No beauties, only “life” video concept
We live in an era of information noise, when a person seeks to isolate himself from unnecessary information. But the bottom line is that its number from year to year will grow like an avalanche. Accordingly, the human desire to distance itself from information noise will only increase. Difficult conditions for distributing business content, right? There is only one way out - to find a non-standard idea, your own chip, to do what others do not. Our guests today and about the very term "content marketing" heard recently. However, it was with his help (albeit not knowing about it) that they began to develop the outdoor outdoor theme store on their own. Apparently, thanks to the intuition, the guys found the right way, and began to engage in video marketing. The idea was simple to banality: one product - one overview video. And the most interesting thing about these videos is their absolutely realistic concept: no joining, no beauties, a simple and honest story about the product. But for some reason they decided to embody this idea. All the details about how to develop the project independently in difficult modern conditions - in an interview with Andrei Kolomytov and Maxim Oransky, the founders of the project Shanti-Shanti.rf.
Denis: Tell us about the project itself?
Andrew: The project Shanti-Shanti.rf appeared a year and a half ago. We actively began to engage them in October 2013. But, naturally, the idea of own business appeared even earlier. Before the start of the project Shanti-Shanti, we tried something all the time. Max actively went to all sorts of business parties, trainings and coaching, shared his impressions with me and periodically “kicked” me. We considered different business ideas. They wanted to make a courier service, launch an event-agency, sell houses for cats, in general, tried different ideas (up to the sale of Izhevsk boots, radio boats and green coffee). The sales technology was very simple: on Avito they published ads like this: "Tomorrow I am going to Afghanistan, selling at half price, just take it away." But in the end, nothing of what we tried, we have not gone. Well, somehow it turned out that one of the goods we started to deal with was tourist tents. And to our surprise, they started calling the tents.
Max: You forgot about mosquito bracelets. We bought them and went to the forest to test. As it turned out, they work very interesting. You put a bracelet on your arm - and you have one hand bitten and the other hand bitten very much.
Andrew: Yes, we went to the forest on a bike at night, looking for mosquitoes there to test bracelets. The bracelets did not go, but the tents went right away, and we gradually began to go into the theme of outdoor-equipment. Initially, we were going to open an online store of tourist topics with a small selection, but the best products - tested on ourselves, with good videos for each product. They found suppliers, started to lay out goods, but it was hard to work in such a format - the demand was low. And we began to quickly build up a database of goods.
Denis: And how did the name come about?
Andrew: Well, this is from the time of sale of mosquito bracelets. Mosquitoes enrage people, infuriate. At the time, we listened to a lot of Indian music. In Hinduism, there is the concept of "Shanti" - a state of peace and harmony. The message was simple: buy mosquito bracelets, get rid of unnecessary negative emotions. We refused to sell bracelets, but the domain (and, accordingly, the brand) was already too late to change.
Denis: What happened next?
Andrew: Then they began to go to different suppliers in order to fill their catalogs as much as possible. They went to the store "Splav", on the Nova Tour, to other manufacturers.
Max: Moreover, it all started by chance. I returned from the Crimea in the fall, went to a local store of tourist equipment in Simferopol and could not restrain myself - I bought a small Tatonka backpack, which could fold into itself. And quickly, literally half an hour before the train, he made a video about him and wrote to Andrey so that he would go to the representatives of this company, and we could add its products to our price list.
Andrew: Yes, we ended up with Tatonka representatives. And immediately agreed with them that we would come to their warehouse to quickly retake all their products.
Denis: Have you heard something about the term "content marketing"?
Max: Judging by the structure of the term, this is apparently marketing, built on the distribution of useful materials for the audience?
Denis: If simplistic to say, then - yes. And in this regard, I have a question: did you deliberately rely on the creation and distribution of video reviews of goods that you sell, or was it some kind of intuitive decision?
Max: Partly, it was a conscious decision, but partly an intuitive one. According to legend, Mendeleev, the periodic table of chemical elements, had a dream, but she could only dream about someone who thought about this problem day and night. It was like this: we have been looking for some kind of chip for a long time, studied business literature (the same “Blue Ocean Strategy”) ...
Andrew: How did we come up with our main chip - video reviews for each item sold? We were great and did everything right. But how to repeat it, make another chip - we do not know :)
Max: Yes, we were looking for some kind of chip. And at first, as usual, they tried to find it in pricing, in an assortment, but somehow they took on the video itself. And they understood - this is it, this is our chip. But even then we did not understand the true power of this step. Here is the thing. There is, say, a good online store. There they make good production photos of the goods. Then the retoucher works with these illustrations. Then it's all in good resolution laid out on the site. But when you look at a high-quality, retouched photo of a product, you realize that in reality this photo has little to do with real life. Looking at such a product card, you can not draw the most simple and necessary conclusions. And you say to yourself: the photographer is good, the retoucher is good, but what the hell is this product? And how does he look from this angle, and from another? What is the lining in this bag? And what is the touch fabric of this jacket?
Andrew: Yes, I personally saw how the staff of one of our suppliers, before taking pictures of the tent, stroked it with an iron!
Max: That's right. We intuitively understood that people do not need beautiful photos, but completely different knowledge about the product they are looking for. Somehow we were shooting a video and after shooting we suddenly realized what the correct concept should be: you need to do not super-beautiful videos, but honest ones, without any visual delights. Videos, in which we must simply and sincerely make out all the pros and cons of the product, describe our feelings, show the product from all possible angles.
Denis: How many videos are you currently shooting?
Max: The channel was created on September 9, and at the moment we have 1412 videos downloaded. Views, in our opinion, not so much - about 1 million. But we are growing all the time.
Andrew: In general, we have, in addition to the videos themselves, quite a lot of different marketing chips. About many things we do not declare anywhere, but we are trying to give something to our customers, besides what he expects to receive from us. Many of these features we throw on the buyer in the process. For example, we have videos with gratitude to the client: "Hello, Vladimir, thank you for buying this product from us, etc ..." People usually react to this with an open mouth: "What, like this, I just made an order, and you already shot a video for me? " And everything is simply explained: we have prepared videos recorded under the list of the most common names ... And there are a lot of such features. One of our already branded chips is that we give honest (not twisted) discounts on products that we have in the catalog, but for which there are no video reviews yet. Still, we work in a very competitive niche, and there are a lot of online stores that sell the same at the same prices. Need to somehow build on them.
Denis: Do you plan to work on shooting video reviews? Is there a content plan for two or three weeks ahead? Are there any video scenarios?
Andrew: Perhaps I’ll give everyone a little disappointment. We have no special preparation either before the shooting or afterwards. And this is due primarily to the number of tasks that each of us solves during the day. In our written plans now hangs, for example, more than a hundred tasks that need to be done. In addition to shooting video, these are tasks for sites, for marketing, for some of our activities. The number of products for which we are planning to make video reviews is so great that it is no longer a special preparation. Everything is born impromptu. But, again, a good impromptu, a good review of the goods would be impossible if we did not have the expertise in the subject, which we already have. But, I want to say, all the same, we have very seriously advanced compared with those times when we were just starting to shoot video reviews. It used to be like this: we come to the supplier. Look - hanging tent. Let's shoot the tent. Look - hanging sleeping bag. Let's shoot a sleeping bag. Then we began to analyze and predict the demand for the product, tried to shoot what will be in demand among our audience. Analyzed your site, studied the statistics of views of goods. And on the basis of this formed the lists of products for which we need video reviews in the first place. They went this way. And now I can definitely say that we have video reviews for all frequently ordered goods. Now we can afford to choose what to shoot and what not. Basically, I am in the frame, and I choose what I will shoot. I go to the choice of products simply: what we like, we shoot, what we don’t like - we don’t remove. In other words, the choice of products for reviews is now mostly intuitive. But my intuition, I would like to believe, is the result of a lot of work. I already have some sort of flair for goods, and I can predict with a high degree of probability what users will be interested in and what will not. Here, for example, a tripod for an action camera, which is combined with a tracking stick, will be interesting. And the next marching spoon will not cause much interest, we will not remove this product at the present time ... And, accordingly, regarding the plans of the commercials. We have no plans. Everything is done spontaneously. This is a plus and a minus. On the one hand, permanent impromptu is tiring, requires high concentration. But on the other hand, rollers turn out live. We have a lot of positive feedback, which is connected with this - we speak in simple language, understandable to our audience. If we don’t like something in the product, then we say: you probably shouldn’t buy it, better look at such a product. So, of course, no one else does on the market. But completely without scenarios will not work - now we have come to the conclusion that, apparently, it will still be necessary to create a plan of filming for some specific products. For example, for knives. We made several clips about knives according to our usual scheme and faced, so to speak, with a very serious rejection of our video reviews by the Nyfomanov. And this audience is very specific. "Naifomany" do not forgive mistakes, do not forgive the lack of expertise in the subject. Faced with this audience, we realized that it would not be possible to enter this topic without additional expertise and a shooting plan.
Denis: Where are you filming? How do you choose a site?
Andrew: Everywhere. In the apartment, in the office of the supplier, in stores (with the permission of the administration), everywhere. At the start, when we actually worked under the order, we told the buyer when his order came: either we will bring this product to you today at a price of 10 thousand rubles, or take it for a couple of days to make a video, and bring it already for 8 thousand. rubles. Often traveled to the warehouses and show rooms of suppliers. Many different funny stories are connected with this. When shooting in such conditions in the frame are constantly appear some strange people. It was such that the grandmother climbed into the frame: "Milok, where can I buy underwear?". Or people come up during the shooting and start asking questions: “What is it and what is it for?”. With this, we still do not know how to fight. Even at one time they were seriously nurturing the idea that everything should be taken off in a T-shirt with the inscription: go into the frame, get it on the head. Now we are approaching the shootings not on the basis of the residual principle: there is time, let's take something off, but purposefully. For the first time, they used this approach last summer: they took all the products of the Nova Tour company, according to which we did not have video reviews, brought it all for a couple of weeks to the country house that was specially filmed for this purpose and made a shooting session. The videos from that summer shooting session are still on our channel. If all the videos are immediately posted on YouTube, many subscribers of the channel will immediately unsubscribe, because we will simply block the personal tape to them with our videos. We post from 1 to 5 videos per day, and we have a reserve, since now we are purposefully shooting here with such sessions. And the stock is very large, at least six months ahead.
Max: Yes, we came to this model by practical consideration, but also experienced TV reporters also shoot. So, really, it is more convenient to work.
Denis: Are there any other things that you have come to by experience?
Andrew: Of course there is. When shooting a review, you must always submit first. During the video, we repeatedly say the address of our online store "shanty-shanty.rf". In other words, you should always remember about the audience that you have never encountered before. At the end of the video you need to ask to put the likes, if the video was useful. These videos really get more likes. And the more likes, the more people our video will be shown.
Max: In addition, we have many different automatic letters that are sent to the event. For example, reminders with payment. Or a person bought something from us, after a week we ask him: did you like this product? There are mailing lists on behavioral targeting: if people have already bought something from us, we send them information on this category of goods.
Denis: What happens after the shoot? What's next? Is there postproduction, some kind of installation?
Max: Almost never mount. We started in very stressful conditions of a constant lack of budget for the creation of a video channel and just a monstrous lack of time. And they decided not to bother with quality, but to take in quantity. For our business processes, it is much more important to make a large number of clips with a quality not lower than a certain level than to make very high-quality clips, but in limited quantities. And if some kind of crap happens when shooting a video, it's easier for us to erase the file completely and overwrite the entire video rather than mount it from different duplicates. The only post-production is the accurate signing of videos (the title of the product should always be displayed in the title) and the writing of hyperlinks to products in our online store when downloading videos to the channel.
Denis: What are you shooting for?
Max: Canon EOS 7D + Canon EF-S 17-55 / 2.8 IS.
Denis: What happens after the publication?
Max: The life cycle of the movie is. First, they filmed the material. Secondly, the person who filmed carefully (he still remembers that they were filming today) signs each file so that the name of the file matches the name of the product. Then all the footage is uploaded to the YouTube channel, where it is still not available to anyone. Then another (specially trained) person passes by, puts the link from the video to the product page on the website and from the product page to the video. All this time on the YouTube channel videos are not yet displayed. And finally, I personally go through and, as an editor, I choose what to open today, what kind of goods. What product to open - here I make a decision depending on seasonality, demand and mood.
Denis: In essence, you created a content factory, optimizing all processes in order to publish a large number of videos in non-stop mode with a quality not lower than a certain level.
Max: Well, yes, we have a conveyor.
Andrew: We have a funny case here recently. Came to visit one of their suppliers. And among other things talked there with the manager, who is responsible for communicating with bloggers. And when she finds out who we are, she says: I added you to the blacklists. We are so misunderstood: what is it? And she: you are just too much in the issue, and I can not find anything on YouTube, except for your videos. Frankly, it was nice to hear that.
Denis: Ok, you posted videos on YouTube, what next?
Max: Further videos (though not all) are uploaded to our VKontakte group and (much less often) to the group on Facebook. Funny moments from filming are sent to Instagram. Frankly speaking, we are leading the group on Facebook as a residual, it’s just not our audience. And we try to deal with the VKontakte group. But we use it not as an understudy of our video channel on YouTube, but rather as the author’s media, where we express our thoughts on a particular issue (it’s clear that this is all about outdoor), we answer questions from our audience, in general, we work over increasing loyalty. И в этом смысле мы тоже отличаемся от большинства интернет-магазинов, которые развивают свои паблики "ВКонтакте". У большинства из них основной контент - это анонсы товаров. Мы даем, конечно, ролики, но больше даем контент, который может быть полезен или любопытен нашей аудитории.
Андрей: Замечу, что наш паблик "ВКонтакте" часто работает как площадка отзывов по товарам, которые мы продаем. We work hard to ensure that our real customers leave feedback there, and people really read them. Some buyers even started to make video reviews of our products, by our example. That is, they buy from us, they do a video review, and in our group they post them. Or on the website in the comments to the product. Moreover, these are not isolated cases.
Denis: How does a client come to you? It is clear that your communication is multichannel: you "catch up" with users on YouTube, on social networks. But still the main channel that leads to the conversion - which one?
Max: Oddly enough, the main channel for us is our own website. Something like this analogy works here. Here is a restaurant of some kind, for example. And this restaurant has a specialty. Connoisseurs know this, it is ordered by gourmets. This dish is a feature of the restaurant. But in reality, 90% of the revenue is done on all familiar dishes - simple and clear. So it is with us. Video reviews - this is our "signature dish". This is our chip, but the main conversions are done on our site, and the traffic to the site is mostly from organic search engines.
Andrew: But there is still such a moment. Our YouTube channel helps us communicate with suppliers. They see the result of our work, they know about us before we went to them. With some suppliers, we probably would never have started working, and so - we are working, and everyone is happy.
Max: But there is one more thing. Despite the fact that the main supplier of clients for us is a search, a significant part in the traffic flow from search engines is referrals based on branded queries. And here, of course, if we did not have high-quality and expert video reviews, we would not have such a large amount of branded traffic.
Andrew: I communicate with our customers quite a lot and often I hear that they came to us exactly after watching the video. I can definitely say that the role of video reviews that we make for our YouTube channel is very large in our marketing strategy. Moreover, video reviews give an incredibly loyal audience. People watch us for months, recognize us through videos, and it is much easier for them to pay us money. Up to the point that people send us money without even making sure that this product is now in stock. Sometimes in the evening they come to our office, without any calls, without any warnings: "Oh, and I want to buy a product from you here, I looked at YouTube for an overview." I remember there was one man, I personally brought the goods to him, because then suddenly all our couriers fell off, and he said to me: "I’ve got stuck on your channel for several hours." And there was even such a case: a man approached me in the subway and said: “Oh, and I know you, you shoot good videos”. In general, our video reviews have given us quite a lot of fame in the outsiderschikov circles. It is clear that such a fame so quickly we could not get with the help of other tools.
Denis: And what is the conversion on the site now?
Max: Conversion is very dependent on the season. For example, last May, the conversion was 1.11%. In August, it dropped to 0.7%. Then she grew up under the new year. In January, it collapsed at all - well, this is expected, in general. Now it is growing again.
Denis: Engaged in email marketing?
Max: Yes, we do. I myself am a programmer, and our site is the result of my work as a coder. But sometimes it finds something, and I sit down to write code for the site, not for the site, but for people. I'm interested, I like it. From the list, by the way, we have a very high conversion - 12-15%.
Denis: How do you assign roles to each other? And how many people are on your team right now?
Max: Everything is simple here: everyone does what they can do well. For example, it is possible to start someone other than Andrey in the frame, but the result will certainly be worse. But to do the site, for example, is best for me.
Andrew: Max and I have known each other for quite a long time, and we complement each other in terms of business. We have some common features, but we are quite different from each other in temperament, in reactions to the surrounding reality. And, most importantly, we find different solutions for the same problems. Accordingly, in some matters I take the initiative only because I know how to solve this problem. In some matters, Max takes the initiative. Based on this, we recruit employees "by themselves". That is, we have two such centers in our company: someone only works with me, since I hired these employees to solve certain tasks, and Max does not even go into this area. Someone works only with Max, and I do not even know who works for him and why. My personal assistant, an employee who manages orders (accepting applications and preparing goods for shipment), a regular courier delivering Moscow orders, an employee who picks up goods from suppliers' warehouses, and a person who sends orders by mail and courier services. Total together with me seven people in my "brigade".
Max: I have an employee who helps me on the site, that is, solves the tasks that I set for him, there is an accountant (bookkeeping is my area of responsibility) and there is a person who helps me on the YouTube channel. Well, I myself fully ensure the operation of the site. We have everything on a self-written content management system (I am a programmer with 10 years of experience), and our site is not just a site. In the same place automatic email-mailings live, in the same place warehouse management lives, in the same place all our internal reporting lives. There is also implemented a functional on communications with suppliers, and so on.
Denis: How do you assess your successes and failures? If at the very beginning of your journey you would be told that today you will be in this place with such achievements, how would you feel about this? Would have been pleased, grieved?
Max: When at first I went to all sorts of business training, it seemed to me that everything would be easy and simple. Then, when I started to do everything, a lot of various problems emerged. Sometimes, of course, I want to throw everything to hell. But we work in tandem, and it is very convenient. When one stops pedaling, the second pulls it out. For some time we are twisting them together, then another one is already exhaled, and so constantly. But there is always progress.
Andrew: Was it hard? I will answer this with facts: we have already closed twice. But every time not to the end. Why? Yes, because there is a tandem, but in a tandem easier. Was it worth getting involved? Definitely worth it. But if they told me what financial indicators we would have, I would, of course, be a little disappointed, because our expectations were higher. But, on the other hand, it is still too early to judge now, in fact, we have been running this business for just a year and a half. And the subject matter in which we work is supercompetitive, it is very difficult to survive in it. But we not only survive, we grow.
Max: The problems that we face every day are huge. This is not only the specifics of our niche, but also the specifics of all e-commerce. For example, attacks on couriers ... This is a reality, and you need to somehow learn to live with it.
Andrew: Not only attacks on couriers, we had attacks on us too. This is what I? Business development is directly related to the overcoming of their personal problems. Without your growth as an individual, there is no growth in business. Entrepreneurship compels you daily to fight with your own doorposts, with your laziness, with your habits. And here we have progress, and even for a year and a half is very serious.
Denis: I have no more questions. Thanks for the interview. I wish success to your project. I will be watching him with interest.