Why You Shouldn't Chase Viral

5 - 6 min Read

Video, video, video! For a car dealership, there is no such thing as producing and sharing too many videos, right? When a dealership’s video goes viral, that must mean lots of customers are going to buy lots of vehicles and rush into your service department for oil changes, tire installations, and what not. If only attracting customers was that easy. It’s not.

Saying all online videos are good for your business and online presence is like saying all food is good for you and there’s no such thing as too much ice cream. The right video content can attract customers and increase business. The wrong types of videos will just cost you money and time without any notable ROI.

“As with any type of advertising, the cream will always rise to the top in video marketing: The most creative, informative, compelling, and memorable videos are the ones that will get the results.” - DealerMarketing.com

Video is Important

Whoever has been telling you that video is the bee's knees is partially right. When it comes to car shoppers, 70 per cent of them are influenced by online video content. So, if you’re not producing videos you’re doing your business a disservice—as long as they are the right videos. The people preaching to you about making as many online videos as possible are similar to the people who bought into that fat free food craze that has now been debunked. If all you eat is fat free food, you’re actually going to gain weight because it’s full of sugar, which does nothing for your body. Sorry folks, that’s science. And if you’re producing directionless online videos non-stop you’re doing little for your website or your business.

Going Global (Viral)

The buzz word for a popular online video is “viral”. When a video goes viral it spreads... like a virus. Not focused on any particular area or types of people, a viral video can reach thousands (even millions) of individuals all over the globe. If you happen to work for Pepsi, Apple, Google, or any other multi-national company, viral videos can be a huge benefit; it makes sense for them to brand their companies the world over and encourage people to buy your products and services.

For the average dealership, though, the great majority of your customers will be from within 50 km of your dealership, depending if you’re in a rural or urban area. So, if your dealership is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, why would you spend money and time creating videos you hope to go viral? There are more than a billion active Youtube users each month, but only a miniscule fraction of those people are ever going to be your potential customers. Why would someone in Bangkok or Cleveland want to buy a vehicle from your dealership thousands of kilometres away?

Think Local, Not Global

The more people you’re trying to connect with using your online videos, the less targeted you’re able to be. While you’re making grandiose videos for Mort in Moscow and Beth in Brussels, you’re missing out on actual customers. Almost half of all dealership videos are viewed by customers on their smartphones while they’re at your dealership. So, while it may be fun to try and create a nifty video that makes people laugh in Thailand, you’re better off making videos the customers buying your cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs actually care about.

Real World Examples

The year was 2013 and I was the “marketing guy” at a Ford dealership in Ottawa. It was a few weeks before Christmas when I received an email from one of the owners. He was really excited about a viral video that Westjet produced and made a vague comment about doing something like this for the dealership. The WestJet video, if you don’t recall, was a big production that saw people in two Canadian airports interact with “Santa” on a video screen. Santa asked them what they wanted for Christmas, the people responded, and then when they arrived at their next destination —TA DA! — the items they wanted for Christmas were magically waiting for them. The video sure did go viral: close to four years later and it has been viewed more than 47 million times. The video garnered all sorts of positive publicity all over Canada and the world. That’s great for WestJet, they fly all over Canada and internationally, but a similar gimmick wouldn’t work quite as well for a dealership. Sure, you could localize it and scale it down in order to do something good for the local community, but it’s a lot of work, with no guaranteed payoff, and there are likely a lot of better ways to really help out people during the holidays (just saying).

In September of the same year we managed to sign the Ottawa Senators’ new forward Bobby Ryan to a promotional deal. When I was thinking about the best way to have Bobby promote the dealership, video was top of mind. With no budget, limited equipment, and only about an hour of filming time, we produced what turned out to be a stylized walkaround video of the signature F-150 Bobby Ryan Edition we branded just for Bobby. While over the years we made some truly impressive custom trucks for Bobby, this first one was essentially a really high-end F-150 with a few accessories installed and a “BR6” decal added to the back window. Still, it was a $70,000+ truck and nothing to sneeze at. Within a week of posting the video online, a gentleman contacted us and said he wanted the exact same truck. A few days later he drove off in his new F-150, and it’s all thanks to him seeing a 2:35 video on Youtube.

Surprisingly, the same owner wasn’t quite as excited about the Bobby Ryan video as he was the WestJet video. I say surprisingly because one of the videos made him a lot of money, while the other just distracted his employees from doing their jobs for a couple of minutes.

“Video can transform your vehicle detail pages from dry static photos and lists of features to interactive, compelling mini-movies that will make potential buyers want to hop into the car and go for a test drive.” - DealerMarketing.com

What Can and Should be in Your Videos

First and foremost, before you make a video you have to decide who you want to watch it and plan accordingly.

Secondly, you have to provide the viewer some benefit or value. There is an endless amount of video and other content available online, so you have to make it worth their while. Value can be humour, it can be a special offer, or it can even just be some information they didn’t know but consider important.

Third, localize the video as much as you can. Towns, cities, provinces, every area of the country has its own little quirks that locals will relate to. Your dealership is part of the community, so show your viewers that you relate to them—you’re more than just a dealership, you’re a friend and neighbour.

Using the Bobby Ryan truck video as an example, that video was aimed at hockey fans and truck lovers, which tend to go hand-in-hand. In this case the hockey fan was the son of the eventual owner. The son showed his dad the video, his dad was in the market for a new truck, the dad wanted something high-end, and the rest is history. The value of the video was two-fold: the hockey fans got a little insight into the world of Bobby Ryan and the truck lovers got an informative walkaround video that showed the ins and outs of this impressive truck. As for localizing, the Bobby Ryan Ottawa Senators brand (believe it or not) have a pretty huge following in the Nation’s Capital.

Producing a video doesn’t have to take a lot of time nor money, it just takes proper planning. Not sure what your customers want to see? Ask them. Your clients may not care about walkaround videos, but really want to know the steps involved in an oil change. Show your viewers why the products and services you offer benefit them and they’ll keep coming back for more.