What is the story behind Vocal Video?
Vocal Video was founded in 2019 by me, Steve Norall, and Jordan McKible. We’ve worked together for a long time - we built an enterprise Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company called TechValidate, which was acquired by SurveyMonkey in 2015.
We all felt the itch to start a new company, and to work together again, but we wanted to create a more affordable product that could be used by more businesses. We also wanted to build a product that we wanted to use ourselves -- we’ve seen over and over that entrepreneurs that use their own products create better products.
At our prior companies, we invested a lot of time and energy in creating testimonial videos with our happiest customers. We would fly them in or meet them at conferences, hire a videographer and an editor -- the whole nine yards. We were very happy with the results, but it took a long time, cost a lot, and required a lot of coordination. There was a real limit on how many we could create, even when the budget wasn’t an issue.
We wondered if we could create an easy-to-use software platform to streamline this process - from video collection to editing to publishing and hosting. In short, a semi-automated production factory for testimonial videos that any marketer could use.
So, that was the genesis of Vocal Video. We opened it up to early adopters in late 2019, and to general availability in mid-2020. We’re very excited by the traction we’ve seen. We have customers spanning the gamut from wineries to universities to some of the largest companies in the world.
We’ve also seen many customers use Vocal Video in surprising ways - employee videos, content marketing, thought-leadership videos, and more. So, we’re excited by the breadth of the opportunity here. Demand for video content is only going to grow, and marketers need easier tools to create them.
When did you start thinking about your brand name and how did you settle on Vocal Video?
We started thinking about the brand name right at the company’s inception, just as we were beginning to work on the product itself. We wanted to select a brand name that had no trademark issues, conveyed the idea of giving voice to the crowd, was easy to spell, and had an exact-match .com domain name that was in our price range.
We went through an extensive research process that included formal trademark searches and negotiations with domain brokers, but ultimately, Vocal Video was our clear favorite.
How did you get the domain name VocalVideo.com for your brand? Why did you select that one exactly?
We bought it for about $3,000 from a domain seller. Due to the importance of SEO for our business, our domain name search was combined with our selection of a brand name. We wanted our domain name to be a .com, and we wanted it to be as close to our brand name as possible. In our case, Vocal Video and vocalvideo.com were a perfect match, and well worth the cost. It helps us to have ‘video’ both in the domain name, and our brand name - it’s good for SEO and helps people understand what our software creates. We’ve subsequently registered a trademark in the US.
How has owning VocalVideo.com affected your business? Do you own any other domain names?
Our domain name has helped us begin to rank quickly for some of our target keywords, and quickly become the top result for our brand name. We also see a lot of direct type-in traffic to our website due to word of mouth or people seeing videos created with our product on the web and social media. Since our domain is easy to remember and easy to spell, it’s easy to see our logo in the corner of a video one of our customers publishes and then google ‘vocal video’ or just type in vocalvideo.com.
The business doesn’t own any other domain names, but I personally do. Generally, when I get an idea for a business or side project, I register a domain related to it. So I’ve got a few dozen that I’ve accumulated over the years.
I haven’t had time to pursue many of the ideas, but I’ve sold enough of the domains to more than cover the cost of the registrations and renewals. It’s good to have a grab bag of domains you like because they’re only getting harder to find.
Who is your target customer and how is your brand name helping in reaching them?
Our target customer is a marketer on a small team who wishes she could accomplish more with the resources she has. She’s not afraid of using new technology, but it has to be easy to use -- she’s no Adobe Premiere expert. In the past, she’s either been unable to create testimonial videos due to the cost and complexity of doing things the traditional way (onsite filming, hiring an editor, etc), or she’s frustrated at the pace of doing things the ‘old’ way.
We have many customers outside of that profile (marketing-savvy small business owners, marketers on big teams at Fortune 500 companies), but that’s our bread and butter.
Our brand name helps us reach these customers because of the easy recall and spelling mentioned above, which lowers word-of-mouth and type-in friction, but in a larger sense, it’s also a very approachable, modern, and crisp brand name. Our product helps our customers harness the voice of their own customers, employees, and prospective customers. “Vocal” is a perfect term to represent that.
How do you keep your brand consistent across different channels online and offline?
All of our marketing is online, so this hasn’t been a challenge for us. We strive for consistency in voice, which has been relatively easy to do since we’re a small company and everyone who writes marketing copy is in close communication. We of course also use a consistent color palette and set of brand assets to maintain visual consistency.
Has the pandemic affected your company in any way? What has changed since?
The pandemic is a massive global tragedy that has impacted all of us in too many ways to mention, so I don’t want to make light of it, but it may have been a net positive for our business so far. Vocal Video is all about remote video collection, and there have certainly been a lot of companies who have been intensely interested in that this year. Sending a camera crew on a plane to conduct a customer interview isn’t as palatable as last year, even if you have the budget for it.
Something that frankly has surprised us is the number of event companies that have been interested in Vocal Video. They have had to cancel many in-person events, and Vocal Video certainly isn’t a remote-event-management application, but several event producers have turned to our software to create promo videos for their virtual events, or to remotely capture the thoughts of their remote event attendees.
What do you do to make sure your marketing is effective?
For our paid marketing activities, we do our best (it’s an imperfect science) to measure ROI in terms of free trial signups. At this stage of our business, we aren’t focused on paid marketing primarily for brand exposure. We want our paid marketing to lead to signups, which will lead to positive word of mouth.
Our other marketing activities mainly focus on SEO, which is a long-term game. Some of the content we create is intended to rank for high-intent keywords, and so for those, we track our search rankings, and also how many signups we can attribute to each article. Some of our other content is more top-of-funnel content that’s intended to be an authoritative resource on a topic our target customers care about and should be worthy of inbound links. For those pieces, we gauge our efforts based on traffic over time and inbound links.
What would your advice be to entrepreneurs who are just starting out, in general, and when it comes to branding and naming?
Don’t overcomplicate it. First of all, you have to like your brand. You have to like saying it since you’ll be saying it more than anyone. If you don’t love it, keep searching.
If you have a budget, it’s worth spending a reasonable amount for an easy-to-spell (and pronounce!) domain that can exactly match your chosen brand name. Cute, non-traditional spellings and neologisms can work, but more often than not they’re a hindrance unless your product is extremely viral. Most aren’t.
And never discount the value of having a keyword you want to rank for in your domain name.
Where do you see your business in the future and how does your brand name fit into that vision?
In the future, I see Vocal Video growing into its full potential as a product, and being at the leading edge of democratizing video creation for marketers. We have so many exciting things on our roadmap, and our core market opportunity is plenty large for us, so our focus is on continuing to execute on our original vision: it should be 10x faster, 10x easier, and 10x less expensive to collect, edit, and publish testimonial videos.
If we do that, I see our brand name becoming well-known among tech-savvy marketers, which could make it easier to launch adjacent products, but we have no plans for that now.
We hope the above information will help you in making informed decisions about your brand. How much does it cost you not having a strong brand? Get in touch, we are always happy to chat.
Find out more about Vocal Video.