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Behind The Scenes: How Bonobos Made Video Their Own

After shining some light on the content marketing strategy of Bonobos in the pages of Fast Company, I wanted to learn more about precisely how they’ve achieved such standings.

The answer, Bonobos vice president of marketing Craig Elbert told me, has had much to do with the role—and, subsequently, the expanded accessibility—of video.


Content Marketing 101: Driving Social Awareness and Brand Discovery

“The number of options for deploying video have exploded in the past couple of years,” says Elbert on the company’s motivation to embrace the medium as a marketing channel.

Subsequently, this explosion has paved the way for two primary objectives: using video as a medium to build social awareness and brand affinity, and using video as an agent to support online customer research and discovery.

In the case of the former, social awareness, Elbert and Bonobos have discovered firsthand that “humor is rewarded with strong word of mouth.”

Their Girlfriend Jean April Fools video, for example, generated traffic on par with the results of their previous Cyber Monday (a herculean achievement in itself).

“Creating truly humorous, timely, and relevant content marketing was definitely the key to success here,” explains Elbert. “That and showing a large man in tight, tight jeans.”

Transitioning from ill-fitting pants back to customer research and discovery, Bonobos also created a series of videos outlining the origin, features, and development mindset behind its core products.

The goal of creating such content, suggests Elbert, “is to help the consumer make a more informed decision while exploring Bonobos’ offering.”


Capitalizing on Customer Inputs

A common barrier for companies just getting started in content marketing, by means of video or copywriting, is the challenge of generating continual ideas. Crafting a video advertising nonexistent too-tight jeans is a brilliant outcome, sure, but one that took Bonobos months of planning and therefore represents something to aspire toward seasonally—not weekly or monthly.

In the aggregate, Elbert and his team also drew upon a more renewable resource by tapping their own customer base as a source for topics and inspiration:

“Another successful video [Bonobos created] is a really simple one. In it, Bonobos employees explain how to pronounce the brand name. We often get this question, and so we started including the video in various customer-facing emails. Again, humor helped drive success—but also some practicality, as many customers weren’t sure they were pronouncing the name right.”

This is the same winning strategy that supports FAQ copy as SEO and branding goldmines. It’s certainly good strategy for brands to audit customer concerns—but it’s far better strategy to spin these audits into organic content that proactively addresses these concerns.

Very rarely is media so efficient and multifaceted. Whereas typical marketing campaigns have long focused on creating messaging that runs only for a short period of time before vanishing indefinitely, Bonobos has been calculated in creating videos that run without limited shelf lives.

Their name pronunciation video hit YouTube in June of 2012 and is still reaching customers daily—a return-on-investment that’s about as close to perpetual motion as any marketer is going to get.