3 Ways of Thinking Outside the Online Video Commercial

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The traditional view of how to advertise on television (and subsequently through online video ) is the mini-story. Usually these are short pieces dealing with one subject in a superficial but psychologically attractive way. Sure, the story may have a dominating, but catchy, jingle and the narrative may be non-existent – but essentially that is what a commercial is to most people. However, online video offers some interesting alternatives that not only move away from this traditional mini-story concept but also allow you to build a dynamic and engaging community.

Showing Not Telling

Everyone wants to see how a product works before they lay down their hard-earned cash. By providing a video demonstration of your products you can satisfy that need. There’s nothing really new in that idea, however by turning the demonstration into a form of entertainment you can make the demo far more appealing not only to your existing customer base, but also to people that have never heard of you – potential customers that don’t have a need now but may in the future. Here is a world class example of turning a demonstration into an appealing, form of entertainment advertising:

The Will It Blend series of online videos has been running since 2006 and has generated over 100 million views. As a result Blendtec has seen a dramatic increase in retail sales for their products. By demonstrating their product in such an unusual way they’re not only providing a wonderfully entertaining strange attractor – blending up items that aren’t supposed to be blended – but also demonstrate just how good their products are – if it blends an iPad it must be awesome at making a banana smoothie.

Also by allowing its audience to write-in and request items to blend, Blendtec are encouraging user participation and laying the foundation for other forms of two-way communication. They are forming a goodwill bond between themselves and the users. Forming the beginnings of a community.

Making It Personal

The old saying that your people are your best asset still rings true. You can use your staff to advertise your company and all they have to do is be themselves.

All business is based around the idea of trust. We’re at best hesitant about entering a deal with people that we don’t trust. By providing an online video of your people, showing them as personable humans rather than faceless drones you are setting the basis for a trust to be formed.

One idea for the format of these videos is a series of interviews in which your staff tell us a little about themselves – nothing overtly personal but enough so we can a feel of what this person is like. They can reveal what they do and maybe relate a story of an event that happened at the company. It is important to let them be themselves and to not try to force them to advertise the company. Let them be real.


Google has a range of these staff videos and after watching a few you get a real feel of the vibe that Google must have. There’s an undertone that the people of Google feel they are doing massively important work. Their passion is unmistakable.

While Google is undoubtedly a great place to work, and chooses the best people to work there, your company must also have exciting, passionate people that you can use as well. By using your staff in this way you make your company more friendly to clients and begin to form a foundation of trust, thereby opening up the lines of communication.

Beginner’s Guide or Master Class

Many products and services could benefit from a video or series of video tutorials explaining in detail just how to use them. Text instructions – even with diagrams – can be ambiguous. By providing a video tutorial for your products you lessen the problems associated with learning how to use the product.

Alternatively, you can construct master classes that provide professional-level knowledge on how to use a product. It doesn’t even have to be a tutorial about using your own product. If you are selling something that is ancillary to another product then a video tutorial about how to use that product offers you an opportunity to tap into that their established market.

One of the best examples of this technique is Andrew Kramer’s Video Copilot (unfortunately the videos are unavailable to be embedded). The site caters to users of the motion artistry and video compositing software After Effects. Andrew is one of the leading video artists in Hollywood and provides a range of tutorials catering to both the beginner right up to seasoned professionals looking for new techniques and tricks. Not only do the tutorials show off his expertise – advertising to prospective clients – but he also offers a range of add-ons for sale that improve the After Effects experience. The site has generated a strong community attracting 2.5 million hits per month.

Using these techniques to create video sites (or sub-sites) allows you to foster a community. It offers your consumers a chance to talk directly to you and allows you an opportunity to test new ideas, offer incentives and to receive feedback. In many ways it becomes your own personalised market research group the only costs involving the upkeep of the site and the production of the videos themselves. That’s got to be a great return on your investment.

About the Author: skribe

Based in Perth, Australia, Antonio Barimen (aka skribe) is a writer, digital media consultant and social media producer.

He is available to help you develop social marketing and digital media strategies, improving communication between staff, partners and suppliers or just increasing the number of fans on Facebook. He has developed successful digital and social media projects for clients including CBS, Evian, Procter & Gamble, Discovery Networks, Pernod Ricard and American Express.

Connect with him on Twitter or Google Plus.
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Post Under Advice, Social Media, Video April 19, 2010