By Afton Spriggs, tedmag.com
Omni Cable Corporation is taking its product information beyond printed catalogs and specification sheets and into the world of online video with its recently developed website, omnicable.tv. Omnicable.tv has more than 100 videos, all under two minutes, that feature members of the sales staff answering specific product questions.
For example, Omni Cable posted a video on Photovoltaic vs. USE-2 wire, and according to Pete Comber, Executive Vice President of Marketing, that was a “hot topic” since it had to do with solar. The company gets hundreds of questions about the difference between the two products. “A person searching the web for a specification sheet would get detailed specifications on both products but not an explanation of what the difference is,” Comber said. So, he and his team created a video to explain it.
Above: The Omni Cable crew films an informational video
I had the opportunity to speak with Comber at length about omnicable.tv and he answered several questions about the success of the website and what he believes distributors should be doing to move forward with technology.
Q: What made Omni Cable Corporation decide to use video to create product explanations?
A: We were examining ways that our customers used our website and working closely with our internal sales group to understand exactly how our website could be enhanced to better service our customers (electrical distributors) and their customers. When we asked questions we continued to get some of the same answers—“PDF’s and on-line spec sheets don’t always answer the questions.”
Taking those answers literally we thought that video was the answer to expanding what the web could deliver regarding product information. We took our concept two steps forward in using our own sales staff in the videos, as well as creating a site solely dedicated to the video part of our product explanations—omnicable.tv.
Q: How have your customers responded to the videos?
A: Our customers have embraced our video concept 100% from day one. Many of the forward thinking customers have asked to 1) have the videos available for their outside sales personnel to play on their iPads when visiting customers, and 2) develop a training piece to gauge learning from the videos. We received a 25% jump in our website traffic which we know is both customers and end users looking for answers to specific cable questions.
Q: What plans do you have for the website and the videos going forward?
A: Our plans moving forward are to upgrade the website based on distribution feedback. This would include additional personalization for distribution and to continue to educate the market on what the site can do for education and training.
We view the site as a global training and education piece that should be part of NAED, AD, IMARK, and all of the national chain distributors’ training and development plans. The unique piece about what Omni Cable has done is not only the technology angle, but the wealth of information on wire and cable we have available for training. Manufacturers have done an incredible job with training on wire and cable, but what they were unable to do is to provide answers to specific questions about wire and cable. This is where video provides unmatched capabilities for training and development of sales people in distribution.
Q: What kinds of new technology do you think distributors should be pursuing in their companies?
A: Distributors have traditionally played it safe when it comes to technology, preferring methods that are not too risky, and not totally conservative, but don’t have much impact at the end of the day. Distributors need to step out of their comfort zones and embrace technology. Everyone has spec sheets, so how can you be different? For us, it was omnicable.tv.
Video is right in front of us now; it’s dynamic, portable, customizable, and cutting edge. I think distribution needs to embrace all aspects of video—production, delivery, and customized content—for training and development. With video, you can take the knowledge of experienced sales and support people and make it available to the market and your customers. There’s less need for printed pages when you can get this information online with a few clicks. Customers are asking for answers and resources when they want them, and video has become a great medium for answering this call. Distribution must pursue this avenue to educate and, therefore, better service their customers.
Spriggs is the electronic media content specialist for tedmag.com. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tagged with tED