When you go to YouTube, you often see ads from big brand advertisers—a homepage ad or a display campaign running across the site. But many small business owners also use YouTube to reach their customers with videos about their products and services. While there are lots of different types of ads that small businesses can run on YouTube, sometimes the best way to show off your brand or product is to simply create a great video. Terrence Kelleman, founder of Dynomighty Design, has made YouTube videos the centerpiece of his company’s marketing strategy, so I’ve invited him to share his thoughts about how he grew his business using YouTube.
In 2001, I was working my day job as a digital photographer for e-commerce at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) when I found several prototypes for a product that were being thrown out. The plastic elements had magnets inside them, and as I broke them open and put the magnets on my desk, they suddenly shot together to form a straight line. Playing with the magnets, I realized I could make jewelry that was held together by magnetic force alone. This chance discovery was the first step on the road to starting my own company, Dynomighty, which sells magnetic jewelry and other creative products.
My first YouTube video of a magnetic bracelet was supposed to be a video for my own website to help demonstrate the dynamic features of our products. I was in a hurry the day I made it because my wife Ingrid and I were staying late to wrap up some orders. I set up some lights against a white background, and shot the video with a small point-and-shoot Canon digital camera without any editing. (In the original video, you could even hear the honking cars on Broadway outside our office in New York.) It took me three or four takes to fit all the magnetic jewelry “tricks” in a minute-long video. I posted the video to YouTube, we finished up for the night and went home.
Sitting at my desk about a month later, I heard the “beep” sound that told me I had a new email message. It beeped again, then again, and again until I noticed that in less than a minute, I’d received 13 messages notifying me of new comments on my YouTube video. And they kept coming: when I turned on my computer the next morning, it took an hour for all my email messages to load! We were inundated with orders, comments, questions, offers and opportunities to expand our business. Three months later, we’d finally caught up on all the orders, and our total sales in that time—following that one video—were approximately $130,000. Today, the video has almost 3 million views and continues to drive a steady flow of customers to our website.
YouTube gives us the perfect opportunity to incorporate video into our marketing because you don’t need advanced technical skills or expertise in online video creation or hosting. It helps us sell our product, learn about our audience and build a strong brand image. And as a small company with a limited advertising budget, YouTube has become our main advertising strategy. Not only are costs low with Promoted Videos, but healthy conversions also make YouTube our #1 referring site in terms of traffic and revenue.
We’ve made 146 other videos since our first one, and we’ve learned a lot. Most importantly, to make an effective video marketing campaign, you need to have compelling visuals and content. We often look to other popular videos on YouTube for inspiration, and ask ourselves “What do people like to watch?” Then we implement aspects of those videos into our own video work, and try to build a connection with our customers that pictures and product copy can’t really convey on their own. For instance, seeing videos of time-lapse mural paintings gave me the idea to capitalize on a unique feature of our Mighty Wallets®. The Mighty Wallet has a writable surface that you can draw on with Sharpie markers, so I set up my camera and let our design intern go freehand with his unique drawing style. The resulting video now garners about 15 percent of our total views online and has generated more than 270,000 views in seven months. And because of YouTube Insight, we’ve been able to learn a lot about our viewers—like their demographics and how they find our videos—and to use that information to develop a loyal following on the site. Today many of our videos receive more than 100,000 views within the first three months of being uploaded.
Nine years ago, a chance discovery led me to start my own company, and another discovery five years later helped me further grow my business through YouTube. I don’t know what’s next for Dynomighty, but chances are you’ll see it on YouTube.