effect in terms of our productivity. And while performance levels have started to increase ever so slightly – we’re still miles behind where we could be as a nation. But why?

Recent studies have shown that UK employees believe a lack of gratitude and recognition shown by their employer is the biggest issue affecting levels of productivity right now. Interestingly, the same study revealed that a large factor of our slow productivity growth is due to our hesitation in adopting newly available technologies that are primarily designed to overcome many of these same issues raised by employees. So, what needs to happen? We think digital content has a big role to play here, but the general lack of awareness of the capabilities of digital for internal communications is surprising – something we at VISUALAB Media hope to change!

We’ve done and continue to do a lot of work in the corporate space. Much of the corporate work we do at VISUALAB we’re unable to talk about directly for obvious reasons, but what I can say is that from a digital content perspective, the impact on employee engagement levels has been transformational.

As an example, a recent project we’ve been heavily involved in is the production and deployment of internal video. Just like with video aimed at consumers, internally this is a powerful tool not only for knowledge transfer, but for strengthening employer branding and celebrating great achievements. We’ve helped to produce a series of internal videos for one brand in particular, and the response among employees has been inspirational – with many now feeling hugely motivated and empowered with the right information.

Of course, it doesn’t stop at video – digital signage is our forte and so we often work with our technology partners to integrate digital internal communications solutions within businesses of all shapes and sizes, up and down the country. One thing we’re committed to, is bringing more life to digital signage content – moving away from ‘digital wallpaper’, to something far more creative and inspiring. Again, digital signage is a great tool for highlighting company news, making announcements, celebrating employees and generally boosting morale, and can easily be kept fresh and constantly engaging by the integration ‘live’ content.

There are so many ways that digital content is helping to turn the issue of employee engagement and productivity on its head – we just hope to see more businesses overcoming their resistance to digital and be more willing to integrate this type of content into their internal communication strategies going forward.

AV Supplier? Consider offering digital content as a value-added service…

If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering why on earth as an audio-visual solutions supplier, you’d even think about offering digital content services to your clients. Are we right?

If you’re curious as to how that could possibly benefit your business, you’d probably be surprised to learn that this model has proven to be huge success for technology providers over recent years and is well worth considering – if you haven’t done so already.

A ‘content-first’ industry 

As far as digital signage goes – the industry has largely become a ‘content-first- industry. By this we mean what’s on the screen has become far more important than the physical screen itself. That’s not to undermine technology in any way, but every digital output has a role to play and a purpose to fill, and it’s the digital content on show that has the power to make any install win or lose.

It’s for that exact reason, that so many brands are now approaching full-service providers that can deliver on more than one aspect of a digital solution – and in particular, creative content.

Broaden your offering

Since VISUALAB Media’s launch, we’ve built a business model that allows us to work both directly with clients but also alongside our trusted partners – many of which happen to be specialists in the AV industry.

By adding our creative capabilities to their existing technology offering to clients, our partners are able to deliver on several pieces of the puzzle. This makies life far simpler for their clients, but also adds an additional revenue stream to their own business model.

Move away from referrals  

How many times for example, has an LED screen provider been asked by a client to recommend a reputable digital content provider? The answer’s probably, a lot. Imagine bringing that referral under your own umbrella.

Adding this value-added service to your already unique offering could help to attract additional clients, across more verticals – ultimately placing you at the forefront of the industry. Interested in partnering with us? We’d love to hear from you. Email us via our contact page!

Digital signage implementation: Three go-to rules

While digital content production is our forte, you might also be surprised to learn that as tech enthusiasts, our team is well versed in the do’s and don’ts of digital signage implementation. 

As a costly investment that is guaranteed to transform communications when implemented well, digital signage can be hugely influential – from a marketing perspective, or even for internal communications. That being said, many times over we’ve seen less effective implementations of digital signage that have been more detrimental than transformational – not to mention a financial setback. 

Luckily, we’ve worked in the world of digital signage for over a decade, allowing us to provide our clients with valuable advice that has allowed them to bring digital signage concepts to life – with complete success. And luckily for you – we’ve decided to share just some of our best pieces of advice. 

Three pieces of advice

Tip 1. Start with a thorough plan. Knowing exactly what it is you’re setting out to do, before you actually do it, is our first rule! This will help you to establish so many fundamentals, from placement and equipment, through to system maintenance and content management. Make a long-term plan, because the initial implementation is only the beginning – digital signage is a long-term investment that needs ongoing concentration, particularly from a content perspective. 

Tip 2. Choose a CMS that’s versatile. Yes, digital signage can be a costly communications tool to implement, but the initial cost can easily be returned – if the solution itself is strong enough. We encourage clients to think of their long-term communication needs. For example, is your business planning on expanding? In which case you’d probably want to consider a CMS that’s scalable, alongside your business. Will you be looking to implement the solution in other areas of the business later down the line? You’d want to make sure your solution is flexible enough to do that. Or what about content scheduling? All of these things will need to be considered prior to selecting your platform. 

Tip 3. Test, test and test again. There’s nothing worse than a go-live that goes wrong. We highly recommend testing the mechanics of the solution over and over, prior to the solution’s launch. This includes your content. All technologies and pieces of digital content have their hiccups, so its often wise to resolve these in good time, so that their’s no nasty surprises on the day. 

Let us help

If you’re thinking of implementing a digital signage solution within your business, whether internally or externally, we’d love to help. Email us today with an overview of your project at hello@visualab.media and we’ll be sure to get back to you with some helpful pieces of advice. 

Twitter Promote Mode vs organic growth – Which is better? 

Twitter Promote Mode, for those unfamiliar with the term, was introduced by Twitter almost a year ago as the channel’s first ever subscription ad service – designed to bring simplicity to paid social media advertising. But has it proven to be a success or is organic growth still the winner here? 

What is Twitter Promote Mode? 

The overall purpose of Twitter Promote Mode, is to help businesses (and individuals for that matter) grow their Twitter Following by automatically promoting tweets and profiles – for a flat fee of $99 a month.

The beauty of this subscription service is that there’s nothing to manage – perfect for a small business with little marketing resources. So, for this fixed monthly cost, brands have the freedom to tweet as normal, while Twitter takes care of selecting which posts to promote – alongside the business’ profile. 

What does the Twitter subscription ad service promise? 

Those looking to take advantage of this not so new subscription ad service are said, by Twitter, to gain an average of 30 new followers a month – in addition to reaching over 30,000 additional people. Now, that’s quite a substantial reach – but is $99 a month, for 30 new followers, an investment worth making? Or can this be achieved organically? 

Organic Twitter growth

We believe, that with a great social media strategy, imaginative content creation and persistent campaign management – brands can witness a substantial increase in Twitter followers, month on month – with no paid advertising necessary. 

While paid advertising can be a great way to boost numbers and spread the word to a wider audience, it doesn’t always guarantee quality, genuine followers – and that to us, proves to be a waste of both time and money. Organic growth, on the other-hand, is more of a slow and steady approach to building followers, but guarantees quality brand advocates that are ready and waiting for what your brand has to share in the social domain. 

Managing a brand’s social media channels can be a tricky task on top of everything else that needs to be handled. If you’re considering outsourcing your online marketing, we’d love to hear from you!