How do you differentiate your technology solution? Make a list? That’s what most marketers do, according to Gartner distinguished analyst Hank Barnes. But tech buyers don’t respond to these laundry lists. Give prospects one thing to remember you by is Hank’s prescription. Spotlight your differentiator by comparing it to something the prospect knows. Hmmm. Shining a light. Making a comparison. Sounds like a job for a “differentiator video.”
A new way to develop your video content strategy
Of course, there’s no “differentiator video” in the vocabulary of most marketers. But let’s ignore the usual categories and concentrate on the things video is good at. Certainly one of them is commanding short attention spans long enough to put across one thing. And video is good at is making comparisons.
Differentiator video comparing two styles of source code maintenance for mainframe applications.
Explainer videos can be differentiator videos. Compuware, for example, has made numerous webinar-style videos comparing their source code manager to the competition’s. The explainer video here summarizes them in two minutes.
Are you one of those marketers wondering where and how to use video effectively? You’re certainly not alone. Here’s an easy way to round out your content marketing strategy with videos that that increase engagement at lots of different spots on the customer journey map: convert blog posts into videos.
Beef up your video content
Your blog reflects your content marketing strategy — right down to the keywords. In the case of tech solution vendors, blogs are full of middle-of-the-funnel stuff that responds to customer concerns with a minimum of hype and marketing-speak. Smart people have put a lot of thought into that blog. It’s the kind of real-life, forward-looking content that buyers in the consideration phase of the buying cycle are eager to consume. Video can bring it alive and generate new returns on the considerable intellectual capital invested in the blog.
It’s approved copy!
This was pointed out to us by a client: published blog copy has been blessed by the appropriate authorities. What’s more, an editor probably worked hard to make this approved copy clear and accessible. Maybe they even used photos or diagrams. Sure, it will take editorial skill and visual imagination to convert this copy into a video. But it’s not going to take a lot of production meetings to refine the messaging.
Your choice of formats
You could create video “trailers” to promote blog posts. Or make a video executive summary to get the point across to non-readers of your blogs. Or a video that drives home just one key point — to enhance the blog post itself and spread the news in other channels. You may not even need narration — just on-screen titles. However you choose to “convert” the blog post, you’ve created valuable new video content that can stand on its own, as well as increase the value of existing content.
Easier than product videos
Assuming we’re working with a well-written entry, it will be relatively easy for an experienced video hand to come up with a video version of a blog post. That’s very different from producing product videos, where there’s usually a lot of negotiation about which features need to be presented and in what order. With a blog post video, it’s largely a matter of selecting the most interesting, persuasive, or visually arresting elements and building the video around it.
More shareable than product videos
Buying committee members don’t like to appear to be advocating too hard for anything new. As noted in the HBR article on Making the Consensus Sale — most people think taking a position on anything new is taking a risk. To overcome this reluctance, sales and marketing need to work together to “help stakeholders see their shared interests and find common ground.”
What’s this got to do with video? It’s lot easier to share a link that says “I think you’ll find this interesting” if what you’re sharing is, in fact, interesting, as many tech blog posts are — and not just a list of reasons to buy.
There are doubtless more reasons to convert blog posts to videos. Check out our example to see how they work together on this blog.
Here’s a blog-to-video example based on one of my blog posts.
Are budget constraints keeping you from producing as much killer video content as you’d like? Maybe, like most marketers, you tend to think about video as the product-promotion content you need when you roll out something new.
Try thinking about video as something the customer wants on the buyer’s journey, and why. Whatever the content, he will prefer to sample “quick and easy” before delving into “detailed and difficult.” That’s an argument for making videos available at every stage.
The table is designed to help marketers develop a content strategy (not just video content) for account-based marketing. According to Smith, content at the top of the funnel should be designed to help an audience who doesn’t know much about you and your solution. No hard sell.
In the middle stage, you want to distinguish yourself from competitors. But still no hard sell. That doesn’t come until you’ve developed trust.
At the bottom of the funnel, buyers now want to know all the reasons to buy.
If this approach makes sense to you, it will also make sense to think a little differently about product overview videos. It takes storytelling and visual pizzazz to hold the viewer’s attention throughout a recitation of features and benefits — how else could you deploy those creative skills?
Brainstorming killer video content
Most product overview videos (including the ones we make) attempt to dash through at least half the “funnel stages” listed in the table in under two minutes.
There’s no getting around the fact that that text is cheap and efficient. That’s why most online “content” is text. To scope out a solution, you can skim text. You can skim video, too, if it’s interactive, or offered in bite-size chunks. (I wouldn’t call anything longer than a minute bite-size). But most video content for sales engagement (or any other purpose) is not skim-able. You may need to watch a entire video to find out whether it contains any information you care about. And most people don’t watch marketing videos all the way through. So, what are the odds that the intended takeaways get taken away?
One way you can increase the number of short, high-impact videos in your content library is by looking for opportunities to add video to non-video assets. That is, instead of producing videos that stand on their own, make video snippets that amplify or explain specific features and benefits featured on web pages, in white papers, slideware, or webinars. You can animate diagrams and timelines. Instead of screen shots, use screen sequences that illustrate a task accomplished or user control.
2. Make more targeted persona-based and industry-specific videos
Video is a relatively high-cost medium, but the relationship between length and cost is not linear. Some “scenes” are more elaborate, and cost more to make. A talking head can talk for hours without significantly increasing production cost.
Accordingly, it can be very cost-effective to create a package of videos. For example, two 90-second videos may cost about the same as one 2-minute video. Packages can be built around personas, industries, or the specific concerns of the target audience. Of course, cost still depends on the style and the content. But leveraging creative resources across multiple videos is a very cost-effective way to reach different audiences and reinforce your messages in different channels.
Vidyard recently published an infographic that cleverly maps 12 types of video productions (explainers, product info, chalk talks, personalized, etc.) to the customer lifecycle and suggests appropriate levels of production values for each genre. It’s worth a look. But this “generic” approach to video is mostly geared to marketing content that is essentially promotional. I don’t think this approach works as well when it comes to video content for sales enablement.
Marketing content vs. sales content
CSO Insights research director Tamara Schenk, an authority on sales enablement, has noted that salespeople often complain that the content they’re given to work with is too product-oriented. She says “it doesn’t help them engage on the level of business challenges, and doesn’t help them engage in different industries.”
The CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study backs this up with the finding that the quality and quantity of content has a remarkable impact (±15%) on quota and revenue plan attainment, adding that it’s a dangerous illusion to reduce the required sales content to only “marketing content.”
Sales enablement content types
Here are the types of content used in sales enablement considered the survey.
Needs analysis template
Customer case studies
All these items are used throughout the customer journey. Templates and white papers (65.3%) are the most used items during the prospecting phase. The others tend to be used more in later phases of the customer journey.
I’ve never liked the term video marketing. It’s not so much the ambiguity — we can all agree that “video marketing” and “marketing [of] video” are not the same thing. What bothers me is that “video marketing” implies that a video marketing strategy exists in isolation from the rest of your online marketing strategy.
IBM recently published a white paper, “You Don’t Need a Marketing Video. You Need a Video Marketing Strategy.” The gist of it is, marketers should produce a mix of long, short, and live-streaming videos. Then deploy them with marketing automation software on a powerful distribution platform (IBM Cloud Video is mentioned) in order to “reach your target audience.”
A video marketing strategy with empathy
What I think is missing in this sort of strategy is the lack of compassion for the customer.While consumer branding videos can be nearly 100% entertaining (like Red Bull’s delightful Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out), few B2B budgets are up to that. And, is this kind of strategy really going to work for a company that sells complex tech solutions and services like, for example, IBM?
LeadGen expert Brian Carroll of B2B Lead Blog is a proponent of empathy in B2B marketing, the idea that we should all take a step back and consider marketing as something we’re doing for customers, not to them. He points to a Forrester Consulting finding, “65 percent of marketers struggle to employ emotional marketing as they turn to automation to improve customer engagement.”
As you plan out a video, it’s certainly worth asking questions like
Do my customers really enjoy being marketed to?
Are my videos personalized for the customer, or do they feel like mass market advertisements
Do I have a lot of data on what interests customers? Viewing data? Any data?
“Feelings” in a marketing video? Nearly every B2B marketing video, including many we’ve made, begins by describing the buyer’s problem to be solved, and then goes on to extol the seller’s solution. The underlying feeling, if there is one, usually begins with unhappiness about the status quo. But most people are not eager to risk changing the status quo, either. So it’s worth looking for other emotional strings to pull.
Is marketing something we do to people?
Brian Carroll is a respected advocate of applying empathy in B2B marketing. He poses the question, is marketing is something you do to people, or something you do for them? The truth is that few of us relish being on the receiving end of marketing under any circumstances. But Brian’s question goes the the heart of the matter: we’re apt to market to people, with more consideration for our message than for how the person on the other end feels about it.
A B2B marketing video pleasure principle
Because we all live with video as a pervasive entertainment medium, we’re apt to evaluate any video on the basis of how entertaining we think it is. But who watches B2B marketing videos expecting to be entertained? And how well do B2B marketers understand customers’ entertainment preferences, anyway? All we can be certain of is that viewers don’t click on a video hoping to be bored. Beyond that, they probably expect useful information, not pleasure.
But one of the pleasures video is extremely good at delivering, besides entertainment, is the pleasure of understanding something we didn’t understand a minute ago. You’ve probably had the experience of watching an animation of some elusive scientific concept — space-time continuum, say — and feeling that, at long last, you’ve got a handle on it. That’s fun. And it’s fun that can be delivered in “marketing” content.
Editorial agility: how to make a lot more B2B marketing videos on a flat budget
Is watchability the best frame of reference for B2B marketing videos? B2B buyers click on a marketing video expecting to get something out of it, and willing to pay for it in the currency of the Internet: their attention. To gauge video as customer experience, consider whether customers will come away feeling that they got what they paid for.
Video is just another way to say something
“What are we trying to say here?” is a question that sometimes gets overlooked in the course of building out a video. Video gives you many distracting ways to shape the message: animation, on-screen interlocutors, dialog, graphics, text, emotional cues (including voice, color palette and music). It’s easy to get caught up in the process of tweaking these variables when your focus is on producing a video that feels lively to you and your colleagues. But you need to step back from time to time and try to watch it from the customer’s point of view.
The customer arrived at this video expecting insight and useful information. It’s quite likely that uppermost in his or her mind is the question “how long will it take?” Even an explainer video under two minutes in length can seem to take too long to come to the point — especially if it starts out by describing things you already know about, or find uninteresting.
This is even more likely to happen if you think of video from the point of view of someone producing a TV show.
Did you know that Facebook thinks most online interactions between businesses and their customers will soon be mediated by chatbots? Chatbots can deliver an immediate personalized response — which is what customers want. Microsoft has the same idea. The underlying design of Microsoft Windows going forward will be “Conversation as a Platform,” and chatbots will be in on most conversations. Chatbot enthusiasts think bots will replace websites and mobile apps altogether. As this conversational model of human-computer interface takes hold, we’ll need to rethink how we use video. We’ll need to produce chatbot-ready video content.
Video content marketing today
A person embarking on a “Buyer’s Journey” (at the “awareness” stage) is happy to view a short explainer video that brings them up to speed on the main features and benefits. Explainer videos can start a conversation. But follow-up video content — thought leadership videos, webinars, tech talks, testimonials, promotional teasers, etc., are all designed for passive viewing. Success is measured in “views” and, in some cases, call-to-action button responses (e.g., download a trial). Nothing wrong with this. It’s simple and direct. It’s just not especially engaging. For one thing, it’s hard for a viewer to know what’s in a video. Is it going to tell me what I want to know? How long will it take to get to the point?
Video and account-based marketing
If you’re in B2B marketing, you’re probably also into Account-Based Marketing. (And, if you are, won’t you please take our 2-minute survey?) Even if it’s not a formal ABM program, you’re trying to grow your business with key accounts, right?
This is the “flipped funnel” ABM model devised by Sangram Vajre, CEO of Terminus and founder of the #FlipMyFunnel community.While there are four discrete phases in each funnel, the stages of the “flipped” ABM funnel all depend on increasing engagement. Source: Vidyard
Looking at the “Flipped Funnel” model shown here, imagine you’re a technology vendor and the buyer you’re trying to extend your reach to has a job title like “network operations manager.” First of all, is this person on a “buyer’s journey?”
Are your buyers “consuming” your technology marketing video content in order to learn about your solutions and what’s on the horizon for your industry? Without contacting sales?
That’s the assumption underlying most inbound and content marketing. It’s strange, then, that most content marketing discussions and surveys treat video as tactic. Discussions usually mention video categories (e.g., “explainer videos” are good for quick overviews, ’roundtable’ videos are good for thought leadership, etc.). But the discussion always comes back to “making a video” in a certain genre with certain production values. Budgets are set for the various types. Costs-per-video are negotiated. After that, it comes down to the “messaging” to be delivered in the selected format.
Video from the customer point-of-view
Customers like short overviews when they set out on the buyer’s journey. Of course, when they start watching an explainer video they don’t know whether it’s going to explain what they want to know about. But at least they know it will be over soon. Even so, Vidyard’s 2017 B2B Video Benchmarks survey shows that, for videos under 90 seconds (most top-of-the-funnel videos would qualify), 25% of viewers stop watching before it’s 50% done, and just over 50% of viewers watch to the end.
Will buyers want to consume longer “thought leadership” later on in the customer lifecycle? Even if a person craves “thought leadership” per se, there’s no way for the viewer to tell going in whether a particular video contains worthwhile thoughts or how long it will be until the first thought worth thinking about will make its entrance.
What about recorded webinars? Don’t you find that they are usually a mix of the relevant and the irrelevant? Again, it’s hard to know at the outset what the mix will be.
My point is that the customer didn’t get to wherever your video appears in order to watch video. She came to learn. And your video represents a risk — valuable time potentially wasted. So the customer experience starts out dubious, and goes downhill fast unless the video delivers the goods.
Conversational video formats
Many experts are predicting that chatbots and conversational user interfaces will replace mobile apps and websites in the near future.
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