When Lucy Cohen, co-founder and commercial director of Mazuma, decided to create an educational video for her firm, she wanted to do something a bit different.
Heavily influenced by Peter Serefinowicz’s Look around you, a spoof on the BBC's educational films from the 80s, Cohen produced her own sticky back plastic infused educational video, acting as a Blue Peter-type presenter.
Be creative and have fun
While other firms might shy away from creating video content, Cohen and her co-founder Sophie Hughes saw this as an opportunity to be creative and have fun. “Just because we're in accountancy it doesn't mean that we don't have a sense of humour,” she said.
She's not wrong. Not many accountancy videos contain lines like “join us next week where I’ll be attempting to break the world record for the most number of bees that have been milked in twenty minutes.” But then again, this wasn’t like most accountancy videos.
Just because we're in accountancy it doesn't mean that we don't have a sense of humour
From a boom mike intruding onscreen to announcing the prize of a trip to the British lawnmower museum with dead-eyed enthusiasm, Cohen embraces her role with comic aplomb and the irreverent humour is certainly 'on point' with the YouTube generation.
And since the main thrust of the firm’s marketing resides online, the video plays into their marketing plans and caters to the tastes of their ideal clients; those who are likely to scroll Twitter and share videos on social media. As such, the video has formed part of the firm’s social media presence on Twitter and LinkedIn.
North West-based firm Cassons has also taken a similar approach to their online video marketing (featured below). The singing accountants traded lyrics from songs such as Mambo No.5 with accountancy-based alternatives. The result is a video which brings all of the staff together in a team-building exercise, and something which humanises the firm to potential customers and acts as an annual video Christmas card to their clients.
Be influenced by businesses outside the profession
In these video marketing examples, Cohen and co stumbled upon something The Profitable Firm's Karen Reyburn evangelised recently, advising accountants to “be different and stand out” and not to follow other practices, but look for inspiration from outside the profession.
And the entertainment world provides plenty of inspiration. Yes Minister writers Jonathan Lynn and Anthony Jay, together with Fawlty Towers scribe John Cleese, for example, employed the same approach as Mazuma to break the mold of the lucrative training video market with their company Video Arts.
Speaking about his Video Arts cohort Jay, Lynn wrote: “In a moment of inspiration he realised that training videos were dull because they showed the right way to do things; if they showed the wrong way, they could be funny.”
This method of communicating an idea through humour worked a treat for Video Arts. The company was sold 17 years after its inception for over £40m.
The way that we work is not like a traditional firm...so it made sense that any video marketing that we were going to do was that of a traditional accountancy firm.
Mazuma's video has been successful in raising their brand awareness, and important in conveying the approachability and good humour of the firm. “The way we work is not like a traditional firm,” said Cohen. “Our internal processes and the way we are structured is different, so it made sense that any video marketing we were going to do was not that of a traditional accountancy firm.”
The aim of the video is to explain the simplicity of Mazuma's service, where clients stuff a purple branded envelope with all their receipts and information and allow the firm to take care of the rest.
So presenting this information in a comedic way helped assure clients that they’re in safe hands. “We're a completely remote accountancy service, we don't do any face-to-face meetings at all,” Cohen said. “Therefore for our brand to be approachable is really important. Doing a video like that emphasises this.”
Videos are an engaging way for people to learn about your brand and feel like they've got a relationship with the brand.
And since Cohen and her co-founder Hughes are no longer involved as much in the day-to-day accounts preparation, being centre stage of the video was important. “It was strong to have us personally in the video to show that we are still massively involved and invested in this company.”
Time-strapped firms inspired by Mazuma's efforts but lacking the technical know-how shouldn’t be deterred from making their own video. Although the Mazuma team diverged from their usual duties to script and provide costumes for the video, they left a production company to film and edit the shoot, which only took a day.
Speaking about the importance of online videos, Cohen concludes: “Videos are an engaging way for people to learn about your brand and feel like they've got a relationship with it.”
Have you used 'outside the box' video techniques to help market your firm?
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's Practice Editor. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.