Last Updated on by Karl
Yes, you read that title correctly. That out of their minds, slightly alcoholic team over at Epic Meal Time were the first to teach me about YouTube marketing. As with all successful YouTube channels, they had to build their channel themselves. There was no network backing them or an executive producer coming on board to show them the ropes. There wasn’t even anyone with any real experience!
Their channel, both as it exists now and how it has progressed, is a great example of how YouTube marketing works. Behind the absurd food, the drinking, and the bird noise swear words is a group of marketers who have made their brand in a unique space.
Youtube Marketing starts with an idea and a brand identity
You may not know this, but Epic Meal Time all started from one video. Harley, the Sauce Boss, and leader of the group uploaded a video of himself eating an insanely large Wendy’s Baconator. For some reason, the video caught on went viral and gave Harley an idea. The idea which is now Epic Meal Time.
Harley may not have known it, but he was going through the same process as many marketers before him. He created something unique, put it out there, and found that there was a market for it. With this knowledge, he went about creating something better, something sustainable. Something like the first ever official episode of Epic Meal Time!
So many aspects of what their channel became were present in the first episode:
- Fat and calorie counters
- The Epic music
- Crazy combinations of fast food
And, not to ever forget, perhaps the greatest gift they ever gave us: The character who came to be known as Muscles Glasses. Everything grew from this already well-established point, and I don’t think it was an accident at all.
Many channels struggle with getting any of this right, let alone getting so much of it in the first video. There’s much to say about growing your channel as you get to know your audience, but much of their early success comes from already knowing who they are. From knowing how they wanted to present themselves. More than any other aspect of your YouTube marketing plan, this stage is where you should spend the most time.
Killer imagery and presentation
The Epic team have been putting together some of the best looking videos for years. They use custom thumbnails, great video overlays and YouTube Annotations that work. And outros which activate their audience. Last, there is their unique bird noise censorship, and use of epic music.
Here’s a great video from within the last month which hits all these points. Watch it, and then join me below as I take it apart:
We’ll start at the beginning and look at thumbnails. The thumbnail for this video followed the same style guide as all the others before it. Consistent, and unique, imagery pays off:
The food is in the center of the frame. The name they’ve given the meal is above it in a unique font, with the calorie and fat count below. They have made these custom thumbnails since the start, and it does a lot to show first-time viewers that they’re a serious channel. These are a huge part of getting more YouTube views when you’re found through search. They convey more information than text alone, and you want to give people as much information as possible.
Overlays, Annotations, and Outro
They take full advantage of video overlays and YouTube Annotations to create interesting videos. You saw at the beginning where they did the ‘T.A.C.O.S.’ bit, that was a unique addition to this video purely for fun. Things like this are common in their videos.
Now let’s break down their Annotations:
- 0:58: Call to action for subscribers, also mentions their Tuesday publishing schedule.
- 2:22: Call to action to like and share the video.
- 3:37: Call to action to follow them on Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
- 6:47: Outro annotations that link to last week’s episode. Their Handle It cooking show, their merchandise, and their other channels. Annotations may be their single most important YouTube marketing opportunity! It gives their viewers the all-important next click.
These four Annotations come up, in some way, every single episode. Epic Meal Time is a prime example of how you can never, ever, be happy with the size of your audience. You always want to grow it, both subscribers and social media fans, or one day you will find your channel shrinking.
The bird and the music
What’s that? Don't you see why this is important? If you understand anything at all about how people react to the ways things are presented to them you will. Why is the bird noise important?
Think about a TV show that has been running for 20 years now; it’s called South Park. An aspect of how it caught on, and this is true, is the absurd amount of censored swearing. It was so odd to see ‘young’ characters swear that much, that was all part of the joke.
It got to the point where the censorship sound was as big a catchphrase for them as ‘Respect my Authoritah!’
On Epic Meal Time the bird crowing is all part of the humor, and a bit of a catchphrase in itself as well. As a long time fan of the show, I almost cheer every time I hear the bird! It’s an auditory cue that it’s time for an Epic Meal, and I respond to it. This episode didn’t use it, but they also have a signature sound for drinking shots of alcohol. Again, auditory cues are important for connecting with an audience. Don’t believe that auditory cues are important? Ask Pavlov and his dogs…
The Epic Music they use has been consistent throughout the years. There’s the same haunting! Powerful choir music, with Harley’s voice in the background saying ‘All this MEAT’ in almost every episode in the last 4 years. Does your favorite TV show have a theme song? Of course, it does. So do successful YouTube marketers!
The bird noise, the drinking shots sound effects, and the Epic music are all important aspects of EMT’s auditory signatures. YouTube is video AND audio. Don’t neglect to develop some signature sounds and never go anywhere without your theme song!
The obvious Youtube marketing you can’t miss
Everyone knows that doing collaborations video is important. Epic Meal Time has done many. Perhaps their most surprising one was with Deadmau5, the famous DJ who is a fellow Canadian from nearby (Montreal to Niagara Falls). They have also done other collab videos with other YouTubers.
Another obvious step to not miss is your logo and header image. Everyone has one, you need to get yours on point before you go live:
You need to get some merchandise together because Adsense alone won’t get you where you need to be. The Epic Meal Time website sells t-shirts, cookware, and recipe books:
YouTube Playlists are an important aspect of getting more YouTube views. It gives people a chance to binge-watch a whole bunch of episodes in a row without much effort. Having a few handy never hurt anyone:
Epic Meal Time may not be your cup of tea, but they can teach a complete video marketing plan for YouTube. From top to bottom they have covered every aspect of YouTube marketing which your channel needs to cover. Stop by their channel and have some laughs. Call it ‘studying new-media marketing principles’ when anyone asks you what you’re doing.