Two years ago Blendtec was a little known name. In fact, it was a time when YouTube wasn’t so prominent in our minds either. Combine the two together though and you get a social media phenomenon that not only took the world by storm but turned the company into a $100 million business.
George Wright, marketing director at Blendtec and creator of the Will it Blend campaign, says that the phenomenal success of the campaign was down to a complete overhaul of the companies brand strategy.
George says, “Initially with Blendtec we didn’t have marketing that was available to us so we had to start up an entirely new marketing department. One of the first things we recognised was that we were very weak in our brand identity.
“Some of our first pre-activities before Will It Blend involved taking a look at our literature and making sure we were consistent in our marketing messages, our branding, the way that we look, our logos – tightening those up so we looked like we were one cohesive company.”
In case you’ve not seen the willitblend.com site, here’s a good example of what the guys put together to demonstrate the power of their blenders.
Wright says, “We went out and made five videos and put them on willitblend.com and YouTube. No body knew willitblend.com and they didn’t know our name on YouTube. So we passed it on to all of our employees, customers and friends and told them to pass it on if they liked it. From the day we did that, literally one week later the videos had five million views.
“We always thought that the campaign would be successful, we hoped it would be. But what blew me away was how quickly it happened. I can’t believed how well connected we are with our communications.”
Will It Blend was the outcropping of a lot of things, according to Wright. The marketing director says that Blendtec had to go back to the basics when it came to branding its product – mainly because the brand had some “serious identity issues”.
He enthuses, “People didn’t know who we were and therefore they couldn’t buy our products. We had to really clean up the insides of the company to then go out there and come up with a strategic plan to tell consumers what we do and what we’re all about. We then come up with Will it Blend.”
Selling the idea to Blendtec was the first hurdle in the brand’s new marketing strategy. Not only were there risks involved such as attracting dare devil children to try the dangerous blendings at home, but to get the rest of the company onboard when take up of YouTube was yet to build momentum.
“We hoped Will it Blend would be a very successful campaign, and we expected it would be, “ explains Wright. “However, at first people in the company didn’t really understand what we were talking about. It was at a time when no body was really familiar with YouTube or any of those sort of social media tools.”
Wright adds that when you don’t really have a brand, it makes you more willing and determined to push the boundaries, as there isn’t much to lose.
A more established brand may not have had such an easier time with this sort of campaign, many brands have experimented with social media and failed. Wright says that the key is to understand what you’re doing before you’re do it.
“Just because there are tools out there doesn’t necessarily mean that you should use them. Make sure that you do your strategy and know what you are doing before you execute your plan,” he says.
The fun thing about social media, according to Wright, is that consumers who are now discovering Will it Blend for the first time can go and have that experience and make it new to them as if it is happening right now. A lot of the traditional media, you put something out, you get your viewership and then it’s gone, it’s done. People can relive the whole Will it Blend experience any time they want with social media – it’s always present.”
The advantages of social media are clear to marketers now. The likes of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter boast millions of users and are experiencing growth rates well beyond 100 per cent each month.
The medium is a phenomenon that continues to grow, and despite most social networks struggling to secure tangible revenue streams, brands are finding success.
Wright explains, “Social media is all about engaging with the people, your customers. We try and engage people by asking them what they want to see blended next. Social media is a chance to engagement with the customer and have fun with them.”
However, Blendtec’s main reason for using the medium in the first place wasn’t to become a social media hit, but to raise awareness of the brand.
“Our intent, when we started this campaign, wasn’t to be on the front page of YouTube. It was to build our brand, to put something in the hands of our salesmen that they could use to help create and generate a buzz and awareness and sales.
“A lot of the things that happened were a natural outcropping from it and a wonderful benefit but it wasn’t really the intent of the entire campaign.”
The impact on sales that the willitblend.com campaign has had on the company “have been fun” according to Wright. The brand has seen increases of more than 700 per cent in sales and has now moved on to become the leading maker of blenders both domestically and commercially.
“Once you build a brand it changes everything. People now know who you are and they can then buy your products. We’ve been able to now grow our business commercially as well because of willitblend.com to become a business with a brand value of between £70 and £100 million.
“For years to come, anyone who tires to blend a smoothie and has that ice chunk that just won’t blend, or anytime that they’re doing anything for the rest of their life they’ll remember that there is a blender out there that will blend marbles into dust,” concludes Wright.
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