Best Guess Videos

Best Guess videos are now live on ShopWatchBuy!

In case you haven’t noticed, we’ve had an explosion of products on the ShopWatchBuy marketplace – almost 200,000 listings and counting!  How are we doing this?

When a shopper searches for an item, besides returning the existing products on the marketplace, we use the search term to find ADDITIONAL products for our merchants to add.  In this manner, we are growing the number of items based on user popularity.

We then take the information we have and do out best to match the product with an existing video on YouTube.  Sometime the results are right on, other times amusing :-)

Take a look at these Marine Binoculars: http://www.shopwatchbuy.com/12×32-marine-stabileyes-vr-binoculars-pid198473

Picking up on the word “Marine” we’ve matched it up with a video “The making of a Marine” not an exact fit, but entertaining!

So the Best Guess videos can be like a box of chocolates, Forrest, you never know what you’re gonna get.   But in some ways that what’s makes it fun – it’s sort of like window shopping with a side dish of entertainment.

Will continue to work on improving the results, and in the coming months we’re going to add features like letting users change the video on the fly – should be cool!

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New Merchant – Motorcycle Superstore

I love to ride my bike, or as Ewan McGregor from Long Way Round would say, my Motor Bike.

My BMW F650 GS is great for a Sunday morning ride around town, or getting down and dirty on some trails in the woods. (However I must admit that lately I’ve been longing for the New F800 GS)

But being a motorcycle enthusiast, I’m proud to announce that we now have Motorcycle Superstore product videos on ShopWatchBuy! You can view there video storefront here: Motorcycle Superstore Video Storefront.  We also created a new category on the marketplace called “Motorcycle Related” and are putting the Motorcycle Superstore product there.  For now, we’ve got a lot of boots and clothing, but they have a lot of great product videos we’ll be adding over time.

You’ll also notice that we have Flex-Link enabled for Motorcycle Superstore!  So if you’re on Commission Junction (CJ)  Affiliate Marketer and Motorcycle Superstore is one of your merchants, you can start using these videos for your own campaign!  Just embed the video using “Flex-Link” and the Buy Now button becomes YOUR link.   Click here for more info on Flex-Link.

Now get out there and start riding, or marketing  (or both)  :-)

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Interview with Sherry Borzo on Blog Talk Radio

I had a great time speaking with Sherry Borzo for her Entrepreneur People – Real Stories series!

Sherry has a very fun and energetic interviewing style.  We managed to have a few laughs in the process of the interview :-)

It was also flattering that she spent enough time to create TWO episodes for her show!

  • In Part 1, we discuss the concept of ShopWatchBuy and the entrepreneurial journey.
  • In Part 2, we talk more specifically online video and some of the tools and resources for making them.

Thanks Sherry!

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A Salt Water Hot Tub?

Those that know me, know that I love my hot tub. After a long day it’s great to jump in, have a beer and catch up on some TV news. Sometimes on the weekend, I like to go out in the morning with a cup of coffee. Just relaxing and soaking – heaven!

But what I don’t like about my Hot Tub is dealing with chlorine or bromine chemicals all the time – yuck! A friend of mine has a Salt Water pool and loves it. Salt is made up of Sodium (Na)and Chlorine (Cl) making the compound NaCl. Salt water pools have a mechanism for naturally separating the Chlorine from the salt to chlorinate and maintain your pool.

This got me thinking, if it’s out there for pools, it must be available for Spas. After a little research, I found the good folks at ControlOmatic: http://www.controlomatic.com They make the ColorChlor and TechniChlor for pools and hot tubs. You simply add salt to your hot tub an immerse it into your hot tub and it starts generation chlorine – nice!

It’s great because salt is much cheaper than chloring, it’s always working to produce fresh chlorine. Plus – and I wasn’t expecting this – the slight salinity the tub has (much less then the ocean) is actual very soothing. Basically I love this thing. Here’s a video:

And now a shameless plug for SWB (of course :-) Notice how the “Buy Now” button takes you right to their website? Plus anywhere this video is embed – Facebook, blogs, etc… this link is traveling with it. Pretty Cool, eh?

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“Well, why can’t we…?”

A thought occurred to me while working for another client who wanted to reinvigorate the video experience for anyone who comes to their site.

Essentially, the company wants to, as seamlessly as possible, incorporate social media, chatting, video channels, archives and the corporate message du jour all in one subsection of his Web page.

Most days I listen to a comedy podcast that sometimes talks about the happenings of the day or week. Because of the Olympic fever coming to a slow boil (if that) the podcasters and hosts have frequently commented on NBC’s coverage of the events.

Both of these events has got me thinking:

Can you do too much in video?

The short answer, is yes. Creating an appeal video is a balancing act of sorts, where you must mix message and “color” (color, in the marketing and advertising world, is slang for “catch phrases” or “hooks” that draw people in. A commonly used one is “New and Improved”), style and substance and the final call to action (CTA).

The company that wants their site redesigned, in my opinion, is trying too hard to do everything, and has lost the point of what video is. Let me draw it out mathematically:

Video = (Pictures * Motion) + audio

Therefore videos are motion pictures with sound. The old saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”, if your video is shot at 32 pictures per second, then your entertainment value can go up exponentially.

But if you try to add in video, and sound, and chatting, and commenting, and live features, and a search engine, you start getting into the realm of YouTube, which can be a potentially bad thing as:

  1. Individuals will use YouTube as a benchmark to compare your site
  2. You may be directly competing with Hulu, Viddler and YouTube (This is probably why Facebook has incorporated YouTube into their system, as opposed to making their own video system.).

The podcasters complained that the commentators on NBC talked too much, and didn’t let the coverage “explain itself”. If you’re covering a sport, and have enough cameras in the right angles, technically, you don’t need any commentators or commentary. In fact, ESPN has their own play-by-play chart for football that marks exactly where each team is, bypassing both audio and video.

In summary, keeping your videos and your purpose simple will make things better in the long run.

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2010 Affiliate Summit

ShopWatchBuy will be at the 2010 Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas; the show will run from January 17th to January 19th. ShopWatchBuy will be just outside the registration area in the Miranda Room: Table 96.

The Affiliate Summit is one of the premier affiliate shows in the U.S.; attendees come from agencies, affiliate groups, merchants, networks and vendors. Over a third is affiliates themselves looking for new methods and skills to sell and promote their products.

What can you expect from ShopWatchBuy? We’ll be there to talk to both affiliates and business owners about how ShopWatchBuy can help their sales through video and online efforts. Do you need to let consumers “test-drive” your products through video? Are you looking for easy ways to allow your products to go “viral”? Look no further.

Mark your calendars for the event. The show starts on the 17th of January with the Affiliate Meet Market, and continues on the 18th and 19th in the main Exhibit Hall with seminars, meet-and-greets and exhibitors from over 2000 companies!

We’ll see you there!

-The ShopWatchBuy Team

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Tongue in cheek

Sometimes you need to firmly press your tongue against your cheek and give it your all. That’s the theory behind the VH1 Critic’s Choice Awards commercial featuring a spoof of the ridiculously famous Twilight Saga entry, New Moon. Below, as the YouTube video puts it, Kristen [sic] Chenoweth Kicks New Moon Wolf Pack Butt.

What can we learn from this, though? As businesses, we need to answer three distinct questions:

  • What do I WANT to say?
  • What will my customers THINK?
  • Do I WANT my customers to think this way?

How does this video succeed?

  • Addressing every niche market
  • Using pop culture references
  • Using low-stress humor

Think you’re ready to try your hand at online advertising with video? Check out our free trial.

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ShopWatchBuy.com: The Cure for the Hard-to-Buy

We all have that person: the one who has everything, or is just “content” with the way things are. He doesn’t fit into a neat little box, and she won’t give any good hints. They’re interested in everything, and what they don’t like you can’t reverse. What do you do?

The answer is simple. Shop at ShopWatchBuy.com. ShopWatchBuy uses videos to demonstrate the product, before you buy. Simply hit the Web site, find the “Top 20” categories, and select your interest. Click on to find your product, sit back and enjoy!

Try these topics to start:

Electronics: http://www.shopwatchbuy.com/Electronics
Gadgets: http://www.shopwatchbuy.com/Gadgets
Kids: http://www.shopwatchbuy.com/Kids
Men: http://www.shopwatchbuy.com/Men
Video Games: http://www.shopwatchbuy.com/Video-Games
Toys: http://www.shopwatchbuy.com/Toys

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Using video to grow business.

Jimm Fox published a list of ways to use video to grow your business (reposted by Mark Robertson on OneMarket Media). His list takes 42 methods and breaks them down into nine categories (Customer reference, Product and Service Promotion, Corporate based, Training and Support, Internal Comms, Marketing and Advertising, Public Relations (PR), Events and a miscellaneous category). Here are some of the highest in Growth Potential and Popularity.

• Video Customer testimonials (Moderate popularity, high growth potential): While this type of video is a staple of Microsoft’s Windows 7 material (who can resist the cute kid making it look so easy?), ideally, it should be real customers in their own settings. As authentically “normal” and “in the customer’s perspective” it is, the better. Depending on what you’re trying to do, authenticity and “rough-around-the-edges” a video is, is worth more gold than the money spent for a polished look. Would we have given the same credit to the dancing “Numa Numa” guy if it looked like it was shot from a studio? A spinoff of this is the Video success stories, where a customer recounts a problem that they had, and how said product helped them.

• Man in the street interviews (Moderate popularity, high growth potential): A known tactic in the Jay Leno Show (“Jaywalking”), news stations and sometimes on the Jimmy Kimmel Show (“Kids Voice out on what they know about Tiger Woods”), these movies find individuals and show them answering questions or reactions from the host. Again, authenticity is a big thing here. The more “fake” it looks, the worse it is. (Conversely, if you are a student of “The Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz“, making it looks ridiculous may cause enough buzz that you can disregard any consequences.)

• Product Presentations, demonstrations, reviews (Moderate popularity, high growth potential): While these are self explanatory, the perspective changes in each. Presentations should be from the customer’s perspective, demonstrations should be from the parent company and detail the benefits (If you are a student of Meerman’s “The New Rules of Marketing and PR“, avoid such terms as, “New and Improved”, “Ground-breaking” and other typical “fluff”. A good exercise from Meerman is as such: take the script from your movie, remove all direct references of your company and product. If you can’t tell who the company is or what the product is, your script is too convoluted with “fluff”.) Reviews should be from “trusted third parties”. Try to find reviews that you didn’t sponsor (who trusts a study saying that cigarettes are no more dangerous than automobiles when the study was funded by a tobacco company?).

• Visual stories (Moderate popularity, high growth potential): Tap into the cornerstones of marketing: Cute sells. Why are such stories as Where the Wild Things Are and If you Give a Mouse a Cookie such evergreen children’s books? Because they are visual stories (clever wordplay never hurts, either).

• Corporate Overview: (High popularity, moderate growth potential): Who is “XYZ Company”, and why do only Accounting and Economic professors reference it? They obviously don’t have a corporate overview video. Take into account what your company is and what you’d like to show. If you look at any product review from ThinkGeek.com, you’ll get a large sense of how the company works. Also pay attention to what is more attention getting.

• Training (High, High), Webinars, Just in Time (JIT) learning Videos (Low, High): Why clog up your forums, tech support lines and other forms of communication when you can show how to fix common problems? Video, as stated by Fox, is, “a cost effective substitute for in-class training”.

• Tackling tough-to-explain issues (such as legal matters, health and safety, [Low, High]: A funny example of such is Jon Stewart’s video of Ted Stevens’ explanation of the internet. Using audio and visual ties connects to more senses than plain text, and has the ability to provide compact and cheap primers.

• Content Marketing (Low, Huge): You have a business, obviously are experts in your area, spread some goodwill! Fox gives an example of Home Depot doing a Do-it-yourself series; another example is Best Buy doing a primer on High Definition or Blu-Ray. Barnes & Noble does this to a bit with their “Tagged” series, in which authors talk about their latest books (Link).

• Mobile Videos (Low, Huge): While half the world is running to have the “biggest-and-bestest”, the other half wants the same things, only much smaller. Even some Japanese researchers have done studies on screen size and retention rates (As expected, there isn’t a “best size”, but a range depending on the topic). The future, according to Fox, will hyper-target individuals based on geo-and-demographic traits, as well as very small niche audiences.

• “Viral” videos (High, High): The old standby. Everyone can name at least one viral video. There are a few challenges with this. First, you can call anything viral (even the most boring of commercials), but it isn’t viral until it becomes so completely desirable that it makes people want to share it. Secondly, viral videos usually aren’t about the product at all ( Sunsilk’s [hair care company] viral video depicted an extremely nervous bride, chopping her hair off before the big day. There was no mention of the product or company, and the movie was shot with a regular camera in a hotel room, prone to dark screens and unbalanced volume).

As always, think about these things when creating a video:

  1. What do I want to say?
  2. What do I want to show?

Then…

  1. What does my video actually show?
  2. Will my video keep attention?
  3. If I do Meerman’s trick, and take out all references to my company and specific product, will the viewer know who I am and what I’m selling?

Happy Middle-December from ShopWatchBuy!

(Full Disclosure: Mitch, the writer of this post, is an internet junkie, moonlights at Barnes & Noble, and has as much fun with his coworkers as Maddie and David do.)

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Winter Shopping Tips

Happy December!

If you have to brave the crowds for last-minute gifts, check out these hints for any last-minute sales.

  • Check out the ads, both online and in store.
  • Most stores will have early-bird or night-owl hours where an extra percentage will be off of their products.
  • Most stores will have a doorbuster. These items are usually hot items for the year at a much reduced price. This year’s Black Friday doorbuster was a laptop for approximately $200, Target’s was an LCD television for close to $500 bucks.
  • Each of these stores has a limited amount of doorbuster items. Best Buy’s laptop doorbuster had “no fewer than 10″ computers per store. The local Target here had approximately 100-200 televisions, but had more than 500 individuals standing outside before the store opened.
  • A “Rain Check” is when an item is on sale, but out of stock. Some stores will normally (though not during these sales) hold an item at that price for you.
  • Do your planning ahead of time the week or so before the event. While some stores may have “Strict on Sale” (SOS) dates for letting people know when sales or certain items are released (SOS’ are usually found in the video gaming, movie and book industries). Any store that breaks the SOS date (sells before they are supposed to) usually will receive a hefty fine.
  • Check internet vs. store prices. A hot item this year is the Twilight Saga Box Set (ISBN: 9780316031844). One bookstore sells this for the list proce of $83 dollars, while they can ship it to your home (without shipping charges) for close to $53. Ask about any ship-to-home orders before the date.
  • On that same note, MOST STORES WILL NOT COMPETE WITH THEIR ONLINE STORE. If you look at a business model, it’s much cheaper to run an online business than a brick-and-mortar store. With online businesses, you have a small office, and a network of warehouses that you may or may not own. With a (for instance) physical store in the mall, you have to pay for training and payroll of employees to act as customer service reps. With this said, online prices will usually be a bit cheaper than their physical stores.
  • Sign up for email newsletters. Create a free email account (through Hotmail, AOL or Gmail), and sign up for as many as you can. This way your personal email account will be free of store emails and spam, but you can still access valuable coupons. Make sure to follow instructions perfectly to print out coupons, as some retailers might be very picky on redemption policies (see potential work-around Barnes & Noble example at the bottom of this post). Read the “Notes to Cashier” or “Cashier Instructions” to see if the coupon code is there (See Best Buy Example and Barnes & Noble Example at the bottom of this post).
  • It is worth it to try to ask any cashiers or customer service people where doorbusters might be located, or how many of an item they have in stock. Please note that store policy for this does vary greatly from store-to-store. Best Buy will NOT answer these questions, while other stores may have it behind counters (as seen in Gamestop or other video game stores). With the latest release of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, Barnes & Noble employees were not able to say how many copies were ordered of the book. In addition, employees weren’t allowed to see or take pictures of the packing boxes the books came in. While the latter is the exception, the point remains the same, the policies for hot items vary greatly from item to store, and may very well not make much sense.
  • Gift Receipts are always a good idea. Make sure to ask for them at the beginning of a purchase, as sometimes the cashiers cannot print gift receipts for past transactions. In addition, read the back of the receipt for the return policy. MOST gift receipt returns will be for store credit.

The next tip comes from About.com:

  • Saying “Charge It” Can Pay Off: Obviously, there is no bargain in running up high credit card bills and paying big interest rates, however, with proper spending disciplines intact, using the right charge card can be of value to consumers. Many credit card companies entice consumers with free benefits, which include extended free warranties, return protection and sale price protection.
    • Warranty Coverage – Your credit card company may offer to double or triple a manufacturer’s warranty for free on a product you purchase – a good option instead of purchasing a service contract that costs money and has a shorter duration period.
    • Return Protection – A credit card company may guarantee a refund on a product up to 90 days where as the store may not. This is becoming particularly more important as retailers stiffen the allotted return days.
    • Sale Price Protection – Some of the credit card companies will offer this protection and refund you the difference if a product you buy is marked down further than the price you paid within a certain time frame (usually 60 days).

Or, if you really don’t want to deal with the crowds, you can always shop online!

Merry Christma-Hannu-Kwans-ica, and a Happy Winter Solstice to all!

(Full Disclosure: The author of this blog post moonlights at a Barnes & Noble.)

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