Everyone wants to do more business. Everyone occasionally runs a promotion, a new marketing initiative, a product launch, or a new seasonal lineup. Everyone has a website stuffed with content ranging from the important to the useless.

But only smart business minds understand that campaigns require their own space and identity if they are to succeed. And when you use the Web as your vehicle for such a campaign, the obvious solution is a video-campaign microsite.

What's a Video-Campaign Microsite?

Video-campaign microsites are websites that employ a series of highly focused video presentations designed specifically to promote a single marketing initiative aimed at a highly targeted audience.

Video-campaign microsites are dedicated to delivering an engaging online experience that compels an audience to act by taking advantage of the marketing initiative's offer.

Such sites benefit from the absence of the corporate clutter and irrelevant information on most business websites that get in the way of an effective marketing presentation.

Video microsites are often implemented via a direct-email campaign or, depending on the budget, via magazine, television, or radio advertising. You can also channel corporate-site traffic by means of a graphical home-page link.

You can employ any of the following different styles of video microsites, depending on your brand personality and the campaign's goals:

1. New-product-launch video microsites. The launch of a new product or seasonal line should be an event, and there is no better way to attract attention and generate public and media interest than to create a brand-new website environment dedicated to that launch.

 2. Promotional-campaign video microsites. A sale is just a sale, and today's sophisticated buyers have seen it all before; so, unless you make a big event out of your promotion, all you'll end up doing is selling your regular customers the products they would have bought anyway, but at a lower markup.

A big media splash attracts new customers, new media attention, and former customers.

3. How-to video microsites. There is nothing more damaging to your brand or your bottom line than customers who hate you and share their opinion with friends and colleagues.

A surefire way to make people angry is to sell them something they can't figure out how to use properly—and a buried FAQ or a complicated list of instructions in 12 languages and 9-point Times Roman type is not going to cut it.

A how-to video site can show people how to use and get the most out of your products or services in a way they will understand and appreciate.

4. Video mocusites. One thing that you definitely cannot be on the Web is boring. Boring websites are the kiss of death.

The Web is a crowded place, and no matter what you're looking for there are probably dozens if not hundreds or thousands of other companies doing the exact same thing for less money.

You may think you're different, but your Web audience won't—unless you present yourself in a differentiated way; one way to do that is with a video mocusite.

5. Video docusites. Where the video mocusite takes an entertaining, humorous, and satirical approach to communicating your marketing message, video docusites look at a company's history, longevity, innovation, and success—in an effort to build confidence, loyalty, and brand identity.
6. Concept-video microsites. A concept-video microsite is about presenting an idea. Some products and services are so innovative or different that they can be sold only if you communicate the concept behind them.

Other products may be similar to competitors', but the way they are sold is different and creative. In those instances, the concept-video microsite is the answer.

7. Sponsored-video webisode microsites. Sponsored-video webisode microsites are a great marketing vehicle for those companies with the guts and foresight to recognize what the Web is all about.

Such campaigns attract an ongoing loyal audience because they are bite-sized mini programs or episodes designed to entertain and educate without an overt sales pitch.

If conceived and designed properly, your program content delivers your emotional and psychological value proposition while the accompanying pre- and post-commercials deliver your direct pitch.

Think of it as sponsoring your own, private, online mini TV series.

8. Demographic video microsites. When a company has different campaigns for different demographic markets, it should present them separately to avoid confusion, mixed messages, and dilution of the brand identity, image, and personality.

Microsites Help You Avoid Information Overload

Fashion and apparel companies, for example, have seasonal product lines that need to be promoted in a current, if not trendy, manner.

Dumping such a campaign into your regular corporate Web environment gets in the way of achieving the campaign's marketing goals: The audience looking for new products and promotions is not interested in your Investor Relations or Career Opportunities, and the people looking for jobs and investment information aren't interested in your holiday specials.

It doesn't matter how good your presentation is if you bury it and nobody ever sees it. If website visitors can't quickly find what they're looking for, they're gone.

And why should a fashion or apparel company use video at all? The answer is simple: There is just no better way to present how a garment looks on real people from all sides and angles, and when they move. Add a little voice-over description, and you've got your own little fashion show designed to move product online or in-store.

Too many companies, especially e-commerce companies, still "think print" even when they are using the Web as their main marketing-communications vehicle.

Microsites Help You Avoid the Confusion of Mixed Messages

If there is one thing that will kill your marketing, branding, and positioning faster than anything else, it's sending mixed messages to multiple audiences using the same venue or vehicle.

Fast-food companies are continually running promotions, and they use television as their primary marketing-communications vehicle. The problem is that television commercials are a shotgun approach: You broadcast a commercial, and whoever sees it, sees it.

Sure, there are sophisticated demographic analyses of those who watch what and when, but even with that knowledge the perception leakage is substantial.

Just because it's a football game doesn't mean there isn't a substantial female audience, and just because it's a chick-flick program doesn't mean some guys aren't watching (whether or not they want to).

Television viewing is a shared family experience resulting from direct and indirect group negotiations. As a consequence, if a fast-food company runs multiple ads aimed at different audiences, such as children, parents, and teenagers, but all the ads are viewed by demographically diverse audiences, the result is a confused mixed message and a deterioration of the brand personality.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

The Web is a whole different animal. Where television is a negotiated group-viewing experience, together enjoyed or at least tolerated by family members, the Web is an individual viewing experience, not usually shared with others.

That means different messages can be delivered to different audiences without the concern that each message is polluting the others or the overall brand image.

So What's the Big Deal With Video?

Why do we stress video so much? For one, it's what we do More important, we do it because it is the most effective and efficient tool you have to communicate your marketing message to your audience.

The thing you have to remember about video is that it's easy to do but hard to do right.

Delivering Meaningful Content: It's About Context and Subtext

Nothing exists in a vacuum, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. The direct-marketing message you deliver must exist within a physical and cultural framework, while the indirect-marketing message you present must resonate in the viewer's mind.

A properly conceived video microsite takes those things into consideration and communicates a memorable concept informed by them.

Web-video context is the emotionally relevant scenario created for the purpose of delivering your marketing message, while Web-video subtext is the subconscious psychological message that strikes a nerve, triggers desire, and motivates action.

Together, context and subtext create a meaningful, relatable experience that defines your brand personality and leaves a lasting memorable impression.

It starts with a relatable scenario that draws on an audience's life experiences, preconceptions, and attitudes. When the video is done correctly, an audience will relate and identify with the characters presented, the language used, and the performance delivered, with each element enhanced and embedded in memory by visual and nonverbal cues, combined with sophisticated sound and music design.

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Video Microsites—The Brand-Story Campaign Solution

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Jerry Bader is senior partner in MRPwebmedia (www.mrpwebmedia.com), a website-design firm that specializes in Web audio and video. Contact him via info@mrpwebmedia.com or (905) 764-1246.