Viral video — are you trying to educate?

Picture_1 In our on-going discussion about the value of (or lack thereof) using viral video, we’ve talked about how the statistics clearly indicate that video viewing is on the rise (with double and triple digit growth) and some of the reasons why viral video might make sense for your organization.

In my last post, we explored (there were some superb comments — be sure you dig deep enough to read them!) using viral video if what you’re looking for is widespread exposure.  Those are the videos we’re all the most familiar with. The Mentos and Diet Coke, the RayBans, or the Small Office HP videos that I shared in that post.

Characteristically, they have a higher production value, tend to be funny and short.  Really, they’re the Super Bowl ads of viral video.  Their goal is to be talk worthy and sharing worthy.

But what if that’s not what you need.  Let’s say you’re the Marketing Director for a regional B-to-B company.  Viral video shouldn’t be on your radar screen — right?

Not so fast, my friend. 

If "I want lots of eyes" viral video is the Super Bowl of the medium, then the "I want to educate you" may be the high school social studies class film equivalent.  You remember those grainy black and white films that were short on entertainment value but long on content.  These are characteristically lower budget/quality production, a bit longer in length and usually not going for the funny bone.  Their purpose is very utilitarian — to teach.

Long time reader/commenter to this blog, Scott Townsend is the Marketing Director for United Linen and Uniforms in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.  They service the tri-state area of Kansas, Arkansas and of course, Oklahoma.  So why would they use video?


Again, this is not going to win an Oscar.  I think lots of people shy away from some of this new fangled media (podcasts, video etc.) because they compare their budget and abilities to the high end variations and dismiss an opportunity that they could seize.

Assuming you have a certain level of production quality — using video this way is an effective way to do a couple things.

  • Educate your consumer.  Some things are easier to understand if you can see them.
  • Convey a product truth.  In this case, that it’s easy to re-load the dispenser and odds are if she can do it — so can your employees.

What do you think?  Can you see how using video like this might serve your customers?  Or are you in the "high end, big budget or no go" camp?


Other posts in this series:
Do you viral video?
Viral video – are you looking for a lot of eyes?
Viral video — are you trying to educate?
Viral video – are you trying to be heard over the noise?
Viral video — are you establishing yourself as an expert?

Photo courtesy of

12 comments on “Viral video — are you trying to educate?

  1. IMHO, video is perfect for B2B and this is a nice, simple example. B2B marketing often has a considerable “education” component, so what’s better than using such an easy to digest, human medium?

    If you think of personal and professorial services,(which is so heavily reliant on human relationships) you can suddenly see and hear the people you might deal with. How often have you heard people in these industries say: “people buy me”, “it’s the personal relationship” etc. Here is a chance to cross that gap, simple and relatively (cheap.

    It’s also easier to watch someone do a five minute sketch on a white board than it is to read a white paper.
    I could go on. And I will. After I’m off the phone buying a video production company.

  2. David,

    I think most marketers have been so dazzled by the “get eyes” types of viral videos that they’re afraid to try something with a smaller budget and a different purpose.

    I agree — often times seeing something makes it so simple.

    Let me know how the purchase of the production company goes!


  3. Shama Hyder says:

    Great post Drew. Even simple videos with a direct message can have an effect. It just has to reach the intended audience.

  4. Mark Goren says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more on this one, Drew. Teach, teach, teach. For every video that goes viral, so many more make the attempt but strike out.

    However, if you set out to teach people what to do or how to use, and let them know that this demo is out there, they’ll watch. The people who need to watch will watch and if they know of people who should watch, they’ll pass it around.

    The video may not appeal to everyone, but it will appeal to people who need it.

    I’m a big believer in that.

  5. Low budget videos are practical for customers/prospects, and users because A/V is more stimulating and quicker to digest and share. It’s a powerful differentiator compared to reading, the perceptual time investment is lower. Excellent for white papers, and obviously perfect for product demonstrations and training.

  6. Shama,

    In some ways, when done for this purpose, video is really a very direct marketing tool — aim it right to your audience and don’t worry about the rest of the world.


  7. Mark,

    I think all too often people shy away from using video in this way because its not flashy.

    Which may be why it is ultimately effective.


  8. Mario,

    “the perceptual time investment is lower”

    Hmm, hadn’t thought about that. But you are correct. In today’s time starved world, I’d much rather watch a short video than try to decipher an instructional booklet.

    Great point!


  9. Chirs says:

    We have been debating using some lower-budget video as a tool to enhance/replace some of our duller white papers. As mentioend multiple times we are now a culture that likes our information fast and this type of teaching video can offer that.

    As you mentioned it may not be flashy and probably won’t become a huge hit on youtube, but it serves its purpose in educating consumers. I am now sold on this idea.

  10. Chirs/Chris —

    Glad the discussion clarified your team’s thinking on giving video a try. I’d love it if you’d come back and either share your efforts or let us know how they were received.


  11. In the non-profit realm, would the usage of video or a viral campaign come off as too flashy and/or expensive? As a donor, would you be turned off by such a campaign? “Why spend money on this when you should be funding your mission?”

    I’ve continued the discussion back at my blog (Blogger doesn’t support Trackback easily).

  12. Erik,

    I think that’s one of the advantages of viral video. If you’ve got a flip camera — you can have a video.

    Most donors are also educated enough that they understand non profits spend money to raise money. That’s why newsletters, direct mail pieces etc. are successful.

    Do I think you need to be aware of not crossing the line — you bet.

    When you think about it…video is a very powerful way to tap into your audience’s emotions. Which is exactly what non profit marketing is all about.


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