Video marketing has changed. We explain the ‘Hero, Hub, Help’ model that successful brands are using to win engagement, loyalty and sales.
Remember the old model of online video marketing? It was pretty much the same model as TV advertising. Broadcasters and publishers were the providers of information and entertainment that audiences wanted to consume. They provided the pull, and brands would push their advertising into those spaces in an attempt to make sales.
The brands’ content creation strategies reflected this. They would invest heavily in one or two big productions, promote them, then sit tight for the results to roll in. Repeat as required.
That was before ad blockers and ad-free streaming services — as well as the rapid proliferation of content to the point where brands attempting to latch their message onto whatever’s ‘hot right now’ simply can’t keep up.
So it’s out with the old. But what’s the new?
In an online world that’s saturated with attractive video content, brands must adopt a ‘publisher mindset’ to get their message seen. This means making the switch from pushing your message onto viewers, to pulling them towards it.
Successful brands do this, and what’s more, they are increasingly aware of the need for ‘always-on’ marketing. This means they produce content on a regular basis, allowing viewers to consume it when they’re ready. And unsuccessful brands? Well, we don’t care what they’re doing, do we? In fact, that’s the core of the issue.
Branded content needs to be emotional, entertaining and genuinely useful to create that all-important pull. In other words, brands are having to work harder.
Thankfully, there’s a tried-and-tested framework for planning a video content strategy in this new landscape. Driven by insight from YouTube — who remain the go-to authority — marketers have come to think of the online world as comprising three overarching categories of content: Hero, Hub, and Help.
These three types of video form a sales funnel. Each category is defined by its position in the funnel and its intended impact on the audience — and gaining clarity on what a video is intended to do is the crucial first step in working out how to achieve that on a creative level.
Let’s take a look at the three categories:
As the name suggests, Hero films are your headline act. YouTube calls them ‘big, tent-pole events that provide a massive step change to your audience growth’, and certainly, that’s the dream.
The job of a Hero film is to attract viewers and increase awareness of your brand. Its position at the top of your sales funnel means that it’s generally not something your audience will be looking for. Therefore, it needs to win their attention through bold creative choices, and reward that attention by delivering an emotional pay off.
This famous example from Red Bull does just that (although going to space is not always required):
It’s worth bearing in mind that Hero content typically requires a higher media spend than the two other H’s. As video strategy expert Jon Mowat puts it, ‘if it fails to deliver on an emotional level or is perceived to be of low value, it is likely to fail overall’ — so it’s worth investing in getting your Hero content right.
With a bold, emotionally engaging Hero film, you’ll bag yourself a huge number of new viewers, and they’ll be sufficiently intrigued to progress along the funnel to your next content category.
Hub content keeps your audience coming back to your channel for more. This is the part of the funnel where you start to build a brand following, and steadily turn interested viewers into loyal customers.
They’re already intrigued — your Hero film saw to that. Now you need to build an ongoing relationship, by regularly scheduling videos that key into what YouTube calls ‘your target’s passion points’.
Hub content is ‘smaller’ than Hero content, but there’s more of it, and it needs to be just as engaging — arguably more so. The intention here is to produce and publish episodic content that offers so much value to your audience that they’ll want to receive it, and even actively seek it out. It allows your audience to delve deeper into the topics that resonate with them (their passion points) and starts to build an association between their own areas of interest and your brand offering.
Sticking with the Red Bull example, we see how Hub content can derive directly from the Hero film, offering interested viewers the chance to engage with a specific aspect in more detail:
Here we are. The other end of the funnel. While Hero films are designed for mass engagement, Help content is all about close targeting of specific audience members.
YouTube describes Help content as ‘your 365-day-relevant, always-on content programming’. This is the branded video category that’s all about the pull.
You’ll create Help content and let the audience find it for themselves — and they will. Why? Because it contains the answers they need. By creating tutorials and other videos packed with information that the target audience is actively searching for (identified via keyword analysis tools like YouTube Trends), you’ll increase your brand’s ranking in search engine results.
Besides fuelling long-term growth through SEO, Help content can also drive sales directly. For example, if you sell car maintenance accessories, your Help content will likely revolve around repair and maintenance tutorials. This content will help your target audience with their specific problem, while also showcasing your products — directing them to purchase in just a few clicks.
This Help video from Red Bull isn’t a tutorial (unless you’re planning your own jump from space), but it does provide the highly specific information that an already invested audience member may be searching for:
So what’s the plan?
The key takeaways here are:
- The old model of video marketing is no longer viable.
- ‘Hero, Hub, Help’ is a tried-and-tested framework for video marketing strategies, used by successful brands, large and small.
- Hero films are big, bold and emotionally engaging. They’re at the top of the sales funnel.
- Hub content is regular and fresh, and helps you build brand loyalty.
- Help content answers audience questions and is key to an ‘aways-on’ marketing approach.
Ready to supercharge your brand’s video content strategy? We love to talk Hero, Hub, Help! Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org