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Video Marketing: The Death of Boring

by Tim James

While I often talk about “basics”, that’s simply because many dealers are still not reaping the benefits of video marketing. But let’s say your dealership is doing video marketing. Perhaps you’ve made a commitment to conduct live video walkarounds for every vehicle. Maybe you’re engaging your customers via personal video e-mail. And perhaps it’s working well. Most people would advise a marketer that is having success to follow the old saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Well, sometimes that may not be the right answer.

Consider the “Red Bull” brand. They are widely known for producing some of the most successful viral video marketing pieces ever – including setting a record for the most live concurrent video views, with 9.5 million users watching their space diving video. The brand focused on creating video content that illustrated daring and astonishing feats of athleticism. As a result, it earned the respect and attention of many major brands across the country. But then… they changed their strategy. And everyone gasped.

Why would any company change a video marketing strategy that is considered (and measured) as the bar to achieve? Why change something that is working so well?

We may never know why Red Bull decided to change their strategy away from big time, exciting event videos that consistently went viral. What we do know is what they changed it to: Consistency.

Red Bull decided that producing regular, consistent video content (more quantity) would pay off over producing less video content — even if the videos as a group are not as “epic.” And what did this achieve? In the last year, Red Bull has created 639 videos that each have more than a million views, with a combined total of 1.7 BILLION views, and almost 33 million engagements.

While each individual video itself gets less engagement than one of the EPIC videos, overall the brand is achieving more views and engagement at less expense. Red Bull’s gamble on a consistent stream of video content, over occasional highly produced epic videos payed off.

What does that mean for your dealership?

Creating consistent content – walkaround videos, creative commercials, etc. – will absolutely engage consumers. But it’s not all about following some straight line on the road to your destination. Creativity will pay dividends – it’s a matter of regular content but also doing something to catch attention and set you dealership apart from the competition.

Take a step off the line and be a little adventurous.

Take for example a dealership in Minnesota, White Bear Mitsubishi. They adopted a white bear as their mascot and have created countless commercials and content including a person dressed in a giant white bear outfit. (If you’ve never seen them, they’re great!) But it isn’t the commercial that shot them to stardom, it is the OUTTAKES from the commercial. On their Facebook page alone, these commercial outtakes have had 6.9 million views, over 35,000 likes and over 100,000 shares!

It’s also been syndicated, made into memes and featured on television news reports! Did they expect this kind of exposure by simply posting some silly outtakes from a commercial they did to support their local hockey team? No!

The point is that they continued to produce content. They stepped outside the box. And because of that, the world is now talking about them. Had they never tried, they’d never have succeeded.

Wouldn’t you like to have those kind of results and exposure for your dealership? The only way that’s ever going to happen is to go out and start making video – and never stop.

Video Marketing: Sell, Don’t Tell.

by Tim James

Why are we obsessed with television and movies? Because, just like books, they have the ability to capture our attention and transport us into fictional situations and universes.

Regardless of whether the movie or television show is fiction or non-fiction, this is an engaging way to tell a story that we’re interested in hearing and also seeing. TV, movies and video make stories come alive in ways that connect with our emotions – whether through fear, sympathy, action or drama.

But what if you went to a movie and rather than watching the story of a young farm boy transforming into a hero by blowing up a huge space station, you were presented with only the facts. Just an outline or bullet-points. That wouldn’t be very engaging, would it?

Video marketing is no different. It’s really easy to forget that in order to engage the viewer, you need to connect with them. Telling them how great your product is with facts alone would be like doing a walkaround for a customer, simply reading the information on the window sticker.

That is certainly not very interesting, engaging or creative.

In car sales, salespeople are trained to do vehicle walkarounds by first identifying any attributes of importance to that particular customer. The salesperson then shows and explains any features and benefits in the vehicle which fulfill that individual customer’s interest. To put it plainly, great salespeople tell stories about their products that put their audience “in the story.” They don’t just present facts, they generate a desired emotional response by focusing on “why” a product is needed, not just what the product is, (sell “why,” not “what”).

Effective video marketing – including walkarounds, personal video messages and any other kind of video you can think of – is no different. That’s why so many consumers love Super Bowl commercials. It is also why some commercials make us smile, laugh out loud, or even bring a tear to our eyes. They are effective because, in most cases, they manipulate our emotions to connect those products and services with us on a personal level and make us want to engage.

You can do the same thing with your video marketing efforts and, by so doing, establish more of a bond with the customer. Show your customers that you are interested in helping them with THEIR needs (not just selling them a car) and it will increase the likelihood they will engage with you, or reach out to you, should they simply come across a video on a VDP.

Video marketing isn’t rocket science. BUT you still need to have a strategy to do it effectively. Try changing your focus from trying to talk to everyone, to talking to a single person. Tell your story, the vehicle’s story, or whatever story you wish to relay with your video, as if that person is standing right in front of you. These types of videos resonate with individuals more than any other tactic. Why? Because the viewer feels as if you’re talking directly to them, rather than to some generic mass audience. And those are the types of videos that both engage and connect with the viewer.

Most advertising attempts to connect with as many people as possible. Sure, it may be segmented so that the message is demographically or geographically targeted. But, in the end, people can tell the difference between if you are speaking to them directly, or to a generic, random group of people. Yes, they may intuitively know that some video on some random VDP page wasn’t made specifically for them. But, EMOTIONALLY those videos will have a more impactful influence on them. And that’s the whole point of video marketing. Facts may provide details about your product, but an emotional story will sell it.

How to Make a Value Proposition to Die For

by Tim James

The first thing most people do when meeting someone new is to introduce themselves. This first meeting can quite easily dictate the future outcome of the relationship. If you come off as insincere or indifferent, the other party will probably not engage you again. However, greet someone with genuine interest and sincerity and you just might make a friend for life.

The same exact principal applies when introducing yourself to a customer that submits a lead or visits your website — except for one small thing – you can’t see them.

Most dealers nowadays have some sort of value proposition content that they put in front of customers. It typically appears in the form of an e-mail template or written content on the website (your “About Us” page, for example). While this is better than nothing, it is certainly not the most effective way to meet someone. Human beings are driven by their emotions. Heck, oftentimes the simple act of buying a vehicle can be emotional. A value proposition done with video has a distinct advantage over any written message – the customer can see you. Humans communicate in more ways than just speech. We use our eyes and ears and monitor everything from body language to facial expressions. These subtle cues can sway whether we believe someone is sincere, sarcastic, lying or joking. Written content cannot as effectively project any of these on to a customer. And, since you cannot see or even know who you will be meeting with these online leads — you should strive to create the best value proposition video possible.

What is a value proposition video, really? There’s a very simple answer to that question. A value proposition video is your dealership’s opportunity to convince a customer to choose to do business with you. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase that in any interaction someone is being sold. This is no different. You are trying to convince (sell) the customer of the fact that you are a good choice for them. If, when creating a value proposition video, you approach it as if you were tailoring the perfect elevator pitch, you’ll have a better idea of what you should say.

Here are a few tips about what a value proposition should and should not include, along with some techniques on how to interject a little personalization into these videos.

Make it short. – No customer is going to watch a 5-minute video about how great your dealership is. Plain and simple: If you can’t describe what you do, the problem you can solve for the customer, why you are different and why they should care, in 60 seconds, you should re-evaluate your value proposition.

Stop making it about you! – Most value propositions inevitably include statements such as “We’re the best!”; “We have the lowest price.”; “We’ve been in business for 187 years,” etc. Stop that. The customer is NOT meeting you, they are in the process of deciding whether they WANT to meet you. Do you see the difference? The more you can avoid using the pronouns “We” and “Us” and “Our” the better.

While most value proposition videos try to talk to EVERYONE, make yours more personable as if you were talking to an individual. Use pronouns such as “I” and (even better) “you.” The only person that matters at that specific moment in time is that one single customer. Craft your value proposition as if you were making it for that one person. And then proceed to make your video about them. If the video is going to be displayed on your website, your dealer principal or general manager should deliver the message. If the video is designed to be sent to a customer that submitted a lead online, the message should be delivered by the person sending the e-mail. This transforms the video from a generic, impersonal piece of content to one which will have greater meaning to the person watching.

I’m not saying that you have to make an individual video for each internet lead (although that would be a very powerful tool in your sales process), rather you should have one created for each dealership employee – whether that’s a manager, salesperson, internet manager or BDC rep – that responds to and interacts with customers who submit leads. Remember, this video is NOT a “Why Buy from Me,” that’s another topic. This is a “Why Buy from Us.”

An example of a “Why Buy from Us” word track delivered in a personal way is as follows:

“I can assure you that you’ll have a great buying experience here. You’ll find a great selection of vehicles and knowledgeable sales consultants who can assist you in finding the vehicle that best fits your family’s needs and budget. Just as my other customers have, you’ll want to keep coming back after you buy your vehicle here.”

That’s one great way to deliver a dealership value proposition in a way the customer feels as if you are talking to them, and that it is not all about the dealership.

Quality counts – If you are going to make a single video to be repurposed, ensure that the video is filmed, edited and presented in a high-quality and professional manner. Simply filming a selfie while standing against a wall is like showing up to a job interview dressed in shorts and flip flops. First impressions matter — and you only get one chance to make one. So, make this one count. These may very well be the most important videos you make. Deliver them in a proper, professional way, and you’ll find that customers watch them and that they make the impact you’re searching for.

In the end, a value proposition video is not a commercial. It’s your first opportunity to convince a prospective customer why they should choose your dealership over your competition. Pulling this off successfully will start to build a relationship and trust in you and your dealership. And, once you have those, the odds of you winning the business increase exponentially.

A Primer on Video E-Mail Response

So, you’ve decided that you want to send video responses to internet leads, but you don’t quite know where to begin. Well, first, congratulations! You have made an excellent decision that will engage more of your customers, build rapport faster and elicit increased responses. Now to the nuts and bolts of how best to do this:

Technology – The simplest tool you need to create video is probably right in the palm of your hands. You may even be reading this blog on it, right this minute. I’m talking about your phone. These days, most smart phones have pretty impressive video capabilities. On the other hand, perhaps your dealership is willing to invest in a little dedicated video equipment. That is great as well. The biggest thing to understand is, regardless of whether you’re shooting video from your smartphone, or from an expensive camera, you need to ensure that you’re familiar with all of the settings that the camera offers and how to use them. Read your manual. And, In the case of an expensive camera, pay attention primarily to the Exposure Triangle (ISO, Aperture and shutter speed). Understanding these three features, and how to manipulate them, will help you produce great looking quality videos.

Deliverability – I am frequently asked about the best way to deliver videos to a customer via e-mail. Should the video be embedded in the e-mail or linked? Well, embedding a video inside an email sounds cool. But, “sounds cool” isn’t functional because only a few e-mail clients would actually play the embedded video. In addition, many spam filters flag e-mails that contain embedded video as spam. This means that most of your customers won’t even see them. A video is worthless if it doesn’t make it through spam filters. Because of this, your best option is to utilize a video landing page and insert a link to the video which is embedded in the landing page.

Creativity – Creativity is an important piece of any video marketing strategy. First, decide how you are going to utilize your video content. Are you going to build a library of stock video responses to send to leads? Or, are you going to personalize each one? Perhaps a combination of the two? Regardless of which strategy you choose, there are advantages and disadvantages to each. That being said, each one can be effective if it is implemented properly.  Here are some fundamentals that apply universally:

  • Use the word “VIDEO” in the subject line.
  • Use e-mail to support your phone call strategy, not replace it.
  • The focus (i.e. the call-to-action) of the video should be to get the customer to call you.
  • SMILE! There is nothing worse than seeing a video with an unhappy face.
  • Use a video landing page that contains the video you created for the customer along with additional supporting videos such as your dealership’s value proposition video, your salesperson’s introduction video and perhaps even some video customer testimonials. Sell the dealership. Sell yourself. And sell the car. All at the same time.

Hosting – One of the most important pieces of the puzzle for an effective video marketing strategy is where your video is “hosted.” All of your video content, including your video e-mails, should be hosted on the same platform so that you can track the viewing data of your shoppers across all touch-points and match that shopper with their history within your CRM. This also allows you to deliver “viewer specific” content to your shoppers based on their history and/or geo-location. Hosting videos on the same platform allows you to see if the prospect you sent the video email to watches another one of your videos on your website, cars.com, AutoTrader, Facebook Video pages, a blog, through another e-mail, etc.

Make certain that your video hosting platform knows what it is doing and can serve up real-time marketing/re-marketing content, or special offers, all based on rules that you can set, in order to return the best results. You can even geo-target your competitor’s lot. This means that if a specific shopper ends up visiting your competitor, but then decides to come back and watch your video e-mail just one more time (or any of your videos for that matter), you then receive a notice that they are on your competitor’s lot, while your video throws up a last chance offer to entice them over to you, before they buy elsewhere.

I hope this blog provides some useful data on the fundamentals of implementing an effective video marketing strategy. With the right tools and technology, you’ll find that it’s not that complicated at all.

A Super Nifty Trick to Make Your Facebook Videos More Effective

Social media is a great place for brands to get their message out to the masses using video. Not only are more people watching video on Facebook, but the platform itself is also giving it extended reach in order to entice marketers to publish more video on Facebook. Another really great (for marketers) feature of video on Facebook is that it autoplays in a user’s newsfeed. The problem is that it autoplays with no sound, so a user actually needs to engage with the video in order to hear it. If the user is scrolling through their newsfeed, you literally have seconds to capture their attention. So, how do you maximize the effectiveness of your Facebook videos knowing that users aren’t going to hear it, but only see it?

A recent article in Inc., shared that at the Salesforce Connections conference held in June, Facebook’s CMO Gary Briggs revealed a new trend that brands are beginning to use in their video marketing efforts on Facebook. Knowing that they’re pretty much at the mercy of a user when a video is presented in their newsfeed, marketers have started introducing text into the first 5-10 seconds of the video, so as to pique the interest of users and bypass the need for audio to capture attention. Similar to subtitles, this text is actually rendered into the actual video itself, allowing companies to use creative text in unison with their video to capture the user’s attention and get them to engage.

Facebook video marketing can be highly effective for dealerships, especially if it’s targeted properly. Video ads are one of the most effective means of advertising on the platform. The ability for dealerships to utilize various data sources and identify in-market car shoppers within their geographical area offers amazing opportunity. Consider incorporating video into your social media marketing on Facebook and, if it’s in the budget, utilize the precise targeting features that Facebook offers.

The most effective form of video marketing on Facebook for car dealerships would be more in the area of company branding, fun and random entertainment videos, customer testimonial videos, and occasional inventory walkaround videos.  Of course, you should have an entire Inventory Videos page available from your Facebook Menu, making it easy for anyone visiting your Facebook Page to quickly see videos of your inventory (since you actually do sell cars).And, if you have a very rare or unique vehicle, and target it properly, a video ad for that vehicle on your wall could also help the vehicle sell faster as well. However, for the most part, the ability to expose your dealership to potential new customers through well thought out, creative and engaging video can keep you top of mind.

A successful video marketing strategy will ensure that your dealership is present at each and every touchpoint that a consumer could visit on their car-buying journey. It will also take advantage of any unique features of the platform to optimize the chances that consumers engage with the video. This super nifty trick will allow you to relay a quick message (a hook, if you will) to consumers without them having to engage with your video, and could make them stop and listen to what you have to say.

They Watched Your Video. Now What?

by Brian Cox

There’s no doubt that video marketing is exploding in popularity with businesses and consumers. Both Facebook and Twitter are investing heavily in video and, in the case of Facebook, rewarding those who upload their video straight onto its extended reach advertising platform.

The days of reading long text descriptions and features of vehicles on websites are quickly fading. Manufacturers and dealerships are putting more effort and bigger budgets into video marketing. However, no matter how creative, funny, informative or compelling a video is, if it’s missing one simple ingredient, it will not help you sell more of anything – whether that’s a salesperson, the dealership or a car.

What is that simple ingredient? – It’s a call-to-action.

In terms of functionality and conversion, all websites typically contain calls-to-action. Customers that visit a dealership’s website can gather the information they want and, most of the time, there is a call-to-action on the page they’re viewing; be it the home page or a vehicle description page. Many videos, however, have no call-to-action. An online car shopper will visit multiple touchpoints when researching vehicles – Think of all of the sites your videos are on that the consumer could visit. You may control the content and call-to-actions on your own website, but it’s not always the case on every touchpoint.

Many dealers incorporate personalized video e-mail responses and walkarounds and introduce staff on their “About Us” pages. These are all great but, in many cases, they neglect to incorporate the single most important question that a consumer will ask after watching:

What do I do now?

Even if you have a call-to-action on the actual webpage that the consumer is on while watching your video, include a call-to-action within the video itself. It doesn’t have to be long or confusing. It should be simple. Something like:

  1. Call us at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email us today at XXXXXX
  2. Make sure to mention this video to claim your special offer
  3. Make sure to visit our website and get the exclusive Internet pricing only available on our website

If you’re not asking viewers of your video to do SOMETHING at the end of your video, they won’t do ANYTHING and you’ll be missing out on conversions. Guide the consumer through the funnel in relation to the video content they just watched. If the video was a “Why Buy From Me” sent by a salesperson, include their contact information at the end. Another thing that can be very beneficial is to incorporate a call tracking number on your videos.

If it’s a vehicle walkaround video, direct your customers as to what they should do next. Create a video explaining how your dealership assists people with challenged credit then direct them to your online credit application to get started. If you produce service videos, make sure to include an offer, coupon or, at the very least, an invitation to the dealership or to schedule an appointment.

It’s really not a difficult concept. Almost every other form of marketing will have calls-to-action (if they’re any good). So why shouldn’t you also include them in your videos? It’s up to you to tell your customers what you want them to do. If you guide them properly and with relevance, you’ll find that more of them follow the path you’re leading them down and will see more conversions.