Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Vehicle for Video

I recently bought a new car. The car I was driving was fairly new, only eighteen months old. But over the past year or so it had developed a distinct... lemon-y essence. The repeated repairs cost me nothing, because the car was under warranty. But continual trips to the dealership were a pain, so I started to live with the squeaky brakes and blown light bulbs. And, because it was a "prestigious" brand, the car was expensive to operate. And, I'll admit it - I felt a little pretentious in that car. I don't think it suited me.

So I decided to get out while I could still manage a decent trade, and now I'm driving a car that's much more affordable, if less luxurious. When it came time to select a new car, I tried to do thorough research. I looked at virtually every car available in my price range. I considered options, mileage, emissions, warranties and operating costs. To do all of this, I looked online first. And I watched videos. Which leads me to the point of this entry: image matters.

Everyone wants to feel good about the car that they drive. I do think that cars reflect their owners to a certain degree. If you replace the words "car" and "drive" with any other product and its use, you'll probably find the same is true: the clothes you wear, the beer you drink, the music you listen to - they all say something about you. Consumers want to feel good about what they purchase. Image matters.

During my search, I watched videos of new cars. One video was good enough to get me to a dealership, only to discover that the base model had a polka-dot interior. Forget it. No polka dots for me. Image matters.

(Side point: substance matters, too. A high-quality video will help generate interest, but you have to deliver the goods.)

In the end, the car that I bought has everything I wanted: it's economical to own, with very low emissions and an excellent warranty. And the brochure came with a DVD. It's the perfect vehicle for video - and I mean that in both senses of the phrase. The vehicle itself is, I think, kind of cool. It's fun and photogenic, and it's a great subject for video. And the brochure was the perfect way to distribute the DVD: once the production is complete, distribution costs are very low, and the automaker knows that the video is going into the hands of people who are serious potential buyers. If they like it, they might even pass it along. "Look at this cool car I'm getting! Don't you want one, too? Validate me!"

Seriously, the power of the visual (moving) image is stronger than you might think. You can convey a lot of information about your product or service, with very few words, and create an image that's whatever you want it to be. You can make potential customers feel good about their choice, before they've even completed the transaction. They'll be proud they chose you, because that choice - based on your image - says something about them. And image matters.


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