Having worked eight years in the online video space advising bigger traditional and online media companies on their video strategy, I’ve broken down the 10 stages executives go through in their foray into the creation and distribution of video content. They are:
Stage 1 – Denial. “We don’t need no stinking videos.” Whether you are a publisher of print media or an online publisher that releases articles and galleries, the initial stage for all is a belief that you are above the trends in consumer behavior, and that your readers and advertisers will simply not care that you lack a cohesive video offering.
Stage 2 – Enlightenment. “Oh my God. I saw the future — and it’s sight, sound and motion.” Maybe you noticed your spouse isn’t renewing magazine subscriptions, your child tunes out TV for the iPad, or your clients are showing you their new rich-media video advertisement. Whatever, suddenly, you got religion and you want – no, you need – videos. You emerge as a champion for video content within your organization, no matter what the cost.
Stage 3 – Cautious but unbridled optimism. “It won’t happen overnight, but we will have a $100 million video business… soon… eventually.” You look at the size of your core business P&L: it’s massive. You then think: in X years, Y% should be coming from video — that will be a huge revenue, and it will all be incremental. You are optimistic about things, even though your modeling and logic is flawed, unrealistic and impractical.
Stage 4 – Unreasonable and arrogant bullishness. “We don’t need any help. There’s no need to buy anything — we can do it all in-house. You will see results before you know it.” It’s human nature to think we know it all. I think I know very little, and yet I think I know it all (until I fall flat on my face every day and realize/remember I don’t). At this stage, you have the choice to opt for modesty and humility — but instead, you keep the pedal to the metal, thinking that wishing for results will lead to realizing your objectives. You alienate possible partners, doubtful colleagues and anyone who tries to point out the error of your eventual, inevitable ways.
Stage 5 – Realization. “Oh, shoot. I hadn’t thought of that — or that.” As you move from concept to reality, you realize how hard it is to build an emerging video business, as even you — yes, you — have fallen prey to the innovator’s dilemma.
Stage 6 – Resistance. You wonder if you may have bitten off more than you can chew. You have your doubts, and they’re piling on. But your exterior projects confidence. Suddenly, after months of trying to convince other stakeholders, people turn on you. Editorial doesn’t get it anymore, sales can’t get enough of video, yet they can’t sell it – and, as the final nail in the coffin, finance doesn’t see the ROI and hints at pulling back.
Stage 7 – Retreat. The rude awakening: The company scales back its objectives and now has more modest ambition. Full-time producers are replaced with freelancers, while plans to “build from within” are replaced by a desire to partner.
Stage 8 – Dejection and desperation. Reality sets in. It’s going to be a long, hard slog. Depression seeps into the organization as morale plummets and personnel exit, while scapegoating one another.
It’s not due to a lack of hard work or effort, but despite spending oodles of money, the results are not there, the velocity is nonexistent and nary a sign of momentum. Upper management becomes increasingly impatient and threatens to pull the plug, while knowing they can’t.
Stage 9 – Humiliation. I’ve often said that “online video is the Afghanistan” of the media landscape. You can go in, but you’ll be there for a while and your definition of success will change before long.
Stage 10 – Consolation. OK, so none of the earlier goals were hit. A lot of money has been wasted. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. “Who’s running our mobile initiative? Maybe that’s what I should take on…”
Onward and upward.