Using explainer video for buyer engagement

explainer video for buyer engagement

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?


Producing more targeted explainer videos

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.

Opportunity costs

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


New Buyer’s Journey Videos

New Buyer's Journey Videos

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.


My eight best explainer video content tips

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?

my eight best explainer video content tips

Buttons like this increase email opens.

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

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 . . .


Making explainer videos for the buyer’s journey

A trend we’re seeing in the production of information marketing videos is that our clients are increasingly interested in making explainer videos for the buyer’s journey “consideration phase.”

This is the point where prospects think they have the problem pretty well defined — now they are trying to get a handle on their options for solving it. They also need to consider the input of colleagues on the buying team. Research shows that these “influencers” like summarized content, something video is good at communicating. Here are some ways to create more video content to answer the questions that are likely to come up in this phase of your prospects’ evaluation process — and do it more cost-effectively.

1. Make several videos at the same time.

We’ve seen growing interest in what we call “Buyer’s Journey Video Bundles.” The idea here is that, instead of one video that covers all the bases, you produce videos that address specific personas on the buying team or specific product attributes. Some prospects, for example, are eager to hear about potential ROI or productivity benefits, others want to know how your solution actually works, others may be most concerned about maintenance or the learning curve.


Videos for the buyer’s journey

The “Buyer’s Journey” is not sliding down a funnel. It’s more like an odyssey, with chance encounters in multiple channels, meandering from awareness to consideration to action.

A couple years ago, Forrester analyst Lori Wizdo depicted the marketing sales funnel in this clever sideways view, with the funnel “bottom” becoming a confused network of criss-crossing channels in which buyers and influencers share the information they collect for themselves. “Marketers who continue to ‘go to customer’ with product-centric campaigns and offers,” she wrote in this blog post, “risk becoming irrelevant.” This article will discuss producing marketing videos for the buyer’s journey


Explainer videos for sales enablement

Customers in an array of industries, from IT to insurance to business process outsourcing, are often way ahead of the salespeople who are ‘helping’ them.
Harvard Business Review

In many of today’s buying processes, actual living, breathing salespeople are likely to enter the game when it’s more than half over. If the buying process goes awareness –> consideration –> action, it’s probably somewhere in the consideration phase.

Companies typically publish overview videos to create awareness. But what other kinds of video can help the salesperson help the buyer complete the journey?

Targeted videos for sales training

Sales training, of course, has long relied on instructional video. Today’s eLearning platforms, it could be argued, are largely interactive video platforms.


Explainer video is a key sales enablement tool

Explainer video is a key sales enablement tool

People on the go watch TV. Getting them the right video at the right time is a big sales enabler.

“Helping a salesperson deliver the right content to the right person at the right time” seemed like a good working definition of sales enablement when I quoted it recently, but, on further reflection, I wish I had added “at the right place” because prospects are so often on the go. That’s why explainer video is a key sales enablement tool

How does how and where they’re watching matter?

Think about the huge numbers of sales professionals who are working — but not at their desks. If they are on the go — as sales reps, in particular, always seem to be — their preferred device is probably a tablet or a smart phone. Surrounded by distractions and annoyances, they love to plug in the headphones and watch video. What an opportunity for you! You can be get them latest info on a new product before just before they meet with a client. Tell them about a new process being implemented. Provide details on a hot new promotion. And encourage them to share the video content with a customer or partner.


How to use explainer videos for sales enablement

How to use explainer videos for sales enablement

Sales enablement is about content, timing, and knowing where a prospect is in a buying cycle. It makes sense to feature video content appropriate to different way-stops.

In content marketing, you put content where prospects are will notice it and, hopefully, consume some, because you assume that buyers are avoiding sales people during at least half of the sales process. Sales enablement, on the other hand, is about helping a salesperson “deliver the right content to the right person at the right time” according to an excellent primer from Eloqua. To select “the right content” to deliver, you look at what content the prospect has accessed to date. This is called “reading digital body language.” It enables the sales person to get in sync with the buyer’s interests, understand where the buyer is on her journey, and to generally be more consultative.