Most businesses and promotion specialists these days are well aware of the marketing possibilities of the internet, social media, and technology in general. Nearly every company has a Facebook page and encourages “likes” from its fans. Twitter updates about new innovations and developing news within a company are both common and popular. Blogs are nearly essential to marketers at this point, whether they’re selling health food or legal services. It’s not a surprise that internet-based marketing strategies are both popular and effective with today’s consumers.
YouTube, while less commonly considered a promotional tool in the same way, is no less effective than the rest. The format of short-take videos that can be uploaded by anyone is a unique (and potentially extremely useful) way to reach a customer base. In a world where customers are already saturated with commercials, though, use of YouTube for marketing has to move beyond that familiar concept and stretch itself in new ways.
Education of customers via video is one of those ways, and when used properly, it can be surprisingly effective. It’s also easy to do, unbelievably cheap (or free), and has a low risk factor. Strategic adjustments can be made along the way with no potential for loss due to the fact that (as with other social media-based marketing strategies), YouTube operates in real-time.
The Potential of YouTube as a Marketing Strategy
In spite of the fact that it’s extremely popular in a general sense–there is hardly anyone on the internet who doesn’t use YouTube regularly for some purpose, often one that’s entertainment-based–a relatively small percentage of marketing specialists have thought about its use as a marketing tool. Companies turn naturally to Facebook and Twitter these days, but YouTube isn’t such an automatic answer to the question about how to market via the net. This may be because the nature of the site is so flexible that it’s difficult for trends and widely-accepted strategies of use to develop. After all, the concept of marketing via video is, in one word, broad.
The good news is that, while it may be lesser-used (or at least lesser-known) than other types of internet marketing, YouTube as a promotional space for companies is far from a barren field. The possibilities for a wise marketing specialist, in fact, can be nearly endless.
Video Marketing: Some New Approaches
Video as promotion isn’t a new concept, as anyone who has grown up with television will tell you. Commercials and product placements have been around since the early days of TV, and there are certainly plenty of internet marketing specialists who use YouTube in this same manner. YouTube is rife with commercials, varying widely in length, production cost, popularity, and effectiveness.
While this time-tested, conventional approach can absolutely work, it isn’t for everyone. Part of the key to marketing via video in general, and YouTube in particular, is to consider ways in which a familiar medium can be used in new and potentially more successful ways. In other words, marketing on YouTube, perhaps, is done best by those who are willing to try something a bit outside the typical box.
One such unconventional approach that has plenty of potential for businesses and services of all types is the use of YouTube videos as educational tools for customers. Specifically, YouTube videos can be used by savvy marketers to provide information to the public–information that teaches them about your product or service, the science and background behind it, and why they need it.
If you’re looking for a marketing approach with some kind of depth and goodwill behind it, you need look no further–educational, promotional YouTube videos have the potential to not only increase sales, but can also provide genuinely useful information to the public at the same time. And, as that same savvy marketer will tell you, having a reputation as a company that cares about the public is never a bad sales tool, either.
Education as Promotion
The idea of educating customers in order to market a product or service isn’t a new one. Some products, such as medicinal items or products aimed toward promoting healthy living, lend themselves organically to the concept. Teaching customers about particular needs, issues, symptoms, or risks in their lives, and then providing information that proves how your product or service fulfills their needs, is a time-tested promotional strategy that’s been around since the early days of advertising.
Educating customers is also a known effective strategy when it comes to marketing things that are not widely understood. Products with complex, specialized uses or complicated instructions or installations can, and do, benefit widely from the use of video education of the public. This isn’t a new idea, either. Take a look at any home shopping network or info-mercial to see this one in action. Demonstrations of the product in use and displays of it in action are the driving concept behind all of these types of marketing.
Using YouTube for educational marketing, then, is merely a matter of extending and adapting your idea of what effective promotion really is, and what exactly communication with your customers might actually entail.
YouTube: Today’s Educational Tool
Since its inception, YouTube has been a favorite not only among those looking to watch entertaining video clips, home movies, and classic television shows. It has also gradually become an unmatched go-to tool for anyone looking to learn something. Today, picking up a new skill can be as easy as doing a YouTube search and locating a video of someone who has performed the task, filmed themselves, and sometimes added narration. Everything from the operation of a gasoline pump to the best way to sew on a button has been captured and uploaded for the purposes of education. The public has sped beyond the necessity for printed instructions and library books with step-by-step illustrations. The majority of us now consider YouTube an essential educational resource.
Therefore, it seems natural to use it for the purposes of educational marketing strategies. Educating the public in general (and your customer base in particular) as a form of promotion is ideally suited to the medium of YouTube.
Ways to Promote Via YouTube Education
If this all sounds accurate and reasonable so far, you may be curious exactly how to go about educating potential customers with the use of YouTube technology. There are numerous ways to do it, and which one you choose will depend largely on individual factors, such as the type of product or service you’re marketing, the nature of your customer base, and your technological capabilities. Whether you choose to create a short video clip showing one of your products in use, or a longer documentary-style video explaining the science behind why your service is effective, the points below are wise to consider when choosing your approach.
- What product or service are you marketing, and what aspects of it require education of the public? For example, if you’re selling a wireless mouse and you’ve discovered recently that many customers are confused by how to change the batteries, a brief two-minute YouTube segment showing how to do it (perhaps one with a humorous narration) could satisfy your customers and increase your sales by avoiding frustration.
- Who are your customers? The success of YouTube marketing education really relies on the fact that those you’re trying to reach have access and familiarity with YouTube. It’s worth doing some research on demographics here: age range, income level, career field, gender, and geographic location all may play a part in how you can best use YouTube to your advantage.
Increasing Your Visibility and Your Customer Base
Once you’ve made the crucial decisions about customer education via YouTube, the final important step in the process will be deciding how best to get the information out there. There are certainly any number of videos on YouTube that, while they might have great information and production quality, barely get seen because they’re not promoted and they don’t generate buzz or traffic. How, then, might you go about making your video not just educational, but popular and thus lucrative?
Here are a few ideas to consider.
1. Tap into what’s popular.
Consider centering your YouTube video around some concept that is already getting lots of attention. Celebrities, if you have the resources to work with them, can have a huge impact on a video’s traffic and hence increase your marketability quotient. If there’s a new pop culture trend, think about whether you can use it as a planning resource for how to approach your material. For example, during the time not long ago when cooking competition television shows were all the rage, a video that presented your product through a humorous satire on those shows might have had potential to go viral.
2. Follow through with the necessary information.
Along with providing education and information, your YouTube marketing video will have another important purpose: it has to let customers know how to reach you. Thus, don’t forget to include useful information in the video description (or possibly even in the video itself), like your web address, phone number, or where your product is sold.
3. Don’t forget: technology is a two-way tool.
One of the best things about YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms as marketing tools is the fact that communication works both ways in a manner that hasn’t before been possible. With one click, customers and manufacturers are in direct, real-time touch with one another, and not being aware of this unique feature of the format is a huge wasted opportunity.
Use your video to invite customer interaction and feedback, and to get them involved. Accept comments on your YouTube page. Consider creating a video that shows customers talking about their experiences with your product or service. Hold a contest for the best customer video submissions. Get creative! When used correctly, YouTube is a fantastic way to educate, inform, attract, and entice your customers. Use it to its full advantage.