Here’s Why You Need A Knife at the Marketing Gun Fight

OK – don’t take an actual knife to an actual gun fight. In fact, I’d recommend just not going to gun fights at all – what I’m talking about is the metaphorical showdown every business’s marketing takes part in every day, trying to outshoot the competition with bigger, better ideas and stronger content.

You might have seen a statistic running around recently that a minute-long video is worth 1.8 million words, which is often incorporated into blog posts claiming that written content is dead and only video matters. It’s a dubious claim originating from a 2008 study by a Dr. James Mcquivey titled “How Video Will Take Over The World”, in which the author uses “fun” (i.e. wildly specious) assumptions of the relative values of the two media.

If you take the idiom “a picture is worth a thousand words” literally, and treat every frame of a 30fps video as a separate picture, you can (kind of) see where he’s coming from: 1,000 words x 30 frames x 60 seconds = 1.8 million words. Really, this wasn’t meant to be taken literally; it’s just an illustration of how important video can be when conveying a message.

Lazy writers take this figure literally, though, quoting it as if it were gospel: . . . if you were to write 1.8 million words on a blog post, it would take approximately 3600 pages. A simple video does the work in a fraction of the time”. Someone should have told J.K Rowling; rather than writing a million words for the entire Harry Potter series, she could have shot a minute-long video that would have been even more successful.

Anyway, back to knives and gunfights. The point that Dr. McQuivey makes is that video can be an incredibly powerful tool for marketing. It’s been shown over and over again that people pick up information from videos in a way that they don’t from reading – a quick Google search will throw up endless affirmations of video’s power to engage, interest and entertain, and with good reason; video is a fantastic tool.

Videos are a great way to market yourself, if you use them correctly. Check out this video from Moz on creating an SEO strategy; it makes a dense, dull subject come to life in a way that no blog post could. It’s a great way to communicate complex ideas, welcome people to your website, demonstrate how to use products and convey your personality. Video is great, and it’s getting more and more important as people start to watch more of it every day. Creating a killer video is like bringing a nuke to a gunfight; it can sweep everything before it, erasing all competition. So if your competitors are building nukes, why should you bring a knife?

Here, as with most aspects of daily life, we can turn to the film Starship Troopers for wisdom. As trooper Ace tells Sergeant Zim, what’s the point in having a knife if everyone else has nukes? As Zim demonstrates, though, a nuke is useless if you can’t use it – no matter how powerful your weapons are, you must first consider how you’re going to deliver them – Ace gets the point (ha!).

In marketing, videos are your nukes, your big guns – they’re your best tools for communicating information and building up an identity. However they can’t communicate anything until someone presses play; until that happens, they’re just sitting there inert doing you no good at all. You need a way to make people want to watch them, and guess what – to do that, you need some good old-fashioned words.

A good copywriter will come up with a title and tagline that makes your content irresistible. They’ll give people that little push that lets your video start working, without which you won’t be reaching anyone at all. Copywriting is the knife to the nuke of video marketing; while video content might be your campaign’s big guns, you’d be foolish to neglect the tools that let you use it. Combine both forms of communication effectively and you’ll be making the most of all your content.

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