Engage Customers with How-To Videos

Instructional videos have a compound marketing effect that is underutilized

Tom Logan Gruber
Creative Director

I want to talk about a particular video that’s so smart and effective that it makes me jealous that we didn’t produce it.

It’s not a commercial or sponsored content (those kinds of video are our bread and butter here at Gruber Pictures) but a simple how-to video. I'm going to explain why brands like yours should capitalize on this underutilized video style.

Creating Value for the Customer

Last year I was researching standing desks for our office. According to a 2017 study by the National Institute of Health here in the USA, there’s no significant gain to “performance and psychological experience” while using a standing desk. But based on my own empirical analysis of sitting on my bum for too long and a restless desire to stretch my legs, a standing desk seemed to be an excellent investment.

This is when I made a bigger discovery.

While researching brands and models I came across it: the How To Assemble Your Jarvis Standing Desk video. It's simple, funny, and from a branding perspective, enormously effective. Watching it ended up being a big part of my buying decision and I’m sure it contributed to many others’. But it also made me realize what a great, under the radar piece of video marketing looks like.

(Disclosure: I’m not affiliated or commissioned by Fully! I’m merely a fan of clever video marketing.)

On the surface, Fully's Jarvis video appears to be a solid instructional video. It's easy to follow and has good production value — it's even entertaining. But there's actually more going on here.

The video has some subtle qualities that transform it into a formidable marketing asset:

  • Efficiently conveys brand identity
  • Allows community and customer feedback
  • Organically functions to promote sales

Brand Identity

There’s more to videos than just sales. Fully’s assembly video is smart because it provides utility while showing the company's culture. We get a sense of the company's values, sense of humor, and the connection they want to have with their customers. This video is the closest thing to having these guys in your living room showing you how to build their desk. (Maybe when VR catches up we’ll get even closer to that possibility.)

Fully’s assembly video is smart because it provides utility while showing the company's culture.

The exchange between Nate and the narrator (is that Martin Starr?) is fun. And it definitely takes the edge off what's usually a painfully frustrating task.

Need some extra help or have a question? They offer up their phone number to speak to the same guy giving the instructions — how cool is that? This made me feel important and personally connected as a customer, like Fully wants to take care of me past my purchase. It also made the company feel more intimate and community-oriented.

Compare these qualities to this Ikea assembly video.

It's drastically less personal — we barely even see the assembler’s face. All we hear is pulsing music — apparently a beating drum to build the furniture to. Without any voice talking us through the project it feels like an animated version of printed instructions. And it’s definitely missing out on the opportunity for the brand to build a connection with the viewer.

This is not a good utilization of the video medium.

It feels as mass-produced as their furnishings. Unfortunately, all of their assembly videos are this way. You might be thinking that they have to be, given the high number of products Ikea sells.

But take Zappos shoes, for example. They have videos for (thousands?) of shoe styles, and they're all remarkably energetic, each one presented by a real human being.

Customer Feedback via YouTube Comments

Smart marketers know the best way to engage customers is in their native space.

Yes, YouTube comments are ordinarily a weird space — unless! — you take charge and follow up with users. Existing customers can ask for help and prospective customers can ask questions. The transparency and (hopefully, helpfulness) of these interactions is visible to the public.

A YouTube user asks what's the price for these Nikes and Zappos replies $120.

Sell Without Being Salesy

What's neat about instructional or demonstration videos is that even if they're meant for existing customers, they automatically do double duty and act to promote your brand to new customers, too.

They create brand awareness for those researching a product, demonstrate the features of that product, and promote the brand's friendly approach to customer service. It checks so many boxes, I think it's one of the smartest, most efficient uses of video marketing that exists.

Make Your Own Instructional Video

Why not produce one of these videos yourself? (Or hire us to help you.)

If you have a product that requires assembly or setup instructions why not take advantage of this type of video? Instructional and unboxing videos made by customers have their place, but a video straight the manufacturer lends the opportunity to convey brand identity: this is who we are, why we do what we do, and how we want to make you feel.

A guy standing in the middle of a video camera and video lights.

Even if you don't sell something that requires physical assembly, it can be anything that requires step-by-step instructions: like setting up a home audio receiver or a complex app or software. More broadly, it can be any kind of tutorial on how to use your product or service.

These types of videos are so simple and cost-effective, it's baffling there aren't more out there. That's okay, use this to your advantage.

Just remember to maximize the effort: be clear with the instructional part of the video but don't forget to use a face from your own company to show some relatable personality. If you do these things, you'll be way ahead of the brands that don't.

This article is categorized under Video Marketing.

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