How We Use Video

Old Town’s sales director Joe Sanders, the company’s rising video star

Guest Post by Jordan Wilson, Old Town Brewing

On Monday, we heard how a large operation like AB InBev-backed 10 Barrel approaches video. In researching that piece, I put out a call for input, and got the wonderful response from Old Town's Creative Director, Jordan Wilson, you see below. In it, Wilson describes how Old Town gets exceptional, timely results on a budget.

Overview and Inception

Why would any company spend or invest the time and money into creating something like a video? For one, it can be difficult to determine your ROI or even know if it can be considered successful or not. For a brewery like Old Town, and within our saturated market, I look at it a couple of ways. 

The first, is that the baseline is high. Meaning, we all (for the most part) are making great beer and focusing on quality and consumer demand. That means we have to be even more engaging in our offerings—marketing plays a strong role here. Everyone wants to stand apart. Videos have proven to be one of the best/most influential forms of content for us. Which makes sense; they are able to educate and create strong emotional ties with the consumer.

People who are moved or connect with the story are much more likely to buy your product than those who feel nothing.

Jordan Wilson

Another major factor is that the average consumer, especially within the younger demographic, is losing interest in buying a product over buying an experience. People want to connect and believe in what they are purchasing. They want what they buy to reflect a part of their values or say something about them. Beer is not really an exception to this. Frankly, the craft beer industry has become a huge driver in the way design and marketing are evolving. There’s a massive focus in a densely competitive market making it harder to stand out that without a more in-depth marketing strategy.

But I want to bring it back to Old Town. Why we personally invest in this area and how we’ve established it to be benefits or “successful” for our brand. 

So early last year we sought to restructure how we approach our brand and our beer-to-market strategy. As you know, this is a management team of basically 4 people: owner Adam Milne, head brewer Andrew Lamont, sales director Joe Sanders, and myself. The challenge was to really understand our strengths of marketing as a small team, and how best to capitalize on these areas. We’re all confident in every beer that fills our glass. Andrew is a tremendously talented brewer and it’s a privilege knowing that whatever the outcome, the beer will be good. We can focus more effort and time to other things. But, it’s hard for “good beer” to be enough in this market and we want to connect with our community beyond that baseline.

Old Town’s Process

A bit about the process. We are a total run and gun. It’s starting to evolve as I grow and gain more experience doing these videos, but we don’t have the major funds necessary for a ton of pre-production planning, or hiring on a team. It’s total DIY. It looks something like this.

The management team meets and talks discusses on a beer and what to put out. I’ll start brainstorming on a name and some conceptual idea or story around it (though it’s not always me; Joe claimed Pillowfist and it’s one of my favorites to date). This concept will likely influence the look and feeling of the label that I will design next. From there, I’ll start to develop a video concept. I’ll write out a script (if needed), then sketch out a shot list, which has proven to be one of the most important things to keep the project organized. It helps me scout for locations, prepare shots, and actually provide direction when we are shooting. This is basic 101 for all video professionals. From there, we’ll schedule a time with the talent. We’ve slowly begun utilizing more of our staff in videos (which is why the need to keep things organized is important). Finally, we shoot the video. So far, 90% of the videos have been shot in a single day. I’ll edit the video: this piece can take the longest. I hen send the cuts to Joe and Adam for feedback and Adam approves and uploads/promotes it.

You can see from the process that we have the power of speed and flexibility. Because we’re small, we don’t have to jump through the typical large corporate-like hoops when we want to produce something. This is a huge benefit. If I’m designing a label or creating/writing a video, it’s essentially Adam giving me a thumbs up (along with feedback from our group). No signs-offs, no large scale presentations to a division or board approvals etc. It’s quick. It takes a lot of trust on everyone’s part—everyone has to to know that each we are going to deliver—and when done right, it’s really effective.

For example, in the last video we produced (la Brut), we were canning in that morning. I grabbed one four pack off of the line mid-run and Joe and I drove out to the beach. I had one single idea: fragrance commercial. I wrote it and sketched out a very rough shot list on the drive out there, we shot it in an hour, drove back, I edited it, sent over to Adam and he had it uploaded/promoted to facebook and youtube the next morning. That kind of ability is tremendously powerful.

And here’s where another area of difference comes into play. Hiring a creative agency/team to produce a video can get really expensive. With a high investment like that, things would have to be much more “structured” and likely involve a lot more people. It’s a lot of capital at the chance of something not landing or not achieving one of the determined goals. There’s no way we could be producing them as we currently are. They would end up taking much longer to produce and likely contribute to taking less risk. Which is why this feels like a unique strength for Old Town - we keep everything in house and avoid the high cost of creative overhead. And because of our lower investment, we can play with it more. Throw things at the wall, see what sticks. The pressure of having every single thing we put out doing well is a bit lighter, and our focus can be used on the creative side and having fun. I personally think that some of the best results are found when the ratio is shifted that way.

Evaluating Success

Posted April 1st, of course.

It’s really hard to measure success without having the goals defined. But the biggest asset to help generate a good idea of the effectiveness of your marketing is understanding your KPI (Key Performance Indicators). The data and analytics behind everything that track the metrics of the video. We look at things like:

  • Your engagements (how long the viewer stayed tuned into your video). Good metrics will tell you what percentage of people watched until how long of the video.

  • View Count. A good indication of outreach 

  • Rate of Play. How many people are clicking on your video to play it

  • Click-Through. How many people are clicking on your call to action (if there is one)

  • Sharing. From my experience, a high rate of social sharing usually indicated that the video is performing well. And if a consumer is sharing that video to their own followers, chances are they will likely connect with as well.

Our metrics have also given us some insight into how we can start adapting and improving our content. For example, anything over 30 seconds is much more difficult to keep a viewer involved for the entire thing. La Brut, for example, had an insanely high engagement on YouTube. Over 80% of the viewers watched the whole thing, even with the ability to skip it after a few seconds. The duration is key there. You can get to the meat of it in a much shorter amount of time and keep everything at high interest, zero transitional stuff. Comparing that to our other series like “Beers of Paradise” where they run about 3-4 minutes long, the percentage of viewers watching the whole way through is less. But I don’t know if that necessarily makes La Brut more successful. It’s short durations simply fit the story better. Our Beers of Paradise videos wouldn’t work in that format. I believe it’s less about the amount of people viewing and more about the right people seeing. Let the story dictate the end result. You can also get a bit lost in the sea of metrics and data, but sometimes it’s good to throw things at the wall. The more videos we make, the more we establish ourselves in the market. I think if we’re only producing videos that generate strong metrics, they have the risk of feeling like an actual commercial that has filtered through the numerous tiers of suits and sign offs, resulting in something that can come across disingenuous or stagnant.

I asked Joe and Adam to reflect on the power of these videos. Adam told me, “On the quantitative side, you can see the likes, views, comments and shares. We have also seem a 50% increase in outside beer sales since launching these video campaigns, which is very meaningful. On the qualitative side, we hear directly from customers, buyers, distributer reps and media and that has been an overwhelming response.”

When I asked Joe, he cited the “social epidemics” Malcolm Gladwell mentions in his book The Tipping Point. “One of the most important elements of an epidemic for any one product or idea to have ‘stickiness’ on the masses is word of mouth. We like to think we've been making great beer for a long time now, but unfortunately it’s been proven time and again in our industry that the liquid is not enough to take your brewery to the mountain top. To survive/thrive in this market today, a brewery has to have that extra little something to get the drinkers attention. For us lately that extra something has come on the marketing and brand development side. As we've plotted and strategized over the years to grow the brewery, one of the main things we've focused our efforts on is how to get people to notice us and simply give the liquid a chance! Long story short, there wasn't much ‘word of mouth’ to speak of early in our journey but due to our more recent efforts Old Town is now on people’s tongues, and we very much appreciate what that epidemic means for our brewery.

In terms of our own goals we’ve definitely seen some success. Beer sales have increased, our brand awareness has certainly increased, and from what we can tell, people are starting to get a better idea of who we are on a personal level. We feel a bit closer to the community. The requests for collaborations and fun beer campaigns with fellow breweries have also escalated. Joe is recognized everywhere he goes—which is hysterical. Soon enough he’ll be asking for a trailer filled with ridiculous snack demands. Our videos have become a defining characteristic of our brand and a topic of conversation. Which, in this crowded market, is a good thing. People are much more engaging and interested in exploring who we are and the beer we’re brewing having that line of connection or recognizing Joe’s face as he walks into their establishment to sell them some Old Town beer.

But we’re taking all of this one video at a time time. We learn new things with every release. For us, they’ve become an extension our brand and how we tell our stories. We have ambitions for the future, this year we set a goal to greatly expand our (packaged) beer offerings - each one released with a video. The goal is to continue this outreach and drive connections further. We’re excited to see where this takes us and our brand.

About Jordan Wilson
Jordan Wilson is a creative designer and current Creative Director at Old Town Brewing in Portland, Oregon. With more than a decade of experience in design, illustration, and brand development, he focuses his lens through the culture of community and collaboration - discovering stories and developing visual language to tell it. “I cut my teeth through passion and practice with a mild dose of obsession.”

Connect: @jordanwdesigns