People hate commercials…except when they love them. When you’re watching your favorite show and the screen goes from an emotional close-up of the main character to a close-up of a Big Mac, you’re not psyched, are you? Someone’s up in your grill trying to sell you and you didn’t even invite them.
But, then there are advertisements you seek out, choose to watch (maybe even multiple times) and then post on Facebook. What’s different? Somehow, those companies have you going after them instead of vice versa.
Take viral marketing royalty Blendtec; makers of high-end, high-powered blenders. Back in 2006, this was a smallish, Utah based company making kick-ass blenders (I can attest; I have one and it’s amazing) that people weren’t really buying.
They had significant competition from more publicized companies like Vitamix and, in their 30-year existence, had not managed to brand their company very strongly.
Enter George Wright, the company’s new chief marketing officer. One day, he happened upon CEO Tom Dickson doing his usual shtick: testing the blender’s capability by attempting to blend everyday items you wouldn’t normally dream of blending. On this particular day, it was a 2 x 4.
The CEO had been doing this for years, much to the employees’ delight. But, George was not merely amused; he was inspired. The shock factor plus Tom’s folksy, funny delivery equaled marketing gold.
$50 bought George a lab coat, a bag of marbles, a 12-pack of Diet Coke, a McDonald’s meal, a rotisserie chicken, and a rake.
Tom donned the lab coat and proceeded to present the camera with the violent blending of the aforementioned items, thus birthing the most successful online video marketing campaign.
The videos weren’t fancy or hip or terribly expensive to produce. There’s a 70’s game show-esque intro, then we see Tom standing there smiling that friendly, old man smile. He gives a brief intro to the item that’s about to meet its demise, and then he asks the now-famous question, “Will it blend?”
We watch as things like iPads, CDs, shoes, and canned goods are shoved into the blender and turned to dust. Tom dumps the powder onto the counter, flashes a cheesy smile and the words “Yes, it blends!” appear on the screen. Simple, right?
George probably knew he had something good, but I doubt he had any idea how dramatically the BlendTec audience would respond. Here’s some numbers for you:
• The first video became the 33rd most watched YouTube video of all time.
• There are now over 186 “Will it Blend” videos.
• The videos increased web traffic by 500% in the first year alone.
• The iPhone video has been viewed over 11 million times.
• Almost half of video viewers visit the website and 15% of those visitors end up buying the blender.
• Retail sales are up by over 700%.
• Blendtec’s YouTube channel has 227,685,590 views
The best thing about this campaign? Besides the props, it cost the business nothing. Last year, a 30-second Super Bowl ad cost a record $4 million and was seen by 108 million people. That means that the companies that bought those ads paid a little over $13,000 per second of airtime. BlendTec paid absolutely nothing to have their ads shown to more than twice as many people.
You may be coming at this as a complete neophyte, but that doesn’t matter. Anyone with a camera and a computer can launch their own mega-successful campaign without spending a cent. Follow these steps to get started.
1. Create a YouTube Channel
Conveniently, YouTube is owned by Google, so if your company already has a Google+ or Gmail account, you’re halfway there. If not, go set up a Gmail account with your company’s name.
• Sign into YouTube using your company’s Google+ or Gmail account.
• Click on your name in the upper right of the screen.
• From the drop-down menu, click “My channel.”
• A dialogue box will pop up asking you if you want to create a channel.
• Click “Create Channel” and voila, you have a YouTube channel!
2. Personalize Your Channel
Think of your YouTube channel as an extension of your website – you want it to be attractive, engaging and optimized for search.
• Check out the “Channel Setup Checklist” on the right side of the screen. This shows you the ways to personalize your page.
• Start by clicking the “About” tab underneath your name in the middle of the screen.
• Click on the plus sign next to “Channel Description” and write an engaging description of your company and the types of videos you feature.
• Click on the plus sign next to “Links” to add links to your company’s homepage, all of your social media pages, and any other pages you want viewers to visit.
• Click on the plus sign next to “Feature other channels” if you’d like to connect your channel to other channels associated with your business. Unless your company directly operates other channels, we don’t recommend using this feature. Why send viewers away when you’ve got their attention?
• Click on the blue “Add channel art” button in the middle of the banner at the top of the page and follow these guidelines to make sure it’s the right kind of image:
• The image must be 2560 X 423 pixels. You can crop an image to this size using Photoshop or other photo-editing software.
• Make sure any really important parts of the image are inside of the center 1546 pixels of the image (the “safe area”) as the ends may not be visible, depending on a user’s display.
• Choose an image that’s eye-catching and representative of your company – it could be a photo, a cool illustration, or your company’s logo. Visit some other channels you like and see what they’ve done to help you decide which way to go.
3. Optimize for Search
Remember that YouTube is a video search engine that’s owned by Google. Actually, it’s the 2nd most utilized search engine after Google, and gets more searches per day than Bing and Yahoo combined. Employ the same SEO strategies you use to drive your website to the top of search rankings, plus a few others.
Keyword optimize the description of your channel, the title to each video you post, and the description of each video. Make your keywords as specific and relevant as possible so that your videos don’t get buried under a pile of teenagers whining into their webcams.
You can also drop in some hyperlinked keywords in your descriptions. In fact, we advise that the first word in your description should link to your website.
As tempting as it may be to throw in timely keywords relating to what’s hot right now, DON’T DO IT. If you put “Justin Bieber” into the description of a video that has nothing to do with the Biebs, you compromise your integrity as a brand and probably won’t end up in front of the kind of audience you want anyway.
We’re not saying you can’t capitalize on hot topics by making a video that somehow compares Bieber Fever to your brand (more on that below). If you do that, Bieber-bombs away in your description.
Blendtec has absolutely done that, by blending up popular, new tech gadgets and that new CD everyone is talking about. They’re still showing off their product in relevant ways, but they’re also incorporating timely, popular search terms.
4. Make It
You don’t need to be a master videographer to make a successful video. What you do need? A camera and some video-editing software.
Most of us have a pretty damn good camera in our pockets if we have a smart phone. For the purposes of an amateur videographer, iPhone 4S’s video quality is not that markedly different from that of a $3000 Cannon. Don’t believe me? Check this out.
Whichever camera you choose, try using a tripod to avoid the ubiquitous shaky quality we see in many amateur videos. Also, take great care with what’s in your shot – don’t try to pack too many colors, movements or objects in or it ends up looking messy.
If you’re like me, you definitely won’t get one perfect take for your video. That means you’ll need to edit it. If you’re a Mac user, the iMovie software makes life pretty easy. Windows users can get a free download of Movie Maker, the PC equivalent.
Only keep your best shots and takes and get it down to 2-3 minutes; no one wants to see your full-length feature film. To finish it off, add cool music and let the credits roll.
5. Make it Useful
The best marketing videos offer something to the viewer. Before you whip out the camera, think about what you want this video to do for you:
Do you simply want it to drive more traffic to your website?
Are you trying to launch your brand?
Is your goal to get viewers to take an immediate action?
Figure out your purpose before you hit record & decide what it can do for your viewers. It must serve a purpose for them as well. Offer value by giving tips and tricks, insider advice, step-by-step tutorials, or demonstrations.
If your viewer isn’t going away from your video armed with more knowledge than they had when they arrived, you’re doing it wrong. As they say, use it or lose it.
6. Make it Entertaining
Making a video entertaining enough that people enjoy watching it and want to share it is definitely challenging. You know that much from all the god-awful videos you’ve stumbled across while searching for something good. “Entertaining” is a vague word that means something different to everyone, so there’s no exact recipe, but there are some tips to keep in mind.
• First, make it authentic. As we learned from Blendtec, sometimes your own, very real, very cheesy CEO would make a great star. Use yourself and your actual employees to make a video that resonates with people. Think about why we love reality TV so much – it’s fun to watch folks like us.
• Humor is another major factor in a video’s success. Check out YouTube’s list of most viewed videos of all time; most of them are funny. Your content might not be hilarious, but you can probably find a way to present it in a funny way. It could be as simple as having that guy in accounting with the weird voice read the text for you.
• However you choose to entertain, just make sure that it’s attention-grabbing and different. Videos are often entertaining just because they’re so strange.
7. Google Trends
Jump on whatever bandwagon is currently rolling through the web and incorporate something from pop culture. If you don’t keep up with that stuff see popular search topics on Google Trends.
You’ll get many more hits, and garner much more interest if your video incorporates something that’s currently on everyone’s minds and screens. Lots of popular videos are actually parodying other videos or referencing current pop culture.
8. Make it Public
Viral videos are not a miracle of nature. They are the result of an exponential sharing process that starts with the creator. You share it with your circle, they share it with their circles, and so on until it’s everywhere.
We told you how to start on YouTube, but you shouldn’t stop there. The web boasts numerous free video-sharing platforms. Don’t put all your eggs in YouTube’s basket; share on Vimeo, Vevo, Daily Motion and any others you like.
After you post your video, immediately post links to all of your social media networks, your site’s homepage and your e-mail list. Publicize it exactly the same way as you would other new content, such as a new blog post.
There are a dizzying amount of outlets competing for the attention of your clients. However, there are few as powerful as video. A great video marketing campaign puts a face to your brand and endears clients to the human side of your business. Your lack of experience shouldn’t hold you back from jumping in the ring.
Like marketing itself, video creation is both an art and a science. There are certain components we know they need to catch on, but the rest is in the intangible ether; you know it when you see it. With these steps and your creativity and innovation, there’s no reason you can’t be the next “Will it Blend?”