CEO Tube

Randy Copeland, CEO of the high-end computer manufacturer Velocity Micro, doesn’t take himself too seriously.

When Velocity marketing associate Josh Covington sat Copeland in a green leather chair, handed him a pipe and yelled, “Action!”, Copeland played along, deadpanning into the camera, “Hello friend, I didn’t see you there.”

“Yeah, that was my idea,” Covington said. “It was a hard sell – he (Copeland) had hoped we’d make him look a lot cooler – but we convinced him this was good for the company, and then he jumped on it.”

The clip, which introduces a Velocity contest for the best video about PCs, was posted to the video sharing site YouTube about a month ago. The winner of the contest gets a PC, but Velocity has parlayed the contest announcement into a treasure trove of marketing pay dirt.

The video has been viewed more than 1,300 times and has netted the company about one entry per day. (In essence, customers are making commercials for Velocity.)

The Chesterfield-based company has around 100 employees, up from just a couple six years ago, and is well suited for using YouTube as a cheap marketing tool. “All of our customers are very technologically savvy, so this is a good audience for us to go to,” Covington said.

Increasingly, other Richmond businesses are turning to YouTube as cheap and in some cases effective marketing tool. Velocity also has a blog, which gets updated about once a week.

BizSense could not determine exactly how many local businesses post on YouTube. Many more have blogs, judging by our quick research. We did find that a number of apartment buildings have video tours of their residences and of Richmond. They seem to be produced by the same company and have the same format: the same voice-overs, the same syrupy platitudes, the same overuse of adjectives.

A few local Realtors have also posted TV ads, but they don’t achieve the sort of hit count the Velocity video has, in part because YouTube viewers are unlikely to watch traditional advertisements. Instead, viewers are looking to be entertained. After all, internet users are not a captive audience, like television viewers pre-Tivo or motorists passing a billboard.

Velocity produced its contest ad in-house, with its somewhat low-production value granting the ad its personal touch. Copeland also comes across like the kind of guy you’d want to get a beer with.

Whether or not the Velocity ad translates into sales is a matter for debate, and perhaps the jury is still out. But among discerning consumers who shop not on price alone, it’s likely an asset that helps develop an affinity for the company.

For some local entrepreneurs, YouTube is also a way to conduct a focus group of sorts. Dawn Adams, a long-time nurse practitioner who recently started a wellness practice, posted her first video this week. She said it’s a way to introduce her service and to get a sense of possible interest.

“This might increase awareness of my services and people like me,” Adams said. “And it might generate interest in one-on-one sessions or group sessions,” Adams said.

As for the art of making a YouTube video, it can be a little nerve-wracking. Adams said she spent about a month thinking up the idea for the clip. Filming and editing took another 20 hours.

“It was totally weird seeing myself (on screen), but I think I will get a little more comfortable as time goes on,” Adams said.

If you make a video:

– Keep it short
– Be relaxed
– Keep it focused, and simple
– Make sure it’s entertaining

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