Monday, November 8, 2010

How I plan to sell my client on using YouTube

This post was originally created as class assignment #7 for MSU's New Media Driver's License course, and posted to the course website on November 8, 2010.

I have a client that belongs on YouTube. To get them to take the plunge into online video, I need to make a compelling marketing case for investing their time, energy and (a small amount of) money to put their brand and their product line “in motion”. Here, I’ll outline the main points I plan to make to convince them to add online video to their marketing mix (in the form of answering the questions I anticipate they’ll ask).

The client:
A distributor of hand crafted wines (mostly from California), serving a defined region of the northeastern U.S. They sell their products to liquor retailers, restaurants and bars.

Note: At their request, I’ve left my client’s name and location out for the purposes of this discussion.

Their marketing challenges:
  • Liquor laws in the state where they operate are strict, limiting the marketing levers they can use to impact their business. They cannot sell direct to consumers. They cannot discount their products. They cannot use promotions on popular products to encourage trial of new or lesser-known labels.
  • Customers (bars, restaurants and liquor stores) are reluctant to stock or serve wines they are unfamiliar with, as well as wines with a higher per glass or per bottle cost to serve.
  • Currently, company sales representatives call on individual customers, opening bottles to pour samples (bottles which cannot be given to the customer for resale, but must be disposed of), which is an expensive tactic for building brand awareness and encouraging trial.
  • By law my client cannot sell direct to consumers. Currently, they must rely on the marketing efforts and recommendations of their retail customers (bars, restaurants and liquor sellers) to position and promote their products to wine drinkers. Most of their customers do little or no ongoing promotion of their brands.
  • Wine drinkers are reluctant to try unfamiliar labels without credible recommendations.
  • When purchasing a bottle of wine at retail, wine drinkers often rely on visual recollection of a wine’s label.
  • Most of the 36 wineries my client represents have websites. Only 3 feature video on their sites, but several brands were found in a YouTube search, indicating that there is content out there to make use of and build upon.

How can video help sell wine?
Marketing wine is all about storytelling. Wine enthusiasts are often as excited about the story behind a wine as they are about the taste of the wine itself. Telling a wine’s (or winemaker’s) story in a memorable way is a key step in elevating a specific wine on a wine lover’s must-try list. (It’s much the same challenge Valentina Trevino faced and met with her video art blog .

As the “middlemen” in the process, my clients’ challenge is to get the story of their wines out – both to retailers, to encourage them to stock/serve the wine, and to end consumers, to get them talking about – and asking for – the wine in stores and bars.

Here’s a great example of how a quick biographical video of a winemaker (a brand my client carries) helps position his brand and improve name recognition:

Scott Harvey Wines

Here’s another colorful example of how a brand my clients sell tells their wine’s story by connecting it with music:


Can my clients create great video content like this?
Yes!! After reviewing online video content in the wine category, I’m convinced that my clients can improve on much of what’s out there, while also leveraging some of the strong content some of their brands are currently creating (like the examples above).
My client company’s owners are creative, charismatic and passionate about the brands they sell. In addition to being able to produce in-house content about their wines, they also regularly visit the vineyards they represent, and conduct local tastings in their area, creating additional opportunities to capture video for use in marketing.

Initially, I would recommend that they create a template for producing simple yet compelling descriptive videos about each wine they sell. As an example, here’s how one of the brands they represent does this with virtually no creativity. With very little effort or expense, my clients can improve significantly on this approach:

Crane Brothers Brodacious

Once this initial step has been taken, I would recommend that my clients expand on that content by developing a video blog (to live on both YouTube and on their site) that captures their own personality, reviews and discusses the wines they carry, and provides additional lifestyle content (restaurant reviews, area events, etc.) relevant to the region.

Some inspiration for this: Gary Vaynerchuk:
Wine “superstar” Gary Vaynerchuk has proven that there is an audience of wine enthusiasts who will tune in for entertaining content. His video blog has grown from a very crude self-produced show to a multi-faceted business that extends well beyond reviewing wine. All because of he let his personality and passion shine through on video

Gary V

Once they have a plan for content, can they develop an online video strategy?
Again, YES!! Components of the strategy would include (but not be limited to):
  • Creating an on-site video blog and promoting the site to their region (reaching both their customers and end users/wine enthusiasts) via keywords, Google AdWords, etc.
  • Creating their own video channel on YouTube, and posting to Facebook and tweeting out each time a new video is added (they have a Facebook fan page, and efforts are currently underway to encourage their customers to follow them on Twitter)
  • Budget permitting, develop a Promoted Video campaign on YouTube. This would be an appropriate tool for them to use:
  • It’s as easy as Google AdWords to plan and place a buy.
  • It’s targetable – since their trading area is clearly defined as one portion of one state, this is essential
  • It’s affordable, since you only pay when your video is viewed
  • It has “legs” beyond the media buy, since viewers can comment, rate and share videos. This could prove highly beneficial for generating the “word of mouth” recommendations so critical to a wine’s success.
  • It’s measurable – YouTube offers analytics (YouTube Insight) similar to Google which can help shape future video content and distribution.

Beyond YouTube, are there other tools my clients should use?
No other video posting site comes close to YouTube in traffic, or features, or ease of use. Using a recent review of video sharing websites , I explored other sites and compared them with YouTube. I would recommend getting a YouTube-focused strategy up and running first, before exploring others.

That said, I’d probably make one exception: vimeo. Vimeo positions their site as “a respectful community of creative people who are passionate about sharing the videos they make.” Since wine enthusiasts may share other erudite pursuits (independent films, etc.), vimeo’s more upscale, less cluttered environment might be worth trying and evaluating. They also offer a number of free services, including some cool widgets to enhance the client’s website and blog, and the ability to organize groups of viewers with similar interests. For example, they currently offer 37 groups focused on wine; a group specific to my client’s region could be added. An example of wine-related content on vimeo can be found here.

I would also recommend that as they create their basic product video library (giving viewers a simple review of the wine and a good clear look at the label), those posts, along with still photos conveying the same info, be posted on Flickr.

I’m looking forward to working with this company in the days ahead to help them get their video marketing strategy online. They have great products with great stories, and a passionate audience with which to connect online. Video will allow them to use sight, sound and motion to connect with both their customers and their customers’ customers to raise awareness of their brands in a very crowded marketplace.

photo credits:  Palermo Wine Splash by ciccioetneo; Corks by Josep Ma Rosell

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