Customer-centric Video Conversations – Crutchfield’s Video Marketing Solution

I interview Crutchfield’s Multimedia Producer Jon Schroeder about how their consumer electronics business’ own video marketing strategy makes the most of their in-house production and experts – utilizing video to build conversations with their customers towards better customer service.

About Crutchfield

Jon Schroeder is the video producer for Crutchfield, the consumer electronics specialty resource for all of North America since 1974. Well known for their commitment to customer service and soliciting customer feedback, the Crutchfield team has been writing about audio/video gear since 1985.

Crutchfield first started with online video back in 2006, but Jon says the program really started gaining steam for them in 2008 with views of their videos totaling in the millions across the social media space and their website. Here’s a run-down of the Crutchfield video commerce program:

Crutchfield’s in-house video setup

Crutchfield has built their own video delivery platform in-house and also produces all of their videos in-house, using Crutchfield employees as on-screen talent rather than hiring outside actors. Jon’s responsibilities as Crutchfield’s multimedia producer include shooting and editing all of their videos – with the help of consumer electronics experts on staff, people he refers to as his “great technical wizards.”

“We already had all of the best people in-house, with people who already knew consumer electronics inside and out. We decided we would have the best sales advisors and product catalog writers who could… express themselves well on camera. The skill-set was already there, so it was just a matter of having people talk on camera about what they know best.”

He continues, “I work with a bunch of great people who basically devote their lives to consumer electronics, and having them as a resource makes my job way easier.”

Video Content

Crutchfield currently has about 400 videos on their website, which are a mix of product reviews (demos), shopping guides (“how to choose a …”), and installation guides. They display the product demo videos on relevant product detail pages and all videos are also in The Crutchfield Learning Center’s Video Library.

“Our tendency with our videos is to not try to make them ads or really appear flashy or sales-ey,” says Jon. “Our goal with our videos is to really try to clarify things with our customers and our potential customers. We do things with our videos that will show our customers the best features of a product, or explain exactly how a product works, or just answer any general questions they may have about consumer electronics on a wide scope.”

Video distribution and fan feedback

250 of the Crutchfield videos are syndicated to Crutchfield’s YouTube Channel at Crutchfield TV, with their most popular videos commanding 6-figure view counts. 115 videos are also on Crutchfield’s Facebook fan page.

“We’ve really gotten some great comments via YouTube, mentioning how our videos have helped customers figure out a problem that they might be having, or outline a feature in a way that they haven’t thought of before with implementing a product,” Jon says. “Any negative feedback we may get, we take that in stride, and look at it as a positive for keeping us informed and thinking about how to make our next video.”

Crutchfield’s video marketing tip: have video conversations with customers

Jon explained that one big paradigm shift the Crutchfield team experienced just a few months ago was to make their videos more of a two-way conversation, rather than just a one-way broadcast of an idea.

The way Crutchfield makes it a conversation with their customers is by producing “YouTube response videos.”  These videos are sincere, custom tailored responses to questions or comments on the company’s YouTube channel or Facebook page. Jon says that they started to do this conversation-style of video two months before the popular “Old Spice” campaign (Old spice produced a video series where they had an actor directly address social media groups).

“We were proud of that, because it was something that we considered to be extremely successful for Old Spice,” says Jon. “It was kind of the same idea that we had just a few months beforehand; and it was really successful for us in terms of getting tons of visitors. We would make response videos that would give an answer to a question one of our customers or viewers had; and that’s when we saw our views really start to spike on YouTube.”

Jon’s advice for other video entrepreneurs is to add this same kind of two-way conversational aspect to video. “You can make your video on the fly, like we do, based on some feedback received from one of your viewers.”

The Liveclicker Partnership

Crutchfield recently partnered with technology solutions provider Liveclicker to enhance the quality of their own video assets. “We’re excited about having Liveclicker … We currently run Flash videos and we’ve seen examples of Liveclicker videos that are definitely sharper, more robust… than our current in-house player,” he says.  “Additionally, we’re happy that with Liveclicker we’ll be able to publish videos to the iPad, iPhone, and other mobile platforms using HTML5.”

Crutchfield’s future video plans: “Real World” videos

Jon shared that his plans for Crutchfield include producing more of what he calls “real-life” type videos, “where we’re actually out ‘in the wild,’ solving a problem or examining someone’s [electronics device] – say, their car stereo, and getting away from our studio; and having more of a real-life documentary feel to our videos.”

“Even though we have a green screen, we’re getting around to doing more videos in the real world.”