By Melea Seward
Last month, I moved 3,000 miles across the country. Well, 2,910 miles really, but who’s counting?
In February I started researching and in the span of about six weeks, I became a big consumer of products and services I previously had known very little about. As someone who regularly advises businesses and artists on their web marketing, on their grand stories, on their content strategy, it was an interesting user-experience exercise.
What worked? What didn’t? What made me buy? These were big purchases, from $300 (boxes and twine) to $25,000, (a new car), often researched and purchased completely on line. I even chose a house, sight unseen.
Googling “Cross-Country Move” is a little like going to WebMD and searching, “White Spots on Tongue” or “Tingling in Left Calf”. All signs lead to “Brace yourself. You are in for a terrible experience.” You have sickle cell anemia and all of your things are about to be lost, broken, held for ransom in Utah, or worse. The company you chose to move everything you own won’t return your calls. And neither will your insurance company. Yelp is the WebMD of consumer spending. It is a freak show.
In the micro-decisions and big decisions I made as I navigated the web, “Should I do a full-service move or use Pods? Should I DIY this? Absolutely not. If I were to do a freight or POD move, which company would I use?” I realized that what separated the reputable and the no-way-in-hell websites, was one thing: video.
Video created trust. Video told me, “Relax. We do this all the time. We will break it down into small, bite-sized steps and tell you exactly what to expect.” The company I went with to move me, they even created a DVD packet that they sent me in the mail. I tweeted them MAIL?! That’s stupid. Have you heard of the internet? And they tweeted me right back. They had heard of the internet. And they have their DVD packet online too. Relax. I was showing my high strung New Yorkiness. They were showing their excellent customer service.
@boardofus I apologize for any confusion. The same video clips are available on our YouTube channel
— ABF U-Pack Moving (@ABFUPackMoving) February 17, 2012
My partner and I watched the “how to load your stuff in the bulk head video” over and over again. It was like what I imagine going to a lamaze class is, a preparation for the big event, so on the big day, we would know what to do and how to breathe. We had the video queued up and ready on our phones for our movers to watch as they loaded the bulk-head. They had done this before. They rolled their eyes. Turns out, they have videos on their website, too.
When I felt overwhelmed, I would watch a how-to pack video, a how-to load everything you own into thirteen feet of space video, what car should I buy in 2012 video. For six weeks, before I went to bed, I would watch a video produced by a company I was about to hand over a bunch of money to.
DEAR BUSINESS OWNER, THERE IS A LESSON FOR YOU IN THIS.
Video is more important than ever. It is ubiquitous, it is shareable, it puts a human face — or faces — on your brand. Videos can be instructive, funny, create levity for a stressful experience, be helpful, and help me make it easy to give you all of my money with a smile on my face. Assure me. It also means I spend less time dialing your 1-800 number trying to talk to someone. It’s like using the TV as a babysitter for your customers. Video can save you money.
As you’re thinking ahead to your video content strategy, think to yourself,
1. What story can I tell in two minutes that gets at WHY I DO WHAT I DO?
ABF — the moving company I chose — succinctly tells the story of why putting your stuff in a freight truck makes a crazy amount of sense. Cheaper, more reliable, easy.
2. How can I break down the product or service I offer in a way that is helpful to answer the needs of my customers?
3. Are there any customers who would be willing to GIVE ME A VIDEO TESTIMONIAL?
I bought a car based on video reviews of others who had just bought the same car. And they gave tours. Lots of them. With no buyer’s remorse.
4. What content do my customer service reps or do I give to potential customers over and over again?
5. What expertise do I have that isn’t directly related to selling my product or service, but is related to helping my customer in the moment?
Videos on how to pack pictures, videos on what to think about as you set up in a new city, all of that content was related to me creating a connection with the brand. And hanging out on their website for longer than necessary.
Now I’m settling into a new life on a new coast in a new city (Portland, Oregon). Yes, I have heard of Portlandia. I watched it on YouTube before I bought Season Two.
Melea Seward is a web strategist for small businesses, non-profits, artists, and the occasional corporation. Her website is at Chief Amusement Designer, where she is the resident CAD. She also founded Board of Us, which is a little like Fight Club for business owners and artists. She can be found online at @boardofus. She lives in Portland, OR and works in New York, NY.