3 Advantages Text-Based Content Retains Over Video Marketing

The written word still has its advantages over those fancy video-slayers, especially for nascent companies

A few days ago, I penned a piece here about how — from the perspective of a hobbyist creator, at least — video is more fun and fulfilling than writing:

I wrote that piece from the perspective of doing both for fun and enjoyment. And I stand by what I wrote in that piece:

  • There’s something fulfilling about the fact that videography involves using your body as well as your mind
  • As a tech geek, I love the fact that video-making — even simply creating videos for YouTube — allows me to jive with both my creative and technical proclivities. I can spend hours fressing over gear. But ultimately what keeps me inspired to keep moving forward is the pursuit of storytelling and creativity.
  • Video is a cool way to meet people. In real life!
Shooting video at a political march in Jerusalem earlier this year. Photo: author.

Nevertheless, there’s a part of me that feels the need to stick up for the written word.

For one, I can speak to the advantages of using writing professionally — it’s a large part of what I do for a living and what I have been doing for the best part of 10 years.

It’s also something that I have helped plenty of companies — especially early stage ones and entrepreneurs — to make good use out of. To date, my video career has been purely a hobby, although I’m keeping one eye firmly on how I could (down the road) weave it into my service offering.

So while my perspective here may be limited by the second qualification, I can vouch for three things that writing “does” really well.

Barriers To Entry To Create Written Content — Say, Content Marketing — Are Low

As I write this point, I feel an irrepressible jolt of anger at myself for publishing it.

Because I know that it’s a rationale that has frequently haunted me as a professional writer and which is exploited by merciless cheapskates to keep writing rates artificially down.

Writing’s cheap (or it should be). It doesn’t require much skill. Anybody can do it. These are all helpful (and untrue) slurs that writers have probably heard all the time.

Now here’s the truth. Good writing requires an investment — in the humans doing the writing.

I’m a firm believer that nobody gains from cheap, ineffective copy. Sadly, we live in a world in which many clients would roll their eyes with disdain at the thought that what they perceive to be a simple piece of writing — let’s take a blog post — could cost $300 (or $500 or … dare I say it … $1,000). I was tempted to add the word “increasingly.”

While transitioning towards an inbound-led pipeline has been a huge boost for my business, I still spend too much time fending off the unrealistic demands of business owners and marketing agencies (who really should know better). They want a white paper about their client’s emerging AI platform written tomorrow (written by a writer that must be able to demonstrate prior experience in the subject matter). Their budget: $200.

What I’m talking about instead is that the barriers to entry to create the physical hardware needed to produce writing isn’t comparable to video. Cameras, green screens, and fancy microphones aren’t required. Us writers tend to need screens, keyboards, and steady supplies of internet connectivity and caffeine. Get out of our way and let us do our thing. For small budget-constrained-businesses, what’s not to love about that?

Writing Is More Accessible Than Audio Or Video Based Content — For The Moment, At Least

I’ve written before about my “forecast” for what I see happening to the world of “content.”

A few months later, and I haven’t much to add, or change, to that prediction.

We’re seeing, at the moment, a slew of technological developments that — collectively — could change the face of content marketing. We just haven’t all recognized it yet:

  • Getting text transcripts of video is becoming easier, cheaper, and faster. Case in point: YouTube’s built in automatic captioning engine which I generally find to be amazingly fast and accurate. Or Rev. It’s going to get easier for video creators to produce automatic text-based readouts of their videos. As in, a lot easier.
  • Moving in the other direction, speech synthesis is speeding up the rate at which realistic human-like voice can be used to take a ream of text and convert it into audio. We haven’t quite gotten to video yet. But as I mentioned in the post linked above, it’s not hard to imagine a future in which stock libraries and more AI could be paired to finish off that process.

The point I was trying to make with the above piece (and if I may say so myself, I think it’s still salient):

We’re marching quickly towards a future of format-agnostic content; in fact, the first manifestations of it are already here waiting to be digested.

It’s a reality in which the format through which we distribute content — currently audio, video, or text — matters far less than what we have to say. Unironically, the knife that helps cut through the noise and takes us back from the precipice of content saturation might be .. content itself (in a stricter sense of the word).

In one direction (text to video) we have synthesization and tools yet to be developed but which are probably around the corner. In the other, AI and automatic transcription engines. A few clicks and creators can go either way. A couple more and consumers can control how they wish to consume the latest from their influencers of choice.

That’s tomorrow. But the easiest means which creators have at their disposal to start that process is still … the written word.

Writing Lets You Iterate Quicker — And Fail Faster

Have I been working with startups for too long? Probably.

But in an increasingly saturated content marketplace, creators are going to have to become more imaginative with their content marketing in order to actually get their voices heard.

One method is shouting — let’s call this the brute force approach (publish a lot!).

Another is trying to be more strategic and clever about what’s being said. The two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, by the way.

As above, my prediction remains that the key to that endeavor is going to be a return to focusing on messaging. It’s going to be easier for us creators to focus on what we have to say rather than how we’re going to distribute it (format-wise, I’m talking). Consumers are going to have the easy ability to override us at arm’s reach anyway.

Content saturation is here. Consumers aren’t interested in hearing more fluff. Say something significant. Or don’t say it at all.

Even those who do truly have something significant to say aren’t likely to get their by tomorrow.

Content creation is an ongoing process.

It requires developing thinking. Refining how that thinking is expressed. And advancing slowly towards a form of communication that really gets the intended idea across to audiences.

The easiest way to get through that process as quickly as possible is to fail as fast as possible. The Agile philosophy. And probably the quickest way to go from idea conception to execution in the creative world … writing.

Daytime: tech-focused MarCom. Night-time: somewhat regular musings here. Or the other way round. Likes: Linux, tech, beer. https://www.danielrosehill.com