Friday, April 20, 2007

How To Use YouTube As An Effective Marketing Tool

Live from New Orleans at WOMMA: How To Use YouTube As An Effective Marketing Tool
by Sarah Browne, Thursday, Apr 19, 2007 6:00 AM ET
THESE DAYS IT'S PRETTY MUCH the Holy Grail. But just what does it take to mount a successful, conversation-worthy campaign for your products on YouTube? Apparently $1,298.68.

That was Founder Pinny Gniwisch's total budget for a marketing campaign on YouTube which started accidentally with a video called "Bubbe" that generated a half million hits. Fast forward to a now well-integrated plan complete with 1,500 subscribers to his YouTube channel, hundreds of e-mails a day, including a few marriage proposals and a growing database primed to add Ice's new videos to MySpace and Facebook. Gniwisch is now planning for Mother's Day, moving beyond his guerilla interview format and adding a sweepstakes with lots of "ice" as the prize.

And then there's a pole-dancing Cupid, a Crazy Bride and Resource Interactive's Mark Hillman's concept of Brandertainment. The action at YouTube is fast and furious. As more experienced marketers jump on board, many are willing to embrace the chaos and lack of control in exchange for a million hits a day when a video lands on YouTube's front page.

Here are some tips culled from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference in New Orleans:

--Put entertainment over brand --Make the effort feel low budget. --Find something that's already accepted and back your brand into it. --Make it feel loose and chaotic.

"It's scary to put stuff out there that you're not controlling," Hillman said. But people don't want to go to consumer package goods Web sites. They want to go where they think cool things are happening."

Consumers clearly thought that Crazy Bride, in which a bride goes psycho with a sharp pair of scissors, was cool. The video generated some 3.3 million views. It also inadvertently wreaked havoc with Hillman's rules. On one hand, Crazy Bride was so chaotic, so loose, that it looked completely real. On the other hand, when viewers found out it wasn't real, they felt tricked.

"It was a train wreck," Hillman said. "Even though we never intended to trick anyone."

Dump Cupid turned out to be a successful solution. In three weeks, the video spots generated some 2.5 million views, supported by an integrated offline campaign, including a giant Cupid's arrow in Times Square.

Another sign of success is when your viewers create their own videos based on yours or creatively participate in your product's promotion. For example, Resource Interactive discovered an animated version of Dump Cupid posted on YouTube. In fact, Dump Cupid was one of the top five most visited Web sites for Procter & Gamble.

Hillman estimated that the cost of the package of videos was in the $60,000 range - all shot in one day. "There's a new breed of director who's hungry and really wants to do it. We're getting things in the $38,000 to $40,000 range."

While Gniwisch diligently answers every e-mail and comment he gets, wisely building a solid list, Hillman doesn't suggest jumping into answering. "It would be like the brand getting too involved in the conversations."

And more quirkiness: While Clairol's Herbal Essence users sent in hundreds of their own stories, Resource decided not to post them because they sounded fake.

Sarah Browne, the Guru of New, is a digital strategist, researcher and writer based in Carmel, California. Write her at

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