I interviewed Tom Dickson, CEO of Blendtec, responsible for one of the most popular YouTube video shows of all time and a pioneering example of how to be social with video in your own business. Tom shares his advice he has for others who want to duplicate their own success with their "WillitBlend" YouTube series.
The Origins of Blendtec's "Will it Blend?" YouTube Series
Blendtec started WIB back in October 2007, thanks to the ingenuity of their then VP of Sales and Marketing, George Wright. The story goes that George had only 50 dollars for a marketing budget, and nothing reserved for SEO. (Video SEO wasn't even on most businesses' radar back then, either.) Since their CEO was testing all kinds of crazy tests with their blender in their workshop, a cheap and entertaining marketing strategy would be to simply make videos of popular items you could blend with their blender (but really shouldn't at home). Add a kitchy 60's retro music soundtrack, an infomercial studio setup, along with the CEO's natural straightforward personality (with no acting experience whatsoever), and being in the right place early on with a YouTube channel – and out came the happy accident of ongoing viral video success since.
10 Questions for BlendTec's CEO Tom Dickson
Would you consider your "Will it Blend?" video series to be a kind of "social video?"
We have always considered them a fun product demonstration, but I guess they could be called social video since YouTube is a social platform.
Who's decision was it to have you as the host in all of the videos? How did that come about?
Our marketing director at the time [George Wright] saw me blending unique items in order to test the blender and just said we've got to film this.
How do you decide what videos you're going to produce, and when?
We don't have a set schedule or platform to decide what to blend. We look at suggestions from our fans and for hot new products.
Do you still take suggestions on your "suggest stuff to blend" link on your website?
We recently changed that link to send people to a new Will it Blend? Facebook fan page. People tell us what to blend 24/7 now.
Do you have any data to show how your "Will it Blend?" video series has impacted sales for Blendtec blenders?
There are many factors to consider when looking at sales numbers, but we've increased over *500% since WIB.
Besides sales, what other benefits has your business received from the WillitBlend video series?
WIB has opened doors for us to be on numerous TV shows and do appearances all over the world. The amount of exposure we've received from the campaign is worth millions.
What would you say is your most popular video?
The original iPad video is the most viewed. Even a year later it is getting more views on average than any other video.
What are some of the things that go on behind the scenes of the making of a WillitBlend video that you think our audience would be interested to learn about?
Lots of duct tape and fishing line.
What have you learned along the way with how to create a video for your audience and business model?
Something we've learned is that the YouTube demographic is young (it is getting older, but slowly). The viewers of our videos are mostly young males, that don't exactly fit our demographic, but the exposure our videos have given us is what has been the true value.
What advice would you give to others who are looking to duplicate on the success of your own video series?
Create videos that people will want to share. The only reason Will it Blend has been successful is because of our fans are sharing it.
Highlights from this Recent Tom Dickson Video Interview…
- Tom's background is an engineer in manufacturing.
- Tom says their success was an accident. "All of the planets aligned perfectly [for us]. You've got YouTube, which had just started. You've got the most powerful [blender] in the world…
- Tom still loves to bring up the story about only having a $50 budget, However I've mentioned here earlier that these guys already had a video studio and equipment for their regular Blendtec series.
- Tom says his blenders are now being used in the White House.
- *Tom says that sales are up "1,000 percent." (Um... so that's what he said when this interview was done in March, but he told me 500 percent just today? 500 percent is still pretty awesome.)
- Tom says that nobody has done anything really crazy yet with their blenders that they've heard of which would cause any accidents. He did mention one particular video spoof from a guy who put scissors in someone else's blender; and it shot right through he blender and sent him ducking for cover. (You can see it at 1:21 of this video below.)