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Posted December 14, 2009

An Industrial Supplier's Guide to Technology

by Frank Hurtte, River Heights Consulting

Frank Hurtte

Consultants are famous for making outrageous predictions. Remember the Y2K scare? What about the end of distribution, disintermediation and all the rest? But I believe there is one prediction we can believe in: Bill Gates said we all overestimate the impact of technology in the next year and underestimate the impact of technology over the next 5 years. This is no prediction but I believe technology has to be part of our industry.

Remember the old days when there was a divide between our personal and professional life? If our personal life involved tapping away on that 1980s Pac-Man game, it had little to do with running our business. But, those days are over; technologies are as intertwined today as the ivy on the Wrigley Field wall. Let’s take a moment to look at the spillover – because the cool technology our kids play with is affecting our business.

Nowadays everybody is a television station
Most people have already absorbed digital camera technology. Pictures of our kids and the damage to a shipment sent to a customer across town taken from the same digital camera zip through cyberspace. And, if a picture equals a thousand words, a short video is worth billions and billions (my apologies to Carl Sagan). Instant affordable video is here. And that video isn’t being quietly viewed at home. It’s going out to millions of people via the Internet. While you read the last two paragraphs, alone added 10 hours of new video (really). Some of it was pure crap, but a growing percentage has substantial value.

Early adapters in consumer products are putting this free media to work in their marketing campaigns. For instance, Blendtek, a company in Utah, sells blenders that cost $400. Each day, millions of people watch their advertisements – which are cleverly disguised as off beat demonstrations. Their on-line chopping of an iPhone has been watched over 10 millions times. You’ve got to watch this . . .

Can we ignore this? The big boys haven’t.

Earlier this year, Cisco – the high-tech DataCom giant – purchased the company that makes the Flip Video. This little $149 device is a self-contained video camera. About the same size as a standard digital camera, this self-contained unit takes amazing quality videos. It plugs right into a computer to download the video to YouTube. Speaking of YouTube, it was purchased by Google in 2006. In my opinion, they didn’t buy it so they could control those cute videos of my granddaughters singing “How much is that doggie in the window?” They see big time potential. I see big time potential for internal and customer training right on the Web.

Today, some of our forward thinking colleagues are putting this stuff to work. Nestled among the millions of videos on this one site are instructional videos on topics as diverse as tool safety, ladder set up, NFPA-70E tutorials and how to sell value in turbulent times. Here’s another little point: research shows viewers want to watch real videos from Joe Six-pack, or in our case, Mike Maintenanceman.

Let me share a real world example
One maker of through door electrical safety products wanted to build an archive of real world customer applications. Their marketing department has always “lusted for” application pictures for distributor sales training and customer events. But, getting these pictures always turned out more difficult than anticipated. They decided to do something about it. They placed an offer in a customer newsletter to give away a brand new Flip Cam, "if you will agree to make a video of your application.” The response was everything they hoped for and more. For a little more than $100, they got some great application stories. Here is an example:

But wait there’s more
I love that little Billy Mays tag line. And there is a whole lot more. To round out your trip down technology lane, here are a few more examples.

A minute and a half on OSHA Ladder Safety

And speaking of OSHA, did you know that OSHA covered graveyards?

Here’s a nifty guy telling you how to sharpen tools

Act now and receive this bonus offer free . . .
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages . . . not only can this technology help you sell your products, it teaches you how to make it all happen.

How to use the Flip Video is covered right here . . .

Questions, comments, arguments or discussions – we love to hear them all.

Frank Hurtte of River Heights Consulting is author of "The Distributor Specialist: Customer Champion, Profit Generator!" It is now available from the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. Contact him at

Searchable video content
Posted from: Jennifer Murphy, 4/6/10 at 12:19 PM CDT
Just as photos can be 'tagged' in Facebook, so too will video content be tagged and searchable on Google. Hence the marriage between You Tube and Google. If you are a product manufacturer and make videos on product, of course where ever they live on the Internet, whether on You Tube or someone's Fan Page, you want that content to be found by whoever is looking for it on Google.

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