What to do when things are slow ( and strange )

Work is slow. I’m hearing it across the board. I’m hearing it from friends in completely different industries. My brother got laid off from his job recently. A ton more filmmakers are reaching out to us looking for opportunities. Many of us are having to take extra freelance work. The film industry is basically all on strike. A movie about the invention of the atomic bomb comes out right at the moment where many of us are legitimately worried about blowing each other up. Spacecraft and “non-human” beings are seemingly confirmed as real by reputable sources and nobody seems to care. So we might as well have a pina colada, scroll through social media where ads for annoying scam artists try to tell us how to live, eat another pizza and try to decide on something to watch on too many streaming services. 

Is this your general attitude? No? Ok, good, maybe there’s hope after all. If yes, I totally get it. 

What does this have to do with what we do? Well, video production, storytelling, entertainment and marketing are not immune to the economic downturns. It’s no secret things are in a strange place. What is there to be done? 

It seems like when organizations are struggling, one of the first things to get de-prioritized is marketing. This naturally affects a lot of creative industries, ourselves included. 

If I were reading this, I’d roll my eyes at this part thinking “gee are you going to sell me on video marketing now?” so if that’s your reaction, that’s fair. But think about it on a broad scale and bear with me. 

Marketing is the only thing that is keeping your org front of mind. Even if you’re a National or Global brand with products in stores everywhere, it doesn’t really mean you’re growing and will continue to do so when unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances cause economic issues. Marketing also usually takes months to really see any direct results. It’s the process of staying front of mind, providing some interesting or entertaining or valuable info, and then keeping that revolving long enough for people to remember you, stick with you, and thus the audience builds. Some of your ‘audience’ becomes your ambassadors and customers. So if you stop that process when times are tight, how do you expect to stay relevant when things get better? When people are ready to buy, to partner with you, to invest, etc. they’ll go with the brand that has been staying front of mind

I’m preaching to the choir right now too. We do the same thing. This is part of why I’m thinking about it. Most people don’t have a sales issue during tough times, they have a marketing issue. It makes sense because who among us enjoys getting sales emails? Even the word seems to leave a bad taste in people’s mouths, which is a bummer because it’s so necessary and vital and in my experience it’s rare to actually work with slimy used-car-type sales people in any industry. 

We’re in a digital age where video takes up most of what is floating in the ether. So if you’re low on content, especially video content, it’s a simple equation that you’ll be placed on the algorithmic storage shelf collecting digital dust. Attention is the new currency, and the same old tricks of grabbing it quickly fade out of style.

What is evergreen content that won’t go out of style? I believe it’s what has stood the test of time already. What is that? Movies? Books? Photography? Tiktoks? What is it? Storytelling? Yes, I think storytelling, yes that’s a huge part of it. But ok, story – it’s not a revolutionary concept anymore in business. Brands are using it, commercials force feed you with it, and movies have become so formulaic with it that people lose interest altogether. I mean Indiana Jones just came out with a 5th film and hardly anyone saw it. What’s the deal? I thought storytelling was “the way”. 

My belief is it’s the way you tell the story, and who you’re telling it about, and why it’s being told in the first place. 


- What kind of goal and output are you looking for in telling this story? 

- Are there visual opportunities that will accompany the narrative in a way that really stands out? 

- Are you focusing on one main character? 


This is a huge mistake that brands make all the time. They interview 5 – 10 people for a short video and think that it’s going to draw the viewer in. It does the opposite. Try finding one person who really can captivate people. Make sure this person’s story and the impact it will have is serving the great purpose of the brand. This is where the story finding and development process is so vital. This isn’t just about finding a talented camera crew, but also producers and storytellers who know how to find the right match and craft the story together the right way, all without embellishing and over-dramatizing, because people see right through that. See “4 tips of video marketing

So naturally, I’m biased. Of course I believe that putting out high quality and interesting content no matter how bad the economy may be is important. I’m going to pitch people on the importance of telling a good story, because it’s part of my job and my skill and I’ve seen it work first hand so many times. Are there ways of doing this without spending a ton of money? Sure! Hiring us to do this will ensure high quality and a high quantity of output, but it’s also an investment. Some people are holding onto their money for dear life, and if that’s you, make your own stuff. It really depends on the industry you’re in, and sometimes the DIY content does better than the pro content, especially on tiktok / social these days. But there’s a quality associated with the brand when you make anything and put it out. Should you hire a full time videographer? If you only put out DIY style videos, it definitely will have an overall effect on your brand perception, for better or worse. I’ve seen it work well for some brands, and poorly for others. 


If you want to find out if you’re a good candidate for partnership, whether it’s a monthly Story Growth relationship, or a single project, or if you just have a question about your new YouTube video you’re stressing about, get at me.


Thanks for reading the ranting, and I hope it’s helpful. Stay real people, because we may all be in a simulation, and either way it’s good to connect. Things always seem to ebb and flow, but a reliable constant is the need for human connection

Votary Films