Uploading a commercial won't fly on YouTube. You have to be subtle, but if you are creative and not too heavy handed and not so obviously shilling your product, you might be able to score lots of free marketing online.
When most people think of YouTube, most likely they think of guys dancing on treadmills and bootleg clips of Stephen Colbert, from Comedy Central's Colbert Report.
Charles Smith, a pottery artist from Mobile, Ala., thinks about the tens of thousands of people worldwide who have clicked on his videos to watch him create works of art on his pottery wheel only to break them up at the end.
'You've got to have a gimmick, so I broke up the pots,' says Smith, who says about 90 percent of that traffic is students, but 10 percent is actually generating sales.
Before YouTube, Smith's ability to market his pottery was limited to driving from town to town hitting as many art shows as possible and hoping for that occasional local news feature story to generate business.
'Now I don't have to go to the art fairs as much. It's too expensive with the price of gas anyway. I've got the website and YouTube. It's so much better. I'm hearing from heavy collectors and galleries who've watched my videos. You never know who's watching them. I'm hearing from people as far away as Japan. It's a great tool and best of all – it's free,' says Smith.
Michael Miller, author of YouTube for Business: Online Video Marketing for Any Business (Que 2008), points to Smith as a perfect example of how a small business owner or entrepreneur can hit it big on YouTube. 'YouTube gets 20 million viewers a month. That's a really big market to tap into and there are no placement costs. It's low cost and high potential,' says Miller.
However, if you think it's as simple as uploading a commercial spot or corporate video and waiting for the e-mails to pour in demanding your products or services; think again. 'The people who fail on YouTube are the people who don't understand the community aspect of YouTube or what attracts viewers,' says Miller.
Eighteen months ago when Charles Smith put up his first pottery video that has since generated more than 37,000 unique visitors, he instinctively knew what he was doing by coming up with a gimmick. 'YouTube viewers want to be entertained,' says Miller, who offers three categories of videos that generate traffic.
Getting noticed on YouTube
Producing an engaging video for YouTube is just the first step in launching a successful marketing campaign on YouTube. With 20 million viewers a month and literally millions of videos to choose from, it's easy to get lost in the crowd.
Here are some tips for making your company's videos rise to the top and leveraging them to help your business:
SIDEBAR: Other Benefits to Using YouTube