I interviewed Orabrush’s Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Harmon, to talk about how they used YouTube to sell over a million units of their tongue cleaner and sign major deals with big box stores, and why they say you have to “screw viral videos” if you want to be successful with today’s online audiences’ increased social expectations.

First, For the Un-initiated, The Orabrush Story

Orabrush was recently featured on the official Google Blog about their online video marketing success and being a rather interesting YouTube case study: “The Orabrush story: How a Utah man used YouTube to build a multi-million dollar business.” I recommend checking out that article first for some good insight on the company’s backstory, along with and their video marketing strategy, which is well summarized in the infographic below.

Below is one of their more recent and highly popular YouTube videos from last year’s holiday shopping season. I also recommend checking out their more recent videos on the Orabrush YouTube channel.

I also recommend checking out Greg Jarboe’s interview with the Orabrush guys at Search Engine Strategies New York, and at the SES Conference YouTube Channel.

Our Interview at Search Engine Strategies Chicago

I caught up with the Orabrush folks at this year’s Search Engine Strategies Chicago conference, where Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Harmon and Spokesperson Austin Craig presented on “Screw Viral Videos” – which actually was how online video was at the core of what they call their “reverse marketing model” that lead to their huge business success. I asked CMO Jeff to explain with us why they saw we should “screw” viral videos.

“Screw Viral Videos” Reason 1: Focus on Distribution

Not withstanding the fact that having “screw viral videos” in your presentation title is more of a provocative way to get people into the room, it speaks to how too many unseasoned marketers today get too carried away with thinking they need a viral video strategy.

“People think that Orabrush is extremely viral ,” says Harmon. “Every single news article that we ever get mentioned in says, ‘Orabrush is viral videos.’ But the reality is, viral is just a piece of the equation.”

“There are 48 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every single minute. If you think your one video in one day is going to stand out from the crowd, you’re just fooling yourself. So simply putting a video up on YouTube isn’t going to get you anywhere if you don’t have a way to stick out from the crowd and push it… With us at Orabrush, we’re not going for virality, we’re going for distribution.”

What Jeff is saying is that you need to have a strategy for distributing your videos to multiple social media channels online. This can include multiple video sharing sites (depending on the type of video content you have and how well it matches the site), your Facebook and Twitter accounts, influential bloggers you build relationships with (and give them advance notice of new videos), and anywhere else your target market frequents and participates in.

“Screw Viral Videos” Reason 2: Not Social Enough

Jeff agreed that too many companies attempting to do viral videos are either looking for a one-and-out deal, or they have no real plan for actually engaging with their audience through their video content on a person-to-person basis.  “A lot of times, they don’t interact with the people who are watching,” said Jeff. “YouTube and Facebook and all the other social mediums are supposed to be actually ‘social.’

Jeff and Austin say they treat their own video experience like they’re throwing a “party” for their intended audience. “What kind of an atmosphere do you want to create for your party? You want to use all the tools around you. If you go into a party, and you talk to people but nobody ever talks back to you, you’re not going to stick around for that party.”

The party analogy does make good sense for the type of atmosphere that Orabrush wants to create and be memorable for, which has demonstrated great success with their product sales and profitability. For any enterprise doing video today in social channels or their website, it’s become crucial have at least somebody affiliated with your company who is actually being social – i.e., being responsive with your social media audience. Even with an enterprise that may have a much more conservative demeanor, you can still ultimate build up good feelings and experiences with your community so that it can ultimately feel like it’s a different type of “party.”

Screw Viral Videos Reason 3: Make the Videos that YOU Want to See

Jeff said that they always create videos that they know they would enjoy watching, themselves. That way you can see the fun they’re having making them comes through in the end result, “and because we understand the YouTube audience well enough, we know it’s going to work.”

Orabrush is an excellent example on how a small size company with a modest budget (compared to the much larger creative agencies handling YouTube campaigns) can have much better ROI success from their videos “going viral” through genuine social activity – person-to-person responsiveness in real-time, customer support, making videos you also enjoy watching, and treating it like you’re throwing a party for your friends.