There’s a growing trend of humorous, edgy, “risky” videos streaking across the land of online video production. But are they truly risky, or are they actually the best way to stand out in a crowded digital world?
There are several standout examples of businesses who’ve made this riskier tactic work to their advantage – but is it right for everyone? Does it always pay off? If not, who shouldn’t go this route?
Appealing to a Specific Target Audience
Targeting a small niche – a select group of people with special interests and values – is one of the most effective ways of finding success in the world of online video marketing. And humour is one way of doing that – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you. Because humour is also one of the hardest things to get right, and if you don’t quite nail it, your video marketing campaign could yield meagre results, or even damage your reputation.
On the other hand, if you can nail the humour aspect, you’ll appeal to a select group of people who will become your biggest fans. And that’s the thing to remember. There’s a direct correlation between how “risky” you go, and how rabid your fans become. The wackier, funnier, more outstanding your videos, the more loyal your fans will become. And loyal fans not only buy your products and services, they also spread the word like wildfire, meaning your video could go viral and send hordes of dedicated new fans your way.
Essentially, if you’re a new and growing business, you have much less to lose by trying this tactic – if it works, you could hit the big time (we use “big” in relation to your previous levels of success – we’re not saying you’ll become the next Apple). A fabulous example of this is The Dollar Shave Club whose first (and, for a long time, only) video became an internet sensation that saw the owner, Michael Dubin enlist a team of friends and contractors to help him print labels and pack boxes to fulfil the 12,000 orders that arrived in the first 48 hours. Prior to the video release they had 1000 subscribers.
They now have 24 full time employees and outsource a lot of the logistics part of the business. they began to sell three types of blades that are sourced from overseas manufacturers and sold for $1, $6 and $9 a month; and introduced a product called shave butter.
In fact, The Dollar Shave Club’s first video was so successful, they didn’t need to make another one. Until now. Just recently they released “video number two,” advertising their latest product – butt wipes for men:
As you can imagine, this video won’t appeal to everyone. Some people will be downright offended by the foul language… and the foul subject matter. But that’s fine, because those people aren’t the intended audience.
Instead the target audience is, presumably, young men with a sense of humour, who are sick of paying high prices for ridiculous razors (and, now, toilet paper). And you can rest assured that this target audience will become loyal fans, buying from and talking about the business regularly, assuming it continues to provide the quality products at affordable rates promised in its adverts.
So humour is clearly an effective way of building a loyal fanbase and growing a small business. But if you try humour on for size and it doesn’t quite work? Well, nobody will be any the wiser (you’ll still be relatively unknown in the realm of online biz), and you can try something else.
If you sell what could be considered a “boring” product (and don’t worry, most products – when you think about it – fit this description), humour could be the very thing you need to bring your business into the limelight.
This video is an example of a video where you expect humour but get something quite different in the end, but that is effective:
Big Businesses Don’t Need to Take Risks
For bigger brands that are already well-known and serve a wide target audience, such as Nescafe, Adidas, etc., The Dollar Shave Club’s brand of crude humour would, inevitably, not go down well with everybody that buys and uses these big brands’ products – and so using it in their marketing strategy would be a very risky move that could potentially turn a lot of their regular customer base off and send them elsewhere instead.
But the thing is, these big players don’t need to use such risky methods – they can just keep doing what they’re doing, putting out new products with fancy, high-budget marketing campaigns that reach the masses (whether the masses like it or not) and continue to make money. They can afford to impress viewers with the latest in video technology, and put out their adverts on primetime TV – but these options just aren’t viable, from a financial perspective, for startups, or even small to medium sized businesses. Attempting to hit such a broad audience is simply not something they’ll be able to do – and nor should they try.
These smaller players need to rely on smaller budgets and their own creativity to find success. Fortunately, the internet has brought with it media that’s accessible to anyone. Anyone can put a video on YouTube, build their own website, or start a conversation with their target audience on Twitter or Facebook. The key now is to zoom in specifically on your target audience, figure out what they want, what appeals to them from a marketing perspective – and then give it to them.
Building Trust on a Budget
There are many benefits to using risky methods in your video marketing campaigns. Trust is probably the biggest benefit, and it comes from presenting your business openly and honestly (often under the guise of humour). Rhett and Link are masters of this, and have created many successful videos for small businesses:
As you can see, Rhett and Link specialise in making commercials on a budget, which is what most small businesses have to make do with. This type of video just wouldn’t work for those high-flying companies we talked about, because everyone knows they have a huge budget to work with, and so this type of video would come across as dishonest – never a good thing for businesses.
Fortunately, the converse is also true, meaning companies that truly are on a budget will come across as open and honest, because they’re not trying to appear flashy. What you see really is what you get. Many people are suspicious of low prices and assume they’ll get a poor quality product, but if your low priced products are advertised in low budget adverts that build trust, your prices will be more believable, and so people will be more willing to buy from you.
So is it Worth Taking a Risk in Your Online Video Production?
That all depends on how big your business currently is, who your target audience is and what their values are, whether you’ll be able to present yourself and your business as trustworthy and reliable – and how much you have to lose.
If you’re a small business that’s yet to make an impact, you have little to lose by trying this technique out – and if you get it right, you could find your business taking off faster than you expect.
Just remember, don’t try to please everyone (because you can’t). Just try to please your target audience.