Melinda Rainsberger is the founder of They’re Using Tools, a company that builds promotional campaigns through video, design, animation and other media.
Rainsberger spoke with Providence Business News about her company, the rise of video in marketing, and how she hopes to grow They’re Using Tools in the future.
PBN: How did They're Using Tools come about, and what is the company all about?
RAINSBERGER: They’re Using Tools started in 2007 as a team for the 48 Hour Film Project – a national competition that is staged in cities all over the globe every year. Our first year, I was just a freelance animator looking to learn some new skills and have some fun, what I ended up creating was a group of amazing creative professionals with a knack for making awesome videos in a very short time frames.
Since then, we’ve become a small video company known for our ability to produce videos and animations that are very complex – puppets, special effects, animation, installation, etc. – with very little time. Sometimes we only have a couple weeks because the video is needed for upcoming events like grant entries, elections or product launches.
PBN: What are some recent or high-profile campaigns you've worked on?
RAINSBERGER: There are a few big campaigns we’ve gotten to work on recently. The first one that comes to mind is the “It’s All In Our Backyard: campaign – we created the graphic animations in the videos and the infographic illustrations on the website. Our other recent videos include a grant application video for the Rhode Island Foundation’s Innovation Grant and producing all the videos for Providence TEDx Talks last year.
PBN: What do you find are the top three misconceptions among business owners about how to run a successful marketing or promotional campaign?
RAINSBERGER: Video is one of those areas that very few companies or communication directors are primed to make, and yet it’s the most crucial part of any marketing campaign. It uses elements they may be familiar with – graphic design, copywriting, photography – but the combination of all three can prove challenging. The top three misconceptions I usually come across are these:
1) It’s somehow easier than other forms of advertising. Yes, you can shoot a good-ish video on an iPhone. But, it stills needs good research, strategy, content and delivery models like any other promotional campaign.
2) Another big one is that it needs to be funny. It doesn’t. A “viral” video isn’t necessarily funny. Chris Hadfield singing in space or the Coca-Cola’s “American the Beautiful” Super Bowl ad are good examples of non-funny videos that were very shareable. It’s about creating a conversation around a product, not just a quick laugh.
3) The last one is that it’s too expensive/time consuming for a small business. If the client knows their audience and the message they need to get across, a good video company can help them develop a strategy that works within their budget. Video is a powerful medium, and sometimes all a business needs a little bit to give them an edge on their competitors.
PBN: Video and animation are two of the leading services offered by They're Using Tools. How has video changed the way companies and organizations market themselves? Is video for everyone?
RAINSBERGER: In the last five years, the way companies market themselves has definitely changed. It’s gone from “we might need a video” to “we’ll definitely need a video.” Products or services that need an explanations – apps, tools/devices, and anything with lengthy instructions – are the biggest areas I see as benefiting from video.
Previously, you had to work very hard on creating photos and copy that gave a customer the experience of the product. With video, you come much closer to approximating that experience and winning customers. A lot of those videos focus on the easiness of the product/service and how well it integrates into the customer’s life.
Being a video company, I pretty much have to say every company needs a video. I was recently asked a challenging question: Who could/couldn’t use a Vine? Simple answer: Everyone.
A T-shirt company is going to have a very different strategy than a lawyer. The T-shirt company will probably focus on the quality of their shirts, the artwork, or their brand’s personality. They can film off-the-cuff videos in their factor, in the office, or behind the scenes during bigger video shoots. The lawyer has to make sure they always project the same qualities: trustworthiness, expertise, good people skills, etc. The lawyer probably shouldn’t film spontaneous, unscripted videos. It will take more time for the lawyer to figure out how to show their qualities in the six second window of a Vine, but it’s not impossible – and going that extra mile in their marketing might give them an edge on their competitors.
I’d advise anyone looking to add video to their company’s advertising to think what they’re hoping to achieve with the video and talk to a good marketing/video company to see how they could achieve those needs.
PBN: Where do you hope to see They're Using Tools! as a company in five years?
RAINSBERGER: Our core focus is video, animation, and design coming together in equal measures to create videos that fulfill and surpass our clients’ goals. The best way to do this is to hire quality artists and designers to work with – making a brand unique means hiring unique people. In five years, I hope to have a larger in-house design department and be able to offer even more innovative techniques than we already do (like 3-D and educational programming).
The software and tools are becoming so easy that it’s really the style and quality of the message that matter. Right now, we produce about 60-100 individual pieces of animation, video or illustration every year. I’m hoping to expand that to 500 pieces in the next five years, and hire more creators with a variety of skill-sets to offer to make every clients’ brand and message distinctive.