To Zoom Binocular Sales, Pentax Rolls Online Video

This past spring, Pentax needed a way to promote its Sport Optics binoculars, and it wanted something it could launch online that would compete with the in-store displays of its larger competitors.

“Pentax is probably known more for its cameras and imaging products,” said Pentax spokeswoman Michelle Martin. “There was a need to increase awareness in the Sport Optics binoculars area.”

Installing fancy in-store displays at every retail outlet would have been cost-prohibitive, however. “We don’t have the resources to make the same level of presence at the dealers’ counters as our competitors do,” she said. “It’s important for us to help the consumer be more aware so that they ask about our products when they are at the counter or online and, secondly, that they ask the dealers to consider [stocking] us.”

Martin said prior video campaigns involving cameras had performed well. A “Test Drive a Pentax” campaign from 2006 had prospective buyers checking out online videos of Pentax cameras and entering a contest. Executives decided to use the same approach to promote the Sport Optics line.

In partnership with Avocet Communications and online video specialists SellPoint, Pentax launched a campaign in March that included print advertising, online video and other Web content, e-mail efforts, in-store promotions and social media involvement.

As did the 2006 campaign for cameras, the one for binoculars — called “Sail Away” — involved a contest: People who watched a SellPoint-produced online video “product tour” of Pentax binoculars were qualified to win a cruise or Pentax products.

“We drove traffic…to the site through publicity, news releases, a wire story and word of mouth circulating from the dealers,” said Martin.

SellPoint calls its videos “Active Product Tours.” For the Pentax campaign, they were made available to dealers and retailers, including Amazon, for use on Web sites. They were also made available for download by Pentax sales staff and Sport Optics representatives.

“A lot of our clients are consumer product manufacturers,” said SellPoint VP of Marketing Dennis Marshall. “We syndicate those video product demos in multiple ways.” In addition to syndicating the videos to about 130 retail Web sites, the content is used behind banner ad campaigns and in e-mail campaigns, said Marshall.

Martin said the online videos served as product education tools not only for prospective buyers but also for the people selling the units. Added Marshall: “It brings the best of the in-store experience to the online model. It’s the next best thing to being there and, in some ways, it’s actually better than being there.”

He noted the videos include in-depth information about products that is useful to both consumers and retail sales people. “You can learn more [by watching the video] than most typical people at a store can tell you about a product,” said Marshall.

Martin said the Sail Away campaign has been a great success, largely because of the video component. The video has been viewed almost 15,000 times for 34,540 cumulative minutes, or nearly 600 hours. Pentax said the average viewing time was two minutes, 40 seconds.

The company found that the videos also prompted customer action. During the first two weeks of the campaign, Pentax saw a 50 percent goal conversion, a figure that measured the people who watched the video and then signed up for the contest to win a cruise and prizes

“For this particular product, it’s the Video Tour that’s really the star of the show,” said Marshall. “Pentax was using new and innovative forms of content to generate some really impressive results.” He said online video, as a marketing tool, is “really kind of a hybrid” marketing mechanism combining elements of a TV commercial with those of an in-depth product demonstration and consumer interaction.

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