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Why format is king

Written by Dan Gable on Monday, 11 January 2021. Posted in Audience, Sales & Marketing

According to entrepreneur Dan Gable, the age of the marketing video format has arrived.

Why format is king

According to entrepreneur Dan Gable, the age of the marketing video format has arrived.

I’ll start this article by asking you to think of your favourite TV show? I’d imagine, like many people, the answer may be a series of some kind. Perhaps it’s an episodic drama on Netflix or Amazon, or maybe a traditional TV series such as Britain’s Got Talent, Gogglebox or Love Island. The point I’m trying to make is that we remember a TV series much more than we do a one-off show. Even many feature films are part of big episodic franchises like Batman, Iron Man or James Bond

In the world of factual TV (shows not involving actors), format is king. The format defines the structure of a show, its look, sound and feel. You simply change the content to make different episodes. Pretty much every episodic TV show has a format of some kind. Shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Big Brother are made all over the world in multiple languages and, whenever you see them – regardless of language – you know they are the same show. The music, design, structure and tone of voice are all the same. TV formats can be bought and sold for millions.

How does this help you?

With video use increasing every day, and production costs becoming cheaper, now is the perfect time to think about creating your own mini-format to use as part of the marketing collateral. Once you have a format, you also have an asset which can be leveraged for a reasonable length of time. As a franchise organisation, you can create simple social video formats which your franchisees can use to populate their own content output. This makes it easy for them to create videos, while keeping your brand guidelines and tone of voice intact.

However, similar to song writing, creating a successful TV format is hugely complex. It looks deceptively easy until you try to do it. The good news is that writing a short video format is relatively simple. Formats come in all shapes and sizes. It could be anything from a short testimonial from a customer, or perhaps someone offering their tip of the week, possibly a brief tutorial, or simply the latest news in a particular region or category. Why not spend some time looking at which videos are currently successful in your sector and structure them into a format. 

To create a format you need to select its branding. This covers music, titles and duration, which must remain constant throughout. Achieve this and you have your own mini-series. The format can be super simple. You may be able to record them on a mobile phone and then edit in your branding elements. If you have multiple videos with the same look, feel, branding and theme, you most definitely have a format. 

Once you have devised your format, you can fine tune the details over time. You can experiment to discover what your audience or franchisees respond to. You’ll also find out what is simple to produce. Think of it as a video campaign template, which is sent to franchisees who will then create content using it. Your clients will love it, as this is much easier than them having to come up with video ideas from scratch. And you get to keep control of your branding and campaign ideas. It’s win-win all-round. 

A format has its own identity, which is separate from the brand, so should be thought of as branded content on social media. Brand consistency is so important when marketing your franchise. It enables your franchisees to remain creative with their own unique content and voice. Think of Top Gear or other TV shows that change presenters. The format still holds up regardless of who is selected to front the show. You may even find some of your own franchisees becoming huge hits online. Formats have worked in TV for years. And I’m starting to believe that 2021 may just be the time when franchise companies fully embrace the marketing video format.

About the Author

Dan Gable

Dan Gable

Dan Gable is founder of ShoutOut, the ground-breaking automated video creation and distribution platform. ShoutOut enables you and your business to create episodic branded video formats, with no editing skills required. You can then distribute them to your social media channels with just one click. During the past 35 years, Dan has worked on hundreds of TV programmes such as The Word, The Brit Awards, Big Brother and Top Gear. He also founded Sprat, a leading video production agency.

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