Nailing It 23: Ben Amos - Stephanie Campanella

Nailing It 23: Ben Amos

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Stephanie Campanella
August 21st 2019

 

Steph:

Good day, welcome back to the Nailing It podcast. And today, I have Ben Amos with me. His business goal is to get business owners to stop using video just for the sake of it. So, stop creating boring noise that is just injecting into the marketplace that you may have actually done yourself. Ben wants you to use video so that it can align with your business goals, and actually return an investment. There we are. Good day, Ben.

 

Ben Amos:

Good day, Steph. Thanks for having me.

 

Steph:

No worries. Welcome to the podcast. We love diving into niches here, and my belief is that every single business owner, if they really want to get lead gen just flowing in, then they should be at least picking a niche, or picking a square of the market, a corner of the market, so that they can inject themselves into it. So, we’ll be diving in a little bit into your niche here. Do you want to give us some background? You’ve been doing this for 10 years. Give us a bit of your story and where you’ve come from, and where you’re off to.

 

Ben Amos:

Sure. I mean, without going all the way back to when I was a little boy, but I will go a little bit there, because, when I was a little boy, I was massively engaged and excited by my dad’s big old VHS video camera. So, right from the early days, my dad had a video camera in his hands just for home videos, and I was just fascinated by this thing called video, and ended up making home videos, and doing a lot of video content on VHS, and things like that, back when I was a boy. And, that basically led me on a path that eventually, I became a high school teacher here in Australia. And I used to teach film and media, film and television, and drama as well. And that developed in me, I guess, a passion for the theory, and for the academic side behind video creation. But I wanted to actually just do it. So, after about seven years of teaching in high schools, left that behind me, and moved on to starting my own video production company. And, cut a long story short, after about five or six years of creating video content for small businesses around Southeast Queensland where we’re based here, I started to see a real gap. I started to see a real problem in the way that the content that we were creating for businesses was actually being used.

 

Ben Amos:

So, we were creating a video for a business, and they were coming to us and saying, “Hey, we want to make a video that does this, or says this, or is like that one we’ve seen over there that the other business is using.” And we’d go, “Cool. I could make that video. I’ve got cameras and editing equipment.” So, I’d make that video, they would love it, we would love it, we’d get patted on the back, we’d hand over the video, and they wouldn’t have a clue what to do with that video. So, at this time, YouTube was starting to become a thing, but most of the businesses that we were handing the videos over to, just didn’t know what to do with it. They wanted to put them online somewhere, or use them on their website. So, what needlessly happened was, they would just stick it up on YouTube and hope that people would find it. And, in one particular example of business had spent about $5,000 on a video for us, which was no small investment for a small business. They’d loved the video, they didn’t feel that the video wasn’t right, but they stuck it up on YouTube, and six months later, I checked on it, and it had 34 views. Now, that does not return on that investment.

 

Ben Amos:

So, I started to realize that I needed to do better for our clients. I was a video producer, but I needed to understand the marketing strategy behind using video effectively online, and that really kicked off the journey for the last five years that I’ve been on, of transitioning into video strategy first, with what we do with our clients. And now I’m niching down into working with other video producers, like I was, five years ago, to teach them video strategy, as well as working with business clients all around Australia, on actually doing more strategic online videos. So, that’s the long and the short of it, the backstory.

 

Steph:

So, video strategy, you’re telling me there’s a big difference between a person who has got some gear, and they’ve jumped into the freelance world, and they’re going to start shooting, and they’re like, “I’m going to do some real estate video, and I’m going to help real estate agents get more video to their business.” Now, that’s one element there, but then, you’re really talking about the strategy behind actually getting with those real estate agents and actually building a strategy for them, yeah?

 

Ben Amos:

Yeah, absolutely. And there’s a couple of critical things at play here in the way that we do business today. And, the reality … What you’re talking about there is the democratization of video creation, the idea that anybody can pick up a piece of equipment, their iPhone, for example, or a DSLR camera, and create high quality video content. So, the barrier to entry for our profession as video producers is gone.

 

Steph:

It’s tiny.

 

Ben Amos:

It’s basically … There’s nothing stopping … Or, in fact, there is a guy down the road from us, I don’t really know him very well, but I’ve seen him popping up around the place, who has a red video camera. So, a red camera is this high end cinema Camera. It costs $20,000. And, I’m surprised, he’s got his beautiful camera, but that is not what business owners want. That’s what video production companies are saying that they can do, is to create high quality video content. But, the quality of the video doesn’t matter. What matters is the quality of the results that that video gets. 

 

Steph:

Ben, tell me about video strategy, and the difference between doing video and just having a camera, and then someone who actually can get into the strategy, and give you the real ROI.

 

Ben Amos:

Look, what you’re talking about there is really … It’s all based on the way that we do business today. And I think for so many businesses out there, they’re starting to see, or they’re definitely seeing how valuable and important video is, because you go on any social platform, you go anywhere online, and video is out there. So, businesses are starting to recognize they need video content. So what they end up doing is going to someone who can make video content, or creating video content themselves, and what they’re really doing there is, video for the sake of doing video. Because, marketing people like us say, “You need to do video. Video’s where it’s at.” Great. So they go, “Well, I’ll go and make a video.” So, the thought process tends to be with business owners, which I call … It’s a form led approach. So, video being the format.

 

So, what goes through their mind is normally something like, “We need to do video. We’re right. What do we do a video about? Cool, let’s go and, either do it ourselves, or pay someone to make that video for us. Cool. We’ve got a video. Now what do we do? Well, we stick it up online somewhere.” And then, they count how many views they’ve got, and everybody pats themselves on the back, and away they go. That’s the long and the short of it. However, from a strategy led perspective, which is the way I feel that businesses should be approaching this, the mindset changes. Now, they need to be thinking, “What do I need to improve in my business?” In order to take my business to the next level, or improve something in my business, identify what that is. And then, if video is the right way to improve that in the business, then you define the technical and creative approach to make that happen. So, it’s just a mindset shift between thinking first about the strategy, rather than just the format of using video. Does that make sense?

 

Steph:

Yeah, totally. I’m just having a bit of a flashback. I had Greg Kohan on the podcast not long ago, and he’s a video guy over in the States, lovely guy. And, a little bit of what he was saying there, too, is echoing yourself. Hey things he was saying is, anyone can actually do video, but there’s the whole storytelling and strategy behind it. And you’re really talking about ROI, which is awesome, because that’s why you would do video in the first place. And we spoke about how, your about page, you might have your about page, and it’s all written there, but what you could actually add is a video for your about page, so that someone could also watch that content. And then, you’ve just come up and said, “Well, that’s great. You need more leads.” And then you’re thinking, “Well, let’s do it with video.” But it’s not just as easy as that. You want to make sure you identify the messaging that’s missing, and then the form in video there, and then how you would attack that strategically.

 

Ben Amos:

Yeah, I mean, critically, video is just a format of communication. At the end of the day, our goal as business owners, or marketers, or basically, in trying to move people towards a sale, which is ultimately what we want to do in business, our goal is to simply transfer information from us to them. And hopefully, that information is going to encourage someone to take the action that you want them to take. Now, video just happens to be, right now, one of the most effective ways to transfer that information in a humanized and relatable way, which is the way people want to engage. So, right now, video is the way that people want to consume that. But it’s how you use that messaging, like the guest that you’ve had on before there, ensuring that the messaging is right, and it’s aligned to the goal that you want someone to actually take when they engage with that video. That’s what it’s all about. And that’s really what set the foundation of a good video strategy, is just doing video intentionally, that’s aligned to business goals, and aligned critically to the customer.

 

Ben Amos:

So, at the end of the day, it’s not about you as a business and what you want to achieve, it’s about, how can your business help your audience, or your customer achieve what they want to achieve? And that’s the way we need to be approaching things.

 

Steph:

I was doing a little research on you last week, and on one of your podcast episodes, you talked about being the hero. So, everyone wants to be the hero in their content. And you’re like, “No, stop.” Tell me a little bit about that, or tell the audience a little bit about that.

 

Ben Amos:

I mean, storytelling is, as you mentioned before, is a huge part of video, and engaging people with video. And when it comes to telling stories, people understand that you need a character, you need characters within a story. And, when it comes to telling a brand’s story, or communicating a brand story, we need to identify who some of those key characters are, in order to create a relatable and engaging story. And, when it comes to brands, it becomes a little bit trickier for people to wrap their heads around, because they’re like, “Well, our goal as a company is to grow our company and to increase sales,” and all of that sort of stuff.” And that’s inward focused. But the reality is, that your customers, your audience, the people that you want to engage towards action and sales, basically, they’re living their own journey. So, when it comes to brand storytelling, critically, you, your brand, you’re not the hero of your story. Your customers are the hero of your story.

 

Ben Amos:

So, your customers are opening their eyes every day and looking at the world through their own camera. They’re living out their own life. And, you want to be, through your brand storytelling, positioning your brand as the guide or the mentor that helps them achieve some sort of outcome in their life. Because that is what people are going to resonate and relate with. And, when it comes to using video to do this, it’s that subtle shift between creating content for an audience versus creating content for yourself as a brand or a business.

 

Steph:

And I think there’s probably an error there that, in most people, even in all forms of marketing, they quite often just talk about themselves first, or they would post about themselves, or create imagery about themselves, and, “Hey, we do this, and we’re …” But they just never think that, “What’s the problem that we’re solving for our customer, and how can that be more centric inside our marketing there?”

 

Ben Amos:

Yeah, absolutely. And I think, what’s at the heart of this, is most businesses just aren’t really clear on who that customer is.

 

Steph:

They have no idea.

 

Ben Amos:

I know right. And, it’s not easy as well. I’ve worked with a lot of businesses on unpacking their brand story in order to tell their brand story on video, and that’s where our conversation starts as well, “Who’s your audience? Who’s your customers? Who do you sell to?” And they often have very clear ideas around demographics of an age range. They’re 25 to 35 year old females who live in this area, and they’re interested in this kind of thing or something.

 

Steph:

Sounds like a great Facebook audience.

 

Ben Amos:

Right. Exactly. I think every business has that demographic understanding of who their audience is, but if you want to engage that audience emotionally, which is where the journey starts, where the journey to buy starts with emotion. So, your customers, your audience, the people who you want to influence in order to buy your product or service, they start that decision making journey from an emotional realization, or an emotional trigger. So, when it comes to video strategy, we know we need to connect on an emotional level, first, with those people. We can’t connect emotionally with our audience, if we don’t understand what’s going through their heads. And understanding your audience as being a 25 to 35 year old female who lives in a certain geographical area, is not getting into their heads.

 

Ben Amos:

So, I’m sure people have heard about this idea of developing a clear customer avatar, and we don’t probably need to go into that today, but that’s why that is so important, because you understand emotionally, how you can talk to them in a way that resonates with them. And that is what’s going to create content that works.

 

Steph:

Amazing. I’m pretty sure we’ve done some avatar stuff, not a particular podcast, but I think I might make a note of that, and make sure we record an episode on it.

 

Ben Amos:

We could.

 

Steph:

Getting back to you and your experiences, has there been an experience or job that you’ve taken on where you’ve had a character or a client that has frozen, or has come to life? Is there a particular story that is just the pinnacle of like, “Oh, my God, this is why I got into this, because I love it so much?” Is there a particular story that you want to share with us?

 

Ben: 

There’s a particular client that we’ve worked with who has been producing videos for a while now for their property management company. So, pretty standard bricks and mortar business as a property manager. Now, they have expertise within that field, and through the video work that we’ve done with her and her business, we’ve done a number of things where we’ve created her brand story, where we’ve told her brand story through video, which is more of a storytelling, emotional kind of a video, to really position her brand within her marketplace. The benefit of telling a brand story through video is that, you want to get people to buy in to you, before you ask them to buy from you. Does that make sense? 

 

Steph:

Perfectly put.

 

Ben Amos:

…everybody is very nervous when you stick a camera in front of them, and try and coax their story out of them. And the way that we do that is obviously, keeping in mind that they’re not the hero, that it’s about unpacking, what is it about them and their background, and their story, and their history, or their big why behind what they do in their business that leads to a better experience, better results for their customers, their clients. That’s what it’s all about. So, it’s very nerve wracking experience for these people. And, for this particular client, she was super nervous about telling her story, but she had trust in us as producers, as storytellers, and what we were doing. And, basically, we produce the video for her. She loved it, which is awesome. That’s what we love to have. But, as she put the video out there … She was very early on in her property management journey in her own business. So, she had worked as a property manager for other brands, but she’d started her own business, and this was her planting her flag in the soil and saying, “This is what we stand for in this business.”

 

Ben Amos:

And, it just blew her away, and her feedback to us over the coming year of sharing that video … Because that kind of video has long legs where you can use it for a while, in various ways. The feedback was that, her business just skyrocketed because people were coming to her, because they felt they’re in the right place. 

 

Well, the price or any of that rational stuff, which most people make decisions to buy based on that. But the reality is that, people are making decisions to buy based on emotion, like we talked about before. But, creating a brand story and showing, in reality, it’s a bit of vulnerability. So, putting a bit of vulnerability in your story there, which is a necessity in order to tell a compelling and engaging story, even if it is a brand story. By doing that, and putting that out there, people get attracted to … They come to you, and they come to your brand or business, because they feel like that person just gets me, or I just understand where they’re coming from. And that’s not easy. So, I don’t know if I answered your question there, but that’s an example of the benefit of using video with a strategy there, to put yourself out there in the right way, hence, it equal in business growth.

 

Ben Amos:

That was probably about five years ago that we created that first brand story for her. She’s since created a bunch of other videos within her strategy, down through education, how-to type videos, through to sales and conversion type videos, which is based along the full video funnel that I talk about, which we can dive into if you like. But, she’s also come back and redone her brand story video three years later, because her brand had exploded and changed.

 

Steph:

They’ve grown.

 

Ben Amos:

They’ve changed a bit. And now, that’s taking her to the next level. So, it’s that fear of vulnerability, but if you can get over that fear of vulnerability and put yourself out there, then people start to come to you to pick you out, and they want to be your customers throughout, which is so much different than shouting your advertising message through TV advertising, for example.

 

Steph:

You’ve dropped an absolute bomb there. Although video might be super scary, putting yourself out there and just being yourself, and just turning up as yourself, and telling a bit of what you do, that is going to attract the best kind of customers. So, rather than doing that usual slap like, I don’t know, 10% off and discount, oh, my God, all this price stuff, just throw that out, and really just focus on, “This is me. This is what I do, this is how I work. Here’s me on video.” As daunting as that sounds, but it actually really helps tell the story and really puts you forward.

 

Ben Amos:

My friend and mentor Chris Ducker from Youpreneur.

 

Steph:

Love him.

 

Ben Amos:

He talks about marketing like a magnet. You attract the best, and you repel the rest.

 

Steph:

I freaking’ love that saying. Cool. Has there been any point where you pick this niche, and you’re moving down this path, has there been a point where you’re wanting to throw the rope over, and just like, “Oh, my God, help. I don’t think this is right for me.” have you ever thought about throwing the niche out and going back to sort of more vanilla marketing pieces?

 

Ben Amos:

Yeah, I mean, not so much. I think, for me, I’ve just got so much conviction about not doing video for the sake of doing video, so much so, that I’m now focused on helping other video producers come to that same realization. So, that niche that I’ve worked down is not something that I’ve really thought about changing. I mean, what does come up for me is the struggle in communicating the value of what we do, because it’s new territory for a lot of businesses. So, businesses within my core agency, where we actually help businesses tell their story, and communicate their message through video strategically, they’re coming to us with a traditional video production company mindset. It’s just because they don’t understand what a video strategy agency is all about, despite me trying to educate them and stuff like that. So, basically, that’s what I’m fighting against, is that idea of when you’re putting yourself out there as a video strategy agency, people are like, “Well, I don’t really get what that is. I just want you to make a video for us.”

 

Ben Amos:

So, I have to change the conversation for them, and help them understand that, you don’t just want a video for the sake of doing video, let’s talk about the strategy. Often, they do come around, but sometimes we do get pushback, and say.

Steph:

Can you just make the video… Come on.

 

Ben Amos:

And, depending on the client and the project, sometimes we’ll just make the video.

 

Steph:

Whatever.

 

Ben Amos:

Though, that’s probably the only kind of pushback in the niche. But, look, I think, certainly it’s not a matter of considering throwing out the niche going back to just being a video production company, and just doing what we’re told. I’m not good at doing what I’m told.

 

Steph:

That’s why you’re running a business, right?

 

Ben Amos:

That’s right.

 

Steph:

Let’s talk habits. Are you use someone like, Excel document, checklist, to-do list kind of guy? Are you that kind of business owner?

 

Ben Amos:

Oh, I mean, if I could think about the amount of productivity hacks and things that I’ve tried over the years and failed at within a day, sometimes, I would be … There’s countless. I’m very flighty, and very disorganized. But I’m getting better. I’ve certainly … When it comes to habits, there’s certainly certain things that have stuck, which drive the business forward. For me, it’s mostly about surrounding myself with the right people to help. I think, I suffer from that entrepreneurial squirrel syndrome, where, shiny object kind of thing. And, I’m looking at the big picture all the time. So, when it comes to the minutiae, I suck at that. So, there’s certain things that I’ve done around me, whether it be people, or whether it be some structure based things to help me focus on the minutiae when I need to. Because I don’t yet have a big enough team around me that I don’t need to focus on the little stuff.

 

Steph:

Right. Right. Cool. In our little checklist here, you gave me three habits. I’ll read them out, and I’ll get you to expand on them. Your three habits that have that are attributed to your success is, one, always be learning, two, kindness wins, and three, provide value whenever possible. Do you remember writing those down?

 

Ben Amos:

I do, because I wrote down about 10 minutes before we get on the we got on this call definitely. … Though …

 

Ben Amos:

Yeah, look, I mean, that first one is really the foundation of everything that I do within my own business as well, which is the idea that value in a growth mindset, and the idea of always being open to new ideas. And, I’m fortunate to be deep in a space, which is always changing. The online video world, and the marketing world, digital marketing, is always changing. So, I have to always be learning, and I love that. And so that’s a cool habit, which is helped me grow, but also helped me become more confident in the work that I do with our clients. Because, if there’s something that I need to know, I go out there, and I figure it out. So, I think that’s it. That’s an important habit to have that, not just being stuck in the way that you’ve always done things and being afraid to try new things. So, always be learning is …

 

Steph:

Not A, B, C, not always be closing … ABL, always be learning.

 

Ben Amos:

ABL, always be learning. I like that. The second habit there that I wrote down was the idea of kindness, kindness wins. I believe in business, it should be such a relationship driven thing, whether it be online business or offline face to face business. Kindness wins, because … And the reason why I focus in on kindness is that, kindness is about putting other people before yourself, primarily. And in business, and in marketing, like we’ve talked about already, if we’re putting the audience first, if we’re putting the people who we want to influence and help at the forefront of our mind in business, then we’re going to win. We’re going to be making the right decisions, making the right calls, communicating in the right way. And, I think that’s equally true in life as well. If you’re focused on, in any conversation, “How can I help this person? What do they need in order to make their life better right now, and wherever I can, I try and work out ways to do that?” Sometimes I’m not as good at that as I probably want to be, but I think that’s a key habit that I try and keep at the forefront of my mind around just focusing on kindness.

 

Ben Amos:

And then, that probably ties into to the third habit there, which is the idea of giving value first. So, the way that we market within my business, any kind of marketing that we do is about education. And that ties into the fact, like I talked about before, of people not really understanding this whole world of video strategy. But it’s why I do things like podcasts, why I do my own podcast. It’s about, “How can I provide value to the marketplace, to the world?” And then, the law of reciprocity … I mean, I don’t believe in that whoo, whoo, kind of stuff, but there is this idea of, if you give more value than you asked for in return, then, it’s going to come back to you. And I strongly believe that, whether there’s a whoo, whoo thing in that or not. 

 

Steph:

Maybe just a slight one.

 

Ben Amos:

Maybe there’s a slight bit of whoo, maybe just a whoo.

 

Steph:

Whoo.

 

Ben Amos:

Whoo.

 

Steph:

Whoo.

 

Ben Amos:

But, look, I just strongly believe that in business and in life, always give value, and I guess that ties into the other things as well.

 

Steph:

Yes, sir. What was the hardest thing about being a business owner?

 

Ben Amos:

The hardest thing about being a business owner is, I think … And it ties into the best thing about being a business owner, which is the idea that you own it. You own the wins, and you own the losses. So, you can have … And I’m sure listeners who own their own business understand this that, you can have this almost in the same day, sometimes, there’s highest of the highest, and then the lowest of the lows, and you’ve got to own it all. You can’t just drop it and leave it, and say, “Well, I don’t care about….

 

Steph:

….It’s someone else’s…

 

Ben Amos:

…Exactly. I think that’s the hardest thing for me, is that it’s on me. The successes and the losses are on me. But also that’s the best thing. When you have success, and you look back over 10 years in business, and you go, “Hell, look at where I’ve come.”

 

Steph:

Exactly. You did it.

 

Ben Amos:

That’s it.

 

Steph:

Sweet. Tell me about your your foundations. You got some videos that people can jump into and learn a bit more about you. There’s a little series there you’ve got?

 

Ben Amos:

Absolutely. So, I call this the Engage Video Marketing foundations course. It’s a basically, a mini three part video series, which is designed to help business owners understand the foundations to effective video marketing. So, for business owners out there, or a marketer who is listening, and they’re like, “We’ve done a bit of video, we’ve thought about doing video, but we’re not really sure if we’re doing this particularly strategically. We haven’t really got a plan for what we’re doing here.” And that’s the purpose of foundations, is to help you identify what an effective video marketing plan would look like for your business, and then you can go off and start implementing. So, it’s a free course. Anyone can jump in on that at engagevideomarketing.com/foundations.

 

Steph:

Cool. All right. I’ll make sure I drop that link into the show notes. Sweet. I mean, is there anything else that the audience needs to know before we wrap here?

 

Ben Amos:

Yeah, look, I mean, the only thing I’ll throw out there is a quick plug for my own podcast, which is the Engage Video Marketing podcast. Thanks, Steph.

 

Steph:

Hell.

 

Ben Amos:

And I’ll have to get you on one day as well. So, well, listen out for that listeners to the Steph and I at a show, the Nailing It podcast. So, the Engage Video Marketing podcast is … I bring on some of the best in the world in the world of video marketing and video creation. So, it’s not a real technical podcast, it’s all about helping people understand where to make the right moves to be effective with video across all digital channels. So, if anyone’s into podcasts, which you are, because you’re listening to this one,…

 

Steph:

Obviously.

 

Ben Amos:

…love you to subscribe over there and join me on one of those episodes soon.

 

Steph:

I will drop a link for Ben’s podcast as well. I actually listened to one. There was a YouTuber there that was telling you about how to get, I think, better thumbnails and subscribers, and the type of content, and all this kind of stuff. So, Ben is video, and the content that you’re providing on there is pretty sweet. So, I’ll make sure I give that one a plug.

 

Ben Amos:

Cool. Thanks, Steph.

 

Steph:

Well, it’s been awesome hanging out with you, Ben. Thank you so much for jumping in. I guess, everyone, if you can keep nailing that niche, then you’ll definitely get that lead gen happening in the business.

 

Ben Amos:

Thanks, Steph.

 

Links to take note of: 

Bens Podcast: Engage Video Marketing podcast 

Bens Foundation Course: engagevideomarketing.com/foundations