It’s easier and cheaper to grow your business with existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. So why don’t technology companies devote more video resources to this marketing tactic? Because most marketers think of making videos in just a few categories — overviews, testimonials, executive presentations, demos. But there is a more appropriate way to think about video to increase penetration at key accounts.
In fiction, everyone in the audience starts out knowing little or nothing of the story — and looks forward to the telling. Effective commercials tell stories. Most technology marketing videos tell the story of characters (e.g., the CXO) overcoming difficulties (e.g., bad data, poor performance) with new technology solutions. This article will discuss approaches to explainer video scriptwriting in chapters.
The case for chapterization
But a good case can be made for “fragmented” storytelling in marketing videos — loosely connected chapters that can stand on their own. For one thing, buyers today are doing their own research, so they already know some of your story — and you don’t know exactly how much they know.
If you did any holiday shopping for, say, appliances or fitness gear — items that are practical and not cheap — you probably watched online videos. You tried to envision yourself and/or your giftee actually using the product. Maybe you watched the same video more than once, to reassure yourself. Maybe you sought further assurance in other videos, testimonials, reviews and social media.
You tried, in other words, to get as clear a vision as possible of what the thing is, how and why it works, what it looks like in use. Videos helped.
This process is obvious and familiar in the marketing of consumer goods. But it is not so prevalent in the marketing of technology solutions.
Words are not messages
Too many videos simply assert their message — as if making the word PERFORMANCE perform acrobatics on screen (“kinetic text”) will persuade a buyer that performance is what your solution delivers. What’s worse, many storytelling videos with character animation convey no clear message at all if you watch them with the audio off (or in a noisy environment like an exhibition hall).
Who should be responsible for producing a sales enablement video for technology solution vendors? Well, marketing usually controls the budget, and has responsibility for inbound content marketing and lead generation. So, marketing is responsible.
But how responsibly do they fulfill the sales enablement function? As noted in a previous post, formal agreements between sales and marketing (budget commitments, for example) are pretty unusual in B2B companies. Marketing works hard to generate leads, which sales hopes to transform into “opportunities.” But marketers tend to think of video in this context as advertising or collateral, not as a tactic for capitalizing on sales opportunities.
What is an “opportunity”?
From the technology sales point of view, an “opportunity” is frequently a team of individuals evaluating solutions, each from his own point of view. Or an “opportunity” may be the chance to increase penetration in existing accounts. Or to cross-sell or upsell solutions marketed by lines of business the salesperson doesn’t work for directly.
A recent LinkedIn post asks “Are B2B sales reps getting spoiled by inbound marketing?” Now, I don’t know about all B2B sales, but in my experience with technology solution sales, I’ve certainly never run into a sales professional who seemed overly satisfied with the leads produced by inbound (or any other kind of) marketing.
A recent Hubspot report provides the telling stat that only 24% of marketers have any formalized agreement with sales on who does what and when. This has been construed as marketing “forgetting” sales, which may be unfair,
When we started making 2-Minute Explainer® videos in 2004, what seemed to need the most explaining was what businesses do. We prospected for new business by reading news releases about new products. If we couldn’t understand the product or service on first reading, we called up the executives quoted in the release and pitched them on the idea of making their value proposition clear with a video. Just about everyone we talked with agreed that video would be a great way to introduce their product or service — far superior to web text. The idea caught on — and nowadays just about every technology solution is associated with a video overview, many of which we produce. This article will explain how using explainer video for buyer engagement pays off, all along the buyer’s journey.
The opportunity: buyer engagement
But what of the people who have actually embarked on “the buyer’s journey” and made progress toward a decision? Do they still need an overview?
Consider the following situations:
- You are trying to cross-sell or up-sell to a prospect who is already a customer for some of your solutions or services.
- The buyer has a clear idea of the solution, but needs help sorting out the differences between competing versions.
- The individual “buyer” fits one of the following categories (suggested by Gartner research director Hank Barnes)
Business Buyer – does this solve my business problem?
Financial Buyer – do the overall costs make sense vs. potential return?
Technical Buyer – is the technology is sound?
Risk Buyer – are the potential risks worth taking?
User Buyer – how will we actually use it?
How messaging and branding hurt your business
Let’s assume that you work for a technology company with a viable brand and a professional marketing operation. Which of the following does more to make your brand central to the business lives of your customers:
- Advertising, corporate identity, and PR? Or
- Everything else employees do?
Sure, branding is important. In an era of increasing information overload, maybe more important than ever.
However, as Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech argue in a Harvard Business Review article, the most successful digital brands (e.g., Apple, Google) do comparatively little brand image advertising. How we feel about these companies’ brands depends almost entirely on how we feel about their products. Apple’s advertising by product placement is certainly pervasive — which underscores the authors’ observation that Apple’s advertising is basically “boring product shots” anyway.
Skibsted and Bech conclude
Brand builders must embed themselves across the customer value chain. As information is more and more available and the importance of brands increases, the ability to tell a meaningful story through actions and products, not words, is the only way to win.
Marketers embedded “across the value chain” is not something I’ve seen in many companies. What I do see too often is marketers more interested in controlling the message than in enabling sales to increase customer engagement. I’ve seen video projects delayed for six months to a year while marketers debated messaging and tweaked graphics standards.
Here’s why that’s bad for business
I’ve been writing recently about videos for the buyer’s journey. We tried to capture the essentials of these ideas in the video linked to the right. It’s under a minute long, so I won’t give away the plot except to say that targeting different interests on the buying team seems to us to be a best practice. Another best practice, with respect to any content published for people with short attention spans, is that you need to get to the point fast. Taken together, these two best practices generate a third: multiple videos that appeal to different interests — from the start. We call this a video bundle.
Example: New buyer’s journey videos bundle for a sales enablement app
If your company uses SalesForce you’ll be interested in the video bundle supporting a new sales enablement app launched recently by our client JourneySales on the SalesForce AppExchange. The Journey Sales app transforms the familiar SalesForce reporting interface into user-friendly SmartRooms where salespeople can share content and engage with customers.
I’ve been working with clients to make videos that help their buyers make decisions about enterprise technology solutions for some time. Here’s a summary of the best tips for video content I’ve shared recently.
1. Make several videos from one.
Why? It’s very cost effective and simple to slice and dice even the shortest video into new videos to deploy in new channels. A client of ours recently launched a new product with a lively video about what the product does.
By editing that video, it was a simple task to create a new, less product-centric video, with a modified message emphasizing the company’s unique approach to the problem and their solution.
For the second video we eliminated the voiceover narration, a good practice for noisy environments like trade show exhibits and video walls where there is a lot of competition for viewers’ attention and where adding to the noise level is not a competitive advantage.
2. Embed your videos in other media.
How do you distribute white papers, product sheets, product announcements, news releases, and newsletters? In PDF format, or in email, most likely. And how many of these go out without including any links to videos?
Yet everyone knows that people like videos because videos can make things clear without taking much time or effort. And most people know that videos in email get more opens and more clicks. What’s more, it’s not hard to think of ways to re-use videos in other media. Tip: use a visual video button.
Most B2B marketing videos don’t support the buyer’s journey because they are product-centric. They accompany product introductions, reside on product pages and are featured in product promotions. Most B2B videos are designed for the “awareness” phase of the buyer’s journey — that is, “Introducing (ta-da!) Cloud Security v.3.0!”
These overview “explainer” videos are useful. Customers, prospects, marketers, and salespeople all like short videos that answer the question “what does it do?” when the subject is new to them. Our company has made hundreds of product introduction videos. But . . .