This is the first post in a “What are the best subjects for technology marketing videos?” series. Click here for Part 2 and here for Part 3
Technology buyers are doing their own research before they contact sales. This opens up many new opportunities for marketers to deploy videos, because there’s no doubt that people who are doing their own research will watch videos that are relevant. But, for the most part, you don’t really know what these self-directed buyers already know, or what they want to know, or where they are on the Buyer’s Journey. So how should you allocate your video resources beyond producing a general overview?”
A good place to start is to ask yourself “What things do people generally want to know that are best explained visually?”
Explaining a methodology visually
What is the methodology? This 30-second video excerpt illustrates how elements of a consulting engagement can still be a good subject for visual explanation, without many words being spoken.
For example, one of the hardest things to explain is consulting services, because they basically come down to We help you 1) figure out what to do and 2) get it done.
Video viewing on mobile devices grew 700% between 2011 and 2013, and didn’t slow down in 2014, according to the Ooyala global video index. Does the conjunction of B2B video and mobile growth matter to B2B video producers? True, most of this viewing was sports and entertainment, and there is still considerably more digital viewing on desktops than on mobile.
But here’s why you should care: as reported on Forbes.com, a survey of 511 executives found that
70% use mobile devices to look up product or service information on first hearing about it
57% use mobile devices to conduct further research
More than 33% say they continue referencing information on mobile devices up to the point where they finally make up their minds
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.
A templatized approach
Here’s a cost-effective approach to producing animated explainer videos to support major account penetration, when the following conditions apply:
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,
Today’s technology buyers have specific interests and specific questions. They want guidance, not product-centric, sales-y, overviews with something for everyone.
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?
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.
Click image to view our 1 minute explainer on buyer journey videos.
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.
Why make a video, anyway?
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