12 Nov 2008

PubCon Keynote Address with George Wright of BlendTec

Good morning, folks! It’s 9am and I’ve already had two cups of coffee and posted a guestblogging entry over at Search Engine People. What have you done today? ;)

BlendTec’s George Wright is going to deliver this morning’s keynote to get us all up, going and excited. Let’s get right to it!

Brett’s up first giving the introduction and says attendees crashed the Internet yesterday with all their Twittering. Heh.  Now he’s giving shout outs to the conference organizers. Okay, time for George. Lots of claps. That’s a good sign.

George says we’re going to have fun. He brought a rake and asks if anyone’s ever tried to travel with a rake. Apparently it’s hard to get it through security. Especially when you have a blender with you and you tell them you’re going to try and blend the rake. Both the blender and the rake are now on stage. I’m suddenly nervous about sitting in the front row. Should I get a plastic tarp or something?

Brand Awareness: When he started with BlendTec three years ago, it was a small company that didn’t have a big brand. They had great products, but not a big brand.  He asks how many people knew BlendTec existed a few years ago and only a few people raise their hand. However, everyone has seen the Will It Blend videos. That’s huge.   You can’t buy something you don’t know about.

He shows the Will It Blend iPhone video. He also says the blended iPhone sold on eBay for $1,000 and the proceeds were donated to a children’s hospital. Ah. Yumminess.

Who is BlendTec? They make blenders in Utah.  They make awesome commercial products. They also make countertop blenders and home products.  They make great products but not one knew about them. Weak branding equals weak sales.

The Big Idea: Will It Blend?

His boss offered him $50 for his brand awareness campaign Heh. One day he was walking through the plant and ended up in the Demo Room (where they demo their equipment) and noticed there was a huge pile of sawdust on the floor. They told him it wasn’t a big deal and that someone was testing the blenders. The way the owner of the company tests the blenders is that they take the blender, put it on full speed and then throw in hard objects to try and stress the motor. The blender actually mashed up a wood board. George thought it was cool and that other people may want to see it, as well.

They took a common practice and decided they’d make videos about it. They couldn’t afford to make a commercial so they decided to use the free social media sites in order to distribute their videos. He took his $50 budget and bought a lab coat, a 6 pack of coke, a URL, marbles and some McDonalds. Then he started making his videos.

They put the lab coat on the founder (Tom) and told him to blend some marbles and just talk about it. They have 75 videos posted on YouTube today and so far everything they’ve tried to blend has worked. Except one thing — Chuck Norris. Aw…that wasn’t even funny.

A month ago he got a call from someone in Dallas telling him that Chuck Norris was on the radio telling everyone about his blender video YouTube. They now have an A-list celebrity talking about their products and they’re ranking for his name. That drives traffic.

WIB Key Components aka How Do You Make a Viral Video Successful?

  • It has to be entertaining and worth watching (not necessarily funny). Has to cross the threshold where people want to pass it along.
  • It has to have a corporate objective.  For Will It Blend, this was about brand awareness and helping people to know that there was a blender awesome enough to blend marbles. It the blender could blend marbles, you know it’ll make a good margarita.
  • Sponsored by the manufacturer. Don’t hire a slick third-party company to try and sneak your video out. If people think your video is not authentic, they will hunt you down and execute you in a public forum. You’re allowed to sponsor your own content.
  • Base it on real people. Will it Blend had their founder starring in the videos.  They captured him being himself. If they take him to a trade show, they can take Tom and he doesn’t have to do anything but be himself. It’s easy to reproduce.
  • Interactivity.  Let people leave comments and suggestions on what to blend next. Makes people feel connected to you and makes them invested in you and your product.
  • Simple user subscription.

Risks of a Social Media Campaign

  • Surrender control of the message upon distribution: Make sure that you’re honest and accurate with what you have to say.
  • Public scrutiny of the content: Know that it’s free to put content out on the Web, but it’s also free for people to put content on the Web to combat yours.
  • Distribution is Global: You can’t limit the geographical location.

Results:

The Will It Blend videos have received 65 million views.

Willitblend.com gets 120 million views. They have more than 200,000 subscribers.

Sales: 700 percent increase in sales! Pull through Impact in commercial products.

Brand Awareness: People know who BlendTec is. They’ve been on the Today show, Big Idea, iVillage Live, Tonight Show, Food Network, History Challen, Discovery Channel, Newsweek, Wire, The Wall Street Journal, and all the online blogs.

Their overseas business has been amazing. The results continue to come in.

The videos changed everything. Advertising has changed. Instead of making ads, you need to be making content. Advertising is now programming.

Wave of the future

Small companies can have a BIG online presence.

A single page ad in a newspaper can cost upwards of $80,000. It could be effective, but make sure you know what you’re trying to accomplish and use the right tools to get it done. They took a $50 viral campaign and made it famous.

Welcome to the new world.

Question and Answer

What kind of bonus did you get for this campaign?

He got a free blender. Heh.

You’ve increased sales by 700 percent, do you track your Web sales?

Web sales have increased by an amazing percent, but this was a brand awareness campaign. When you build a brand, sales are sustainable It’s the gift that keeps on going.

When did you first launch the campaign and when did you release the videos?

The campaign was launched two years ago in October. In the early days, we were very vigorous with releasing videos. We’ve slowed way off from that pace now. I’m convinced you need to treat subscribers very carefully. They expect quality or they’ll unsubscribe. We’ve been a bit more cautious with how we’re releasing videos now. It’s harder once you have something to lose.

George says it’s time to start blending things! Oh no. [covers eyes]

He’s going to ramp the blender up to full speed and then attempt to blend the rake.  Okay, he’s now blending the wood handle on the rake and I’m cowering in my seat.

Time for the next session. Thank goodness!