I realize that for many of you, the ride through chapters 12 - 13 over the past several weeks has been a bit less straightforward that you'd probably like. I feel the same way, but it's really unavoidable. These chapters simply are trying to do too much. At the end of the day, these chapters are about "building a buzz" online, and there's a lot of ways you can do that. And, I think you've seen that there's a lot of technology behind building a buzz online.
What I've tried to do is take you through the "pervasive and easy" through to the "more complicated with greater barriers to success". To use an example, we're all familiar with the many forms of email communication out there, but how many of us have actually produced a podcast (you will do this in an assignment this week) or worked extensively with YouTube (besides, perhaps, posting personal videos)?
I think part of the reason for this is because the technologies we've discussed so far do not require specialized computer peripherals (microphone, webcam) to make them work. Further, I think many folks forget the golden rule of these technologies - keep them short! I don't know many people who will sit through a 15 minute podcast - people these days are just not wired that way. Further, if you look at a lot of videos out there these days, many people do not get to the point quick enough or the whole video is a complete waste of my time. We're dealing with very short attention spans here. The web does offer us the opportunity to have more "air time" than traditional forms of media like TV or radio, but we'd better be really engaging, funny, or interesting or people are just going to click away.
With all that out of the way, let's turn our attention to the first part of chapter 12...
The story at the beginning of chapter 12 talks about the Blendtec Blender YouTube videos. Here are a couple of my favorites:
- Will It Blend? - iPhone
- Will It Blend? - Bic Lighters
- Will It Blend? - Pens
- I think it's important to take a look at why these videos are successful. First of all, I think the campaign itself appeals to something in all of us - the love of watching things get blown up and destroyed :). Second, the possibilities of things you can blend are limitless; therefore, you're likely not dealing with a "one hit wonder" type of campaign (and this is evidenced by the large number of videos Blendtec has posted). This is what we mean when we say a campaign has "legs" - it can pretty much run by itself.
- Notice too that the videos are pretty short - less than two minutes. While each video has an intro, you know that in no time something's about to get chopped into tiny pieces.
- Now, I don't know about many of you, but I've never seen a traditional ad for Blendtec blenders. However, everyone knows about them through those videos. Further, people know that those blenders are tough as nails - look at all the stuff they've blended up! So, the company is reaching a huge audience for practically nothing, and people know the product is made well. It's hard to beat a campaign like that!
- I consider such videos to be "viral" which was something that was introduced a couple of weeks ago in week 4 (you may wish to review the textbook material on that stuff to refresh your memory). They are viral in that, once they are released, they spread like wildfire and have a tendency to be the sort of thing people remember for quite a long time. However, as your book points out, achieving success in this area is very rare. But, if you can achieve success, it is a very, very powerful marketing tool.
- Your textbook cites some recent examples of viral marketing success, but I have a couple of things to add there. One is that a viral marketing campaign can backfire.
- Consider the example of the movie Godsend. The movie company created a fictional website that made it look like this movie was about a real company. Of course, issues like cloning and the like are rather controversial, and the site looked very convincing. In short, a lot of people were fooled, and a lot of people got upset.
- You can read more about this campaign here: www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godsend_(film)
- Another viral campaign I can remember was around the first Transformers movie (and actually, Age of Extinction used a viral campaign too). The movie contained a fictional government agency called "Sector 7" and fans of the movie were able to "hack into" the "Sector 7" website to view "secret evidence logs" of the Transformers on Earth.
- Here's a YouTube video of someone clicking through the site so you can get the idea:
- Transformers: Sector Seven G1 Secret Video
- The last thing I want to say on this particular topic before moving on is that "viral" campaigns do not always have to be "Internet Only". Consider the "Terry Tate, Office Linebacker" ad campaign Reebok used in 2003 - 2004. They launched the campaign during the 2003 Super Bowl, and then continued the story through a series of online video vignettes throughout the rest of the year.
- Here's the original video:
- Reebok Terry Tate Super Bowl commercial
- I won't post links to the rest of the videos (some of them are a little racy), but suffice it to say that the "sequels" that Reebok created were just as over the top as the original, and were hilarious to many people. Again, a very successful viral marketing campaign that is still talked about years later...
This is really where the lines between what we talked about last week and the things we are talking about this week start to get really blurry. Do some research on your own on how Microsoft launched the Halo 3 computer game. I don't think there's any question that we were dealing with an integrated marketing campaign (IMC) there.
Integrated marketing campaigns use a variety of mediums and technologies to deliver the message. It's like the old "everything but the kitchen sink" cliche, only the kitchen sink is actually thrown in.
It has been my experience that integrated marketing campaigns are very difficult to coordinate and keep quiet at the same time. The reason is because they usually require a lot of manpower to pull them off successfully. Consider an integrated marketing campaign that:
- Uses traditional advertising such as radio and TV.
- Needs to have a special "mini-site" created.
- Needs to have a game created, with prizes for people with the top scores.
- Involves city-to-city visits from key players in the campaign.
- Incorporates banner advertising and email campaigns.
- Has people blogging throughout the campaign.
How many people might you need to pull something like this off? 100? 200? How many firms will you need to bring in with the expertise you need? And often, such campaigns involve a lot of very tight deadlines and late hours to pull off successfully. You need a solid team of people who are 100% committed to the success of the campaign or it's going to be dead on arrival. And, throughout the campaign, everything needs to look like it's running as smooth as silk even though it's probably not behind the scenes (I can pretty much tell you that this is rare).
I think the best integrated marketing campaigns incite people into either getting involved, or better yet, making a purchasing decision. Integrated marketing campaigns create that sense of community ("why not YOU?") that we spent so much time talking about last week and they play a little bit into fears people have of being "left behind".
Other Interesting Topics
The authors talk about some of the other ways you can build a buzz online, including things like online events (the Victoria's Secret example they used was a perfect illustration of what I talked about early in the course when I cautioned about a campaign that is too successful), podcasts (more on these shortly), sweepstakes, promotions, advergames, etc. I think the material here is straightforward enough, and we've already talked about most of this already.
I do, however, want to talk about "widgets". These days, there are loads of widgets you can download and install. For example, the Google toolbar is a very popular widget that gets installed into web browsers. The Weather Channel has a little weather widget that you can integrate into your favorite portal, or place an icon on your Windows task bar. Sites like UPromise have a widget that will alert you when you're visiting a participating UPromise retailer. How about SouthWest's flight widget with all the people climbing over desks when they hear a little "ding" sound like in the commercial below:
Southwest Airlines Commercial - Boss Meeting
There are thousands of these things out there for both desktops and mobile phones, and they can be a very powerful marketing tool. The key is to find some functionality that they provide users that they absolutely cannot do without. Maybe it's savings. Maybe it's information.
No matter what, if you can incite the average user to install a piece of software that connects them to your business, then you have a powerful marketing avenue indeed!
However, one thing you have to be careful of is that some widgets will spy on you. For example, maybe they watch your web browsing habits and report them back to a third party. Still others are malicious and steal password information. Such software is called "spyware", and is characterized by an inability to remove it easily (I have spent many, many hours fixing computers infected with this junk). Some spyware even will install more spyware, making the removal process even more difficult.
The reason I mention this is because if you're going to create a widget, make sure the uninstaller works or else you're going to be lumped in with the "spyware" folks!
I think this is pretty much all I wanted to discuss regarding what's left of the picked over remains of this chapter. Let's now move on and discuss podcasting.