Today we continue our series on the misconceptions about manufacturing. Another myth about manufacturing is that it only involves using traditional advertising. The I Am An Architect® video series created by YKK AP America Inc. is a great example of how marketing is changing even for manufacturing. This clever and entertaining video series features architects rapping about what it is like to be an architect. We recently interviewed Steve Schohan, marketing and communications manager for YKK AP America Inc., about how the I Am An Architect® video series came about and how effective it has been in drawing attention to the YKK AP® brand. Here is what he had to say.
Question: Where did YKK AP get the idea to do the I Am An Architect® video series?
Answer: Well several years ago, YKK AP had a contest built around our enerGfacade® brand where we encouraged college students to create a video about this brand. The students who won created a rap video about the enerGfacade® product.
The following year, Mike Turner, YKK AP’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, and Oliver Stepe, YKK AP’s president, decided to create another rap video, and they decided to hire the college students who won the contest to create the video.
So YKK AP launched its first video, which was tongue and cheek and very much focused on the architectural community and the YKK AP® brand as a form of entertainment. It garnered half a million hits on YouTube and received positive attention.
For the second video, we brought contractors into the video since YKK AP and our target architects work closely with contractors. As it was again a big success, we decided to create a Facebook page for the I Am An Architect® audience. The idea kind of changed from a pure marketing campaign into creating a community around architects.
The series evolved from being humorous and entertaining — to supporting groups and young architects. One of the videos is specifically targeted toward students and what it takes to be an architect. We recently released our seventh video this year, returning to a parody with a more dramatic direction.
We have also incorporated students and architectural firms into our videos, have inspired after-school programs with architects, and we have participated in architectural design competitions as a result of our videos.
Right now, we have 65,000 followers on our Facebook page, so this video series has changed from being featured primarily on YouTube to being popular on Facebook.
We regularly post about the video, characters or inspirational posts about the architectural lifestyle, while others are about hurricane awareness and key attributes of our product lines.
We’ve most recently began featuring posts about our unitized and shop glazed architectural products, which is more of an education piece.
But many of the posts on Facebook are about what architects go through every day.
We are also branding giveaway items, which we give out at trade shows like at the AIA (American Institute of Architects) show. For example, we’ve given out I Am An Architect® socks, T-shirts and wrapping paper.
The video that we created this year was called, “Eat. Sleep. Architect.,” and we gave away neck pillows imprinted with I Am An Architect® that you would use on an airplane to represent “sleep," and we also had food at our booth to represent “eat."
Question: Does this video series get more attention than any other form of marketing?
Answer: Yes it does. The way our marketing campaigns are built, we utilize multiple platforms. For example, we used the I Am An Architect® video to talk about our unitized products. We also used email blast marketing to get the word out about the unitized products, and we used Linkedin.
Our marketing is a holistic plan, and Facebook brings many people to our website. If we were to use data to determine which form of marketing has reached the largest audience, the answer would be the I Am An Architect® video series.
All of our marketing platforms are lined up with the same theme. They incorporate pieces that are related to the same topic.
We had some architects to tell us one year that they came to our booth at the AIA show three years ago, and they saw our video, and they are now specifying our product. The video series is a very effective trade show marketing tool in that we get people to come to our booth who were not intending to see us. And it is different from anything else that anyone else is doing at trade shows.
The video series and resulting social community is a very cost effective way of getting in front of architects. We are reaching around 200,000 people a month on Facebook through the I Am An Architect® campaign.
So it’s quite effective and less expensive than print ads. It also has a much higher response rate and click through than print ads.
Question: Do you all plan to continue coming up with different variations of this video?
Answer: Yes. I think so. We have been doing this a long time and will probably look for new ways to reach the audience, but we do believe video and humor are powerful tools to connect with our audience. We have especially enjoyed creating ways to bring attention to young architects and to do community outreach through this video series.
The video is also a great campaign because it is a subtle form of marketing.
In fact, the I Am An Architect campaign content has sparked many discussions within our Facebook community. The conversations and opinions that the architects contribute add so much to our site and to our own understanding.
Question: Who actually comes up with the different themes and variations for the videos?
Answer: The marketing team comes up with the ideas for the videos. We come up with an outline for a theme, and the videographer and the creative team bring it to life. Jamilla Walcott, our director of marketing and I came up with most of the stuff for our latest video. We also consult with architects about what resonates with them.
This kind of campaign can live for a long time because it is not specific to a product. It is more branding.
If we can get people’s eyes on our products, they will be specified. We want our brand to be first to mind…if not the company that they specify.
Click here to view the first I Am An Architect® video.
Click here to view the newest I Am An Architect® video, "Eat, Sleep Architect."