Lights, Camera, Wrap It

Car Wrap Solutions, AP Corp and Arizona Color discuss the merits of video.
Many vehicle wrap shops have embraced video as a means for shop, project promotion.

From the “shot on iPhone” movement to vlogs, Facebook Live and more, video seems to be rapidly becoming America’s favorite medium. (I mean, have you seen the guy who tapes himself drinking a bottle of wine and whining about stuff? What’s not to love?) And for an application like vehicle wraps that’s equal parts technique, marketing and simply cool, video provides companies a natural platform to both educate and excite their customers in just a couple of minutes. We took a look at how three wrap shops incorporated video into their marketing strategy.

PRESSED FOR TIME

Car Wrap Solutions uses video as a way to separate itself from intense nearby competition in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Car Wrap Solutions uses video as a way to separate itself from intense nearby competition in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

When I asked what the competition is like in his market, Robert Culp told me there are 10 sign and graphics companies within a mile radius of his shop. South Florida is “a car economy,” said the owner of Fort Lauderdale, FL-based Car Wrap Solutions (carwrapsolutions.com), and finding a way to stand out as an expert in your field is everything. Car Wrap Solutions began as Perfect Image in 1997, and rebranded a decade or so later for better search engine optimization (SEO). And it must have been a good choice: The shop was one of the first to appear when I Googled “vehicle wrap videos.” Somewhere along the way, they started shooting videos on a GoPro and uploading them to YouTube. “Before I knew it, I had some 600 videos out there,” Culp said.

The videos are quick – rarely extending beyond a minute – and simple, shot on a GoPro or smartphone with someone circling a newly completed wrap, and set to upbeat music. The no-frills style matches Culp’s demeanor and the way he does business. “I’m trying to target a commercial customer, and exactly like me, they’re pressed for time,” he said. “The customer looking for that cool, creative YouTube video? That’s not what we’re trying to do. I’m not trying to capture a custom project.” 

Car Wrap Solutions’ videos are about conveying experience, effort and trustworthiness in a short amount of time. “If you’re the customer, you want to make sure you’re dealing with the right company. You want to see experience; you want to see depth of experience,” Culp said. “We want to show customers, ‘You can do this with us. What you see in the video is what you’re going to get.’” A great example is a recent van wrap for Noah’s Bark, a local pet grooming company with a wrap design using hand-drawn artwork. “If you were to put 10 other grooming vehicles around them, this one would stand out,” Culp said. Car Wrap Solutions uses Roland VersaCamm printers, a Royal Sovereign laminator and 3M media supplied by Grimco and Fellers.

Culp places more stock in SEO than he does social media, so most of his videos live on the company’s YouTube channel, website and blog, with a simple automatic push to Facebook and Twitter when each piece is uploaded. “But you never know,” Culp said of social media, and added that one should always keep an eye on the future. For the most part, the videos are a quick and easy sales tool. “A video may actually help that one sale,” Culp said. “I could show this video to 10 customers; they might go somewhere else, but that eleventh customer? They might see that video and go, ‘Actually, this guy’s got exactly what I’m looking for.’”

See the video: Look for the one on Noah’s Bark at https://bit.ly/2KR8Yv5.

SERENDIPITY MEETS INNOVATION

AP Corp (Sykesville, MD) often has customer testimonials in their videos.
AP Corp (Sykesville, MD) often has customer testimonials in their videos.

“If I had it my way, there would be video on every single webpage we have,” said Bill Valway, CEO of AP Corp (Sykesville, MD; vehiclewrapping.com). “Video is one of the most important things to our marketing strategy.”

Valway has journeyed long since opening a window tinting company in his parents’ garage at age 18. AP Corp’s path has been nothing if not serendipitous, but the company’s core values – empowerment, innovation, passion, and collaboration – have held straight and true along the way. The company (known at the time as Absolute Perfection) entered the world of vehicle wraps when they commissioned jobs for two vehicles they received in the “cash for clunkers” offer after the Great Recession. The installer they hired had equipment and experience, but no space to work in, so they let him use their facility to install the wraps. “I thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread,” Valway said. He offered to partner with the installer, and the next day, the AP Graphics division was born. 

Not long afterwards, Valway brought in a freelance videographer to amplify their digital marketing presence. In the early 2010s, it wasn’t terribly common for small businesses to invest in video, but Valway went for it anyway. “I’m dyslexic,” he said, “and I don’t enjoy reading text on websites. … After we did a couple videos, I was like, ‘This is it. We have to keep doing this.’” A few videos later, their freelancer asked if they’d be interested in adding a digital marketing division to their company, and soon the AP Digital division was established.

Bringing digital marketing in-house was the move that solidified AP Corp’s dedication to video marketing, ensuring that they can produce high-quality internal marketing videos on a monthly basis. Over the years, they’ve fine-tuned their video strategy as they’ve found what works well – and what doesn’t. Their videos are typically 90 seconds to two minutes. “The purpose of the video is to educate, really, and get [viewers] excited about our brand,” Valway said. “You don’t need six minutes to do that. You can do that in 30 seconds if it’s done right.”

Another key is to craft the video to capture the attention of the right customers, not just to “go viral.” Many of AP Corp’s first videos highlighted color-change wraps. “We figured we’d get our name out there,” Valway said. “The byproduct of that, though, was that we were getting all kinds of inquiries for color-change wraps, and it’s not really what we do here. We do advertising wraps.” When done right, Valway said the video should serve as a sort of prequalification tool. “By the time they call us, they’ve already been educated about who we are and what we do, and then we don’t have to spend the time going through that initial step.”

Which brings us to perhaps the most important factor of an AP Corp video: the telling of a story. Many of their videos feature a customer testimonial, which Valway said requires some guidance and experience on the part of the production team. “I think we’ve done a good job of developing these videos that tell stories that inspire or create emotion in the person [who’s] viewing it, that ultimately can give them enough confidence that, ‘Yeah, these are people that I would like to work with,’” he said.

Besides Valway’s soft spot for video, why do it? Producing these pieces is a full-time job, so is it worth the time and effort? Valway certainly thinks so. “Video is a perfect vehicle to educate the customer really quickly on the things they need to know and then get them to take action.” He cited an example of a $2 million contract AP Graphics won last year for the Maryland Transit Administration. “It came through a web lead. … We were on the dance floor with some really big companies because of our digital marketing presence, and I’m sure that it was a result of the fact that we had transit-focused marketing on the website,” Valway said. AP Corp produces wraps on a number of wide-format HP printers and stocks media from 3M and Avery Dennison.

And going back to the company’s core values, perhaps passion is what shines through most when you watch an AP Corp video. “It’s not about paper for us,” Valway said. “It’s not about money. The money’s just a measurement. We’re doing this because we truly love and enjoy the craft.”

See the videos: https://bit.ly/2P3FSvA.

AND THAT’S HOW IT’S DONE

Arizona Color (Phoenix) prefers to use a time-lapse style with its videos.
Arizona Color (Phoenix) prefers to use a time-lapse style with its videos.

Arizona Color (arizonacolor.com) has had some luck with GoPro-style video as well, although for the Phoenix-based shop, video is more of a “here and there” part of their marketing strategy than anything else. “As far as advertising, I don’t see it as being that big of a push,” said Adam Wheat, graphic designer. “It just gives [customers] an idea of how it’s actually done.” 

The shop’s M.O. is a classic time-lapse video, shot on two GoPros stationed in different positions within the shop and then edited down to about 90 seconds. They usually put one video together per quarter, often spotlighting a special project such as a gold-flake vinyl wrap or another high-end application. They’ll upload it to their site and social media, sometimes hyping up a niche application like camo or food-truck wraps. “We’ve had some good experience with that,” Wheat said.

At the end of the day, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be worth something. Whether your “pro” is a GoPro on the wall or a guy with a film degree, there’s something to be said for breaking through the clutter and saying, “Hey, customer. I’m busy; you’re busy. Here’s what we’re all about.” You might be exactly what they’re looking for. 

See the video: https://bit.ly/2vI47aM.

Signs of the Times September 2018

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