Video marketing is child’s play

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Challenge: Columbia, Maryland-based Interwrite Learning wanted to raise awareness of its classroom products among primary, secondary and higher education schools in the United States and abroad. The company makes high-tech learning devices, such as handheld student response “buzzers” and Bluetooth-enabled wireless interactive whiteboards.

“Initially we just wanted to get our name out,” said Lisa O'Masta, Interwrite Learning's VP-marketing.

In late August, the company partnered with TeacherTube—a Web site like YouTube but featuring instructional videos—to launch a video-based contest aimed at teachers, schools and school districts. But Interwrite needed help.

Solution: After seeing a previous video contest the company had successfully run, Interwrite turned to year-old Shycast, a Web-based promotions company that unites brands with customers through video contests.

“We really focus on contests to give people a way to interact with brands they really care about,” said Drew Peloso, founder-CEO of Shycast, which counts furniture retailer Ikea among its customers.“What we bring to [the contest] is all of the guidance and experience that fills in around the basic concept, to refine it to a point where it’s going to get maximum traction.”

Shycast guided Interwrite through how best to structure the video submission process, deadlines, how many finalists to select relative to the number of contestants and how to select prizes that would keep contestants most engaged.

The result of this was the Interwrite Makeover contest, which launched on Sept. 11. The contest asked students and teachers to collaborate on music videos, set to any song of their choice that explained how they usetechnology in the classroom, for example, to improve a class project. The grand prize: Three $15,000 classroom “makeovers” that included LCD projectors, sound systems and Interwrite products. Submissions were separated into grade categories ranging from kindergarten through 12th.

TeacherTube, MySpace and local media alerted school principals and secretaries to the contest then generated publicity for schools that had submitted videos. The contest also invited bloggers and online community leaders to act as judges, with the hope that they would alert their online communities.

“We really leveraged social marketing,” O’Masta said.

Some 220 videos were submitted from schools in 41 states and two countries.

Results: Although the impact of the contest is still being assessed—winners won’t be announced until the end of this month—Interwrite’s site traffic increased from 25,000 Web hits a month to 32,000 hits a week, O’Masta said. Meanwhile, TeacherTube's membership increased during the contest period from 29,000 to 43,000.

Finally, because visitors had to register at to vote for the best submissions, Interwrite now has a list of leads, both end-users and influencers of classroom product-purchase decisions.

“What we didn’t expect—and what was most exciting for us—was we got letter after letter after letter from teachers thanking us for the contest,” O’Masta said.

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