The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Flim Flam to Protect Your Brand, How Boar's Head is Empowering Customers to Defend Their Reputation


Boar's Head Flim Flam, Empowering Customers to Defend a ReputationI heard a radio commercial today that made me wish there were DVR’s for radio. In the world of marketing, there has been a lot of talk about word of mouth marketing (WOM), empowering customer evangelists, harnessing the viral power of the web, etc. So, when I heard a Boar's Head commercial about the old “flim flam”, I couldn’t resist visiting the website. Here’s a quick rundown. Boar's Head is an industry leader, has top notch products, and has a long and proud history. About 20 years ago (according to their website), they started hearing about the old “flim flam”, where a deli owner would show Boar's Head in the deli case, but then use some cheap deli meat when actually making your sandwich. How could they, right? Anyway, Boar's Head is unfortunately seeing this trend again today…but they have decided not to sit back and let it happen. But are they fighting back? Are they sending their own Boar's Head police to delis across the United States? No, they are relying on their loyal customers to defend their brand. I love it! Customers can call an 800 number and report any deli that pulls the old flim flam. In return for being such a loyal customer, Boar's Head will reward you. With what? I have no idea, but I’m assuming they don’t want the program to be taken advantage of, so you’ll find out your reward after calling in. I think this is a brilliant program by Boar's Head. Actually, I like it so much that I’m going to keep writing! ;-)

Empowering Customers to Defend Your Brand and Products
Now, if you’ve ever had someone misrepresent you or your products, then you know how icky of a feeling it is. I don’t blame Boar's Head for trying to take control of this situation. Actually, I love that Boar's Head can rely on loyal customers, I love that they’ve earned those loyal customers, and that they are providing a mechanism for their army of meat lovers to help defend the brand they’ve worked tirelessly to build. Yes, I said army of meat lovers. Think about it in terms of your own business. Let’s say that you suddenly heard that retailers were misrepresenting your brand, promising your product and then providing some cheaper version manufactured by a lesser company. Not good, right? You get angry, call your lawyers, and swear you’ll find each and every retailer doing this. Then it hits you…there’s no way you can. There is no way you can scale your small legion of in-house do-gooders. But what if you had a loyal following of customers? What if they cared enough about you and your product that they will call out those retailers? That’s right, Jane Saunders, age 78, calling out a retail owner for not providing the right product or brand. She walks up with her cane and tears into the owner, pulling out her Blackberry Pearl and calling up your customer service center to report the immoral business owner. How powerful is that? Now, that’s an army of do-gooders that can scale! There is a catch, though…you need to have made your customers very happy over the years to earn their duty. If you didn’t provide the best possible product, service, and understanding over the years, then you'd have no army. You would be giving your Patton-like speech to the sound of crickets. So now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Do my customers like my products (and company) enough to defend them and did I earn their trust over the years?” Well Patton, now’s your moment of truth. :)

Be Like Boar's Head and Empower Your Army of Customer Evangelists
Thinking about your specific business, can a program like this help you? Can it really help protect your brand, while empowering customers, all while ensuring the quality of your products? Pretty powerful stuff if you could, right? Start to think about how you can build a program like this. What’s the cost? What reward would you give to your loyal army of customer evangelists? Is it that easy? Is it ridiculously hard? Will it backfire? These are all good questions and I’m not sure I can answer them here. But, how beautiful would that be? How confident would you feel to know that thousands of customers have your back when someone tries to do you wrong. Do you stop at protecting your products or do you ask for help in protecting your reputation, too? Is it purely offline, online, or a mixture of both? Do you provide levels to your brand protection program? Can customers build up their profiles as customer evangelists? Can they earn your version of a black belt? Sensei? Master of your brand? How far will your customers go to help you and your brand?

Do You Believe in Fighting the Flim Flam?
I applaud Boar's Head for taking these measures and empowering their loyal customers. They deserve a loyal following and they’ve worked hard to earn one over the years. I’d like to find out how the program is doing, is it working, have they found anyone taking advantage of the program, and does senior management really buy into customer evangelism? How can those answers help your business? Yes, Boar's Head has built their army of deli meat loyalists, but I have to ask you…can you build yours? I’ve posed many questions in this post on purpose and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is Flim Flam a crazy attempt by Boar's Head or a brilliant move that will earn more customers?

The floor is yours.

GG

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The DVR and Its Effect on TV Advertising Recall, Do Your Commercials Stand Out?


DVRs and TV Advertising RecallOr does that really matter? More on that later. First, I’m a big DVR user and have been one for a number of years. I bought my first TIVO about 5 years ago, quickly added a second, and then moved to the Comcast HD DVR last year. So, I read an article in late February about a study conducted by General Electric’s NBC Universal to document the recall power of TV commercials when DVR users were whipping through them at 6x speed. In other words, do you recall an advertisement as you are fast forwarding through commercials on your DVR? By the way, that’s exactly how I watch the shows I record. In addition, if I choose to watch a live show, I just start watching the show 15 minutes in (for a 1 hour show) and then I can still fly through the commercials. Now back to the testing. The following quote is directly from the Wall Street Journal article:

Tracking biometric measurements such as eye movements, heart rate and sweat, the study found that the ads people concentrated on the most and recalled the most shared several traits. The most successful ads concentrated the action and the brand's logo in the middle of the screen, didn't rely on multiple scene changes, audio or text to tell the story, and often used familiar characters. People were also more likely to remember an ad in fast-forward mode if they had seen it once before live.

Glenn’s translation: A big static logo in the center of the screen. ;-)

Uh, tracking biometric measurement?? OK... The most successful ads didn’t rely on audio to tell the story?? The more I think about this topic, the more I think that this entire study wasn’t necessary. I guess it was for networks trying to hold on to TV advertisers at all costs, right?

Paging Dr. Gabe… Dr. Gabe Please Come to the Living Room:
So, I decided to conduct my own study. That’s right…and without biometric measurements, my heart rate wasn’t monitored, my eye movements weren’t scanned, and my sweat glands weren’t checked! I flipped on my TV, drilled into my recordings, armed with a high tech toolkit for a high tech doctor of technology (a pad and pen) and started my first show. My goal was to fast forward through each set of commercials at the highest speed and see which ads I could recall. That is, if I didn’t go into convulsions first! :) Since every study needs a name, I am calling it “The Strobe Logo Study” conducted by Glenn Gabe, Technology Scientist at Large. ;-)

Without further ado, here are the results! I will also give my quick analysis of the results following the data.

LOST on ABC (Probably my favorite show right now...)
1 Hour in Length
I started zipping through the commercials at the highest fast forward speed. Believe me, the highest speed is darn fast…each segment of commercials was over in a few seconds. I remember seeing a flash of the Wendy’s logo (centered on screen), an Applebee’s logo and a Dunkin Donuts logo (both also centered on screen). More on ad positioning later. Each was up for a flash…probably a quarter (1/4) of a second. Also keep in mind that the three logos I remembered are big brands that have been advertising for years. This obviously helped with my recall of their ads.

The Sports Reporters on ESPN
30 minutes in length
The only advertisement I remember seeing was CDW. I saw this logo twice during the show and for a little longer than the logos in LOST. This intrigued me, so I rewound the show a little to watch the CDW ad. It ends up they sponsor the show (see, I didn’t know this because I never watched it in real time!) So, as a lead into the show, they have a voiceover say, “The Sports Reporters is sponsored by…CDW”. This takes a few seconds, which leaves their logo on-screen longer. I saw this twice during the show when whipping through it on my DVR. This is an interesting note for TV advertisers. Also, the logo was centered on the screen, an important factor during my scientific study. :)

American Idol on FOX (like I had to tell you…)
60 Minutes in length
I remember seeing a Citizens Bank logo (I think) and an Infiniti logo. And, maybe…just possibly… a Lowes guy. Then again, it could have been a 7 Eleven guy or Wawa guy. I told you…it’s darn fast! Any quick movement or elaborate camera angles looks like a blur in fast forward. It makes sense, though. The common thread for TV commercial recall was becoming apparent. Any commercial that ended with a large logo centered on screen had a chance of recall (unless I blinked during the 1/4 of a second!)

Dancing With The Stars on ABC
60 Minutes in Length
I’ll cut to the chase…I recalled 3 ads, Advil, Petsmart, and a Nivea product shot. Again, each logo was centered on screen and fairly large (and the Nivea product was also large and centered). Are you seeing a trend here?

Here’s an interesting side note:
When you watch a recorded show, it will abruptly stop at a random frame at the end of the show…which is rarely when it fades to black. Dancing with the Stars ended on a BBC Worldwide America logo. So, since my DVR stopped on that frame, I saw this logo for about 10 full seconds before it returned to my DVR menu. If you are still looking for ways to appear in a DVR world, this could be one of them. BBC Worldwide America was not an advertiser, but that spot could be opened up for advertising...

Conan O’Brien on NBC (Just a brilliant comedian!)
30 Minutes
I literally didn’t recall any specific advertisement… Not one. So, I went through it a second time to make sure my eyes weren’t just fried out of my head from the previous shows… Nope, not one ad, logo, brand, etc. I guess none of the commercials used a logo centered on-screen. Read on for my scientific analysis of my DVR study.

Is this what it’s come down to for TV advertisers?
Triggering convulsions in people to see if they remember a flash of a logo? Really? I know not everyone has a DVR (yet), but if this is the type of study we are conducting, then there’s something very, very wrong. I can hear the scientists who conducted the NBC Universal study now. {In my best European scientist voice} “Yes, it seems that even 1/8 of a second can impact your brand’s recognition in the mind of lowly consumers. TV advertising is still hugely powerful and we may turn to 60 strobe flashes of logos in the future versus 30 second spots. Sure, some people may be hospitalized from the flashes of light, but it’s all worth it if the Advil logo shows up, is recalled, and then helps the hospitalized person's family overcome its collective headaches by using Advil.” OK, I’m a bit sarcastic, but it’s hard not to be!

How To Really Enhance Your TV Advertising, ONLINE
When I think of the cost to produce high end TV commercials, then the cost for airing those commercials, and then combine that with the growing number of DVR users, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to understand why traditional TV advertising is not in good shape. I’m not saying that TV commercials should go away…but I believe that you need to supplement your TV campaigns with other campaign elements to maximize exposure and engagement. For example, I always recommend adding an online viral component to your TV commercials. Have a micro-site or landing page to engage your brand and advertisement, to help with lead generation, to work in a contest, to spark user generated content, to add a blog, etc. and then utilize online marketing channels to drive visitors there. So, combining your high end TV commercials with a robust micro-site, and then utilize paid search, organic search, email marketing, social media, blogging, display advertising, etc. to drive people there is a smart way to go. Then you’ve got yourself a serious campaign, covering all avenues, and using innovative methods. Versus…trying to justify your TV commercials with “flashes of a logo” or what I’m calling “The Strobe Logo”. There is so much you can do online to enhance your TV advertisements, and at a reasonable cost. To me, it’s a necessary addition that can unleash the true power of viral marketing.

Now let me go put an ice bag on my eyes and give my poor DVR and TV a break! Until my next scientific experiment, this is Dr. Gabe signing off. Does anyone know a good eye doctor? Maybe I should get in touch with the people who went through the original study to see who they recommend!

GG

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, scientist, or PHD. Please don’t ask me for medical assistance or to conduct clinical studies. If you need assistance from a medical doctor, please consult your healthcare company for a referral. I am not authorized to prescribe medication, recommend time off from work, or advocate medical procedures. :)

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Viral Marketing Campaigns, Important Elements to Consider to Enhance Campaign Effectiveness


Viral Marketing Effectiveness, Important Elements to ConsiderViral Marketing is a hot topic, especially since the web is an incredible catalyst for getting the word out about something. Depending on your business, viral marketing can be a powerful way to drive exposure, traffic, and sales. You can get your brand in front of thousands of people in a relatively short amount of time. By the way, I’m not referring to organic Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM) or Buzz Marketing. If you want to get technical, I’m referring to Amplified WOM, or an online marketing campaign with a goal of taking your message viral, spreading it across the web like wildfire, exposing your brand on a grand level, and hopefully turning it into revenue down the line. Don't worry, I explain a few examples below. You don’t have to be a large company to utilize viral marketing. You just need to be creative and develop ideas that leverage the viral nature of the web to achieve your goals… Let’s take a look at what I believe to be some important elements to consider while developing your viral marketing campaign.

Concept Development, Make Sure It’s Fun, Memorable, and That It Has a Hook
During your brainstorming, if you read a concept and remotely think it won’t be fun, inspiring, or intriguing enough, then throw the idea away. The bar is constantly being raised, so you need to ensure people will want to take part. If it just sounds ok, then it’s probably worse. If you get goosebumps while reading it, then you’re on to something. I use this test often while mapping out creative strategies….if it doesn’t give me chills while reading it, then it’s not good enough, period.

Here’s an interesting example of a viral campaign: Weight Watchers recently hired FaintStarlite, a popular video blogger to help promote their "Stop Dieting, Start Living" campaign. There’s a myspace page for the campaign and FaintStarlite vlogs away… She is asking others to post about their diet experiences, their Weight Watchers journey, and talks about her own experiences. Right now, her WW myspace page has over 6300 friends and 430 comments. Reading through the comments, you can see the campaign seems to be resonating. Women (and some men) are talking about dieting, when they joined Weight Watchers, laughing about the craziest diets they have tried, etc. This is a good example of tailoring the campaign to your target audience. Actually, I'd love to hear from FaintStarlite about how the campaign is going from her perspective.

Another good example was the Hammer and Coop viral campaign by Mini Cooper. I won’t go into all the details, but it has ultra-high production value, it's extremely funny, and I spent 15-20 minutes there before I even realized it! Good concept, excellent creative, and got me talking about the campaign…

A Common Question I Hear:
“How controversial or extreme should we make our viral marketing campaign?” I’m a big fan of humor. It’s a great way to generate a viral effect. Think of the CareerBuilder monkey tv commercials, which spurred the CareerBuilder viral campaign "Monkey Mail". It’s a serious subject (your career), but they really took a light angle by using the monkeys… If you can weave humor into a sound marketing concept for your viral campaign, then you are off to a great start. I’m not saying that controversial campaigns don’t generate buzz…but at what price? And by the way, you can shock people with humor and not leave them writhing in their seats… Another option is taking real world experiences and using them as the basis for your campaign. Let your actual customers talk… Let the true stories of helping customers resonate with your target audience. It’s not funny or shocking, but depending on your customer stories, it could generate a lot of viral activity.

Interactivity, Participation and User Generated Content (UGC)
Don’t create a 30 second spot…please. Sure, you might get some views on YouTube, but I firmly believe you need to have people interact with your campaign (and that’s not sitting and watching a 2 minute video). I think it’s a great idea to have video as part of the campaign, but not part of a one way viewing experience. There are so many ways to have people take part in your campaign, especially with web-based campaigns. For example, let’s say you are a clothing retailer and you’re launching a new line of jeans. As part of your campaign, run a contest letting customers create their own commercial for your jeans and give them some creative assets to start with. Maybe your logo, a few snapshots of models wearing the jeans, some music you have licensed for the campaign, and a few video clips from your stores. As participants create their commercials, have them upload the final video to your site, along with supporting commentary (what inspired their idea, their bios, who helped with the production, what their acceptance speech would be if their commercial won an award, etc.) Then have visitors vote on the winners… The winner gets a $2000 shopping spree on the website. It’s a great way to have people interacting with your brand, product, etc. And since they have created intriguing content for your site that others are voting for, your brand and product are now being viewed by more and more people…and maybe on other sites like YouTube, Google Video, etc. Think interactively….and not old-school television.

Giveaways, Grand Prizes, and Runners Up
If you choose to launch a contest as part of the campaign, then I cannot emphasize my next point enough. The winners should get something really, really cool that obviously fits your target market. So don’t give away a Blackberry to a retired guy living in a 55 and older community down in Florida. I'm not saying he wouldn’t like it, but he would probably enjoy a $500 restaurant gift card from Visa. Hey, I understand this crowd well since I know several snowbirds from New York. ;-) Do you target high tech customers, give away a jacked Macbook. Target moms? Give away a shopping spree at Babies R Us. You get the point. And, if you can give away your own products, even better. Then you’ll just pay the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and shipping. For example, if you sell footwear, then giving away 25 pairs of shoes doesn’t cost you the retail price, right? If you’re COGS are 30%, then you are giving away $1500 on $5000 worth of footwear. If you have products that people dig, then this is a great way to go. Keep in mind the viral nature of your campaign, though…will winning a year’s supply of paper clips excite anyone??

Brand Your Campaign and Develop a Dedicated Section of Your Website
Brand your campaign! This has several benefits, including giving people an easy way to communicate the campaign to their friends, helping with natural search, tying easily with your concept and creative, and obviously making it memorable! i.e. My friend Matt tells me about the Actober campaign by Major League Baseball, so I go to Google and enter Actober. If you’ve done your job correctly (and many don’t), your site and others referencing it should come up. If you didn’t give the campaign a name, then what would people search for?? Major League Baseball? On your website, add a directory matching the title of the campaign. i.e. www.yourwebsitename.com/yourcampaignname/

Sidebar, Do not waste those precious links!
I’ve seen campaigns generate thousands of links, which will greatly help a site’s natural search power, but then the companies shut down the campaign section or microsite after the campaign ends. NOOOO!!! “Sir, please step away from your web server…” Leverage that search power by either archiving those pages or using 301 redirects. A good link is a horrible thing to waste. ;-)

Get the Word Out, Advertise Your Viral Marketing Campaign
OK, so you have developed a great campaign, it’s a killer idea, the creative looks incredible, and you are getting goosebumps like I mentioned earlier. Now what?? You need to get the word out via a range of online marketing channels. Use your email list to stir up your base, use social media sites to communicate the campaign, advertise on targeted websites, use paid search to capture targeted visitors, and use PR to send waves across the web. Also, don’t forget to advertise on your own network of websites… I think this is sometimes overlooked. Create advertisements for key traffic areas on your own websites. Hey, there’s no ad spend! Add a footer to any email that goes out (confirmation emails to buyers, your email newsletters, etc.) Have your customer service reps explain the campaign at the end of phone calls. You get the picture. Leverage your own infrastructure to help get the word out.

Have Legal Approve Everything…
You are not a lawyer, so don’t make the mistake of not having your legal team or outside legal counsel approve your campaign. Let me say this again just so I’m clear. DO NOT LAUNCH A CAMPAIGN WITHOUT LEGAL REVIEWING EVERY ASPECT OF THE PROGRAM. I’ve seen campaigns run without a hitch and I’ve also seen campaigns come close to imploding. It’s all about the execution. I’m fanatical about this stage…it’s just in my blood. Listen to your lawyers…legal is a necessary element to your successful marketing campaigns. Make changes based on their feedback and get final approval before moving forward. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Summary
So there you have it, some important elements to consider while creating your viral marketing campaign. This obviously doesn’t cover everything involved, but I plan on writing more posts related to viral marketing in the future.

Here are a few final words of advice…
* Be sure to view your ideas from the perspective of a would-be participant. It might be a great idea to you and your staff…but might fall flat with the people who will actually be participating.
* Definitely try to inject fun and energy into your campaign.
* Use technology to make it as interactive as possible.
* Use a wide range of online marketing channels to promote your campaign.

Last, my lawyer wanted me to add a line from him:

“This blog post about viral marketing sets forth the entire blog post and understanding of the parties relating to the subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior viral marketing blog posts and understandings, both written and oral, among the parties with respect to viral marketing, amplified word of mouth marketing, generating buzz, webfire, or any other terms related to viral marketing hereof.”

See, I told you to have legal review everything. :-) Sorry, I had to poke fun of legal at least one time in this post...

GG

Related Posts:
The Difference Between Viral Marketing, Word of Mouth Marketing, and Buzz Marketing
7 Drivers of Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to Make a YouTube Video, A Beginner’s Checklist for Marketers


How to Create a YouTube Video, Follow This Video Production ChecklistLast week, I was helping a client produce a YouTube video and I explained the various steps involved in the production process. After our meeting, it hit me that the list of steps could be a valuable blog post for anyone interested in creating their own video. So, if you are thinking about shooting your own YouTube video and don’t know where to start, this post is for you. The list below is a great starting point and covers the essential elements to consider while planning and creating your video production.

Disclaimer: Creating a high quality video isn’t easy…even if your intent is to create a low budget, guerrilla-style video. You’ll read many articles on the web about how easy it is, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not. Here’s what is easy: It is easy to shoot a shaky video, with bad sound, bad lighting, horrible edits, copyrighted music, and one that’s completely disjointed. But, that’s not what you want to do, right? You want a video that you can be proud of, something that’s viral, and that gets people talking. So, don’t just grab your camera, run out with a few friends, and start shooting. You might get lucky and have some good footage, but my guess is you won’t be so happy. End of disclaimer. :)

1. Concept Development (Brainstorming)
OK, so you want to create a YouTube video, but you are staring at a blank sheet of paper… Yes, concept development isn’t easy and it’s why the creative brains behind TV shows, movies, commercials, etc. can make boat loads of money. :) I recommend getting your hands on a white board, grabbing a few of your coworkers and hitting a conference room. Then begin a divergent thinking session. Brainstorm lots of ideas related to your core concept. DO NOT LIMIT ANY IDEAS AT THIS STAGE. Please, don’t let any idea killers in the room. That’s why it’s called divergent thinking… Start jotting them on the whiteboard, organized by major category (humor, serious, action, parody, etc.) If you have the right group of people in the room, then you should have a few dozen ideas on your whiteboard. During the process of working through your favorite ideas, think about the following:

a. How original is the idea? Has it been done 50 times already or is it a new angle? Will you build upon or parody an older concept? Originality is key.
b. Cost (if you have a great idea, but it’s going to cost an arm and a leg, it might not work...)
c. How viral can your concept be? Is it something you believe your target market will enjoy enough to pass along?
d. Location, location, location. Where are you going to shoot the video? Shooting a video in a baseball stadium would be great, but is that really possible? Is a park better? Do you need permission to be there? So on and so forth.
e. How complex will the editing be? Will you need to create a dozen effects for the final edit? How will you accomplish that? Do you even have the software or skillset to do it?

2. Script and Storyboard
Excellent, you have your concept and it’s a killer idea that’s completely possible to shoot on your budget. :) Now what? Well, it’s time to write your script. This is also not an easy task. If you’ve never written a script before, there’s a good chance that you’ll be in pain. If you find yourself cooking along, then you might want to do this full time. :) Personally, I love this stage… This is where you get to flesh out your concept. The script and storyboard are the foundation for your production. If you have a poorly mapped out script and storyboard, you are setting yourself up for failure. Take as much time as you need at this stage to get it right. You should determine your main characters, how much dialogue will there be, determine locations for the shoot, and of course begin writing the actual script. Just to clarify, the script covers what your characters will be saying and doing during the shoot, where the storyboard helps you map out the flow of the video. Keep in mind that the storyboard doesn’t have to be a work of art…I’ve created several storyboards that were on 8.5x11 sheets of white paper, framed with pencil, using stick figures. I’ve also developed some storyboards that were more elaborate…it’s all about timing and how involved your production will be.

3. The Shot List
By now your script and storyboard should be done. Now you need to create your shot list from your script and storyboard. A shot list is essential. It helps you determine every shot you need for your production. And it’s not just about your core shots, it’s also about getting additional footage for your edit. For example, if you were shooting at a baseball field like I mentioned earlier, you definitely need to get some establishing shots. Maybe you will pan up to reveal the stadium sign or get a 360 shot from inside the stadium. You need to think about all of your shots or you’ll find yourself cursing a lot in post production. :) The shot list can be a simple Word document listing each shot you need to capture with some notes about the scene. In addition, I would buy a clipboard and attach the script, storyboard, and shot list to it on the day of your shoot.

4. Necessary Video Production Equipment
You are getting closer to the shoot and you’ve got a solid script, storyboard, and a well planned shot list. Now you need to think about your equipment. I can write an entire post about each of the bullets below, but I’ll try and keep each description as brief as possible. Also keep in mind that this is a basic list. You can really go nuts with video production equipment, which is why the title of this section is “Necessary Video Production Equipment”. :)

a. Your Camera
Duh, right? Just like with other electronic equipment, video cameras have come down in price. Just make sure you have one (or buy one) that can do the job at hand. You don’t absolutely need a $5000 HD camera, but you also don’t want a $100 hunk of junk that captures horrible video and audio. You won’t have a chance… I’ve provided a few links below to CNET’s editor’s picks for both home video and pro/semi-pro cameras:

Pro and Semi-Pro Cameras – Editor’s Choice
http://reviews.cnet.com/4370-6500_7-135-103.html?tag=lnav

Home Video Cameras – Editor’s Choice
http://reviews.cnet.com/4370-6500_7-135-102.html?tag=lnav


b. Microphones
There is one thing you should keep in mind when thinking about audio. Most people don’t really notice high quality audio…they just know bad audio as soon as they hear it. They are used to great audio on TV, in movies, in commercials, etc. There are some really cost effective ways to capture quality audio and I highly recommend making the investment in a few microphones. For example, I have a great wireless lavaliere microphone from Audio Technica that only cost $50. It’s easy to use and works great. Audio is extremely hard to adjust in post production (while you are editing), so it’s critically important to capture the best possible audio during the shoot. You know the old adage, garbage in, garbage out…

c. Lighting
It’s not easy to light a set. I actually think it’s an art form! I would look into buying a professional lighting kit. If you don’t want to buy a lighting kit, then you’ll need to find locations for your shoot that provide the best possible lighting. Shooting outdoors might be a good way to go, as long as Mother Nature cooperates. If you are flexible with the date of your shoot, then this may be the way to go. Test out various locations PRIOR to your shoot and watch it back on your video monitor or TV. Jot down the best locations, lighting-wise, and try and go back during the same time of day. Lighting is another element that can make or break your production (and it’s hard to adjust in post production.)

d. Smooth Motion (Using a Steadicam or Glidecam)
If you are going to capture a lot of motion, definitely look into building or buying a steadicam or glidecam. There is almost no way to achieve smooth motion without one… Don’t believe me? Grab your camera and walk down your street while shooting. Watch it back and see how fast you get motion sickness. :) A steadicam or glidecam will help smooth out those bumps and can provide a cinematic effect that’s hard to achieve without using one. Note, you will need to practice to achieve smooth motion while keeping your subject in the frame, but it’s well worth it. If you want to build a steadicam, then check out the poor man’s steadicam. I built one a few years ago to see how it would work and it actually works really well. It cost me $25-$30 for supplies and then took me 2 hours to build. If you want to buy a Glidecam, then you might want to check out http://glidecam.com/product-2000-pro.php to learn about the Glidecam 2000. I believe it’s their least expensive product.

e. Backdrop
If you will be shooting any interviews, make sure you have a good location with a nice backdrop. If you want, you can also buy a professional backdrop for about $60-$100. If you think you’ll be shooting several more video interviews, then you can also buy a frame to hold backdrops for about $150-$200. It’s a small investment and will bring a level of professionalism to your production.

5. The Shoot
I can write 10 pages about the day of the shoot, but I’ll keep it brief. Don’t forget your script, storyboard, and shot list. Think about the essentials for your shoot. Make sure you have backups for everything. For example, batteries, microphones, video tape, battery packs, AC power, headphones, duct tape, adapters, wardrobe, etc. Capture lots of footage…you can always delete footage, but you can’t go back and get more! Even if you did choose to go back and shoot more footage at a later time, the lighting would be different, your subjects might look different, the surroundings might have changed, etc. So shoot away. Make sure you bring headphones so you can hear what your camera is recording. Try and minimize any problems before each shot. Before you end the shoot, check your script, storyboard, and shot list again to ensure you have everything you need. You should try and minimize the “Darn, I wish we would have captured more of…” syndrome. :)

6. Post Production (Video Editing)
Now that your video shoot is over, run back to your office to log and capture your footage. Actually, depending on how much footage you shot, you just might want to capture all of it. Hard drive storage is so cheap now that it just might be easier to capture all of the footage. If you need to log and capture your footage, just make sure you give yourself a few seconds before and after each clip (so you have room for editing on each side of the clip).

a. Video Editing Software
There are several popular video editing software packages to choose from. Which one you go with really depends on your requirements. I highly recommend both Adobe Premiere and Apple Final Cut. Both packages are not cheap, but well worth the money. In addition, I believe both have “light” versions of the software for less money. In my opinion, you probably won’t need all of the power of Final Cut or Premiere, so the light versions may work well for you.

Disclaimer: Video editing is not easy. You will improve with time, but chances are your first editing experience will not be pleasant. Keep at it, watch movies, TV shows, etc. to see how the pros do it. There’s a lot you can learn from watching Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron. :)

b. Length
I would try and keep your YouTube video less than 3 or 4 minutes in length. Attention spans are lower than ever, so if your video is 15 minutes long, good luck. Keep it clear and concise. Keep your viewers in mind. Most people don’t have time to sit through more than a few minutes. Factor this in as you edit.

c. Video Bumpers
Since you’ll be providing your video on several video sharing websites (including YouTube, Google Video, Daily Motion, and numerous other video sites), you’ll want to add bumpers to your video. Bumpers are basically short segments at the beginning and end of your video that provide viewers with information about the production. This is a great place to add the product name, company name, URL, etc. In addition, since viewers have the ability to add your video to their own websites or blogs from YouTube and the other video sites, adding a URL to learn more about your subject matter is a smart idea. This is where bumpers can play an important role in driving viewers to your website or blog!

In closing, I know this was a lot of information, but I hope it gives you the confidence to produce a well made YouTube video! At a minimum, I hope this post contains enough information to get you started. I plan to write more posts about interactive video production so definitely check back often. As usual, if you get frustrated and need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me. Now, begin your divergent thinking and create a killer YouTube video!

GG

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MedellintheFilm.com - How HBO is Using Buzz Marketing for a Movie That Hasn’t Been Made on a TV Show That Isn’t Real, Or is It?


HBO Using Buzz Marketing for MedellinTheFilm.comEntourage on HBO
If you have HBO, then chances are you watch Entourage. How can you not love this show, right? It gives you a view into the life of a big time actor in Hollywood and all the craziness that goes along with it. I’ve watched the show since its first episode and I’m glad we started then! For those of you who don’t know Entourage, here’s a quick rundown. Vincent Chase is an up and coming actor (actually a star by now.) He grew up in Queens and brought his buddies out to Hollywood with him (his entourage). You get to follow Vince and his entourage through landing movie deals, spending exorbitant amounts of money, dealing with big time agents, producers, and directors, and encountering all sorts of eclectic folks in Hollywood. In addition, there are many cameos from Hollywood stars, which adds a genuine feel to the show. It’s a fun ride! Watch it if you don’t already…you won’t be disappointed.

HBO Creating Buzz About a Fictional Movie Getting Buzz on the Show, Which Might End Up Creating Enough Buzz to Yield a Real Movie! What?
Phew, now that’s a tough sentence to get out. As part of the storyline, Vince Chase finds a script he loves called Medellin about the notorious drug villain Pablo Escobar. He wants the movie bad enough to buy the script for millions of dollars, ends up as executive producer (along with his buddy named “E”), hires a loose cannon director named Billy, and shoots the movie in South America. As a viewer, you take a journey through the making of a movie, including all of the nail biting situations that real producers go through. You almost start to believe that this is actually going to be a movie… More on this later. As part of the last episode, the trailer for Medellin gets leaked onto YouTube, and the world starts to see the masterpiece (or bomb) that Vince and E produced. By the way, that was on the show, but someone really leaked the trailer on YouTube...smart move. I won’t go into the granular details of the episode or storyline, but it’s hilarious to see the behind the scenes moves of agents, producers, directors, and what goes on in Hollywood in general. Again I recommend watching it! So, someone leaked the trailer on YouTube and it started getting a ton of views. Great buzz marketing tactic, right? Was it leaked? Was it a ploy? Who knows, but heck, it’s a TV show!

The (Real) Bzz Marketing Begins…
At the end of the last episode, where you typically watch scenes from the following week, you were hit with what seemed to be the beginning of a movie trailer. I was really surprised… What was this?? It was the trailer for Medellin. Brilliant! We watched it 3 or 4 times, again, starting to get sucked into the real, sorry fictional, world of Entourage. :) At the end of the trailer, they flashed the website URL for the movie, medellinthefilm.com. OK, we’re there! There are 30 million subscribers to HBO, so how many people do you think ran to their computers like we did to visit the official website of Medellin? How many people started blogging about it (like I am now)? Digg already has a bunch of stories about it, and I’m sure the original story was from someone at HBO! We first typed medellinthemovie.com and ended up at some weird site that had nothing to do with the show or movie. Then I quickly found a blog post explaining that many people were entering the wrong URL, and that it was actually medellinthefilm.com. Again, keep in mind, this is for a fictional show and a movie that’s part of a fictional show… The official site must have received a ton of visitors over the past few days. With one, 90 second trailer at the end of a show, HBO started a craze on the web to find the trailer, the site, and this all generated serious bzz on blogs, forums and social media sites ALL ABOUT A MOVIE THAT’S NOT REAL!

Medellin, The Real Movie?
HBO might generate enough buzz that Medellin the movie could actually get made. Heck, if you were HBO, wouldn’t you create an original film knowing that millions of people are already on board? Wouldn’t it be wild if Vince Chase stars in the movie? Remember, there is no Vince Chase…he’s a character in Entourage. Confused?

In closing…
I believe there’s a lot to learn about Buzz Marketing and Amplified WOM from this example. Leave it to HBO get people buzzing about a movie that hasn’t even been shot yet! ...And all on a TV show that walks a fine line between fact and fiction, and with real, I mean fictional characters, agents, and directors in the wonderful world of Hollywood.

It’s amazing to see how 90 seconds can light a fire under so many people. Is there another medium, other than the web, that could drive buzz like this? I don’t think so…and it's why I love what I do. :)

My final thoughts for Entourage fans:
Keep watching Entourage, try to find your own Ari Gold, root for Drama because there's no hope, laugh at Turtle so HBO keeps him on the show, be as bold as E, and eat up risk like Vince Chase…all from the comfort of your own home!

It’s not TV, it’s HBO. :)

GG

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

YouTube and Video Marketing - Glenn Gabe On Making An Impact The Web 2.0 Way




As many of you know, I heavily focus on Rich Media Marketing, especially the use of video marketing to support online campaigns. I'm also confident that most of you have heard of Youtube! :-) I'm in the middle of a large Buzz Marketing campaign right now and as part of our marketing efforts, we uploaded a video trailer of the campaign to the major web 2.0 sites for user-generated video. I thought I would write a post about it to share some of my findings.

YouTube (and web 2.0 sites like it) are powerful mechanisms for viral marketing. That said, you still need eyeballs viewing your video clip and it's getting harder to accomplish as more people are adding content! I'm sure everyone has experienced someone forwarding a YouTube video via email, or watched a YouTube video in a blog. My guess is that the video was ridiculously funny or disturbing...you know something that grabs your attention. That leads to the question, "Can YouTube (or sites like it) really help promote your marketing campaign? Will people watch it, like it, and pass it on?"

I refer to YouTube frequently in this post, but there are several user-generated sites for video like DailyMotion, Google Video, Yahoo Video, etc. My question obviously applies to these other sites as well.

Let's get back on track...We launched a Buzz Campaign last week that uses my video marketing platform (Heighten) as the platform for the campaign. Visitors can watch video-based clues over a certain time period to try and win a prize worth $4000. As part of the campaign, I edited a video trailer that was uploaded to the top web 2.0 video sites. Also, we provided a way to download the trailer from the campaign website.

So, what are the results? Which site or mechanism works best?

Here is a quick rundown:

YouTube - 28% of the views
Our Downloadable Trailer (on the Campaign Website) - 27%
Daily Motion - 26% of the views
Google Video - 13% of the views
Yahoo Video - 5% of the views

So it seems that YouTube is the winner (at least for our campaign) and that providing a downloadable video trailer on our campaign website was a smart move. The hope of course, is that the people that downloaded the trailer passed it around via email (we kept the file-size down to under 4MB). And of course we want the web 2.0 sites to fuel some viral marketing with the ease of their forwarding process or the ability to post the video elsewhere via copy and paste.

It should be interesting to see the final numbers for our online marketing efforts when the campaign is done. What I can tell you is that our online marketing mix is resulting in a high level of website activity... For example, yesterday's activity just doubled our best day of the campaign...

GG

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