By Erick Roder 6/10/21
Last week we wrapped up production on My Office. The series was a brainchild I had shortly after I started at Codelation. I needed to come up with a way to grow our brand awareness, increase our social media footprint, and be able to make quality video content. The obvious solution was to borrow Josh’s personal camera, a little bit of random lighting equipment, and start shooting a talk show. Fast forward two and a half years; we’re one hundred episodes in and we decided as a team to wrap the series up.
Looking back, I learned so much along the way. The work we did on My Office was honestly my proudest professional accomplishment. I wanted to share some of the bigger lessons I learned after deciding to chase a marketing idea:
1. You don’t have to look very hard to find a lot of people doing amazing work in your community.
I had some mild criteria for when bringing guests on- Do I like the person? Are they doing great things in business or are they doing great things in our community? The first ten episodes were basically my friends who humored me enough to be guests while I figured out what I was doing. From there, I met so many people making positive changes. I loved learning that there are so many people in my community working to make it better. It is sad how rarely their work is recognized. It was really rewarding to give these great people a platform.
2. Video is way more complicated than I remembered from college.
Figuring out lighting and sound is very tricky by yourself. Everything I did in college was in a group setting. It was also 15 years ago. Without at least one other person, video work is basically improbable. Framing shots, focusing the camera, figuring out white balance, dealing with sound levels- all things you kind of forget about until you are sitting by yourself after hours furious in editing. Editing software has also changed quite a bit since 2004. Now I understand why at the end of most professionally produced videos, there are quite a bit of names in the credits.
3. Producing consistent marketing content is like pushing a snowball up a mountain.
There is a huge difference between a verbal “Yes, I would like to be a guest” versus actually getting footage of that person. Consistent planning, schedule coordination, filming, editing, and scriptwriting is a lot more work than I imagined. Making a consistent weekly show is also a lot more work than I anticipated. When creating content, the work is never done. If you stop pushing that marketing snowball for a second, it starts falling down. Getting caught up is also twice the work. As a person with VERY limited planning abilities, working on My Office really helped me learn the importance of consistent small steps. A little planning can go a long way.
4. The reach algorithms for social media are super confusing, wildly sporadic, and constantly changing.
We shot very similar videos every week. Different guests, but aired them at similar times. Some episodes would reach 5-10 thousand people. Other videos with the same amounts of likes and shares would reach 1-200. Trying to figure out when/what the best way is to post a video is improbable. That is why consistently posting is so important to our marketing efforts. Reach is important, but inconsistent. It’s really important to remember most of your content is made for a very small, specific audience. That audience changes a bit with each post. Consistently hitting the small amount of your target audience is more important than casting a wider net.
5. The only way to stop being uncomfortable with public speaking or being on camera is to just do it.
Have you ever edited a 5-10 minute video of yourself? I promise you won’t like it. Eventually, I became more comfortable being on camera. I became more comfortable speaking. I even cringe less watching myself on camera. I had no idea how nervous being on camera made me until having to edit those early episodes. Now I’m pretty comfortable on camera. I have actually been asked to emcee various events in town since we started filming. Those opportunities would not have happened without our video series. Getting more comfortable speaking starts with speaking.
6. Hire people to do the work you’re not great at.
This is pretty solid age-old advice for basically anything. Could I change the oil in my car? Yes. Could I fix any other mechanical problem in the car? Absolutely not. More importantly, should I struggle through learning how to fix any other mechanical problem in my car? That is another hard pass. Hiring Maddy to handle all the things I complained about/was not very talented at completely leveled our marketing up. Track your time. If you are spending 15 hours a week doing something you have pretty limited talent in, it might be better for you to look for another employee.
7. You have to be bad before you are okay. You have to be okay before you are good. You cannot be great alone. Fight through the bad, and go for it.
My friend Lindsay was nice enough to be our guest on episode two. Looking back at that episode today, it is borderline unwatchable. Sound was wonky, the lighting was weird, and I hadn’t developed my style or voice yet. Watch season one of any show. It’s not the best. Everything progresses. The last episode featured Lindsay as well and was filmed by our whole new marketing team. Part of the decision to end the show was because we can now go on to do much bigger better things. This isn’t just me and a camera anymore. Don’t be afraid to learn from trying.
8. Marketing mediums will always evolve. Writing and storytelling will always be an essential component of marketing.
This goes back to campfire stories, cave paintings, and the first written word. Storytelling connects us. How we tell our stories has changed dramatically over the past twenty years and it is alway changing. A good radio ad from the 1930 is similar to a viral TikTok video. People will always crave a good story. Your marketing should tell a good story; be creative, be your authentic self. Producing My Office has been quite a journey. I learned so much, and enjoyed the process. With our new team coming together this summer, I am beyond excited to see what we’re going to learn together next.