Three things you should learn from video marketing gone wrong

Sylvia Pennington

Forget print ads and radio spots – they’re last century’s advertising media of choice for small businesses looking to boost their profiles.

Making an online video has become a more effective and economical way to promote a small business at the speed of light to an audience of thousands, or even millions, of potential customers via social media.

It can also be an unparalleled opportunity to stir up a tsunami of damaging publicity, should your offering miss its mark.

Big Review TV CEO Brandon Evertz shares three lessons for small business owners from video marketing that went badly wrong.

Stay on brand

Want to appeal to the family crowd? Then a hoax video featuring the desperate pleas of a French backpacker looking for the father of her unborn child conceived on a one-night stand is unlikely to resonate.

Travel business Holiday Mooloolaba learnt this lesson to its cost back in September when it pulled this stunt and copped a stiff backlash from folks who were cross they’d been taken in by the “expectant mother’s” tale of woe.

“What were they thinking and what were they trying to push?” Evertz asks.

“Know your brand and align your video marketing communication accordingly.”

Turn on, not off

Remember the infamous Microsoft Songsmith clip of 2009 – a video ad for software that generates backing music that was so bad it went viral for its sheer unadulterated awfulness?

It was good if you subscribe to the “any publicity is good publicity” school of thought, but not if your aim is to turn potential customers on, not off.

“Make content that’s engaging – don’t make your viewers want to pause or skip after the first five seconds,” Evertz says.

“Good videos should appeal to their target audiences and be seamless in their delivery.”

Keep it positive

“For a dollar a month we send high quality razors right to your door,” proclaims Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin in a clip that’s non-traditional, funny and sees him get away with dropping the F-bomb with aplomb as he describes the cost savings and convenience his subscribers can enjoy.

Compare and contrast with Reebok’s advertising campaign starring US rapper 50 Cent, Evertz says. The clip was highly criticised for glorifying gun violence, courtesy of the fact that the star counts his way through the number of times he’s been shot (nine) and laughs when asked who he plans to massacre next.

The takeaway for business owners who’d like their video offering to receive more bouquets than brickbats?

“Positive and emotive communication works. Negative doesn’t,” Evertz says.

Sylvia Pennington

Sylvia Pennington is a Brisbane-based freelance journalist who writes about small business, information technology and personal finance.