Why Marketers Should Take Ownership Of How-To Videos

When was the last time you really enjoyed reading a new device installation or set-up manual?  If “never” is your answer, you just may have stumbled upon one of the best video marketing opportunities now available to today’s brand marketers.  Video-izing instruction and how-to manuals can make your customers’ lives a lot easier. But it’s not only a good customer service idea, it’s also a solid marketing opportunity.

At a top level, producing such videos couldn’t be much easier.  All you really need is a link to a YouTube video, or better yet, to a video posted on your company’s or client’s own Web site.  Of course, you’ll also need the actual video, but that’s not too difficult to develop. You can produce these videos in-house or through a crowdsourced video company at very low costs, with a real consumer feel to them, as well.

Taking a step back, the last big innovation in instruction manuals was the color-coded wiring guide for Dell (and many other computer companies now, as well), developed to help folks set up their new desktop computer systems.

Now, videos can be more effective than written instructions in terms of showing customers how things fit together and the easy steps needed to assemble their new purchase.  Everyone involved can save all of the extraneous and often unnecessary details for a companion manual by using the video to share the basics.  Unless it involves a very complicated purchased item, it is generally wise to keep your video short and concise, ideally less than two minutes.

If you are worried about cramming a ton of information into such a tight timeframe, remember that your customers can easily rewatch the piece and get the information they need without having to leaf through scores of pages of text and diagrams that never seem to look like the actual product spread out on the floor before them.

One specific form of these videos is called an unboxing video.  It’s pretty much the same concept as the how-tos, except it simply shows viewers how to remove an item from its packing box, identifies what each part is, and quickly shows the very basic steps needed for assembly.  This is particularly beneficial when items like a new digital camera or a music system are involved.  The power of sight, sound and motion can go a long way toward managing the angst customers may have as they start to pull all of the parts from a box prior to assembling their new toy. 

Perhaps the most powerful marketing opportunity associated with these videos lies in just being able to reiterate the most compelling one or two points about the product your customer just purchased.  Of course, you don’t need to sell your customer at this point, but providing a gentle reminder about the qualities of your product will help elevate your brand, as well as customer appreciation -- especially if your video ultimately makes their life easier.

Finally, a few marketers are taking online video manuals a step further, using QR codes.  In this scenario, consumers can travel down the aisle of a Big Box retailer and see a QR code on a shelf tag for a product that clearly will require some unboxing and assembly.  The prospect of having to assemble immediately concerns the potential buyer:  However, the QR code takes the buyer directly to an online video that briefly shows how easy it is to assemble and use the product, while reiterating some of its key marketing benefits.

Today’s consumers expect ease-of-use from brands at all levels and the responsibility to convey this rests largely with marketing teams.   If done correctly, video manuals can simultaneously “wow” customers, help them assemble a product quickly and easily, and then remind them of how smart they are for having purchased the brand-new product in the first place.

3 comments about "Why Marketers Should Take Ownership Of How-To Videos".
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  1. Mark Burrell from Tongal, October 19, 2011 at 6:23 p.m.

    well said Neil!

  2. T Y from Freelance Producer / DP, October 20, 2011 at 9:03 a.m.

    You are right that companies could do much to educate their consumers on their products.

    I am not sure, however, that using sweat-shop style, exploitation of production people is the way large corporations should go about acquiring the video materials. I would be a lot less inclined to patronize a company that does not invest in the folks who usually comprise "our people make the difference."

    Think of how much money WalMart will be able to save if they "test out" their greeters for a few days and then keep the ones that they like. Or not. Maybe they can just keep testing new, desperate people and never actually pay anyone to be a greeter.

  3. Neil Perry from The Institutes, October 20, 2011 at 10:20 a.m.

    About the exploitation comment ... crowdsourcing is a unique way for brands to acquire high quality videos from a vibrant network of videographers who are anxious to learn their craft and be noticed by marketers. I can understand your frustration at the way the world is changing. But the demand for more and more video productions by marketers have forced them to seek alternative, cost efficient methods to get the marketing materials they need. Crowdsource creators are looking to launch their professional careers, and by using Poptent, many are doing just that and advancing their career significantly. While our approach is not for everyone, many other young professionals appreciate the opportunity to get their foot in the door.
    Thanks for your feedback.

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