Author: Bruce McKenzie

 

Make your online video meeting more like “real” video

For many sales professionals, conducting online video meetings is now a big part of the job. And, it’s not something that comes naturally to most of us. Even if you perform well and the group resists talking over one another, attention will wander in online meetings. Multiple talking heads on a small screen? That’s very different from a professionally produced video where everything has been well thought through by a director or performer. Every online video meeting can benefit from more of that.

Visual content that improves online meetings

In talking with our technology sales and marketing customers, we’ve come up several ideas about how to make better use of video in online meetings.

  • No marketing. Avoid commercial interruptions.
  • Technical. People in an online meeting don’t want superficial content. They want to get into the weeds (though not over their heads).
  • Visual. Illustrations, animations, pre-recorded segments with subject matter experts can all add variety and motion. They need to be short. And they need to clarify a key point.
  • Realistic demos. Customers and prospects want to see your solution in action. However, unless they signed up for a comprehensive capabilities demo, they probably don’t want one. But they will appreciate a tightly scripted screencast with a happy result at the end of the click path.
  • Tactical. Many online webinars and demos end with Q&A sessions with no visuals at all. This is odd, since sales professionals are accustomed to anticipating questions and objections. Save some of your good visuals for the Q&A.
  • Reusable. These suggestions all describe well-designed content for meetings. Most of it will also be short enough to be shareable on social media.

One of the most common complaints from employees working from home is about the amount of unproductive time they spend in online meetings. Everyone will appreciate video meetings that run faster and smoother because you’ve gone to the trouble to make them more like “real” video.

 

Better video in online sales meetings

Increased familiarity with online video platforms like Zoom has opened up opportunities to stand out from the crowd with better quality video. Maybe you’ve already improved your on-camera game with expert lighting tips or by adding a spiffy virtual background. But there are still plenty of opportunities to make better use of video in online sales meetings.

Beyond talking heads.

Still, a prerecorded spokesperson may not be the most effective visual support for an online conversation about a technology solution. PowerPoint support can be effective, as long as you don’t have people staring at bullet points for minutes on end. You can personalize, and improve a PowerPoint presentations by keeping yourself in the picture.

For an online video meeting, video is a more natural type of visual support than PowerPoint. But the product explainers, webinars, tutorials, and branding videos you used in your video marketing programs were designed to reach the widest possible audience of customers and prospects. They aren’t social enough for socially distanced selling. They are probably too long, too impersonal, and out-of-context for your current situation.

What types of video can improve online sales meetings?

Single subject. You will want videos that fit naturally into a conversation. Ideally, they can be shown when the subject comes up — so they shouldn’t cover more than one subject.

Little or no narration. Unlike PowerPoint, a narrated video doesn’t give the presenter much opportunity to participate. Narrated videos are good for messaging consistency. But a professional narration can make the conversation less friendly and casual, and an unprofessional narration can be distracting. Adding on-screen text will help ensure messaging consistency without monopolizing the conversation.

Short. Break down the subject into several segments. If it’s a “live” presentation, you don’t need 100% visuals — just for those parts where the presenter needs some visual support.

Simple. Videos used in online meetings can make a big impression by explaining something the customer is interested in, in the shortest possible time. You’ll need to put a lot of thought — and probably some trial-and-error — into the content of the video. But you don’t need to add a lot of pizzazz.

Reusable. A video designed for online conversation will be useful in social media conversations, too.

(ICYMI — here are some free video resources we recommend)

 

Video for online sales communication: free tools

Looking to host better meetings and raise the level of your working-from-home game with video? Just about everybody is using video for online sales communication these days, not just “inside sales.” Here are some free tools for videoconferencing, video production, virtual classrooms, interactive video, and more, that you may not have run across up to now.

Web conferencing. Cisco has enhanced the free version of its Webex videoconferencing software. Google Cloud offers GSuite customers an enhanced version of Hangouts. You can try Adobe Connect free for 90 days.

Distance learning. People eager to learn how to do sales onboarding and training better will find plenty of material in Adobe’s terrific collection of courses, webinars, blogs and more about distance learning.

Social Media. Videos uploaded directly to social media (as opposed to links to videos hosted on other platforms like YouTube) get higher engagement. Preferred formats vary across platforms and are subject to change. Consult this Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Video Specs from Sprout Social, and keep it  handy.

Managing and distributing your video library. Panopto, is inviting companies to try their corporate video management approach— dubbed “Enterprise YouTube” — free for three months. The goal is a searchable, customizable library of on-demand video assets that takes full advantage of all the video creativity you can muster from internal resources and external partners. (A workplace productivity study by Panopto and YouGov actually put a dollar value on the cost.)

Screencasts. TechSmith is offering its powerful screengrabber Snagit, and its collaboration platform, TechSmith Video Review, free to use through the end of June.  Also worth a look: CloudApp.

Video messaging. Vidyard offers the new Vidyard for Internal Communications free through June 30. In addition there is a free version of their popular video messaging app, one of the most widely used (and easy-to-use) tools for video in online sales communication. Also worth a look:

Interactive Video. You can enhance videos (including existing videos) with clickable chapter headings and interactive elements like polls and quizzes with free open source software from H5P. It is compatible with WordPress and other CMS.

 

New and different videos for online meetings

Are you prepping for a meeting that has unexpectedly been moved online in response to the coronavirus crisis? If so, you’re probably up against the fact that B2B sales presentations and interactions on the small screen are pretty low-energy compared to live meetings and presentations.

You can boost the energy level of online conferences with video. But maybe not with the videos you have on hand now. Videos  for online meetings need to be conversations.

If your audience is not live, but rather working remotely, they’re probably going to need a little extra stimulation. Video can help.

How are videos for online meetings different?

  • Not sales-y. Visitors aren’t there to watch commercials.
  • Very short. They shouldn’t inhibit or interrupt your presenters. Visitors want to interact.
  • More visuals, less talk. You’re using video because it’s the fastest way to explain stuff.
  • Specific. These videos should anticipate and respond to specific questions, objections, and misconceptions.

Where can you find these videos?

Your existing video library contains a lot of them. But you need to make the best bits instantly accessible. Who wants to sit through 5-minutes of introductions to a previously recorded webinar? You’ll still probably need to create some videos.

How can you quickly repurpose existing videos for online meetings?

Add chapter headings. Clickable HTML overlays with players from Vimeo and other platforms make this easy. Chapters enable your presenter or viewer to hop right to the relevant point in a demo or customer use case.

Make an existing video interactive. A cool DIY solution is to add interactive elements like polls and quizzes. You can do that with open source software from H5P (compatible with WordPress and other CMS), or with interactive tools from numerous paid services.

Make short (< 30 sec) videos from longer ones. A video that makes one point well can support live presentations and can also be shared in social media. This doesn’t take much editing skill, but it does require editorial skill.

Edit software demos and screencasts so they tell an interesting use-case story.

Animate diagrams and illustrations from existing PowerPoint decks and white papers to help your presenters or viewers work through processes step-by-step. Someone has already thought through how to communicate this essential information visually, so it won’t be too difficult the make it more engaging by putting the parts in motion.

How can you make a bunch of new videos for online meetings PDQ

Convert existing text content. FAQs and sales messaging documents already contain information that can be better explained visually. Starting with “approved” content can shorten production cycles. This is the kind of thing your presenters should have on hand to answer expected visitor questions.

Try agile video production. Producing sales and marketing videos has traditionally been a drawn-out process encumbered by slow approvals and rework. But this needn’t be the case.

Tech companies already use collaborative agile methodologies to deliver quality digital products in the shortest time possible. Why not do the same thing with video? We find that many aspects of “agile” work very well in video production: teamwork, clearly delineated responsibilities, daily meetings, delivery of “working” videos on a set schedule.

All you need to do is put together a team of people who can prioritize the things your customers want to know and can explain these things to the video professionals who can transform them into simple videos that will make your online meeting stand out.

Note: A version of this article was previously published in Biznology.

Note: headlines are from

https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/2/21161635/nvidias-gpu-technology-conference-gtc-online-only-coronavirus

https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/02/google-cancels-cloud-next-because-of-coronavirus/

 

Video marketing statistics you can argue with

Here’s an infographic chock full of video marketing statistics you can use to argue your need for a bigger video marketing budget. Candidly, I’m not a big fan of infographics. Too many cite numbers that are unverifiable (like the 7-second attention span of a goldfish), or questionable sources (like other infographics).

But this one, from digital healthcare agency Omnicore appears to be responsibly sourced for the most part.  (Though I don’t recommend telling your boss that “a website with a video is 53 times more likely to end up on Google’s front page. If only! While it’s true that Forrester reported this — in 2008.  They’ve long-since disclaimed it.)

Here are some points relevant to technology solution sales and marketing videos you might slip into your next video budget meeting. You might also be interested in video marketing statistics previously discussed on this blog, including What types of videos can influence B2B buying decisions? and Videos for marketing to millennials on the buying team.

Video marketing statistics relevant to technology solutions

  • 59% of executives prefer video to text. (Wordstream)
  • Videos increase organic search traffic on a website by 157%. (Conversion XL)
  • People spend 2.6x more time on pages that have videos. (Wistia)
  • 23% of marketers use Interactive videos. (Wyzowl)
  • Marketers expect to lose 33% of viewers within the first 30 seconds. 45% and 60% will stop watching after a minute or two. (AdAge)
  • Social media posts with video have 48% more views. (Hubspot)
  • Compared to YouTube links, Facebook’s native videos have 10x higher reach. (Socialbakers)
  • LinkedIn video campaigns receive view rates of  50%. (Linkedin)
  • 84% of marketers say that using videos on LinkedIn has been successful. (Smart Insights)

A worthwhile collection of video marketing statistics. (Source: Omnicore).

An updated tech solution video checklist

 

2020 Technology Video Checklist

The 30 items in this technology video checklist come out of our experience with hundreds of teams from tech companies putting together product introductions, demos, and other short videos designed to get customers up to speed on what a particular technology solution can do for them.

Organization

  • Team includes the people with the most customer and market insight.
  • All relevant background materials shared with production team.
  • Style preferences, graphics standards, and branding guidelines communicated.
  • Collaborative methodology, team responsibilities, and signoffs determined.
  • Feedback and sign-offs specified.
  • Realistic deadline established.
  • Budget includes captioning, social media versions, trade show/conference versions (without narration), edits for re-purposing.

Messaging

  • Presents a compelling reason why viewer should care about what you’re saying in the first 15 seconds.
  • Presents a true-to-life situation facing the target customer.
  • Tells a story and helps to build a video library of good stories.
  • Asserts one memorable differentiator (more is not better).
  • Differentiates solution decisively with comparison to alternatives.
  • No vague promises.
  • Has a useful shelf life, not simply part of a “product announcement” package.
  • Coordinated with other content (e.g., summarizes research report, animates relationships or processes described in website product section)

Visuals + motion

  • Relationships and processes are animated step by step.
  • Adds supplemental relevant information with graphics or text.
  • Key points can be understood with the audio turned off.
  • Uses motion and transformations deliberately to keep the focus on what matters to the viewer.

Narration

  • Conversational and low-key, not high-pressure sales-y.
  • Word order matches on-screen events.
  • Minimal audio-only information.
  • Narrator selection by audition.
  • Background music not distracting.

Distribution

  • Thumbnail image selected or created.
  • Uploaded to YouTube + other platforms.
  • Surrounding text communicates who should watch the video and what they’ll get out of it.
  • Captions and transcript.
  • Clickable chapter headings and links for long videos.
  • Repurpose excerpts.

Not everything on this technology video checklist applies to every situation, of course, but they’re all worth considering because they can make the production process smoother, and the resulting more valuable to viewers.

NOTE:  A version of this technology video checklist appeared previously in Biznology.

 

How agile video production works

Do you have a looming deadline for a presentation that explains something new, exciting, and complicated —   but there’s no consensus on the best way to explain it? Is your sales or investor relations team clamoring for a video that will speed up conversations with non-technical decision-makers? This may be the time to try agile video production.

We were contacted a couple of months ago by engineers at a startup. The team was preparing to introduce a radically unconventional streaming processor for compute-intensive applications like AI and machine learning.

The challenge

The deadline was tight. The challenge was to get agreement on how to visualize the chip’s internal workings, and then to quickly turn out a video that would clearly explain the impressive technical achievement in a way that could be easily understood by the sort of person who goes to AI hardware conferences.

An agile approach

As we were about to get started, we were surprised to be asked by our client’s team leader whether we prefer meeting every day or every-other-day! Not something we’d ever been asked before. Certainly not our usual approach, but one that came naturally to the folks we were working with.

Though no formal agile methodology was used, or even mentioned, the prospect of a daily meeting demanded that we produce working software (digital video) every day, in order to have something to test and evaluate. This eliminated miscommunication and greatly improved the finished product — all well within the tight schedule. Our customer was happy that their audience loved the video. We were happy that the unaccustomed high level of collaboration boosted both the quality of the video and the efficiency with which it was produced.  You can view the video here: Groq Tensor Streaming Processor architecture is radically different.

When to apply agile video production methodology

This methodology may only be applicable to complicated tech solutions. Where the product message is locked in, choosing how to present it depends largely on taste, and daily testing is not guaranteed to improve it. But if everyone starts out unsure about what will work, agile video production can work for everyone.

 

How to use video to differentiate your technology solution

For many B2B products and services, technology itself is a big differentiator. But vendors of these technology solutions often struggle to differentiate their own solutions. It’s a problem because, according to Gartner research, when technology buyers aren’t sure what makes a solution different, they don’t buy from that vendor. When you use video to differentiate, make sure you don’t cloud the picture with a surrounding claims that your competitors also make.

Touting customer benefits can increase confusion

Most technology marketers believe that buyers don’t care how technology does what it does — buyers just want to know what it can do for them. This may be true, but when it comes to differentiation, dramatizing the customer benefits may be counterproductive when

  • how the technology works is the differentiator
  • the benefits are the same ones everyone wants (superior performance, increased efficiency, higher productivity, etc.)
  • competitors’ offerings promise to deliver the same benefits

So, time spent touting the same benefits your competitors promise is more likely to increase confusion than it is to make your differentiation plain for all to see.

Use video to differentiate

Video is the best way to explain — at a high level — how something works.

Video animation can make the differentiation story simple and compelling, highlighting the unique attributes that form your solution’s personality.

Video is good at drawing the side-by-side comparisons that distinguish your solution from the one buyers will choose — if they don’t see a difference — from a better-known competitor.

Videos that make a point credibly, without marketing fluff, are more likely to be shared with the right people in the buyer’s organization.

Speeding up the conversation

Short videos that are primarily visualizations speed up conversations (including on-line chats) and sales presentations. This is particularly true for solutions that have a lot of moving parts and need to be explained step-by-step.

Sales reps don’t want to interrupt their conversations with prepackaged videos that feel like commercials. But a short animation depicting a dynamic process flow makes it easy to put things clearly into the buyer’s context.

This matters, because, as Gartner’s Hank Barnes notes, “a low-quality sales presentation is one of the top causes of them rejecting a vendor immediately.”

Note: A version of this post appeared in Biznology.

 

Best practices for social media video

While most B2B video viewing continues to take place on desktops, B2B companies still need to discuss their solutions in social media. Video generally rules the day in social media, but not in the standard TV formats everyone is used to. Social media platforms, human attention spans, and user preferences demand new “best practices” that may differ from how you’re currently producing and distributing video.

1. Best video format: square

Square (or vertical) video looks better on social platforms, and fills more of the screen (almost 80% more) as viewers scroll their newsfeeds. Most users prefer to hold their phones vertically, which may explain why the social media management platform Buzzfeed reports that the square video format gets 30-50% more views and 80-100% more engagement.

2. Upload directly to Facebook

Direct uploads to Facebook get preferred treatment by Facebook’s search algorithm. So “native” video out-performs links to videos on YouTube and Instagram by about 2X.

3. Don’t be subtle. Subtitle.

Rethink video. TechBizVideo Kinetic Text Link

Kinetic text can bring a simple message to life.

Almost all (up to 85%) of autoplay videos play silently. Subtitles, or captions, can make a big difference in how much of your message gets across. It’s remarkably easy and inexpensive, to add professional-quality captions. Or, use a lot of kinetic text.

4. 3-second rule

C’mon — you know what mobile social media attention spans are like. You’ve got about three seconds to capture attention. A good thumbnail title screen can certainly help get the viewer to pause scrolling.

5. A reason to watch.

Beyond the 3-second mark, you want the viewer to watch with the expectation that there’s something in it for them. A provocative question, an eye-catching visual, just a friendly face can all get things off to a good start. So can the accompanying text.

There’s more on social media video best practices at martechseries.com.

 

What types of videos can influence B2B buying decisions?

A notable difference between B2c and B2B buying decisions is that most consumers (75%) say they’ve placed orders immediately after watching a video.

That may happen with some B2B products, but not the enterprise technology solution videos my company specializes in. Still, B2B buyers are also consumers. So it’s worth taking a look at the recently-published CMO Council report on video qualities that influence consumer decisions.

Reflecting the B2B buyer’s interest

No one will be surprised to learn that consumers value videos about stuff they own or want to buy. The same is certainly true for people making B2B buying decisions about new or upgraded solutions. But creating videos about what viewers want to buy can be a knotty problem for B2B companies. When the buyer is a committee whose members have differing interests, who is the audience? And who gets to decide what the video is really about? Persona-based video is one underutilized approach that can most accurately reflect the buyer’s interest. It’s cost-effective to produce a series of persona-based videos, because a lot of the creative work (scripting, animation, etc.) can be re-used.

Let me decide what to watch

43% of consumers say that online videos would be more valuable if they were interactive. They want to choose what information they view, not wonder if or when the video will provide it. An obvious solution is to incorporate video into FAQs and product feature listings. Longer videos, such as webinars and product demos, can be repurposed as interactive videos.  (Interactive videos been shown to make viewers smarter).

Video guideposts on the buyer’s journey

If videos aren’t expected to produce immediate B2B buying decisions, what action should they call for? 33% of consumers say they value recommendations on what do next, and there’s no reason to think the B2B buyer wouldn’t feel the same. I’ve long maintained that the purpose of a video should be to get people want to seek additional information. CTAs in B2B technology solution videos often involve trial versions of software or more detailed content like white papers. But a more consumer-like experience would be links to “related videos” a la YouTube. The ideal video library contains video series that can be sequenced like guideposts on the buyer’s journey.

Can video personalization affect a B2B buying decision?

12% of consumers say that seeing their name and information about them in video would be “valuable” in their decision-making process. It’s hard to see how this would translate to the B2B buying decision, though the sort of see-your-name-in-lights personalization available in online greeting cards is possible on business-oriented video platforms. It’s attention-getting. But what can be really valuable is a video where a real person answers the customer’s real question, with graphics and animation. That’s not “personalization” — it’s salesmanship. And, while it can be time-consuming, it’s certainly not difficult, with online tools like those from CloudApp.