Remember the early days of online video? It took forever to download a short clip. It came up only in a small window and the sound was lousy. “Forget it,” we would grumble as we moved on rather than wait. What was novel a couple of years ago is mainstream today. It was about 2006 that the video-sharing site YouTube began sweeping the U.S. According to e-Marketer Daily, three technologies came together: Flash-player for instant viewing without downloading; upload-ability that makes video-sharing easy; and wmbedding code that allows users to post video clips on Webpages or blogs. Bingo! . . . Video became a consumer-driven platform because there was virtually no entry cost. Online video went from niche to mass market.
But, is online video a marketing tool for marine dealers? You bet! That’s because so many people now watch online video so they’re fully at ease with it. According to studies by Lightspeed Research, a whopping 72 percent of U.S. Internet users watch video clips monthly. More specifically, 62 percent watch at least one clip a week, a figure that Lightspeed analysts translate into 97 million weekly viewers. The estimates of Nielsen Online’s (AC Nielsen) are even higher at nearly 117 million. Americans reportedly watched a record 16.8 billion online videos in April, with YouTube accounting for the overwhelming majority of views.
I’m not, of course, talking about online streaming of TV shows or major movies, albeit online video from TV network sites is already a powerful advertising platform. I’m referring to the fact that with little more than an inexpensive digital camera and some healthy imagination, dealers can add video to their Web sites, start sending video messages to customers and prospects, and even make and upload special videos ranging from how- to subjects to holiday greetings.
Truth is, with today’s technology, a salesman could just sit in front of a camera-equipped laptop, video himself talking to, say, a sales prospect or a good customer and send it to their email for viewing later.
Not surprising, some major dealers have already begun using online video. For example, Galati Yachts, Anna Maria, Fla. (www.galatiyachts.com), is using some professionally produced/hosted video pushing pre-owned boats.
Perhaps the best example of a dealership’s online video comes from Lakeside Marine Group, Lakeside, Ohio (www.lakesidemarine.com). Also professionally done, this video lets a number of customers do the talking by sharing their views of Lakeside and its products.
Professional or do-it-yourself, online video can be a great tool both the sales and service departments (like, a video update to an owner on work being done on his boat) can use very effectively. It’s worth learning more about.