The Visual Disconnect: Exploring DTC Companies’ Video Resistance with Satish Jayakumar

LS International

In our latest podcast, we had the privilege of hosting Satish Jayakumar, a seasoned entrepreneur with over 24 years of diverse experience in strategic online business development. Currently serving as the COO at Increasingly, board director at, and the visionary behind Future Anthem Consulting, Satish shared insights into the effectiveness of video selling. He delved into the reasons behind companies resisting its adoption, providing valuable perspectives on common misconceptions and missed opportunities.

Tune in for a deeper understanding of the dynamic landscape of online businesses through Satish’s wealth of experience.

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Satish Jayakumar (00:00):

The issue is that people talk about change, but they often make the investments when it’s too late. So by all means have the investments you have going into Google and these things, but if you see a trend coming towards you, it’s about making that change early enough.

Lauren Stiebing (00:16):

From LS International, this is the Career Success podcast. I’m Lauren Stiebing, and on today’s show how Satish Jaya Kumar shares how he believes TTC companies can use video to connect with consumers like never before. Satish has more than 24 years of entrepreneurial experience in developing strategic and profitable online businesses across markets. He’s been part of raising over 15 million in venture funding and over 200 million in exits. Welcome, Satish.

Satish Jayakumar (00:47):

Thank you. It’s good to be here, Lauren, and happy new year to you and everyone listening.

Lauren Stiebing (00:52):

Happy New Year to you too. The reason I invited you here today is to discuss how DTC companies are evolving and why they’re still resistant to video. So video selling seems to be working, but why do you think so many companies are resisting?

Satish Jayakumar (01:08):

I can take that Lauren, because I’m the only person here. When we talk about why companies are slow to jump onto video selling, I think it’s really about understanding how big the changes from the old way of doing things, because video’s being around forever. So why are we resistant to video? Part of the reason is because for years, creative agencies have pour a lot of money into making really high quality polished content made for television, cable and satellite, and that was the gold standard. You create something using a celebrity, something that was eye catching, that has very generalized messaging for homogenous audience. You put that on tv, you blasted it out there, high frequency, high reach, and that worked. But what’s happened is that that method of doing things is starting to show its age as the internet catches up. So not only does it cost a ton of money, it also takes a lot of time and a hell of a lot of planning and process.


The way we watch TV has also changed a lot. People are not watching cable or satellite TV anymore as much as they used to. I think the drops have been about 60% since 2015. And that trend, if you look at Comcast or anyone reporting these numbers, going down and just showing the same ad again and again is proving to be less effective. So it’s not that there’s resistance to video, there’s a fear of unlocking a massive change in video. So you could sort of describe it as trying to change the tires of your car while it’s still moving because this is the medium you’re used to and it’s had a wave at which you attacked it. The medium still looks the same, the place and the usage of it has changed, and the metrics and how you need to engage in that world have changed.


So with that, the methods need to be updated, and that takes time because there are companies, people, executives, decision makers who are entrenched in a way of doing things, and that’s what sometimes holds up change. Let’s talk a little bit about the internet now. We’ve talked about satellite and cable tv. Let’s talk about the internet. Back in the year 2023, which seems long time ago, if you look at the stats, 65% of everything people did online was video. That number’s up 51% since 2016, and that number’s only going to accelerate. We all know that. So we’re at this big turning point. Traditional TV is losing its charm, but also at the same time, the traditional internet is also losing its charm, which is funny because the internet started out as a text and image-based universe. So there’s a lot of investment that has gone into making sites to be optimized for Google, which is a text-based system.


Google’s indexing text and images, and so we built the internet. All of the website design that we’ve done is for text and pictures. So with all of that investment having happened over the last X number of years and optimizing that for conversion and engagement, it’s really hard now to write all of that off because people are saying, I don’t want text, I want video. So video’s taking over. In fact, just before this podcast, my Bluetooth keyboard stopped working 15 years ago, I would be, oh, great, I have the internet. I can just go to the manufacturer’s website and read the manual because I’ve thrown away the manual who keeps a manual anymore. But that’s not what I did. Of course, I googled it and I went to a video with some unknown person who’s made a 32nd video on how to fix the Bluetooth on this specific keyboard.


Now, what was interesting about that, it wasn’t the manufacturer that had made that content, and that’s a lost opportunity for them to have some stewardship on their product. So there’s a big shift in the way people are consuming and interacting with your brand, and that goes beyond just trying to sell them the product. And it seems that the resistance comes from, mainly from the fact that people have spent so much time and resources in the old methods that it’s how to make the change. But what consumers are telling us, it’s clear they want to watch video. So if you’re a smart brand manager, your job today is to figure out how to make your brand stand out in this new world of video, it’s already happening and it’s really just about catching up and making the most of it.

Lauren Stiebing (05:24):

And what do you think, I mean, I know you mentioned Google and how the websites have been built to really be at the top of Google, so how can they manage that transition because Google isn’t going anywhere. So let’s say, how do they manage their SEO to still be seen?

Satish Jayakumar (05:42):

Absolutely, and I don’t think it’s about ignoring one thing to get another transition often require a strategy of dual investment. My sense is that I don’t feel like companies are getting things wrong. It’s very easy to say, stop this, do this. I just don’t think it’s wrong to do what you’ve learned to do and what’s working right now. But everyone listening to this can identify the fact that it’s getting harder and harder to get the same results using the same method, and it’s costing a lot more to get that. So the issue is that people talk about change, but they often make the investments when it’s too late. So by all means have the investments you have going into Google and these things, but if you see a trend coming towards you, it’s about making that change early enough because just to talk about change, there were companies even as early as last year talking about digital transformation.


What is that? We’re 25 years into this. You can’t be digitally transforming now that ship has sailed. You need to be talking about optimizing in this digital journey, not about transforming into digital, but to be fair to a lot of brands and a lot of brand managers and marketers, the hype that you hear takes time to go into real transformational change. And when it happens, it often happens slower than people think, right? I think of cloud computing as a great example of this, right? Cloud computing. When AWS launched with a lot of fanfare in 2006, people like myself and everybody else who was running a startup said, wow, that’s it. Server hosted computing is dead. And it didn’t die. It took 10 years for cloud computing to really get enterprise adoption for it to become safe enough that large enterprises, people like banks, would actually get into it.


And so things have to grow and things have to mature before they become ubiquitous for us. And we’re already in the middle of hype cycles and there’s too many hype cycles now happening. So we are just on the back of crypto blockchain and now we’re seeing ai. It takes much longer than people feel it’ll take for these things to truly get entrenched in the world where the change actually happens, it feels like change actually happens much slower than people think it will. If you, if you went on X or Twitter or whatever you want to call it, everyone will tell you, if you are not doing this, you are dead. If you’re not an AI already, you’re dead. That feels like it’s really far from reality because you don’t have to be an early adopter in all of these things, and I can imagine that for a lot of people working in companies who in positions of having to market products and services, there’s a lot of fatigue to do with these hype cycles because what’s real, what’s going to stick around video, however, buck that trend, it’s been around a long time, really, really long time, right?


From black and white TVs to now. So we know, I mean, life itself is the best video, right? So the human brain is conditioned to accepting video. We prefer watching tv, so it’s causing us a well-deserved headache because it’s jumping around. It’s jumped from a place that we know where we built systems and ways of optimizing and ways of managing it. It’s completely jumped into this new sphere where it’s breaking the rules of what we know that’s what’s causing the problem. There’s too much investment gone into systems that run other types of campaign within these things. There’s this new medium that looks the same, but it’s different. I can understand they’re doing it the old way. So what a lot of people have done is take the campaigns that they’re running traditionally made with these creative agencies and that kind of thing, these polished productions, they’ve taken those same things and they’ve moved them online.


And I can understand that because most business leaders are sitting in a quarter to quarter chase and you have to do what works. So when you’re running in those cycles, it’s really hard to stop and bet on a new thing, especially when people like me sitting around as technologists are making you fear the pace at which change is occurring. So what can you do now, because I’m not suggesting you stop in your tracks. I think it’s a case of starting to move towards the future, starting to think about how much of your website is video versus blocks of text and static images because people want to consume that content. So if you are writing more text for your website, are you creating video for that? Are you creating engaging content for that? What types of video are you creating today apart from just ads? How much of it is informative? What do people learn about your product and how to use it that it’s video based on your site? Just like I explained earlier with this Bluetooth thing where I was on YouTube, if you are not creating that content, you are letting that conversation happen somewhere else, featuring your brand and your product, and it’s trying to take charge of that so that it’s featuring in a way that your customer feels held in a place that they want to talk to you and be seen by you.

Lauren Stiebing (10:25):

No, that makes sense. I’m sure I will get this question. So I’m going to ask you any specific companies that you would suggest people to look out at, companies that you think are really interesting to check out?

Satish Jayakumar (10:39):

Here’s the thing, the internet is internet creates monopolies. And when you think about video, it’s very easy to just go, it’s just YouTube or it’s just TikTok. I don’t think it’s about companies per se. I think that there are, of course, there’s lots of people out there doing phenomenal things, but a fundamental thing is that this is also happening on all sorts of other channels. People are sharing stuff in Facebook Messenger, people are sharing videos through Instagram. A lot of videos are being shared in WhatsApp. So a lot of this is not even entering into the sphere of analytics. You can’t track or measure or see this stuff, but your brand, the conversations are going on and the videos are being viewed in places that we don’t even think they are. So it’s not just a case of monolithically thinking about this as just YouTube or TikTok. This is happening in a much wider sense and in a much bigger way than we think at a loss to specific companies that are doing cool stuff in this space. I’m sure that are plenty. It comes down to actually resetting the way that people are doing things rather than pursuing specific companies. Yeah,

Lauren Stiebing (11:43):

I know what you mean. The first thing is like, oh, let’s go to this company and let’s copy what they’re doing because it seems to be working. But the whole idea is no, don’t copy them. Let’s shake it up. You think about it and you go forward with your strategy.

Satish Jayakumar (12:00):

Absolutely. Because when you think about what do you need to do as a brand, if you’re sitting here listening to this to go, okay, you’ve said videos here, videos changed, I get all of that. You’ve defined the problem. How do you solve that? And I think of it falls broadly into four buckets, and the first is to let go of the illusion of control. If you sit in a boardroom and you come up with a guideline and narrative about a brand and what it means and what it should mean to people, it’s never going to mean that anymore because the conversation is going to take its own life on the internet. We’re living in an age of user generated content. Anyone is free to buy your product and say whatever they want about it. So as much as you can get a model holding the brand new phone or an influencer to create a positive review, if the product itself is terrible, there’s no escaping the backlash and the truths that are outed on the internet.


Writing and sticking to this narrative and an illusion of control is something that people need to get used to letting go, because the model used to be, Hey, this is what the product is, and this is all the conversation that will happen about the product because we weren’t measuring what people were saying in their living rooms. But now that conversation is happening on the internet, it’s happening actually in video about your brand and your product. Getting embedded in that, and actually listening and reacting to that is more important than just going, I’m going to set forth a narrative and anything that deviates from that narrative, I’m going to ignore. The second thing that I would advise is to work really hard in product and service. There’s never been a time to focus more heavily on product quality and service, and the brands that are doing that are inevitably marketing themselves better without any advertising because people are talking about it.


The dimensions that people want to be communicated on are so different. People don’t just want to hear about features. People want to hear whether the product has, what’s the lifecycle of the product, how much of it has been recycled? What’s the carbon footprint? Things like this matter to people and they matter differently to different segments of your audience. But the reality is that when you think about video, it’s a fantastic way to communicate all of those things. If those things don’t exist in your core product and your service and your philosophy, you can’t then talk about them. And it used to be that you would get away with it. Just branding something is new and improved and putting it out there, that doesn’t work anymore because you can’t control the narrative and you will be outed. So work really hard on product and service, but also don’t try to control the narrative so much that the illusion of control doesn’t exist anymore.


The third thing that I would do is to be authentic, be creative, and be funny. Who doesn’t like laughing? And that might seem at odds with a brand that’s trying to be serious. But the reality is what we’re doing today is we’re forcing people into ad formats and choices that they just don’t want. If you don’t like an ad format, chances are your customers don’t either. I mean, I go to YouTube and I was on YouTube before, and to get this 22nd spot to fix my Bluetooth keyboard, I had to go through a ten second video. I was annoyed, intrusive ad formats are not doing their job. Create content that’s great. Create content that’s funny, kid. Create content that’s enriching to people’s lives. I mean, there’s a brand called Car Wow in the UK that did a really fantastic job of launching car reviews and they were selling cars, but the content was really great.


And so good content can often be more powerful than intrusive, mass produced pre-roll or post-roll or Midroll ads because we live in an attention economy. Getting your customer’s attention within the first few seconds is absolutely crucial. When you think about what kind of content you want to produce, it’s about being authentic, being creative, and being funny because that’s what will get through and that’s what will get shared. When I get something funny sent to me on WhatsApp, if it’s about a brand or whatever, I’m sending that on to 10 other people, the virality of that message is incredible. And so it’s about trying to do that. The fourth thing that I would try to do is to stop striving for perfection in the creative. We’re used to having this really polished, well produced, edited, produced. Creative customers are not expecting studio grade productions anymore. My daughter’s favorite game is Minecraft.


I mean, this thing’s pixelated. I can’t believe that they’re willing to accept, because you always imagine the threshold for graphics must be so much higher. It’s not as long as it’s fun, people are willing to engage in anything as long as it’s keeping them maintained. A lot of the TikTok videos that are going viral, I mean the production quality of them is nothing to speak about at all. Yet they’re getting millions and millions of views. This notion that the creative needs to be perfect is something that we can shed along with trying to control the narrative. What we really need to be focusing on is capturing hearts and minds with creativity. So when you’ve got this army of creativity with content producers all over the world, why try to source all the ideas from just one boardroom in one agency? Having lots of creatives also allows you to speak to every type of customer who would want to buy from you, because every customer has a different thing that they’re trying to accomplish with your product, and their needs are different.


Today, we just lump it all into one single message, one creative, and we send it out there and we hope it works. That’s going to change and that is changing. So when we talk about internet and we talk about video, the rules of the old world don’t apply anymore, and that’s what’s fundamentally changed. And I think that just by trying to get into the conversation in a more authentic way and following these false sort of things that are said there, which are by no means exhaustive, I think you can start with the basic ingredients of something that can be really successful in this new space.

Lauren Stiebing (17:40):

Well, Satish, thank you for all of that information, and I think there were some very good takeaways. Also, people like actionable content. So thank you for that, and thanks for joining us today.

Satish Jayakumar (17:53):

Absolutely welcome. Thank you, Lord. And thank you everyone for listening.