Will it blend? That is the question! George Wright is director and producer of the smash hit Will It Blend viral video series by BlendTec. It ranked as high as #3 for some time on YouTube's all time top viewed list with a staggering 5 million views in 3 days. The video series has increased BlendTec sales by over 500%. All this on a shoe string budget.
The Blendtec video marketing story is compelling and it stands in stark contrast to multimillion dollar ad budgets and corporate media buys.
The "Will It Blend" question also applies to Search Marketing today. We talk in terms of "universal search" or "blended results". Most SEO's know that you need a campaign that stretches accross all outlets from both organic and paid search to newsletters, video, and email marketing to make a large and long term impact on your bottom line results today.
He's going to blend a rake!
How did they do it? This is the future and the way people are doing things from now on.
Brand awareness: he's been at Blendtec for 2.5/3 years. Blendtec back then had great products but not a good brand. The products have always been there but people didn't know about it. The idea is brand awareness through viral marketing.
He shows the video of "Will it Blend?" for the iPhone.
To understand how big of a deal it is, understand Blendtec: Back then, they made blenders in Utah in a small facility with 180 employees. They are awesome commercial products - high performance blending and dispencing equipment for restaurants, etc. The products are sold all over the world, but nobody knew about it -- it was a hidden brand.
They also make a home product - the Total Blender for the home. They took the same technology out of the commerical machines for a home machine.
Great products + weak branding = weak sales.
They realized that brand awareness was crucial. The big idea = will it blend? They didn't have a big budget for much (we're talking $50). So what do you do with $50? One day, they were walking through to the demo room where they show prospects the blenders. He saw a pile of sawdust on the floor. What was that? The owner of the company, Tom, tests the products by blending a 2x2 at full speed. The idea is to stress the blender. - Video extreme blending - a common practice at blending unknown to the rest of the world. They couldn't afford to make a commercial so they did it over social media sites - YouTube. They went out and bought willitblend.com, a lab coat, a six pack of coke, a rate, a rotisserie chicken, a bag of marbles -- and that was it. Three guys got together to blend marbles. The idea was to "just talk about it." They blended marbles first and then they distributed them. To date, 70-75 videos have been made. Every single experiment has blended. The only time there was something too tough for the blender to handle? They were blending Chuck Norris.
(He shows the video of these action figures. Chuck is blended but he then rose out of the ashes as part of the "cinematics.")
The idea is to make something part of social media that's fun and that people want to talk about.
What are the components to make a video viral? A lot of videos are posted but don't gain traction. 1. It has to be entertaining and worth watching. You have friends who have more friends. If the content is worth it, they'll cross the threshold and share with those people. 2. A lot of people light their cat on fire, put it on YouTube, and that's great. But what does that do? The idea here is corporate objective. For Blendtec, it was brand awareness. People needed to know about the product so that they could make a decision to buy it. If you blend marbles, 3. Sponsored by the manufacturer: sponsor your own work. Don't hire a company to do it for you. People will watch it if you sponsor it yourself. 4. Based on real people: put a lab coat on someone, keep them in their comfort zone, and let them be themselves. They have Tom in the videos -- and Tom in the video is the same as the Tom he knows. It's easy to reproduce -- Tom isn't acting. 5. Interactivity: interact with people. Look at comments and get suggestions of what to blend next. On the first day, they had 5 videos - "try this at home" and "don't try this at home." They asked people to submit ideas of what to blend next -- and it went to George's Blackberry. He got so many requests at first that he had to shut down the forwarding service. Blendtec took advice from these people (30-40 people suggested the iPhone and once Blendtec listened, these people actively promoted the video. They became brand ambassadors.) 6. Simple user subscription - make sure people can subscribe.
Risks: The biggest risk is to not do it. 1. Surrender control of the message upon distribution, so you better be honest and accurate. Once upon a time, Blendtec blended the wrong magnets (ceramic magnets instead of neodininium magnets). Someone actually called them out. 2. Public scrutiny of content. It is free to put content out on the web and it's free for other people to combat it. To minimize that risk, just be honest. 3. Distribution is global - you cannot limit geographic location. It's called the World Wide Web for a reason.
Results: 65 million views on YouTube 120 million views on WillItBlend.com 200,000+ subscribers Sales: Total blender sales up 700% Pull-through impact in commercial products - B2B and B2C People now know who they are - brand awareness - retail and commercial
34th most subscribed channel of all time on YouTube
Media coverage: - Lots of national TV including the Today show, iVillage Live, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, The Big Idea, Food Network, Tonight Show - Lots of local TV coverage - Lots of print magazine like Internet Retailer Magazine, Wired, etc. - Blogs: Engadget, Forbes, AdAge, NYTimes, WSJ, BusinessWeek - Mention in Congress - someone said something about taking a bill and putting it in a Blendtec blender. - International Buzz
Videos changed everything. Advertising has changed. Instead of making ads, think of making content.
The results continue to come in.
Wave of the future: - Small companies can have a big presence. The rules have changed. - Old school versus new school. It's not necessarily about taking out an ad in the newspaper. $83,000 ad - horse and buggy. It could be effective. They were able to take $50 and make a viral campaign that people talk about! The sky is the limit.