One of the more well-known success stories with online video marketing is Blentec - a small company that took what people would think to be a standard generic product (a blender) and make the most entertaining and engaging video content on the web today. ReelSEO's Grant Crowell recently interviewed the man responsible for the online video marketing success - George Wright, Blendtec's Sales and Marketing Director - who shares some revealing advice on how combining social networking strategies with SEO can get video to show up prominently in the major search engines' universal search results, and gather customers from search terms not otherwise thought possible.
Grant: What are the different strategies that you use for your video content, in terms of promotion and persuasion?
George: We have our videos online, which actually demonstrate our machine being used in useful, everyday applications - very similar to real life product demos our employees will give. Typically, what happens is the YouTube is about brand awareness. Its about letting people know there's something new. To do that, you have to engage people in a different, new, fun interesting way. So "Will it Blend" is exactly that; its a wake way to take and demonstrate the extreme nature of our machine (in a way that hopefully no one will ever have to use!)
There are videos for brand awareness, to help people know that you exist. And then there are videos that you use to help bring people to actually opening their wallet and making a purchase. The demo videos on our Blendtec site demonstrate the blender in a practical way that will help to make the actual sale. But when you blend a rake or marbles, it has a broader appeal, so more people will watch that and find that interesting, which is a great introduction of our product line to new areas and demographics.
Has Blendtec done any SEO strategies around its video?
We've picked themes and titles, and other things that have broader appeal. One good example is our Chuck Norris (doll) video - Chuck Norris is someone who has huge appeal on the internet. When we did a Chuck Norris blend (who btw, was "too tough" to blend). All of a sudden we're tying in to two very popular search items on the net. So now if you Google "Chuck Norris," we rank very high for that search. The same with "golf clubs, "video cameras," "iphones" and "ipods" and other things we've blended. Because we've been selective in the things we've blended, its actually helped us in a huge way. We've done that strategically and when Chuck Norris is combined with just the sheer popularity of the views that we get on our "Will it Blend?" videos, the comments, and all of the things that have happened virally online have really driven that the search engines tend to rank us very high. search engine optimization and helped us to rank very high.
So how do you choose a topic for what to blend? is it based on keyword research, online feedback, or traditional marketing – or a combination?
This is where the campaign is really magic. In addition to our own RSS feed at WillitBlend.com (the "Suggest Stuff to Blend" link, which our subscribers immediately hear about our latest videos), we have a place where people can suggest what can be blended next. Having our own viewers put in their suggestions is perfect for us; and we will actually blend the things that most people are requesting. We've got continue to get recommendations for the next blend from our fans. our data for all of that information.
You're also taking your own unique video content a commercial product for sale, too. On the "Will it Blend" site, you even now offer a DVD for sale, "Will it Blend - The First 50 Videos" - with outtakes and behind the scenes footage. Is this a case of where viral video, if popular enough, can itself be successfully commoditized if people are willing to pay for more "premium" content?
The thing we are we're actually covering new ground on is that in that we are we're still a small company that's using social media (YouTube) to demonstrate a product. Its fun for us to be so successful doing that, because we have an actual product we can actually sell, and we're featuring it right in the videos. (Something like "LonelyGirl15″ doesn't have that kind of connection.) We've had fun creating our videos with it and now we do sell the videos in high-quality format. One of the most amazing things to me is that we'll can actually go out to a trade show or an industry event, and people will ask us to and do a live "Will it Blends" for them right on the show floor, and people will be packed to watch what these live blending sessions happens. We'll even get people waiting in line to have for an autograph.
What are your thoughts on being an inspiration for others to create their own "Will it Blend" demos? Any thoughts on hosting all that user-generated content on your own Will it Blend Site?
Yes, on YouTube you can see all kinds of spoofs on our own videos and different things like that. As far us accepting them, we really haven't put out a call for people to do that. We honestly believe that some of these things you really shouldn't try at home. Even though its fun for us and we know its fun for them, we want people to know that we do this for living. We understand how our blenders work, we understand the intricacies in what should and shouldn't happen, and more importantly we understand the capacities and the capabilities of our own machines. So when we're doing this, there's a whole new factor in that we understand the safety issues because we are the manufacturers and testers of the product, as opposed to someone if they just did that in their home - which on our own site (in the big "Don't try this at home" button) we don't recommend doing at all.
You are a B2C company, and YouTube seems to be a good fit for B2C videos. Your videos are all of of the consumer version of your blender. Your commercial-grade blenders and other products are not featured on YouTube. Do you think a B2B company or product for a business audience could achieve similar success on YouTube?
Absolutely. You should do it. But the barrier to entry with YouTube is you have to create awesome content. Our businesses, in the last few decades, have been ingrained with the idea of creating just advertisements, and then paying for ad space on someone else's content. The ad becomes an interruption to the content, yet the advertisers hope that the audience watching the original content will come over to your ad as well. That whole method today is broken. That method may still work for some, but its clearly not working as well as it used to. There used to only be a few pathways to the consumer - print, radio, television, etc. The internet has changed all of that. So if you're going to create and generate content that you're going to put on YouTube, you have to not look at it as an an ad, which is how businesses have typically looked at messaging. You have to look at it as content. You're not trying to interrupt the "Friends" television schedule; you're trying to replace "Friends." You're trying to replace the content. And if you provide good content, people will watch it. They'll watch it all by itself.
Is this video content for small businesses monetizable online?
It is. When you create amazing and unique content, people will naturally want to come and advertise on it. Its fascinating to me that we generate revenue from our videos now, since other companies want to advertise in them. One example is the video sharing site Revver. All of videos on Will it Blend? are really a link to the website Revver. At the end of the videos, there's the ad. And that ad is by a company that's not willing to generate their own content, but they do want to try and interrupt people's viewing of our content. So we're now the original content providers, and other people are advertising at the end of our own message.
There's a whole shift in marketing; We're changing the way marketing is done. Instead of having to buy ad space, you can distribute this for free. All you got to do is create awesome content, and people will come and see your stuff, they'll blog about it and share it with others. So instead of you paying for ad impressions, you actually are soliciting your friends and allies for using their credibility to bring their friends in a social way, and have them view and distribute and promote your message. Its a totally different shift in marketing.
The amazing thing for me is that BlendTec is a small company. We've got around 180 employees, we're a manufacturing company and not a marketing company; we just don't have the marketing budget to go out and brand ourselves in the ways that you've seen companies in the past do. Larger companies like Kellog's or GM will spend hundreds of millions on advertising to build their brand. Times have changed since then. People get their information differently now. Consumers consumer our media differently now, and so as marketers, we need to approach the market differently as well.
Of course, we're already seeing a shift to the commercials becoming much more entertaining content.
That is definitely true. And if it's entertaining to watch on television, I'm sure its going to be just as entertaining to watch online. Good content appeals in a broader sense, and people will go to that content online just by itself. If it's really good content, you shouldn't have to buy advertising space for it.
Especially right now when it's free.
Yes, especially for small companies who just can't afford to spend to even attempt to have that advertising presence.
Here is one of the most popular viral videos from blendtech: