Growth Marketing Camp
Growth Marketing Camp

Episode 34 · 1 year ago

Video Marketing Turned This Bootstrapped Startup into a Legendary HR Brand


Brenton Williamson has spent the last decade in marketing at BambooHR, watching them grow from a scrappy young startup to a powerhouse in a commoditized industry. Their brand stood out from the earliest days by filming real employees to promote their internal brand. They’ve continued to find new ways to tell stories that speak to their buyers as the company has grown, all with a clear path to strong ROI.

Welcome to growth marketing camp, where we sit down with our favorite marketers to de mystify growth and give you the insights to help turn your next campaign into a major success. Let's get into it. Welcome to another exciting episode of growth marketing camp, joined now by another Utan, Brenton Williamson, who started out at bamboo hr as a marketing intern in late two thousand and eleven and is now director of brand storytelling and new channels. Brenton, we're going to dig into your story first. Welcome to the show. Thank you x thanks for having me. Yeah, excited to talk about what brand storytelling means how you're exploring new channels. But for those who have never heard of bamboo hr, it's one of the HOT TECH COMPANIES COMING OUT OF UTAH. There's a lot of them these days. Utah just seems to keep producing more and more these companies. We've had a few guests from Utah, but you guys have over twentyzero customers in a hundred and twenty countries, which is amazing. You've been there for basically the whole journey, even there for ten years. What's kept you around that long? Knowing that they're sure there's other UNICORNS knocking on your door. What's kept you a bamboo? Sure, I mean, in short, it's just a great place to work. Toche an thwer will be the people, and there's kinds of truth to that. Right. People are often I love our founders. I've become really good friends with them over the years and I believe in what they set out to accomplish and it aligns with my values. And it's been a really good fit and has continued to be really good fit and has continued to allow me to grow and develop and take on more responsibility. So I haven't had a good reason to leave. You know, I've had some some auctions out there, but gosh, it's a special place and a special company, even even in the midst of the Utah Tech Scene, the Great Company. Yeah, I mean that's totally sufficient as an answers. Like it's just a great place to be. Those are people you want to work with. It's a mission you want to support and in aligns with your values. I love that. Now it is completely coincidental, but it's going to sound to our audience like I'm planning this. We had Pete Larkin on the show. He's from angle point. He joined us an episode twenty seven. He's a fellow Byu Cougar and a video marketing aficionado. So this is a small world. You are both of those things, crazy because you and pete and I all went to by you around the same time. So we're all fellow cougars here. But I'm curious from that background, both from you know, marketing and video, I'm assuming one of them came first. It wasn't like a video marketer was born. So which came first? Kind of chicken or the egg there? Yeah, so I did film Squot Biu, which was great. I usually don't recommend to young people to go into film whenever they ask me if they don't do it. It's a rough industry and that's where I start it and I have a passion for filmmaking and the creative side of things. And after school I dabbled in the film industry at bit and just didn't like it. Yeah, I just did. I didn't enjoy it. So I started looking around and I've I was been interested in marketing and that's that's where I landed at a mark the internship at Bandali Char and over the ten years that I've been there. There have been tons of opportunity to use video. And now, if you're a video person, want to get into video and you don't mind working for business and there's tons of opportunity right. So that was my experience at least. So the video really came first and marketing kind of followed. So that makes sense. And you mentioned of the interesting before we hit record. You're talking about how you are at your core a creative person, but when you went into what is presumably the more creative of the two industries are you can go into business. We can go into video for video sake, for maybe entertainment or education, you ended up in business. How did that work out for you? Like, what's the balance there? How do you feel about it? Do... still feel like you get to be creative? Man, that's a cano worms there. Yes, all that, but you know, some creatives are through and through creatives. I don't like the numbers at all. The very the purest on when their created. A focus on that piece and I've always had an analytical side to me. It's kind of split down the middle a little bit. So marketing has been a really to get fit for me. I enjoy almost as much diving into the numbers and performance on things as I do diving into a crib concept and writing a script, and so it's been a really great fit for me personally. It's an awesome balance to be able to strike. Now we wanted to talk today about some of the creative efforts you've done with video and especially as you're talking about like exploring new channels, I'm curious to learn more about that. Can you talk us through a few examples of times when you've been able to leverage your creativity for video or other channels? For sure. So my role at bamboo is really evolved over the years, but I was the creative director for a time, for several years, and so I got to experience what it was like to work not only in video but with design and copywriting, and I have some background and writing always been near and dear to me, and so I thought I has been apartment job to be able to put creative to work and then work with our more technical marketers to bunt campaigns and get that stuff on a while. So so yes, creatives always been a huge part of what I've done there and you've been able to use video for both external facing right like going out for prospects customers, but then also internal I know, like I remember from Gosh, it must have been eight ten years ago when I first saw bamboo HR IN UTAH. I was applying to jobs in the area. I ended up working inside salescom but I remember seeing that video actually played a pretty critical role in just how people applied to the company. There was already a video that explained what is the culture and how do you aligned to that, and so that was in the early days. So I imagine you've had both internal and external. Can you walk us through some of maybe those examples of how you've used video? Yeah, absolutely. So early on we did a lot of employer branding of video and when you're a young brand you're trying to find your brand voice and your personality and often times that exists in the core of the people who are creating the company. So when I came on board there was a vision for it, but we hadn't really put it into practice. You know, it's one thing to kind of know what you want to be and what you want to sound bike and it's a whole other things to apply that. And so a video really became an outlet for us to put a face to the name, if you will. This is what we wanted to be. Video was how we pressure tested that and split it into action. And so early, early on, we made a big bet on video. We need the video wasn't going anywhere. Competitors, people in our space, business, business, in fact, not just our industry, but be to be in general, just weren't really using it super well and so we made a big bet on it and we just we used it primarily for employer branding. So that's what you experienced probably. We use it as a window into our workplace. We used our real people, real voice to create authentic content that wasn't just copy on a page. It wasn't just an idea and ahead something that our audience or customers could feel, could hear. You put a face to it and it really help help us create an emotional connection between our audience and our brand, part of our audience also being employees. That's why I say employer branding was a big piece of it. On the external side of things, you know we are super fruval early on, so we didn't do a ton of awareness advertising or campaigning. It's just really hard to track those dollars back to in ourlive and, you know, or footstrapped company, and you just can't be throwing stuff out into the wind hoping that it will pan...

...out for you. So we're pretty low budget. Wasn't till kind of a few years into it where we start to ramp for that external motion with video content, and that's a big piece of my job right now is kind of cracking that nut. So we now do a ton of advertising on Youtube and we're started to dabble and connect the TV and some other places. So it's becoming more and more of an external thing for us. and Gosh, videos just awesome because it has an emotional component to it. Yeah, you can still achieve that with other mediums, but it's just this combination of audio visual storytelling that is really difficult to replicate. Yeah, I think something that I've noticed in the greatest video marketing like it is it is arresting right, like it will stop you, and I think it's maybe where we're seeing more and more popularity and platforms like Tick Tock, like we're video is key is like you want to participate, it's done well, like you want to participate in it, where like a really clever ad or a really well written blog post, like it's still the bar to making someone interested is so much higher, it feels like, where that emotional connection can happen with the right starting note of that intro music that gets you know or that your brand POPs up on the screen. So there's something like visceral that like pulls you into it with video. That seems really powerful and and I imagine you guys have been using that. You mentioned that you were creative director before. How does it work when you're creating content these days? Like who's involved? How do you get the right brand voice without too many cooks in the kitchen but, you know, consider all viewpoints? How do you do that these days? You know, I'm sure it's different in every organization and in my perspective is pretty limited as a been at bamboo hr for so long, but we find a pretty strong balance between sort of the strategic players on the team and the in the creative so good ideas can come from any place on the team and that's where it starts, right. That starts with an objective of some sort. There's something that we're trying to accomplish, whether that's marketing, leadership or an ad buyer or creative with a campaign idea. Like it starts with some objective that rolls up to our company vision, or one of our company objectives, right, and that's something that I believe in being a stickler on, is what are you trying to accomplish? Because once you have a clear objective in sight and then you can figure out how to go and do it. And sometimes that's a video, sometimes it's not. Times it can be done in a blog post or an email, you know, and that's just fine. There are certain things that people prefer to read then get down a watch a video. So it really begins at that objective and from there, you know, you go to the classic request cycle and probably, like any other creative agency, we process that or are instead of outside clients, we have internal clients, right. So, whether it's the SEO team or the customer marketing team or the VP of marketing, we have a customer that we work with to understand their vision and then execute on that. You are not the first marketer to tell me they think about their team as an agency, and I really am curious to hear more about that approach. Did that come from you? Did that come from a mentor from somebody else who built that structure in or is it just kind of organically appeared as like you just you act as a unit that deploys wherever you're needed? Yeah, I suspect it's just how we evolved and from what I've seen the way that creative fits into an organization can vary, but there's usually kind of two ways to do it that I've seen. One is this sort of inhalf agency format, so you have a create a team sit together. On that team you might have riders, designers, maybe video people. In our case we even have a couple web developers and they sit together and people bring request and it gets processed in the create team. The other formats you can embed creative throughout different teams. So maybe the...

FEO team has like creative people on their team that report up through that, and so I think there are different ways to do it. I think one of the advantages of having a core creative team is the identity of that creative team comes really strong and it becomes easier to maintain your brand identity in terms of visual and storytelling, just because it's a core unit that fills unified and and so consistency. I think it is easier to maintain in that environment. Yeah, that makes sense, a heightened degree of consistency versus, Hey, we have all these great individuals executing projects all over the place that are trying to draw from some common source of brand, but it's a little you know, it's their own version, versus were combining our efforts to create each one of these projects. Yeah, that makes sense. I like that approach. If you were speaking to, let's say, you know my team here, it opens sense. We're saying, Hey, we want to we want to start video mark we want to add video. Where's the first place you think about applying video these days? Is it in social channels as a micro video? You know, where would you go if you had, if you had to start all over and just start applying video to new company? It's really about the customers journey, right. That's where I start. That's why I would recommend starting is looking at your customer journey and identify the key moments along that path, along that journey, that you need to create an emotional connection between you and your audience, and that's where video starts to become a good option for you. That's what the video does really well. It's creates an emotional connection. So find ourselves wanting to play in the awareness space a lot. You know, that's where you see a lot of the big names doing all their fun ad campaign stuff, these awareness campaign super early in the customer journeys, grabbing attention and creating awareness. But honestly, you know, at Band Wide Are we've found tons of other places along a customer journey where video can be a player. You just have to do it right. You know, typical customer journey might start with awareness and then you've got the next stage going to be interest, and then the one after that might be valuation and then kind of customer and then advocacy. And if you think about each of those stages and you think about what it takes to move someone from one stage to the next stage, chances are you can find a place in there where videos that, for example, you know you might pull people into the awareness stage with just high level brand campaign. You know that fifteen second adds fun and Witty and people laugh ads first time they've ever heard of you and they're like I like those guys. Is Great, but then once you pull them into the awareness then you got to somehow generate interests. So an explainer ad might be a good format there. Everyone's seen an explainer ad these days, where you've got this complex product and they take four five minutes to walk you through what it does, why it exists, you know, and that can generate interests. And from there you got to generate man, you got to get those people from interest into evaluation and for us we use a lot of content downloads. So will create a kind of thought leadership piece on performance management or comping culture. And then, you know, it's your classic content marketing where you exchange an asset for people's information, get them into your system and you can trim from there. So and video plays a role in all that. Some of our most successful youtube campaigns have definitely been around content promotion. So long winded answer to your question, but there's a place for video. It's just you really have to know your objective and which form of video is going to help you get there. Look as someone who has explored channels and tried new things, it's very tempting and there's always new channels popping up and I'm sure you can appreciate this in particular with your role, and it's really...

...easy to lose sight of what your objective was in the first place. So I appreciate that you're trippling down on this concept, like we need to keep track of what we're trying to accomplish first and foremost before we go creating assets, before you go putting dollars behind it or even hours behind it. So I appreciate that. I think that's that's critical, because you're right, there are a million places where we could be applying video or other creative assets in a similar way. Now I do want to zoom out and I want to hear more about this new channels side of what you do, like what are the channels you explore? How do you look at them? Like how does that play into your role today? So new channels basically just a description of my job. It's not anything specific in terms of specific channels or anything. But we have a world class to Managin team and you know, they work under really strict parameters. Like I said, we're bootstrap company. We have a culture of frugality and we know how to track the Roi back to the dollar spit. What that doesn't provide sometimes is room to really explore and do just kind of wild testing and we're to stage now as a company where our growth has been parabolic since I started and it's critical now for us to expand beyond what we've been doing, and so a big part of my job right now is to find some more doors to go through that will open up our audience and open up opportunities for us. You have about a few examples of those. One of the things I'm doing is working on expanding youtube is marketing channel and that's kind of all encompassing, so that's Youtube advertising, Organic Youtube Strategy. So a lot of my time has spent there. We're dabbling with connected TV right now, so it's a little different from tradition Ational TV and that it comes over an internet connected device in the home, so you're able to track other devices on the same network and retarget them in other places as they hop on the Internet. Dabbling in customer education, creating learning courses for a customer to help improve adoption and retention. We recently launched the podcast. We've never done a podcast before. I was going to add the era. That's the new of your podcast right. Yeah, how is that going? And do you use is it a video show? Do you put that on Youtube. Like, how does that how does that work for you guys? Yeah, we are brand new to the podcast world and tastic welcome. Yeah, Talk. They are as a big experiment for us. You know, we've never done a podcast before world video team, but we teamed up with our comps team and and they secured a bunch of great interviews. So we came up with format and we cranked out six episodes over the last several months and it's been a lot of work. It's been really interesting. We do audio only. We haven't gotten too video podcasting yet, but one of our takeaways is that, hey, there's probably a place for that. Terms of learning, you know, it's hard to get a podcast off the ground and get a good following. Luckily we have an awesome customer base and so we've seen some mild success podcasts. The content is performed really well from what we know. We don't have a lot of benchmark yeah, it's very experimental. So, yeah, a lot of good things and a lot of learnings that have come from it. You know, we've learned that we probably need a dedicated podcast producer we want to continue and pass. We've learned that we probably want to do video if we want to expand the channels that we can distribute it through. We host the podcast on whiskey on our website and we get a lot of listeners there, but we find that listeners engage the best on podcast APPS, which probably no brainer once you hear it. We have put the podcast audio only on Youtube. That hasn't been a great engagement channel for us, but I suspect that with a video component it would do much better...

...there. We learn a lot of things about format. So we wanted to do a more narrative format, like a this American life or you know, but the way that we captured the content was through interviews and so we ended up with kind of a marriage of the too, sort of mix of interviews and narrative, which was fun and great. But I think if we were to continue, which we might, you know, we'd probably want to split this do kind of a shorter form, truly narrative form, podcast and then do sort of this interview live feel, with video attached to it as a different formats. Sure it sounds like you are exploring multiple new angles. I love that you're willing to say like hey, this one didn't work out for us, like this isn't a thing that necessary we're going to do for a long term or more. We're we're taking a look at this and and you're really as a bootstrapped company, even with Twentyzero or more customers. I mean you're still having that that financial responsibility of like, okay, we still have to walk kind of this tight rope of like we can invest, but only so far because we got to be smart with our dollars and dollars out, we have to be tracking these things. It does definitely get more challenging than those kind of demand creation spaces. In those like I think Chris Walker refers, like the the dark social the dark web, like the places where you can't track those dollars, it gets really, really hard. I think podcast is one of those more challenging platforms, but seems like you're learning a ton and the content and the conversation seemed well worth the effort I mentioned. That's been true of other channels you've explored, even if it ultimately hasn't led to like hey, we want to quadruple down on this one channel. I'm sure your team has been learning things all along the way, getting stronger and stronger. So this question is going to be a heavy one. But if you had double the staff, the budget or the time, what would you choose and what would you do with it? Man, that's tough. I'm time split between our effort on Youtube and our efforts and customer education, and as I think about it, they're kind of related. There is any ten hunger for education and I feel that access to education is I mean, it's obviously changing. The just so many platforms for people to share right and people are willing to share education and traditional education is transforming and and I think there's still a ton of opportunity there. I think it's an incredible way to engage with your audience is through education offer opportunities for them to learn from you and or learn with you. In Our marketing efforts at family H are, education, some form of it, has always been such a big piece and that's led to more fruitful relationships and so on. Youtube there's opportunity on the organic side to lean into education with best principles, content, podcasting, interviews with experts. There's an opportunity there to set yourself up as an authority on topic or industry. I think there's tons of potential there and with our customers. You know, I don't know if you've ever sat through a corporate training, but they don't tend to be the most engaging courses and I believe there is a lot of opportunity there to improve the experience in a way that a student of the course can engage and get more from that investment, investment of time, get more from that than they normally would. And if you can do that they're going to love you forever. You know that's going to endear them to your brand because it's value, it's added value to them. So those two channels actually more like the umbrella of education. I mean that's where you would put the effort. But if you had to pick between staff, budget and time, it sounds like certainly you could use more time because you've got a...

...great team and you know what you're doing in terms of your financial responsibility. But would it be maybe more staff, like the you just not have enough hands at the wheel to be able to support all this effort. Or what would you pick? I see, do you ask me if I would pick more money, more staff or more time? Yeah, because we know where you put it. I love the education umbrella and it makes perfect sense for where you guys are at now. You've grown. They're all the same, okay, they're all resources. Okay, more resources, and me personally, at this moment in time, I'd probably take staff. You know, we have access to dollars. Sandwich are is growing and doing really well. They're very responsible financially and that's led to opportunity. You know, we have room to do that time. Who Doesn't want more time? But it's just not realistic. There's only so many hours in a day. So I do think I would expand our team. Yeah, I can imagine the culture on your team is pretty awesome. It's pretty positive. It's looking forward as trying to build and grows. To expand to, you know, to influence more people in a positive way directly seems like a big benefit for you guys. I like that. I like picking staff. I think it's a good choice for you guys. Well. Look, you've shared a lot of great ideas in how you've used video, how we can potentially leverage video, but also just how to think about our creative efforts across all of our different channels. Brinton, thank you for joining us. As you look back on your career, I'm sure there have been marketers and others who have positively influence you. Is there anyone in particularly would say, Hey, you need to you need to watch or you need to know about him, you need to listen to them. Like, who would you recommend that we look out for out there? I want to recommend our founders, but they're not very vocal. At least. We should listen to the era. You've got your CEO on that. Yeah, so I'm sure been a couple episodes on the era. No, there there's something special happening here. I think every company wants to believe that something special happening at their organization. Yeah, but I have yet to cross paths with anyone like Ben Peterson and Ryan Sanders, who founded Bandui chart and they recently hired a CEO, Brad rencher. He hosts the era and you know, he's in the same vein and their style of building a business is the reason I've been here for ten years. I was never very interested in typical business world and and and, let's be honest, HR soccwerk, which is cool, it's great, you know, for HR folks. Yeah, but it's not save in the whales or yeah, or anything exciting like that. So really it's just it's been their values in their philosophy around the building business. That's the culture, it's the financial responsibility, it's The big vision of what an organization can accomplished despite these other chains that you might see another classic startup circles. Yeah, well, I know they're not going to be publishing a lot online, but where do we go to find bamboo hr if we want to learn more about the company and the HRCOM? You don't, you can. You can go there. There's a resources tad. We've got a great blog. Our writing teams to spectacular experts and filled. We have a youtube channel, Bando HR, with ton of content, the era podcast. You find it all your popular podcast. Thanks. We're all over with place. Excellent. And where do we go to follow you, Brenton? Where do you like to spend time online? Oh, linkedin's your best bet. Good, good, all right, we'll find you on Linkedin, Brenton Williamson. All right, awesome, Brenton. Thanks again for making time for us. I'm sure we'll have more questions for you. You guys continue to grow. We'll keep watching out for bamboo shower out there, and thanks for sharing. Awesome thanks for at much appreciate it. Thanks for listening to growth marketing camp. If you enjoyed this episode, we'd love it if you would give it a quick five star rating or share it with a friend or colleague looking to get a little more inspiration for their next campaign. If you want to learn more about the company behind the show, had two open sensecom.

That's open ske and skecom. Will catch you on the next episode.

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