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Making direct marketing viral with video

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Online video content is growing at a rapid pace, with marketers using video to spread their messages. More than 24 hours worth of video content are being uploaded to YouTube every minute. And it's not just being uploaded, it's being consumed—with more than 30.3 billion videos watched in the past year.

Viral videos are an effective, affordable tool for direct marketers. Couponing and direct product promotion, often seen as more traditional marketing tools, can be incorporated into online videos as well.

So how do marketers get their messages to stand out from the vast volume of content penetrating the Web? Here are a few tips to help increase the likelihood of a successful video campaign:

• Find the right strategy. As with any business endeavor, setting up your strategy and goals is paramount. You can't measure success based upon video views alone. If your goal is simply to bring awareness to a product or service, make sure you know the exact target audience.

With that in mind, make sure you decide on the style of video. Will your video be animation or live-action? While animation can be visually stunning, it is often a difficult way to profile a tangible product. Live action can frame your product or service with human interaction, but dealing with actors and reshoots can bring a higher level of complexity.

Genre also is important to think about ahead of time. Will your video be humorous, informative or simply a traditional commercial? A funny video may not work for serious issues, while a traditional commercial may turn off viewers, depending on where you plan to show the content. Each of these decisions will affect not only how you produce the video but also what you'll be able to do with it once it is ready to be shared.

• Choose your production style. There are numerous ways you can have a video produced; make sure you understand the pros and cons of each.

Do you want your loyal customers to make the video for you? The “contest as the campaign” model has been a growing trend in the past two years. However, while using the contest method will increase customer engagement, often the majority of videos are limited by amateur results. In order to increase quality, brands often have to invest a great amount of money and resources to incentivize and engage talented video creators.

Also be aware that you will have little control over such content and where the creators may place it once the contest is over. This can have positive or equally negative effects on your brand if an off-message video starts to gain traction.

Another option is to use professional production companies and agencies. This will provide increased production quality and a higher level of interaction with the creators, but often comes with a steep price tag and limited creative options.

A final production option is to turn to crowdsourcing, which typically comes in two styles, open and closed. Open crowdsourcing, similar to contest as the campaign, is managed by the company with its built-in creative community. Closed or curated crowdsourcing filters the creative community so that only certain artists with certain specialties or skill levels will work on your project.

Open crowdsourced video production quality tends to fall somewhere between a contest and an agency, while closed crowdsourcing tends to have a quality level a step above. Overall, the main value of crowdsourcing a video is being presented with a wide selection of creative options at a fraction of the cost of an agency.

• Prepare to launch. The final step in introducing a successful video marketing campaign is to place and promote your content so that your target market can not only view the video but share it with their community. The wonderful thing about the current state of video platforms and ad networks is that you can control where, when and often by whom your content is seen.

Once again remember that success should not be measured by the views but rather by the viewers. Share your video content on social media platforms if that is where your target demographic spends time, and make sure you become your best brand advocate. Mention your video in newsletters, on Twitter and Facebook, as well as on your site.

Peter LaMotte is president of agency GeniusRocket (www.geniusrocket.com). He can be reached at peter@geniusrocket.com.

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