The company (and product) that I feel has raised the bar in engaging with its audience online is Blendtec. The blender company whose $50 marketing budget launched a viral YouTube success story and a $65-million-a-year revenue stream.
The bumbling chain of events that led to the success of Blendtec is incredulous. It’s a time-travel marketing theme with its popular “Will it Blend” videos fashioned like a 70s game show, complete with corny brass-section nostalgic music and retro colours. The low-tech set, the geeky safety-goggled host complete with lab-coat all add to the vintage feel in the videos. Now add to that the fact that the nerdy host is none other than the CEO and Chairman of the Board Tom Dickson and you have a comedy of errors sitcom.
Blendtec has accomplished a great deal through social media marketing. Aside from the overpowering success of the 150 YouTube videos, they also maintain current and active Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ accounts. They treat each individually rather than cross-updating. They have outstanding follower interaction and they respond immediately to complaints.
The Facebook page is reaching 171K+ fans through recipes that are mostly shares. If you come across any complaint posts, you will find a company response immediately following with a solution.
The Twitter feed has 26K+ followers and has original Blendtec recipes, announcements and a lot of follower kudos and retweets.
Pinterest has 34 boards from giveaways to news stories and recipes. Their (almost) 1200 pins have 19K+ followers.
Blendtec’s Instagram lifestyle page has over 400 posts and 20K followers.
Google+ has upwards of 5500 followers and is geared toward the food and fitness community and includes a wide assortment of their YouTube videos.
The eCommerce website is clear, concise and user-friendly.
Their warranties are beyond industry standards, announcing recently an increase to 8 years.
They have gained the respect of the consumer on many levels including when Tom announced last year Blendtec’s pledge of two million dollars to The Museum of Natural Curiosity, a children’s museum in Utah.
In spite of their blatant online success, I am still baffled at the ability for the videos to affect the sales. They are not targeted at the correct consumer. The destruction of everyday items with a blender, while entertaining, does nothing to demonstrate its actual use nor does the concept appeal to the proper demographic. Somehow, though, a traditionally male dominant interest has translated into enormous sales. Which in itself is amazing considering the $400+ price tag that goes with the entry level machine. Score one to the influence of men on the buying choice of small kitchen appliances.
Had I been part of the marketing team that ran with this idea, I would have scoffed and prepared a back-up plan for the monumental failure. Fortunately for Blendtec, their accidents were intrinsic to the success they have reaped.
Now that the videos have such a strong cult following, they will have to carry on ad infinitum to keep the consumers happy and eventually will have to up the ante as to what will blend. They’ve already blended lighters, bullets and razor blades. They’re going to have to get more creative to keep up with the ever-increasing demand. Their approach is definitely working and should be used as a model by businesses everywhere.