When it comes to exceptional video from brands, most of the marketing trades or subject matter experts cite entertaining videos. That’s likely what makes it to the top of the “view” charts. A great resource for top video lists is Visible Measures Charts and their Blog. They sell measurement solutions to brands and agencies and they also maintain a great resource of what to watch.
Still, their lists are dominated by the types of branded video meant to entertain. It’s the next generation advertisements and they can be exceptional and compelling.
Melissa Parrish (@MelissaRParrish) from Forrester put out a paper examining how brands can actually be useful to customers. This is very different than just coming up with the next disruptive creative idea featuring Jean Claude Van Damme and Toyota trucks. She summarizes her POV in a blog post:
“Instead, the opportunity is to demonstrate your brand promise — not just talk about it — by creating programs that are visibly and functionally useful from your customers' point of view. That's what we call utility marketing.”
She distinguishes between simple utility and transformative utility. The former is pretty much what you would expect – simple problem solving. The latter is bigger – “Programs that are so useful that they transform your experiences blur the lines between marketing, product, service, and customer experience and thus require digital maturity and strategic commitment.” Melissa cites the purchase by Staples of Runa and the promise of a new level of personal shopping as transformative.
I kind of buy the duality she is establishing. Many brands can think small and immediate to deliver something useful to their customers today while still exploring a bigger, more game-changing utility elsewhere in the building.
Four brands are delivering utility marketing today in interesting ways. I am certain each has their transformative play in the works. These examples reflect brands that are trying to become even more relevant to their customers and doing by being ‘of use’ to them.
Louis Vuitton Makes Packing Easier
I used to travel quite a lot more than I do now. Still, little tips and tricks are what make the traveler’s journey more bearable and even enjoyable. Louis Vuitton has created a series of videos on packing well. They are short and sweet. And they are useful. I will fold my jackets as per their diagram and roll my jeans. The utility is small but it’s there. The video is a great format as it actually demonstrates how to treat each piece of wardrobe and then how to assemble into the two halves of a bag. I think of Louis Vuitton as an expert in travel – not simply because of these videos, but they do reinforce that perception.
GE Makes Science Fairs Simpler
Building on the success of Lowe’s 6-second Vine How-to’s, GE has created a series called 6-second Science. These clever, animated videos bring to life a core concept or experiment from the dreaded science fair. They illustrate a concept, demonstrate how to actually do something and by remaining bite-sized at 6 seconds, don’t aspire to being ‘paint-by-numbers’ of science experiments. They give you a bit to build on.
Toyota Brings Friends into the Shopping Experience
The Toyota Collaborator is a simple utility that lets you invite some friends or family into a Google+ Hangout to build a car online (aka use the Corolla car configurator found at all auto sites to customize your model). Melissa ranks this as ‘transformative utility.’ But I see this as a simple way to bring your friends and family along your buying journey. This is especially relevant as the buyer journey for cars has changed so much due to digital. People spend less time in dealerships and more time making their mind up online ahead of time. Having a handful of friends show up online and all look at the same configurator as each shouts out, “make it red,” “go for leather seats, you knucklehead,” or “get the 16”wheels, dude” – can be helpful on such a big purchase.
Home Depot Steps through Planting Trees
While Lowe’s gets a lot of marketing attention for Vine videos, Home Depot has grown a rich project and how-to collection of content. We have recently planted trees on our property and I wish I had referred to their guide before embarking. They have thought through what formats are important from short, instructional videos to printable step-by-steps. While their site is pretty busy, they actually have a sensible organization structure visible in the ‘related content’ column where they offer more under Project Guides, Buying Guides and their Blog.
Simple utility and transformational utility are useful ways to think about how you can be helpful to customers even as you try to entertain them with high-reach videos. These approaches are not mutually exclusive and yet being useful to customers will strengthen your bond and demonstrate your authority in areas that are key to your business.