A Shift Towards Education Based Marketing, Emerging Standards For Online Product Videos
Just having video on your site is not enough to differentiate you. Video is no longer a novelty – it has become an essential element of any site, especially an e-commerce site. Unfortunately, unless it is done right video can be irrelevant or can actually harm your brand. “Interruption” based marketing (the “TV commercial” variety of advertising) does not work effectively online. Many companies spend much time, effort and money getting their video ads in front of annoyed consumers instead of fully embracing internet technology and using their video to help the consumers and to gain their loyalty and trust. Videos that shift towards education based marketing are getting the competitive edge.
Emerging Standards and the Focus on the Consumer
Consumers need consistency and ease of navigation when they use online video to gather information, do product or service research, and look for answers to support questions. Consumers are no longer willing to invest time in watching online video if they are not assured – almost instantly – that it will be worth their time. The videos must also be presented in smaller, more manageable chapters to allow for random access and sharing of information.
To be valuable to a consumer a video must have some essential elements that are missing from so many online videos that companies are using to influence a consumer at the point of sale. Using these elements is an essential part of every education based video. It has to do with availability of video, answering the right questions, and addressing consumers’ level of awareness.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make is not taking advantage of online video as a tool to teach people and provide them with in depth support.They are so afraid that people have a short attention span, that they forget that this short attention span mostly applies to irrelevant information. When people do research they want more information, not less. Education based marketing is not about modifying your commercials to make them sound more “educational”. It is about providing in depth support, and making it easy for the consumer. If your company provides twice as much video support as the other company, you will be the logical choice for the consumer.
A. Availability of video
First, product videos must be readily and easily available not just at the point of sale, but anytime when consumers want to find that information, to share it, to do further research about a product, or to get help using that product. If you are only placing your product video at the point of sale, you might consider using it on your product support pages, or having a special area of the site dedicated to product videos. Post your video on other sites, and not just on the YouTube site. Try to think like a consumer: place your video in the most logical places where it can be easily found. Find as many places you can post your video as possible.
B. Answering the Right Questions
Second, the video has to answer the consumer’s basic questions about the product. Those questions are based on some fundamental marketing principles and must address the following:
1. Value proposition: What is the product? Who can use it and why (the target audience), and what problem does it solve for me?
2. Differentiation and key features: What are the basic features and functions? Can I have it my way (color, size, functions)?
3. Demonstrative validation: How can I use the product? Is it easy to use? What can I expect? Prove it – give me a demo!
We all have these questions when researching products, however, as consumers we come from different states of awareness when it comes to different products. Some of us don’t need an explanation of what an iPod or an iPad is, but if you think of baby boomers for a second, you will realize that to them it is all one big mystery box, and they need much more information before they realize that it can be a useful tool for them.
C. Addressing Consumer’s level of Awareness
The three fundamental questions (value proposition, differentiation, and demonstrative validation) must be answered based on the consumer’s level of awareness about a product. There must be consistency and a logical progression in the delivery of information, as well as the ability to randomly access a specific part of the video content in order to accommodate all the groups and not alienate any specific segment.
Consumers fall into 2 groups when it comes to their level of awareness about your product.
In the first group a consumer has no awareness about a product. In this case your video must educate, and the questions must be addressed in a logical progression starting with an introduction – an overview that tells them what the product does and outlines the value proposition, then moving on to the basic features – the segment of the video that shows the specific parts, features and functions, and what comes “in a box”, and finally the video needs to have a quick start – the “getting started” segment that walks consumers step by step and shows the product in action. This demonstrative validation is essential to reassure the consumer on one hand, and to reach a much broader base on the other. You cannot expect to have a baby boomer rush to buy a new smart phone by simply promising him or her that it is easy to use.
In the second group a consumer has some level of awareness and is familiar with a product. In this case the video must allow selective access to the information we have just mentioned above. They don’t want to see the introduction, but they might need to review the features of the product to make sure they are making the right choice. And of course they might be looking for more in depth instructions on how to use the product and would expect additional videos even beyond the simple quick start tutorial. It is no longer acceptable to force the consumer to sit through a long presentation that always starts with a value proposition that they might already know and don’t want to hear.
We must respect consumer’s level of awareness. But how do you talk to both groups using one video? You can’t. Unless you structure your video in a way that the parts we have mentioned above (value proposition, differentiation, and demonstrative validation) are not mixed together in random order, but are distinct and can be accessed individually. It means that your video must have these parts clearly separated. Make sure to have your video split into chapters or have a way to skip forward to a specific part of the video. Don’t let your viewers “drive blind”. Give them a way to navigate your content. Some players are chapter based, some have a way to jump to “cue points” that you can designate. If you only have one player or if use YouTube for all your videos, then you have to place multiple players on one page, or have links to the separate players. Make sure to label the videos correctly, so the viewers know exactly what each video will cover.
Education based marketing with video is easy when you put yourself into consumers’ shoes and try to answer the questions about your product as if you yourself had no prior knowledge of it. You don’t want to be insulted and tricked by videos designed simply to trap you into buying something, so why do it to your customers?! Education based marketing is much more fun and much more rewarding, and at the end everyone wins.
Laura Beken, co-founder of HandBookLive.com – a consumer portal where companies post their product and service video guides in a standardized format that helps consumers learn about products and services. http://www.HandBookLive.com