B2B video marketing: consistent messaging or repetitive?

video marketing: consistent messaging or repetitive

Video interwoven with your other content marketing initiatives makes the whole fabric much stronger. (Chart adapted from MarketingProfs. On the original, the height of the video bar is 70%.)

You’ve probably seen the original of the chart at the right (adapted from a Marketing Profs survey), or one like it, rank ordering content marketers’ reliance on various “tactics.” As a tactic, video seems to be essential. But, companies often fail to think about integrating video with other tactics. They just order up “a video about X,” as if the video, by itself, were the solution.

Sure, video is great. And there is plenty of evidence that “video” is good for content marketing. If, for example, you Google “video increases website SEO”, you can get more than 58,000,000 results. I’m sure almost all support the proposition.

What’s more, the same video can be used in numerous channels.

But that doesn’t mean your videos should repeat the same message people are seeing in your other marketing channels.


The ROI of video marketing

The ROI of video marketingAnalyzing the ROI of Video Marketing is the intriguing title of report from the Aberdeen Group that is fairly bullish on content marketing in general, and video in particular. It finds that that “Best–In-Class companies are more likely to use video in their content marketing mix than any other media.” Somewhat disappointingly, it does not present any calculations or examples of actual returns on investment. But it does suggest some analytical approaches.

Conversion rate measurement

Here are the most interesting numbers in the report.

  • The average cost per marketing-generated lead is $93 for companies using video, compared with $115 for non-video users.
  • The difference in website conversion rate for sites with video:  4.8% vs. 2.9%
  • Video users needed 37% fewer site visits.


Best information sources for B2B technology videos

There are few exceptions to the rule that you can’t have a good video without a good script. Even if the production is improvised, what gets used is judiciously chosen and edited to create the script. Here are some of the best information sources for B2B technology videos which you should furnish to the writers to help them come up with the best possible B2B technology video.

Diagrams, flow charts, timelines

best information sources for B2B technology videos

This video is structured around a diagram that tells a story. Adapted from a company publication, the diagram depicts both the steps in the process, and how Ultriva’s demand-driven solutions work together to support lean manufacturing..

The best diagrams can usually be found by flipping through PowerPoint decks and white papers, sometimes in blogs and whiteboard videos. You’re looking for a chart, diagram, or Illustration that tells a story — how something works, data relationships, the steps in a process, the jobs and departments involved.

The thing about pictures is — it takes a lot of thought to make one. That’s one reason they make a good starting point for a video. Looking at and discussing pictures also tends to lead to new visual ideas.

best information sources for B2B technology videos

Images depicting an “integrated approach” to something are fine for PowerPoint or static web pages. In video, they are apt to “cost” a thousand words.

However, a picture is only worth a thousand words (of narration) if it captures a story pictorially. Diagrams that are themselves made up of words are more likely to require a thousand words of explanation than they are to convey a narrative that can be instantly grasped.

And you can also be sure you’re looking at a lot of thought when you see a process flow chart, a timeline, or a representation of system architecture.


Don’t forget sales when producing explainer videos

Don't forget sales when producing explainer videos

If you market to IT Service Providers, you can get a lot of insight into what they’re doing to grow their businesses here.

I recently did a podcast with Joshua Feinberg, an interesting guy and certified HubSpot partner, whose company, SPHomeRun,  helps IT service providers (Cloud, MSP, Consulting, Repair, etc.) with inbound marketing.

One of the subjects we covered was the value of talking to sales reps — people who actually talk to customers — when planning a video project. Even though, as Josh and many others point out, 60% of the typical B2B sales cycle over before a potential client even reaches out to any vendor’s sales department, sales people know the kinds of questions good prospects ask. That’s the kind of question inbound marketing — and your video — needs to answer.


Defining what your video viewer will value

Have you ever been in a situation where you know you need to produce a short video to introduce a product or service, but you’re at a loss as to what it should say? Maybe you’ve got a conference coming up, video is a must-have, and a big software solution you need to showcase. You have some background material — a 40-slide PowerPoint deck explaining how this solution fits into the context of the company’s broad strategy, positioning, product offerings, etc. Yikes! Where do you start? Here are four questions you can ask to help narrow the content down.

Defining what your video viewer will valueWhy is the viewer watching?

People watch B2B videos online because they want to find out something. There’s really no other reason. Entertaining animation and eye-popping graphics can make a video watchable, but they don’t make people watch. People watch because they need to know things like:

  • What’s different about this solution
  • What’s new in this release?
  • What can I do with this that I can’t do now?
  • What is like to use this product?


How can video content address group dynamics?

How can video content address group dynamics?

When it comes to buying decisions, group dynamics appear to reduce the vendor’s chance of success. How can video content redress the balance?

An interesting post at Forbes.com by Patrick Spenner featured this chart. The gist of the article is that:

  • What prevails in the technology decision-making process is group dynamics — politics, fear of sticking one’s neck out, inertia
  • The probability of buying plummets the instant the second team member comes on board
  • There’s another steep decline when the group grows to more than five members.
  • Group dysfunction is highest in the early stages when they are trying to define the solution.
  • At that point, long before any vendor has been contacted, the purchase decision is approximately 37% complete.

It’s a wonder any B2B technology ever gets sold.

Defining the solution

This early stage dysfunction has implications for the content of explainer videos because they typically get watched early in the decision process. But how can a video address something as dynamic as group dynamics?


Start at the end: with a good video call-to-action

Actions speak louder than words

Figuring out exactly what you want the viewer to do after watching your video can help you determine what content to put into the video.

Getting a target audience up to speed on what your product or solution or service can do for them is something video can do very efficiently. But in the world of B2B technology and enterprise solutions — a world where “add to shopping cart” has no meaning — the audience has clicked through to your website and its videos because they already know what you do. They want to know more about how you can help them.

Your video has two objectives, then: 1) provide credible information the viewer wants; 2) get the viewer to take an action that propels him or her along the path to a sale, or, toward a favorable vote in a committee buying decision. This seems obvious, but it’s nonetheless a fact that the video’s call-to-action is often the last thing marketers decide on, after they’re done arguing over which messages will and will not be included in the video.

Here are a few examples that show how upending this process — designing the content around a good video call-to-action — might improve the content and get more action.


Planning an explainer video: 6 questions to ask

For many marketers, “budget”, quickly followed by “timeline” are the first things that come to mind when the subject of videos comes up. Here are a few things well worth considering before you even start to worry about either budget or timeline — because they can affect both. Here are six good questions to ask yourself when planning an explainer video.

1. Which constituencies in our “audience” do we really need to acknowledge?

This video is intended to address three audiences within IT: development, test, and QA. They appear in the graphics, but are not "called out" by name until near the end of the video,

This video is intended to address three audiences within IT: development, test, and QA. They appear in the graphics, but are not “called out” by name until near the end of the video,

Who gets a shout-out? Your offering may have features that apply to several industries or job roles. You want viewers to know that you know who you’re talking to. But you need to get to the point in the first 20 seconds or so — that’s how much time B2B viewers allow to decide if a video has something to say to them.

One way to expedite the shout-outs is to represent the different industries you serve in the visuals without naming them. Another is to create a different opening for each segment — this makes production a little more complicated, but it need not add a lot of cost, assuming that the central section of the video that deals with the solution itself is the same for all audiences.

2. How well defined is our product now?

The answer to this question will tell you how agile your production process needs to be. If the product or service being promoted in the video is still under development or you’re still a bit uncertain about positioning or its features and benefits, then the content of the video is sure to change during the production process. In most cases, these will be improvements, and should be welcomed, but you’ll want to work with a video production service that is comfortable changing direction as deadlines approach.


Planning an enterprise solution explainer video

planning an enterprise solution explainer video

Even a narrowly focused enterprise solution (this one is aimed at data analysts and data scientists) requires an understanding of the business problem and the technology involved. To depict the technology in a way that makes sense to a technical audience takes collaboration with subject matter experts. This effort needs to be figured into the cost when planning an enterprise solution explainer video.

Say you’re in marketing, and you have been tasked to produce a short video, or a series of videos, to support or establish a position in the marketplace for a technology solution. Here are things to consider when planning an enterprise solution explainer video for one of these typical technology topics:

  • New or improved service or solutionplanning an enterprise solution explainer video
  • Reorganized/repositioned software suite or set of products
  • New or undervalued product features
  • New professional services
  • Recently set up “center of excellence”

And let’s say you’re fortunate enough to have a deadline. (I say “fortunate” because I agree with legendary management consultant Peter Drucker that “Work without deadlines is not work assigned, but work toyed with.”)

Anyway, you’ve decided on using video for your enterprise technology solution 2-Minute Explainer because video is a great way to put things across quickly. Here are three things you need to consider in planning an enterprise solution explainer video.

What happens in the production process?

  • Compression. Solution features and benefits that can be talked about for hours will be boiled down to two minutes or less
  • Audience definition. For enterprise solutions, is can be a broad audience like “IT and business executives” or a pretty narrow one like “middleware admins.” What often happens is that halfway through the project, someone realizes that some new constituency needs to be taken into account.
  • Rethinking. Subject matter experts are probably being asked to look at things in new ways. Some of this rethinking is likely to take place as the video develops.
  • Politics. If there’s more than one team involved  — it’s a suite of products, for example — managers will try to make sure their product gets top billing.
  • Change. There’s a very good chance that a product being introduced or reintroduced is going to do some shape-shifting of its own several times between the start and the deadline. So you may need to re-imagine, rewrite, and execute new visual approaches quickly.

All these issues affect cost — and how you’ll meet the deadline.


Six B2B explainer video “worst practices” (including some of mine)

Until recently, video was rare on the Internet, and people were grateful to find it because the prose (at least on tech company websites) was so dreary. A video on the home or product page was high-impact communication.  That was the case when we started making 2-Minute Explainer videos in 2004.  Now, video isn’t just popular, it’s a content-marketing essential like white papers and and webinars.  You need to find new ways to get your videos found. Video needs to work harder to get results. So it’s best to avoid the following (still prevalent) B2B explainer video “worst practices” from bygone days.

1. No competitive advantage to take away

When we talk about our “2-Minute Explainer” videos with prospects, they often express the need for a “high-level overview,” by which they mean something like “just the high points,” but which often results in not much more than a list of features. It may be because my video background is in journalism, not commercials, but I’ve always felt that, in B2B video communication, it’s essential to have a tangible takeaway — “We do X. The competition only does Y!” A surprising number of videos simply elaborate a problem and then assert that the solution provider can solve it.

2. Wishy-washy call to action

B2B explainer video

Not wishy-washy at all. Invitation to a conference with one unmistakable call-to-action (“Register!”)

Many B2B videos have no call to action. Many more just invite the viewer to get in touch. Why not make it quick and easy? This workmanlike video from SAP invites viewers to a conference, and, from the outset, provides just one highly visible and unmistakable next step.