To me, YouTube has been like the proverbial elephant; my impression depended upon where I touched it. Before I touched it at all, I dismissed the site as grist for those with too much time on their hands. Then, after a magical night sampling rock and roll legends with my young kids, it morphed into an invaluable repository of American rock and roll history and other folklore.
Still, I’ve posted only a few personal videos to the site, and have never considered the site a necessary arrow in anyone’s quiver of marketing tools. Sure, we’ve all heard of BlendTec of “Will it Blend” success, but how many businesses could really use that quirky (albeit successful) strategy?
Then I touched YouTube through three businesses that use the site in a straightforward, easy to replicate manner. Now I’m thinking that any business that markets with streaming video should strongly consider posting them to YouTube.
YouTube and The Law
My first exposure came after a conversation with Ron Esposito, a videographer located in Southampton, Long Island, New York. Ron produces videos for attorneys and other professionals to post on their own web sites, and also to YouTube. I understand why you’d want to post videos to your own web site, but YouTube? Who looks for attorneys on YouTube?
To answer that question, I went to YouTube and searched for “Medical Malpractice New York.” The first video that appeared featured attorney Robert Sullivan, and had been viewed 61,738 times. Other related videos that appeared had 23,309 views, 54,217 views and 39,173 views. While you can dismiss some of these as folks with way too much time on their hands, you’d think that some of these viewers had to be looking for attorney.
I called Mr. Sullivan early in the day on a Friday, and caught him (perhaps not coincidentally) driving to his beach house on eastern Long Island. Mr. Sullivan related that his firm had never advertised previously, but that one of his associates had suggested the video because their firm’s web site got lots of traffic and the video would let potential clients “see who we are.” His firm posted the video to YouTube and their own web site at about the same time, and yes, they had received multiple calls from prospective clients who had watched the video on YouTube.
What’s interesting is that Mr. Sullivan was planned to produce the video anyway, so posting it to YouTube was essentially free. That makes the cost per impression exceptionally affordable, wouldn’t you agree?
In addition, the same benefit could potentially extend to any professional selling personal services, whether an accountant, stockbroker, investment advisor, business consultant or personal trainer. Videos help prospective clients get to you know you much more intimately than text on a web page. And once you’ve invested in a video, it makes loads of sense to upload a copy to YouTube. You may not get 60K+ hits like Mr. Sullivan, but the benefit will almost surely outweigh the cost.
YouTube and Real Estate
My second impression came from Sean Malarkey, who sells real estate in ColumbusOhio. Malarkey’s Great City Real Estate Channel on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/GreatCityHomes) has 70 videos listed; views on the nine videos shown on his site’s first video panel ranged from 385 to 2,874. Underwhelming until you consider that few viewers would actually watch the videos unless they were actually looking for a home, and that it only takes one viewer to close the deal.
Figure 2. Selling Columbus real estate in Cyberspace.
Click the figure to visit this channel.
To be clear, Sean doesn’t invest a lot in his videos; he shoots walkthroughs of his houses using the video mode of his digital camera without narration, and seldom shoots more than one take. Still, he finds the videos much more effective than digital pictures for introducing potential buyers to his properties, and related one story where an out of town buyer flew in from Mexico to close on a house on the strength of the four minute video. Sean also commented that videos on YouTube improved his ranking in the search engines, and that whenever he experimented with dropping YouTube and only displaying videos on his own web site, his traffic dropped noticeably.
After hearing several stories like this one, it made me wonder why all real estate companies don’t have YouTube channels.
YouTube and Fancy Fixtures
The last YouTube story came from Kohler and Company of bathroom and kitchen fixture fame. It’s hard not to be a fan of Kohler’s witty television advertisements, which always present their products in a comic slant. What I didn’t know was that Kohler streamed over 4,000,000 video views a year from their web site.
As John Engberg, Kohler’s Manager – Global Media & Web Development, related, because Kohler sells only through distribution, they never have direct contact with their ultimate end users. Video is their way of making that connection.
Figure 3. Kohler’s YouTube channel. Click the Figure to visit this channel.
With this as background, it comes as no surprise that Kohler displays their videos on YouTube. To date, Kohler has only posted their television advertisements to YouTube, plus videos from their water conservation site, www.savewateramerica.com. All told, the ten videos in their YouTube channel have accumulated only about 100,000 page views. Again, miniscule by Super Bowl advertising standards, but you have to assume that most of these viewers were actually watching the video, rather than getting more Doritos or their next beverage. In the future, however, Engberg anticipates posting more videos to YouTube, “because the videos are informative and it’s the right thing that they live out there.”
So there you have it. For an attorney, real estate agent and international leader in bathroom and kitchen fixtures, YouTube plays an important, if not critical, role in their marketing efforts. If you’re marketing a product or service, perhaps YouTube can help you as well. Even more important, if you sell video or streaming production services, perhaps you know some clients (or potential clients) who might benefit from exposure on YouTube.