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Youtube is more than kitten videos

On a hot and sunny Saturday afternoon a few months ago some friends and myself had the challenge of breaking a realtors lockbox with numeric code. The friends were due to stay at the neighbors house and the neighbor had forgotten the code so they couldn’t get into the house.  Once a drill, hammer and housebricks were ruled out we spent some time on sheer potluck. We got the wife’s birthday, the kids birthdays and the husband’s social security number. None worked. If any of us were intelligent enough we’d have tried some kind of complex mathematical algorithms but sadly grey matter was limited, anything that could have helped was numbed by an excessive consumption of Margarita and no-one from software development was answering.

Then someone had the idea to look at youtube.com. To my surprise and delight there were several videos on breaking numeric combination key boxes. The answer, according to the videos, was to use a folded piece of aluminium from a beer can. When inserted between the numeric dials you can feel a different click when the correct number is rotated. Simply repeat until the lock is open. It would have been youtube to the rescue had the housekeeper not turned up with the key. Not to mention how sharp cut beer cans can be when squiffy.

Two conversations over the last two days has made me think about the importance of youtube to business users. The first was with a good buddy who’s a Purchasing Manager in an oil and gas firm. His team need to buy a whole range of complex items for refining plant and offshore drilling. They have technical managers who send requirements to the purchasing team. The technical managers know their onions and send a whole load of complex stuff. Stuff that would frankly give most mere mortals, who can’t break combination locks, the kind of headache that would incapacitate a fully grown elephant. That’s all fine but the purchasing manager is the interface with the prospective vendors who make the complex technical stuff. He has to explain the requirement, decide on options and, really importantly, negotiate. Negotiation without knowledge isn’t a winning strategy.

Vendor websites tend to be quite good at explaining the technical stuff. They’re written by technical people for technical people. They’re not written for the average Josephine on the street. Should it be ? Well, if the person who needs to find you, connect with you and possibly buy from you doesn’t understand what you have to sell, you have a problem. Now this depends on the scarcity of your product. If it’s very niche then my buddy has to spend hours understanding complex and confusing product details, he has no choice. But if you’re in a competitive environment and you’re confusing, he’ll click to your first competitor who explains it in easy language and probably never return to you. It’s that simple.

What does this mean for the average business user?

  • If you have a highly competitive or undifferentiated product you have to do a great job of explaining what you do
  • You need to recognize multiple audiences and create content for all of them. In sales speak we talk about buyers – economic, technical and user. That means you need to think about who signs the check, who has a big brain full of technical stuff and who needs 2 paragraphs to wing it. This is simplistic and if you want more details read Miller Heiman. Purchasing professionals increasingly turn to youtube to get a simple overview. If your brand is all over the must-see video on youtube you’ve just created a powerful association
  • All messages need to be created for multiple content outlets. Think about your own website, social media and online video. You need a simple version and a complex version
  • Make sure there are contact details on everything. Never give someone an excuse not to email or call you

The second conversation was with a Business Manager in a really big oil and gas firm who thought youtube was about kitten videos and then started talking about a brochure he wants to produce. It was a nice reminder that atoms still have their place.

If anyone reached this post by mistake here’s a kitten video.

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