It all started when we hung out our shingle in late 2008. We’d been in the office-imaging industry for a number of years and recognized a need to test and report on the growing wave of affordable B2B printers, All-in-Ones, and MFPs. Since we had previously dealt almost exclusively with BTA vendors and dealers over the years, the new endeavor meant that we had to do a number of things differently, such as procure and install test units on our own. Moreover, since end-users also had to install the units themselves, we decided to evaluate how difficult it was to unbox, setup and install a product, as well as its networking and software. Of course, the easier the installation, the less time it takes so we had to time the two processes: 1) unbox and setup the unit; and 2) install the PC software and networking.
We quickly realized that the old-school “stopwatch” method didn’t cut it, as there are numerous variables involved that would require constant stopping and starting of the timer. We then decided to make a video record of the processes, enabling us to review the videos and discount any portions that were atypical, such as time spent making observations, and/or discussions about the documentation and key features and functions. We also needed a record of the unboxing and setup procedures so that we could do them in reverse when each test unit required re-boxing. Believe it or not, we initially began recording with a tripod-mounted iPod nano, moved onto a tripod-mounted HTC Evo smart phone, and finally a bona-fide Samsung OIS Duo HD video camera. For screen-capture videos, we’ve used the excellent Fastone Capture screen capture/screen video recorder software.
Finally, as our collection of videos grew, in spite of little or no production efforts (other than starting the recording and diving into the task at hand), we decided to share the videos online in the hopes that end users would find them useful. The easiest method for doing so was via YouTube. Hence our YouTube channel, which we created in late 2009.
Note that we’ve accumulated a considerable amount of views and minutes over the years. Also, because there are little or no production efforts, and there is a considerable amount of content that is inherently tedious, we also get a fair share of “thumbs down” ratings. However, our “thumbs up” ratings far exceed them in spite of the contents. Judging by the comments, it seems that some folks are willing to sit through them like they are attending a college lecture, while others are a bit more impatient and only need to refer to specific sections, such as how to install ink cartridges.
Contents of the Video Library
Note the variety of video types in the example above. There are basically three types of videos:
Unboxing and Setup – In this type of video, we record an editorial product overview and then begin the unboxing and setup procedure. The setup procedure is multifaceted and involves removing the shipping materials, installing the imaging supplies and paper, and powering on and configuring the control-panel settings. This type of video is inherently dynamic.
Software and Network Setup, and Installed Software Overview – We install the PC software with networking. Once this process is complete, we review the various software components that have been installed. Finally, we run through the basics of each software component and the printer/MFP’s embedded Web server. This type of video is more cerebral.
Informational – We record demonstrations of key features and how-to videos. This type of video is the most focused.
How End-Users Benefit from Our Videos
- Learn about key features and functions of new products.
- Learn how to more easily unbox and setup their new product.
- Learn the procedures for software and networking installation, as well as the quantity, quality, and use of the installed software.
- Participate in the commenting sections and get answers about troubleshooting or the use of their product – we respond as quickly as possible in order to assist end-users with such questions.
How Printer Vendors Can Participate and Leverage the Videos
- Vendors only need to provide us with a test unit and they’ll receive two to three product videos, a Hands-On-Test Report, and a comprehensive photo gallery, free of charge. The test unit will be promptly re-boxed like new (of course we use the video to refresh our memories), and returned in tip-top condition.
- Product videos are potentially viewed by end-users tens of thousands of times. Moreover, vendor marketing personnel don’t have to navigate through their internal video-production methodology in order to have product videos quickly published and shared by a third-party.
- Numerous technical questions are answered by Wirth Consulting staff, which minimizes the impact on vendor technical support. Moreover, many of the questions that we receive occur after vendor technical support resources have been exhausted.
Like to get involved and submit a test product (printer, All-in-One, MFP, scanner, or solution)? Contact Terry Wirth at firstname.lastname@example.org.