YouTube has been experimenting with live shows to sell the idea of YouTube to mainstream audiences. Really, does something as popular as YouTube still need to sell itself? It can't hurt, especially if it gets people talking and tuning in more often.
Their latest foray into this experiment was the YouTube live music awards this month, a messy showcase of some of its more popular content. And of course I couldn't watch it without thinking how this production relates to not only YouTube's marketing, but your marketing endeavors as well.
Sure, they had lots of press and a good build up to the live event, something you want in any launch. Then they enlisted numerous websites to "host" the event by live streaming the video of the awards. JV partners? You can never have enough. But what else could a marketer learn?
Stay true to yourself – Google owns YouTube and of course Google has some extremely deep pockets. Yet the entire affair looked unscripted and low budget. Why? Because that's the nature of YouTube – amateurs making videos. If they'd turned the event into a multi-million dollar production, it wouldn't have looked or felt like YouTube at all.
How to use this in marketing [HTUTIM] – Choose your persona and stick with it. Hopefully your persona is your true self, but whatever it is, it should make others want to get to know you and your business better. If you're the guy next door on your blog, in your website and throughout social media, then your products should be made by the guy next door – not a highbrow English professor or a 5 star general. Just. Be. You.
Be interesting by being different – rather than showing ~yawn~ the usual red carpet arrival of celebrities, YouTube showcased behind the scenes interviews and clips of how they put this awards show together.
HTUTIM – Watch what the other guys are all doing and then - just for the sheer interest, variety, and to keep your audience awake - do something DIFFERENT. Please.
Be surprising, spontaneous and even unpredictable – USA Today's take on the awards? "Bizarre, to say the least." Fake cat fights, dancing from people who don't dance, Lady Gaga wearing FLANNEL and crying, and hosts with no script. Yes, it was surprising, which is what makes it so talk-worthy.
HTUTIM – What are you doing in your business that makes people TALK? If the answer is nothing, you might want to get busy. The talk doesn't have to center around your products, it can be about anything – your surprising take on a new trend, that 30 second clip you made that perfectly illustrates a point while a (fake) robbery takes place in the background, or an infographic with secret messages hidden within it.
Bring in the big guns - It's great to use big names when possible, but don't make them your whole focus. No doubt some people tuned in just to see Lady Gaga and Eminem. But rather than building the entire show around the celebrities, in this case the stars were more like the dessert.
HTUTIM – When you're launching a product, your product and what it will do for your customers is the 'show' itself, the main course. Now if you can bring in a big name or two or three from your niche to talk about your product or even talk about your niche and how your product fits in, you've got the main course and the dessert.
It's okay to be messy – At times they didn't know what to say. Other times they were doing odd things like rummaging around in cakes looking for the winner's name. Sometimes things just didn't seem to go as planned. And despite all that, it was okay. In fact, in many ways it was actually more interesting than a tightly scripted we-know-what-we're-doing-every-single-second award show.
HTUTIM - You can't release the ebook until it's perfect. You can't make videos until you've got a studio. You can't make a product until you're the world's foremost recognized expert in the subject. But the fact is you CAN and you should. Don't wait until the time is right, just get started. And incidentally, most customers prefer you come across as a normal human who maybe stumbles on words or doesn't have all the answers, rather than Ms. or Mr. Perfect.