We've been lucky over the years. Our videos tend to speak for themselves and have helped to build a little buzz and help our brand without too much formal PR. But with the launch of the new site, we thought a little buzz would help get the word out about the our new direction. Below are links and excerpts from a few blog posts about the new Common Craft.
Seattle’s Common Craft video firm has built a business out of simple, explanatory online videos made of paper cutouts — most famously the “Twitter in Plain English” video that was featured for more than a year on the Twitter home page. Now the small company is trying to carve out a new business model — switching to a membership approach and moving away from pay-per-download videos.
Three years ago we wrote here about how the two person team quit doing client work and moved into a model based entirely on licensing rights to the educational videos they produced. Their videos were available for free online, but corporate customers happily pay to have the rights to show the content to their employees. This week Common Craft changed models again. From an iTunes model to a Rhapsody model, co-founder Lee LeFever says. Customers will now buy subscriptions and have access to all the videos Common Craft produces. It's an interesting twist in a story that any independent content producer online could find inspiring.
All in all, I think it’s a great move. Today more than ever, teachers and businesses are looking for ways to incorporate video into their educational practices. But there’s a shortage of quality video to choose from, and for many, creating their own videos is simply not feasible.
Enter Common Craft, who already has a reputation as a top creator of short, practical educational videos. Says LeFever:
“We’re building a platform that will allow us to understand the needs of our members and grow our video library significantly based on that relationship. It’s a win-win.”
If you use video to education clients, employees, or students, I’d recommend giving Common Craft’s video subscription service a look. You’ll be hard pressed to find many other sources for videos that entertain and charm as much as they educate.
But I also think the two videos above just prove one thing, Common Craft cannot be copied. No one but Lee and Sachi have the pixie dust to turn 3 minute videos into something magical. I totally agree with this piece of the press release:
"The simple format, clear communication and lighthearted attitude connects with people on a fundamental level. They make people smile in three minutes."
As the pay-TV industry has learned over the years - and Netflix has more recently - the pay-once/watch-as-much-as-you'd like aspect of subscriptions is very compelling. The purchase decision needs to be made just once up-front and thereafter the provider can focus on delivering value. That's the approach Common Craft is now using and it looks like a smart move.
There are a lot of reasons I'm delighted by this latest evolution, not the least of which is my happiness at seeing friends succeed. But maybe the biggest one is this:
Nearly every traditional business model for content creation is in turmoil these days. Books, newspapers, television, movies, music — all of those industries are scrambling to cope with the challenges of a new and dynamic digital world. So when someone comes along who can create something terrific, who can do it really well, and can turn that into a viable business, it offers real hope for anyone who wants to earn a livelihood from their creative talents and skills.
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