Video Commerce Tips from BBQ Guys: Passion, Personality, and Purpose

Video has greatly helped reduce the fear factor of buying BBQs online. The BBQ Guys are more than just a successful online store doing video – they’ve become YouTube personalities. Based out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, their YouTube Channel of 450+ videos is rapidly approaching 4 million video views and 6,200 subscribers.

To showcase their collection of high-end BBQ grills, the BBQ Guys regularly publish video reviews of new products on their YouTube channel and website. Customers can get a personal walk-through of all their BBQs and how they perform in action, along with purchasing and cooking tips.

A huge part of BBQ Guys’ success is owed to their chef, grill/product tester and video spokesperson, Chef Tony Matassa. As Chef Tony teaches audiences how to cook delicious homemade meals, he is actually demonstrating new products from their inventory.

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BBQ Guys happens to be one of many BBQ web stores owned and operated by the online retailer, ShoppersChoice.com. I had the opportunity to interview ShopperChoice.com’s Marketing Manager, Wayne Dryden, about their foray into online video with BBQ Guys, their membership in Google’s YouTube Ambassador Program, and what special tips they can share with other enterprises looking to achieve similar success.

Interview with ShopperChoice.com’s Wayne Dryden

Grant: Wayne, tell us how you came to work with your current company and your current role with online video?

Wayne: I was hired out of college from Louisiana State University in March of 2010 by Corey Tisdale, our CEO. I started as a product specialist, which basically means I loaded products up on our websites. I then became a category manager about 6 months later. After some internal restructuring, I was placed as the Merchandising Manager for all of our products, which included me working with our video production. I was then moved to Marketing Manager in which I now oversee much of our day-to-day tasks in marketing with anything from video, graphic design, product marketing, to company branding.

Grant: How has video helped your company achieve its business goals?

Wayne: We learned that video became an outlet that gave customers a chance to really see the product. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video can be your novel. It puts a narrative, a story, to the product that a picture just can’t do – no matter how many views, or angles you have. As a result, sales are an obvious escalation. We were picked by Google to be a YouTube Ambassador because of our approach to online video as it relates to online retail, video marketing, and our progression of videos over the years that has now got us to where we are.

Grant: What can you share about where your business was when you first started doing video, compared to now and what you have learned along the way?

Wayne: We started making video in 2006 on a small scale – literally just the camera and the product, and not a clue on how to make a video that was worth watching. We didn’t know what we were doing at all. We would just set up the camera, get in front of it and start talking. We didn’t know anything about editing, lighting, sound, or even script writing.

Fast-forward to today – we’ve added Chef Tony as the personality to our videos.  He really makes our videos more creditable and worth watching. With our experience came lots of growing pains; but today our participation in this program proves to us that we have come a long way in our production, marketing, and overall approach to video for online retail.

Adding Chef Tony was a real break-through. Chef Tony is much more than just a chef. He does our video editing, sound editing, takes care of the lighting, the script writing, and also operates all the cameras. He is a one-man band. One of the biggest lessons we learned is that it doesn’t take a second mortgage to get going with video – it just takes a little research and time invested into making things work.

We don’t have professional equipment, and we don’t need it. We can do everything we do and get the same video production quality by learning ways to make the lighting and sound work without the large price tag.

Grant: How about what you’ve learned and accomplished with YouTube?

Wayne: We actually first started by not putting all our videos on YouTube, and just hosting them ourselves. Today, you’re a fool not to use YouTube; but when we started it wasn’t so obvious. With YouTube at our backs, we can get a significant amount of traffic to our videos by simply tagging them appropriately, responding to the comments, and giving our audience the messages they are looking for.

Grant: There are a number of responsibilities that come with the YouTube Ambassador Program. One of them is mentoring a non-profit. What can you share with us about that?

Wayne: We are sponsoring Junior Achievement. We will be helping them create a video for a video game competition fund raising event. We will help get them started with video production, marketing on YouTube, and any other social media outlets.

Grant: Another responsibility you have is leading a Google+ Hangouts session. What will you plan to share that can help other businesses out?

Wayne: We plan to share our story. We know that small businesses everywhere are intimidated by video. We were too once. Understanding our story and what we learned will help others get much father than anything else. Telling someone how to solve a lighting issue or sound issue would work too, but we really feel like understanding the business side of things is more important. What kind of video to create, and to knowing what to shy away from is probably half the battle – our story lends itself to learning a lot of that.

Your time and investment should be spent into something that’s worthwhile, and there is always a gamble.  If you don’t fully commit yourself to a project, you will never know what it can become. You don’t have to commit a lot of funds, and resources to video to make it work; you just have to do your research, know your audience, clearly establish your brand and value to the consumer, and know a good way to get it in front of them. Obviously the best way to get a video in front of them is with YouTube.

Grant: What can you share with us about your experience at the Google headquarters and the two-day summit?

Wayne: At the summit we talked with everyone – the engineers, the sales team, the marketing team, and the executive managing team. What we learned from talking to all these people is that they are a very smart group of people that care a lot about what they do – it matters to them.

Grant: What other tips can you provide for companies looking to have similar success with video?

Don’t set out to make a viral video. Set out to make a video for a purpose. Everyone gets caught up in making a video go viral. It doesn’t happen that way, so stop trying. Just make a video that is tailored to your audience with the message you want them to hear. Trying to deviate from that will only cause you to lose time and heartache when your awesome new viral video idea doesn’t go viral.

Also, use advertising only where advertising is needed. Don’t advertise every video – that’s a waste. Advertise the ones that mean something to you. Capture the audience you are looking for with some videos; and with others simply retain your audience, and show them what you promised you would.

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