Social Video Success Story: 10 Product Video Tips from “Will it Blend?” – Part 1
I interviewed social video expert consultant and creator of one of the earliest – and still most successful social video series today, George Wright. In this rare interview, George shared with me the keys to how he managed to make BlendTec’s “Will it Blend?” YouTube video series a viral sensation and an economic success. He also shared his tips for what we can learn from doing product videos in our own retail, e-commerce, and marketing activities.
I originally met and interviewed George Wright back in late 2008, when he was Blendtec’s VP of Sales & Marketing. (George has since moved on to be a consultant with other companies working with individual products and services from the success he achieved with BlendTec.) You can watch this interview above. It was taken at a marketing conference right after he was done demonstrating blending a rake. (Their “Will it Blend?” rake YouTube video was on of their very first YouTube videos done back in 2006.)
Here are some interesting stats from the “Will it Blend?” YouTube channel and campaign:
- 109 videos to date with many of the individual videos getting views in the multi-millions
- Their most popular video, blending an iPhone, has nearly 10 million views to date.
- Blendtec attributed the “Will it Blend?” campaign to 500-1000 percent increase in blender sales.
Tip 1: Strategy first (before video)
George explained to me that their online video campaign was really a result of a strategy session, and not something that was ever a given. “Anytime a marketer goes through and develops a program you need to make sure that you strategize and plan out what you really need to accomplish and what will happen. Online video is a tactic that can be very useful when it’s called for by the proper strategy. But if your objective is online video, I would tell you that you’re upside down and you’re backwards. You need to make sure that the strategy comes first so that you know what you are doing, how you are going to do it, what your intents are, and who you want to talk to. Then you can move all the way through to the point where you are actually touching those audiences that you have targeted through your strategy. Online video is a very powerful tactic to help your message reach your audience, but with all tactics, its success depends on having a solid strategy to guide it.”
“The biggest challenge is when people want to do online video marketing without really knowing why they want to do it.” said George. “I always refer to that as a tactic in search of a strategy, and it is a recipe for failure. Or even if you do have success, you really won’t know why. That’s why you need to make sure that the strategy always comes first – you need to know your audience, your objective, and your strategy. Then when you finally come to the tactical level in terms of creating an online video and posting it online, everything has been prepared to the point where you can now be successful. Many people still come to me and say they want to do a viral video and that they were inspired by my own success with “Will it Blend?” I would say back to them:“Wow! Solid marketing always starts with an objective not with a tactic. You’re upside down.”
Tip 2: Work on your storytelling
“Blendtec really was a fun campaign to do. We started with a very small marketing department with just two people including myself and a very small budget, almost no budget; but we had an amazing product and an amazing story to tell.” said George. “From that we developed the ‘Will it Blend?’ strategy. We identified the audience’s objectives, our strategies and the tactics; and we got to the point where we felt like online video was the right tool and tactic for us to use. When we put those videos out, we hit the target and we hit it hard. As soon as those videos were released, it was insane how fast it worked, and how connected we are as a society. It took our awareness through the roof almost overnight.”
Tip 3: Use the social space early
Blendtec’s taking advantage of YouTube and other social media platforms early on really helped them achieve their own corporate objectives, even without having a search engine marketing budget. “When we go out there looking for what new products, new services to offer, and new things to talk about that are relevant – social video marketing is an exciting and powerful way to determine and achieve just that.” said George.
Tip 4: Acknowledge any mistakes with your audience, and correct them early
Any video campaign that shows a lot of creative variety with product demonstrations is bound to run the risk of some oversights that others in your audience will pick up on and announce. “There was one where we blended magnets.” said George. “The problem was that we had misidentified the magnets. They were not neodymium magnets (like we had said in our video). After we blended them, even though it was meant to be a fun video and kind of light hearted, we had magnet experts that came out of the woodwork saying, ‘This is not true! This is manipulated information!’ and you know, they were right.”
“Fortunately for us it didn’t affect the performance of the blender sales, but I’ll tell you I’ve learned very quickly to make sure you get all of your facts very straight before you put the videos out there. Once they go out, you can’t bring it back. It is important to be diligent in correcting any mistakes early and to acknowledge them with your audience.”
Tip 5: Get on the speaking circuit
Although BlendTec’s CEO Tom Dickson was the familiar personality in the “Will it Blend?” YouTube channel, George was the actual presenter on their speaking circuit at marketing and industry conferences nationwide. George’s friendly personality combined with demonstrating a blender in very creative ways for a live audience while telling interesting stories generated large word-of-mouth marketing with key influencers in media, industry, and marketing.
“Speaking circuits are always fun for me.” said George. “What I found was that there are a lot of experts out there that will talk about what they’re seeing in the market and in the industry, but very few people will actually have done it. So when you take a relevant story like, “Will it Blend?” that many people are familiar with and you weave in the strategic reasoning for why it happened, how to repeat it and how to make that happen for another product, it’s a lot of fun. It is very compelling to a live audience to not only hear you talk about, but actually experience it for themselves.”
“It was fun to be able to sit down and to share the results while turning on the blender and doing some crazy things. It generated a lot of buzz and excitement and still does. Even now, I still like to speak about it because it is just a great story.“
Speaking circuits are the perfect settings to help people realize that they can use these new tools. You can take old companies with old traditions and marketing habits and you can apply them correctly with some of these new tools, and have a ton of success.
Up next: Part 2 of my interview with “Will it Blend?” creator George Wright
George shared with me 5 more of his online video tips for businesses doing product videos, including:
- Handling naysayers
- Properly measuring video views
- Staying focused on your strategy and message, once achieving initial success
- Being prepared to handle legal issues
- Handling user-generated content and ideas (for additional videos)
George also gave me his own forecast for online video marketing in 2011-2012, and beyond. So stay tuned!