How to create the next “Will It Blend?” viral video

Making promotional videos that go viral is a cinch. You need do only three things:

1. Create a visual presentation so compelling that people WANT to watch it. It can be funny, dramatic, enigmatic or what-have-you. If you’re lucky enough to have a product with a visibly demonstrative advantage, make that your compelling visual. That way you won’t just attract viewers; you’ll catalyze sales.

2. Attract the kind of viewer who likes to share and forward videos. This is totally out of your control. Which means you must also…

3. Have incredible luck and timing on your side. Luck and timing are rather difficult to quantify, much less have on purpose. But there is a strong correlation between luck and the number of attempts made. In other words, don’t quit after just one try.

The “Will It Blend?” videos provide a classic case in point.

A small Utah company by the name of Blendtec made a premium blender. Trouble was, few people were willing to pay a premium price of $400 for a blender they’d never heard of.

The “Will It Blend?” campaign was born on the day George Wright, Blendtec’s VP of marketing and sales, happened to spy CEO Tom Dickson testing a blender by feeding a 2×2 inch wooden board into it. Wright reserved, purchased a lab coat and safety glasses, and then picked up a few items he felt would look cool being fed into a blender—including marbles, a 12-pack of Diet Coke, a McDonald’s meal, a rotisserie chicken and a garden rake.

The rest is history. Today, an estimated half of all Internet users have viewed an online “Will It Blend?” video. Half of those clicked through to the company website. Of course, you and I both know that hits are all well and good; what about sales? According to Blentec, about 15% of visitors to the site have purchased a unit.

Many agree with me that the campaign reached its acme when Dickson fed an iPhone and, later, an iPad into the blender.  Not only did those video pull record views of 7 million and counting, the remains of the “blended” iPhone and iPad sold on eBay for $800 and $901, respectively. Not a bad price for a pile of dust and broken parts. Blendtec donated the money to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

You may question my allegation that Blendtec benefitted from luck. You might say they benefitted from the application of sheer genius. You would be right as to the latter. But as to the former, it’s easy to disclaim luck after the fact. But before results are in, you’re never quite sure if you’re going to have a hit or an embarrassing yawner on your hands.

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