Viral video marketing is a topic that interests all of us at Dubb. Whether you are a first-time video marketer or have been polishing your craft for decades, the dream is to have one of our business videos go viral. Virality can mean everything from increased sales for our product or service to building a positive reputation within our industry for knowing exactly what makes our audiences tick.
That said, there is some bad news. As with many things in life, there is not a magic formula that can make all of your videos automatically go viral. If such a formula existed, it would potentially eliminate viral video marketing in the first place. But while there is no absolute guarantee that your videos will go viral, we can increase the likelihood that they will.
One of the best ways to do this is to study those videos that have gone viral. Even better is to speak with those creators so that we can better understand their thought processes as they were creating their videos.
It is because of this that I am extremely excited to share my conversation on viral video marketing with Benton Crane. Crane is the CEO of Harmon Brothers, a renowned marketing firm that was behind viral ads for companies like Poo-Pourri, FiberFix, Squatty Potty, and Camp Chef. Overall, Harmon Brothers have created ads that have been seen over 1.3 billion times and have led to over $350 million in sales. It’s safe to say that if anyone is qualified on how to make a video go viral, it’s the Harmon Brothers.
To learn more about Harmon Brothers’ secret sauce, I spoke with Benton on a recent episode of Dubb’s podcast Connection Loop. The whole conversation was fascinating (you can click here to view it in its entirety). Having said that, Benton offered several critical insights on viral video marketing that all video marketers can use.
Identify Where You Are in Your Business Timeline
Benton’s first piece of advice about viral video marketing isn’t necessarily about videos themselves. Rather, it is about identifying where you are in your business timeline. This exercise is at the core of the Harmon Brothers method.
Benton says that there is a timeline from being an obscure startup to being a household brand. The first half of that timeline is about building an economic engine, meaning that you are overcoming the challenges preventing your business from operating profitably. The latter half of the timeline is about building your brand. Benton and his team help his clients find out where they are on that timeline. With that knowledge in hand, they can implement the right strategy at the right time for their clients.
For instance, if you work for a brand new startup that is studying viral video marketing, Benton recommends that you focus very intently on sales. Be laser-focused on achieving product-market fit and ensure that your product is really solving a problem in your customers’ lives. When scaling up, you may go right into a simple sales video, where you basically repeat the sale in video form that you already developed when finding product-market fit.
As you grow those sales, you are added fuel to your economic engine, which leads you to the branding portion of the timeline. Here, you can focus on creating your brand character and brand voice. This is where it gets fun. You can make it memorable, funny, or a combination of both. This is what Benton calls a “branded conversion video,” which is designed to leverage all of those positive attributes of branding.
With all of this in mind, think about where your company is located on the business timeline. That should shape the type of video content that you are creating. Truthfully, at least when determining your value proposition, it may be best to focus on creating a product or service users love than trying to create the most viral video possible. Even if your video goes viral, the overall goal is to use that virality to support your business. If your business does not have product-market fit, all of that hard work may go for naught.
But once the economic engine is there, according to Benton, you can dive into a daily strategy of posting on the different social media platforms. While it certainly takes time, the economic engine (and consistent sales) need to be in place to put your long-term branding strategy into place.
Common Themes in Successful Viral Video Marketing Campaigns
Benton and his firm have seen countless numbers of video marketing campaigns. Some go viral. Most do not. But through studying history and reflecting on his own experiences, Benton has seen some common themes in the most successful viral video marketing campaigns (including his own).
According to Benton, one common theme of the most successful viral video marketing campaigns is that they blend the world of direct-response marketing with branding and humor. Direct-response marketing, for those of you who don’t know, is a sales technique that is intended to evoke an on-the-spot response. The goal is for the viewer to take immediate action by opting-in to the advertiser’s offer.
Benton says that in the traditional branding world, advertisers would pejoratively view these videos as “infomercials.” They would shy away from this type of direct-response marketing because they think it would harm their brand. And in the direct-response marketing world, they sometimes look at the general concept of branding and think of it as fluff. They say “You can’t measure that.”
One of the best examples of combining direct-response marketing, branding, and humor is Harmon Brothers’ work for Squatty Potty. Called “This Unicorn Changed the Way I Poop,” the commercial for Squatty Potty involves a regal narrator, a unicorn, and an interesting form of ice cream (to say the least). The narrator humorously uses the unicorn and ice cream to explain how the Squatty Potty works, and at the end of the video, includes a clear call-to-action so that viewers can immediately purchase their own Squatty Potty.
I was blown away by this outlandish, out-of-this-world concept. It changed my mindset on how you can captivate people’s attention, entertain them, educate them, and monetize the entire effort. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend that you check it out.
Benton says that there are wildly successful companies in the world of direct-response marketing and branding. The great thing about direct-response marketing is that it can drive an immediate return on investment. It’s also trackable, so we can see exactly what is performing well and not-so-well. On the branding front, Benton argues that branding isn’t just fluff. Character, story, emotion, and humor can make your company stand out in the eyes of your audience. But by packaging both direct-response marketing and branding, you can leverage both of these benefits simultaneously. It is a potent combination and absolutely helpful for viral video marketing.
So whether you are starting your first video marketing campaign or are experienced in this area, think about how you can combine direct-response marketing and branding. Doing so will substantially increase your chances that your video goes viral, leading to more sales.
Data is Your Best Friend
The next piece of advice from Benton is to pay close attention to the data. Harmon Brothers is most known for creating videos that are fun, entertaining, and almost comical. You may think that they rely on gut, intuition, and natural sense of humor to create viral videos.
When we peel back the onion, however, we discover that Harmon Brothers is a completely data-driven company. Benton himself has a background in economics and was a consultant for intelligence agencies before joining Harmon Brothers.
While Harmon Brothers are certainly creative, Benton has baked data into that creative process. The data feeds creativity and creativity feeds the data. Both elements feed off each other to increase the odds of resonating with the audience. Benton and his team embrace the A/B test, running countless numbers of tests for each and every campaign. It’s not luck or happenstance if one of their videos goes viral. Harmon Brothers put in the hard work to give themselves the best data-driven thesis on what a particular audience will love.
As for your campaigns, follow Benton’s lead. Embrace the A/B test and test everything from the titles of your videos, the format of those videos, and the type of videos you create. Ensure that you are testing for your targeted business goal, whether that is
Map Out Your Customer Journey
Finally, Benton recommends that we map out the entire customer journey. Not all videos are going to be for every segment of your audience. In other words, it is nearly impossible to create a viral video for your entire audience.
Ultimately, it helps to map out the customer journey from being first introduced to your company (the top of your funnel) to the moments before purchase (the bottom of your funnel). Harmon Brothers try to break up that journey into chunks, where marketers create content to take them throughout that customer journey.
For instance, at the top of your funnel, think about creating some short video clips on what you and your company believe. Create it for a broad audience and measure the engagement with those videos. From there, find those people who engaged with your videos and re-market your next videos to them. That next video, for example, can be focused on future objection handling or belief management. You keep getting more specific as the prospect travels down your funnel until they are ready to purchase.
With this advice in mind, think about how your audience interacts with your business and your content. Be hesitant about creating a video for every single member of your potential audience. By segmenting, understanding what your audience members truly want, and delivering that content to them, you increase the chances of your video going viral.
Practicing What They Preach
Viral video marketing is a tantalizing subject. The ideas sound simple, but the hard work is in the execution. Harmon Brothers have certainly found success in viral video marketing and this is because it practices what it preaches. It started by creating content that was direct-response focused and has evolved into more than just an agency or a production company.
You can do the same. While it takes hard work and dedication, following Benton’s advice above can substantially increase the odds that your video content goes viral.
Thanks for reading! If you want to learn more about viral video marketing, feel free to contact us at Dubb by clicking here.
[eBook] The Definitive Guide to Video Marketing
At Dubb, we have produced 1000’s of videos and have made tons of mistakes. From our learnings, we have compiled a step-by-step guide for creating stellar marketing videos and an overall video marketing strategy. Whether you a scrappy startup or a more established business, watch this 5-minute video guide and then read the free eBook so you can dramatically increase the ROI of your video marketing.