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We’ve been seeing a number of pieces in the last year or so about companies that have begun “personifying” their brand through storytelling. We’ve looked for ways smaller manufacturers can begin adding the human touch to their marketing and were pleased when Malin Schwartz, Senior Vice President of Brand, Communication and Marketing for Volvo Penta, shared how the company did this for their power generators.

DIANNA HUFF: What prompted the Volvo Penta marketing team to take a different direction to portray a more “human” touch to their power generators?

MALIN SCHWARTZ: Marketing initiatives in the power generation industry tend to focus on product specs and capabilities on the job, rather than the people who use them. Differentiation was key for us here.

We aimed to stray away from the traditional and embrace a new way to entertain and engage. Instead of taking a rough-and-rugged approach in presenting Volvo Penta’s solution, our marketing team recognized an opportunity to connect with customers and potential customers on a more personal level.

After all, it is humans who are using our solutions and we wanted to showcase how the products we offer can impact their lives in a positive way. This is an approach we’ve been undertaking across all areas of marketing in recent years, as we continue to identify ways to strengthen the line of communication with customers and potential customers.

DH: What does it mean to “personify” a brand, and why is it important?

MS: Brand personification is a tried-and-true marketing technique in which a brand is given human qualities that resonate with the public. Power generation in general is something most people do not think about until they need it – i.e., during a storm.

So, the engine behind that power generation system is even more invisible to most. Our idea was to lift that power to the forefront and showcase it as the hero in a moving, emotional way. We wanted to paint the picture of a scenario that anyone could imagine and create the possibility of seeing themselves in that moment.

We’ve taken a similar approach on our versatile engine side of the business, where we highlight the operators who are using the solutions. In a sense, we’re bringing the engines to life by sharing how they positively impact the customers who use them.

DH: What has been the response to these videos from customers and the Volvo Penta sales team?

MS: Audiences have responded warmly to the “Made to Move You” video. Some commented they were touched by it, loved it and thought it was beautiful. It also received a positive response from the media with an article about the video appearing in Power magazine, a major industrial trade journal.

As of the beginning of September, the video had received 1.4 million impressions worldwide, making it one of the most popular Volvo Penta videos produced yet. The number of impressions continues to grow and shows no signs of abating. In fact, we plan to expand the concept into other areas of the company’s business portfolio.

Malin Schwartz

Malin Schwartz, Senior Vice President
of Brand, Communication and
Marketing for Volvo Penta

DH: Why are “emotional” videos like this so powerful?

MS: They’re memorable, for one. They tug at your heartstrings a bit. If you don’t know anything about a product, such as an engine in this case, you won’t be able to connect to it. But when you’re exposed to ways it could impact your own life, it may open your eyes more and spark an interest.

DH: We work with smaller manufacturers who may not have the resources for a robust campaign such as this one. What were some of the things the team learned that could be applied to any size company?

MS: For this campaign, we took the creative development in-house which is something that organizations of any size could take on to some extent. Instead of outsourcing the
idea generation, storyline development, etc.,to an outside agency, we handled all of that within our own team.

From a global perspective, we approach each project in a tailored and strategic way to maximize budgets and resources. In some cases, it makes more sense to partner with outside support so that the internal team can focus on other core responsibilities. It’s all about finding the right balance for your business.

Another way to limit costs is to research the tools that are available. There are many economical resources for video and content development on the market today that enable companies to bring creative development in-house.

Targeting is another opportunity to get the most value. Do the research beforehand to understand who it is you want to reach, so the fees spent toward targeting are allocated appropriately.

DH: Most important, how is the Volvo Penta team measuring ROI?

MS: We pay close attention to the performance of all content, looking at everything from engagement to impressions. We look at the comments and measure the sentiment to see if the audience is responding in a positive or negative way. Does the audience feel moved to share the content on their own personal pages or tag friends who may be interested?

When we see that something is not working, we try to understand why, and often make adjustments. One example is taking a longer video and scaling it down to shorter, quicker videos to measure one approach against the other. We also see videos like this as a key driver to the website and track the traffic coming from the post to our page.

View the video, which debuted in June 2019.

Or, visit the Volvo Penta website to view other videos and the company’s power generator products.


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Dianna Huff is the founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, a full service agency that tackles a host of marketing and communications challenges for manufacturing companies.

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