Thursday, June 21, 2007

Want A Quick Course In Using Your Loyal Listeners To Sell Your Brand?

Read today's USA TODAY: 10 things to make homemade ads work

1: Do your homework.
Some brands have a head start in consumer interest; others will have to plan and work harder. Before Heinz launched its contest, it did an online "litmus test," Ciesinski says. "The first thing we did is Google and YouTube searches … to see if there were people out there using ketchup in home videos. The answer was a resounding yes." Among them: a teen doing magic tricks with ketchup. "We saw that our consumers were already engaging with our brand without us even asking them to. That gave us a fair amount of confidence."
2: Get a good lawyer.
Amateur ads pose legal risks, such as copyright and trademark infringement claims, false advertising charges, defamation claims and privacy issues, says Brian Heidelberger, a partner at law firm Winston & Strawn. "There are lots of ways that you can protect yourself," he says, including proper disclaimers, rules agreements and privacy policies.
3: Offer carrots.
Getting a large pool of videos takes incentives.
Unilever appealed to filmmaker ego for its Dove Cream Oil contest this year by promising to air the winner on the Oscars. "You can't ask consumers to play unless you have something of value to offer them," says Babs Rangaiah, Unilever's director of media and entertainment.
It doesn't have to be so grand, however. The National Sunflower Association's contest at attracted 55 sunflower seed-touting videos with T-shirts and a top prize of $10,000.
4: Let your audience play, too.
Getting the videos is great, but the real payoff is in getting a crowd to view them and tell others.
"The scarcity is people's attention and their willingness to pass it on," says Max Kalehoff, vice president of marketing at Nielsen BuzzMetrics, which tracks consumer-generated content on the Web. Among ways to involve viewers and increase buzz: Let them rate the videos and pick winners; let them post comments; include a "send to a friend" button for easy sharing; and add "post this video" capability for bloggers to add it to their sites.
5: Be easy to find.
A key way is to buy contest-related terms from search companies so the link will appear every time the term is typed in a query. Heinz bought about 400 key words, Ciesinski says. Thus, Google searches for "Heinz," "ketchup contest" or just plain "ketchup" are among those that bring up a sponsored link to the contest site. It also helps to tout the promotion on sites where videophiles hang out. The sunflower group posted video about the contest that linked to its home page on sites such as YouTube and Google Video.
6: Woo would-be Scorseses.
Be sure folks with video or ad skills get the word. Converse and Doritos pitched their contests at film schools. "You seed it with people who are more interested and experienced with the medium," says Stern, who worked with Converse. "Then it will travel beyond that."
7: Keep it simple.
The technology must be fun, not frustrating. Unilever made that a priority for its site. "We went out of our way to make sure the tools were as simple as possible," says media director Rangaiah. "A bad consumer experience is the last thing you want for the brand." Nike had only one rule when it asked consumers last summer for video of soccer players passing the ball: The ball must enter from the left of the frame and exit to the right.
Passion for soccer — and video — brought an avalanche that Nike spliced into a 2½-hour video posted online called Chain. Says Stefan Olander, Nike global director of digital media: "To get 40,000 submissions, we've tapped into something."
8: Make it a conversation.
A blog, dedicated e-mail or call center lets consumers get timely answers to questions about the DIY ad promotion. "Once you open yourself up for comment and contribution, you have to maintain that (communication) after the fact. You have to have a willingness to listen," says BuzzMetrics' Kalehoff. "You have to respond to e-mails — and an auto-reply doesn't count."
9: Lay down the law.
Most people will abide by guidelines for the ads, if they are clear. A MasterCard promotion that had consumers fill in the blanks for their own "Priceless" commercials was an easy target for off-color content. Yet, "Of the 100,000 submissions, less than 200 were deemed inappropriate," Cheryl Guerin, promotions vice president, said at a recent consumer-generated ad conference from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
10: Then let go.
Once the trigger is pulled, marketers have to take what they get. In the best case, along with a bevy of brand-building ads will be some that pan the product — and some that are just weird.
"Consumers having a voice is here to stay," says Frito-Lay marketing vice president Ann Mukherjee. "Marketers need to be genuine in terms of truly letting them be a participant, listening to them and letting them have the control or voice they wish to have." Even if they make you wonder. Doritos got a bevy of bizarre entries, including one involving a bare-chested guy dunked in a bathtub of chips and chowing down.

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