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Viral video: How direct marketers can use the internet’s latest profit-building secret
Imagine a direct marketing tactic where your prospects pass along your campaign to friends, family and business associates with no extra cost to you. Over time your campaign is seen by thousands of additional prospects without costing you a single penny more.
Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s not a fantasy. It’s called viral marketing. In the past, viral marketing has been largely special reports, white papers, pictures and cartoons. But now, viral video has emerged as the most popular and effective form of viral marketing.
A new strategy to drive traffic
A viral video itself is generally 1- to 3-minutes long. The video is shown on a landing page or microsite, or on a video site like YouTube or Google Video.
It’s usually entertaining or informative in nature and creates compelling curiosity in your prospect, driving them to find out more on your direct marketing microsite.
The secret of the viral video is the corresponding microsite. Once there, the rules of direct marketing—copy, art and offer—will drive your prospect to the sale.
The copy should follow all the direct response rules like benefit oriented copy and you-orientation. The website should follow art rules like direct response graphics and layout that guides that eye to the sale.
It’s a clever, innovative strategy to grab your prospect’s attention. And it works.
Viral video success stories
A viral campaign by BlendTec Blenders has been seen over 11 million times, driving sales of the company’s blenders to profits of 10 times this year. Their humorous video series “Will It Blend?” features their blenders mashing items like iPods and video cameras. It innovatively shows the power of their product while being funny, with a “you gotta see this” hook.
Or take a look at a video I created for investment newsletter writer Bill Mathews of The Cheap Investor. It’s been generating thousands of views as viewers pass it along. The creative team combined humor and a strong hook to create interest and curiosity about my client’s service.
Besides being seen by thousands (and growing), it’s also on over 32 other sites including YouTube, Google Video, Revver, Yahoo Video, AOL and others—all for free.
Once your video is created, you spread the word through email, video websites and publicity. Your prospects hear about the video and watch it. If it grabs their interest, they do two things:
First, they’ll visit your microsite to find out more. Once there, you’ll use direct response copy and graphics to make the sale.
Second, they’ll pass the video along to a friend. This is where the major benefit of viral video kicks in.
When your prospect spreads your campaign for you, it reaches multiples of your marketing effort without additional cost.
The sheer amount of prospects a viral video can reach in a well-planned campaign is astounding. For example, a recent viral video featuring Will Ferrell of Saturday Night Live fame reached over 25 million viewers, largely from one viewer passing it along to another.
And since the video instantly drives traffic to a direct response website, your prospect is immediately presented with an offer to buy your product, try your service or generate a lead…all with a single click.
No television ad can drive a sale seconds after watching the advertisement—the direct marketing website helps create the connection.
What do the videos look like?
While there are no hard and fast rules, the videos are often simple, sometimes even amateurish. We live in an age of skepticism. Since the public has become very savvy about being “sold to,” the idea is to grab their attention by making the video seem homegrown.
We’ve found 1 to 3-minute videos work best. If the video is entertainment based, it will rely on humor or drama to tell a story, where your product is mentioned seamlessly. The characters in the video love your product or service and it shows. Your prospects will pass along this video because it entertains them, and they hope it entertains their friends.
If the video is informative, it will be presented in a documentary fashion, using a reality TV or infomercial approach. In this case, the video will present a real life problem that only your product has the solution to. Your prospects will pass along this video because it addresses a problem they think their friends might be interested in solving.
The idea is to entertain and inform so they not only visit the corresponding direct response website to find out more, they send the video to a friend.
Embedded in the video are strategically placed mentions of your product or service along with a specific call to action when the video is complete.
While it’s not an ad, per se, you can still use visual reinforcement. This means eye-catching graphics, special effects, stock documentary footage, still photos and dramatic re-creations.
Directing your prospect to the sale
Once the video is over, classic direct marketing techniques kick in. Think of the video as a classic direct mail envelope tease. It’s simply a way to drive interest to the next step.
This means you must present a call-to-action at the end of the video to drive your prospect to a corresponding direct marketing microsite or landing page.
On your webpage, strategic direct response copy should “make the pitch” by:
Dramatically re-introducing your product with direct response copy techniques
Repeating the important benefits about your product that were showcased in the video
Clearly presenting the offer
Highlighting your product’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Presenting important ordering information
Encourage pass-along with links and motivating copy
Your website should follow all of the rules of direct marketing like very limited or no navigational options, scrolling—not linking—the sales copy, and ease-of-ordering by limiting your shopping cart to two or less clicks. It’s also important to use direct response copy and art reinforcement during the shopping cart process.
You should also feature a quick toll-free number and printable order form in case your prospect would rather order using other options.
Plus, do you want international clients or leads? be sure to use international testimonials, a non 1-800 phone number and other international marketing techniques.
Typical costs for scripting and producing a 1 to 3-minute Internet Viral Video are less than you think—between $15,000 and $72,000. And with each passing view, your cost-per-prospect drops.
Goals of the Video
If your company is thinking about creating a viral video, keep in mind an effective an Internet Viral Video must be exciting, entertaining and well-produced. It must successfully:
Immediately grab your prospect’s attention
Introduce your product or service without appearing to be a classic advertisement
Entertain or inform enough to drive your prospect to share the video
Drive prospects to a corresponding direct marketing microsite or landing page
If this exciting new format is something your company would like to explore, give me a call at 1-310-212-5727 or email me at
Tell me you want to create a viral campaign for your company and what your goals are. My team and I at Creative Direct Marketing Group can help you create a video that will get people talking…and make the sale.
Craig Huey is recognized as one of the worlds leading experts in direct response
marketing. He is the winner of 78 major marketing awards for breakthrough campaigns that led to multimillion-dollar sales.
21171 S. Western, Suite 260, Torrance, CA 90501
Tel: 310-212-5727 • Fax: 310-212-5773