Using Video for Better Marketing and a Better World
Growing up in Lafayette, Max Cusimano was not much exposed to the arts. Even though his parents met while acting in a local civic theater production, the public schools did not have much of a fine arts focus.
Then he went off to college at the University of Southern California, and “a whole new world opened up” for him. USC has one of the top film and video programs in the country, and Cusimano dove in wholeheartedly. After graduation, he went to work in the studios of famed director Ridley Scott (“Bladerunner”). Then in 2010 he stepped out on his own, and within just a few years, had produced several thousand short videos for clients in the Los Angeles area.
Louisiana called him home in 2012, and the next year he started NolaVid in New Orleans. One of his largest West Coast clients was Yelp, and he was able to draw on that connection for work to launch the new business. And it came with a bonus …
“My first project was with SoBou, working with Samantha Fritz,” said Cusimano. “And now we are married with two kids.”
The new company blossomed as fast as the new romance. “I met a lot of people shooting for Yelp, which led to more business,” he recounted, “and I continued to get work through the Google/Yelp connection.”
Initially, most of the work was various types of marketing videos, brand and corporate videos, and television ads, along with some event video and photography. That such an enterprise would thrive is not surprising; in this age of Instagram and TikTok, video communications have become an increasingly substantial and successful component of marketing.
According to the national marketing firm HubSpot, 94% of businesses now consider video an effective marketing tool. Additionally, 81% of those that used video saw an increase in sales, 82% consider it a key component of their marketing strategy, and 83% think it gives them a good return on investment. More than half experienced a reduction in support calls.
Cusimano takes a personal approach to his work. “The first thing is to figure out the client’s goals,” he said. Types of videos may include sales, recruitment or general information. Sometimes the message is directed internally, helping to connect departments within a larger company.
“We have to determine the appropriate length for each video,” explained Cusimano. “People have shorter attention spans now. We have to look for the right location, figure out who is going to be in the videos, deal with the logistics. In the end, it’s about what benefits the client, what delivers the message.”
Cusimano also noted that “people have this perception that video is very expensive, but budget levels really range from a couple thousand dollars up to a hundred thousand dollars. Technology has brought us to a place where video is accessible to all businesses.”
Despite his considerable success in the marketing world, Cusimano is now looking to take NolaVid into new areas, especially short-form documentaries. One imminent project is working with Ducks Unlimited on three pieces on wetlands conservation. While this work is less lucrative than marketing, it is closer to Cusimano’s heart.
“Doing meaningful work goes a long way sometimes,” he observed.
In a similar vein, Cusimano is doing a project with the American Red Cross to document what is going on with the various south Louisiana disasters for the rest of the country and the world. The work is both powerful and delicate. “Our challenge,” he said, “is to find the images that make the most impact without being disrespectful.”
The environment, and the outdoors experience, motivate Cusimano strongly, and his next venture will take this one step further. He is in the development stage for a business that will guide customers through trails – initially in West Virginia – that are prime for wildlife photography and video.
“We want to provide a place for people to reconnect and get back to their best selves,” Cusimano explained. “We want to bring them closer to nature.”
While NolaVid will continue its core video marketing business, Cusimano unquestionably wants to do more. “I’ve always followed my passion, not just gone after the money,” he concluded. “We can use the power of the medium to improve our situation.”