“Within just one week, we had more than a million views on YouTube. As the videos gained popularity, we experienced a 700% increase in online sales.”George Wright, Blendtec
We’re talking about a kitchen blender here. Aren’t blenders supposed to be boring? Like microwaves and kettles. They’re utensils; they serve a purpose. That’s it. Have you ever watched videos of a kettle boiling on YouTube and shared the excitement with your friends? I haven’t.
So why did millions of people tune in to watch a blender video? And why do millions more come back to watch the same blender in action again and again, in a series of different videos? To be specific:
“more than 140 videos that have a combined 256 million views on YouTube.”Content Marketing Institute
The answer is: people are not coming to watch the blender per se. They’re coming for the surprise. They’re coming to see what crazy, unusual, and often expensive, item the blender’s creator, Tom Dickson, will pulverise this time. In a homegrown YouTube series called Will It Blend?
It started with marbles, soda cans and golf balls. And then moved up to iPhones, video cameras and a Nintendo remote. All annihilated in the spinning blades.
Here’s the iPad video, which got over 18 million YouTube views:
Even a Chuck Norris action figure was dropped into the danger zone. It survived, of course. It’s Chuck Norris.
Other mere mortal objects are reduced to dust. The Blendtec defeats them all. And millions of viewers come to see which wacky item Tom Dickson will attempt to blend next. Then they share the video with their friends, spread it across social media and help draw in more people. The video goes viral and Blendtec gets a massive visibility boost. All without paying for traditional ads.
In fact, the videos themselves are low budget. For the first one…
“it only cost about $50 to put together”
says George Wright. Wright headed up marketing at the time and came up with the genius idea for Will It Blend? after seeing Tom Dickson testing his blender on a box of matches in his lab. Soon after, the first video was published on YouTube and the Will It Blend? series was born.
“We had 6 million hits in the first week, and it didn’t take us long to realize we had hit a home run”Tom Dickson, Blendtec founder
But what made it a home run for the Blendtec business? Sure, you might create a viral video that gets tons of views. But Will It Blend? led to a 700% increase in online sales. A business hit as well as a buzz hit.
The reason it rang the cash registers is because it hit the sweet spot: it was relevant. Not just surprising for the sake of it. It proved a point. And that point was power. Not only do the videos startle people with their unorthodox choice of items to blitz, the Will It Blend? series demonstrate the power, reliability and robustness of Blendtec blenders. The machines are far stronger than conventional blenders for one:
“Many blenders operate with 500 watts but Dickson’s retail blender runs on 1500”Brigham Young University
And that surprising demonstration of power, amongst other qualities like design, is what persuades a good slice of the online audience to go ahead and actually buy a Blendtec. The viral videos may be powerful marketing material, but the blender really makes the cut.
And the common ingredient behind the whole campaign’s success is surprise. If seeing a brand new iPad shredded to dust in a kitchen blender isn’t startling enough, you never know what oddball item Dickson is going to annihilate next.
“Dickson often does not know what he will be blending in advance, and the element of surprise pleases him as much as his production team.”BYU Magazine
He’s done hockey pucks, Barbie dolls and Christmas dinner. With Dickson, it’s a case of expect the unexpected.
Surprise is the single common element of viral content
Whether you’re creating videos, images or written articles, if you surprise people your content is far more likely to be shared across social media. Maybe even feature on mainstream news sites.
If you do something predictable, don’t expect to go viral. Many people think that if they produce something very good it’s share-worthy. It’s not. Very good is everywhere: quality stuff that works the way it should, says what you imagine it’ll say. But it’s not a question of quality at all. It’s a question of surprise. Things that shock go viral. They startle people in a good way and make them want to share. And there’s plenty of research and examples to back up the theory. Just download our free e-guide to see what I mean.
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