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.


Increase conversion with a video call to action

This article shares some ideas on how you can Increase conversion with a video call to action using interactive CTAs. B2B technology videos are mostly created for the purpose of putting ideas into prospects’ heads (aka “messaging”), hoping they’ll pursue one or more of these ideas to the next step. Typical next steps are

  • email us
  • call us
  • chat with us online
  • download a white paper
  • download a free trial
  • subscribe to our ______.
  • request a live demo
  • sign up for a webinar
  • sign up for get a free evaluation

These have all been mentioned in videos we’ve created — typically at the end. We used to embed hyperlinks associated with the CTA in the videos themselves, but that was before the ascent of the Flash-incompatible iOS mobile platform. These days few of our clients bother with Flash — and preferred video formats like mp4 and QuickTime don’t allow you to embed hyperlinks.

So we’ve had to count on the web page that contains the video to supply hyperlinks by which the viewer can answer the CTA or get other relevant content. It works, but making the viewer look away from the action to locate the Call To Action makes it a little less urgent, and less likely that action will be taken.

Overlays to the rescue

How much less less likely that can be, we learned at a breakfast presentation here in New York hosted by the CEO of Viewbix Jon Stefansky. Viewbix has a solution for overlaying interactive links on videos. In one customer case Stefansky recounted, a customer had managed to put up videos that attracted 2,000,000 views, resulting in exactly six (6!) contacts. They now get a response rate on the order of 20%. We had already decided to try Viewbix out on our own promo video — this and other evidence Stefansky brought up hurried things along.

You used to have to wait to the end of a video for the call to action, and then look around for a url to click on . Now, as you can see, There are plenty of actions they can take — all right in front of their eyes. So, any time someone decides to leap into our sales funnel while watching this video, they don’t have to wonder how or where to do it.


Using personas to produce B2B explainer videos

How narrowly can you target a video? This article looks at using personas to produce B2B explainer videos.

Using personas to produce B2B explainer videos

“Personas” are finding their way into B2B tech marketing (and operations) with the “consumerization of IT.”

Many eCommerce consumer websites design their offerings around “personas” — fictional characters created to represent collections of consumer demographic and lifestyle attributes. Using the many lifestyle indicators consumers like you and me provide, marketers serve up content to match the personas we appear to inhabit.

Even Information Technology, as it becomes “consumerized”,  is beginning to adopt personas, defined more by work roles than by lifestyle. For example, IT service desks benefit by matching up groups of end-users and groups of services. For example, “which sets of applications will these people use on their desktop and mobile devices?”

This video is designed to speak to two “roles” in a large organization: CIOs and other executives involved in managing outsourced IT and business processes, and HR executives.


Can B2B video improve conversions?

This illustration, part of an infographic from MarketingProfs, quotes a stat you see quoted frequently, which appears to originated in this white paper

This illustration, clipped from an  info graphic published by MarketingProfs, quotes a stat you see quoted frequently. It appears to have originated in this white paper.

We’ve been working with several clients recently who are trying to harness “the consumerization of IT” to improve IT performance — and it has me thinking about the degree to which videos used in B2B technology sales are like — or unlike — videos designed to get consumers to buy products. In particular, how relevant is “conversion” — a concept that is highly relevant in consumer marketing?

How much can B2B video improve conversions?

The oft-cited “86% improvement in conversions” stat appears to originate from this white paper about making video “accountable.”  A/B testing of “video on the front page” against “no-video on the front page”  was carried out for the online tutoring company TutorVista.  The date of the tests is not given, but somewhat surprisingly,  at this writing there is, in fact,  “no video on the front page” at TutorVista.

Another conversion success story (+32%) mentioned for this  securities trading platform. Prominent on the home page there is a highly professional animated video that clearly explains the company’s value proposition. It makes effective use of YouTube annotations to overlay notes, calls to action, and other links. (Not 100% effective, though. At this writing, YouTube annotations depend on Flash technology and do not play on iOS devices).  It’s not hard to see why this video converts viewers: at any time during the video you can click a big button to sign up for a free account.  

This short video is designed to speak to two “roles” in a large organization: HR executives involved in the selection of insurance carriers, and financial executives looking to achieve savings wherever they can. It’s tough to know when one of these folks is “converted” by watching a video. But there are several ways to measure success.


Matching video content to technology buying committees

Illustration based on LinkedIn research New Research Gives Tech Marketers an Edge (and a Bridge)

This article looks at matching video content to technology buying committees. Illustration based on LinkedIn research. See New Research Gives Tech Marketers an Edge (and a Bridge)

LinkedIn recently came out with some research on technology buying that matches up well with Gartner’s recent re-imagining of the buying cycle, where members of a buying team cross back and forth as they progress through streams of activities designated Explore, Evaluate, Engage, and Experience.  (discussed in a previous blog post.)

The LinkedIn research uses the concept of a buying committee. Nearly half the members of this committee, work outside of IT (marketing, finance, facilities, sales). Half of the members are “individual contributors” or managers; half are senior executives.


B2B content marketing videos that increase conversations

This article shares four ways we use to produce B2B content marketing videos that increase conversations.

Someone recently asked me “Can B2B videos connect with people and start conversations on social media?” Well, obviously, people will talk about almost anything on social media, but in the context of B2B technology marketing, what you need to do is get people to ask relevant questions. And videos supporting B2B technology marketing should present information in a way that encourages viewers to say, “Interesting. Tell me more.”

1. Set Up the Problem Quickly

As B2B technology companies are mostly selling “solutions,” it’ has always seemed clear to us that setting up the problem properly is the fastest way to get to the part of the video where you start to differentiate your solution. “This is what we should be talking about, isn’t it?”

In the following example, the problem setup takes 17 seconds, which is pretty good. But the entire content (if you don’t count the introductory logo thing-y, which we don’t) is just under 90 seconds. So 17 seconds is still a lot of time not talking about the solution.

2. Consider the context

Sometimes, you can start the conversation without even introducing the subject. At conferences and trade shows, the same kinds of problems are likely to be top-of-mind for everyone attending. And, it’s the same with industry-niche LinkedIn groups and other social media circles. No one needs to be reminded of what we’re talking about.


Why animated videos should be in your B2B video marketing plan

Why animated videos should be in your B2B video marketing planIs it better to have real people or animation in a video? Or both? Well, there’s no correct answer to that, and a lot depends on your goals, your needs and your budget.  However, if you are trying to communicate your solution’s value to prospects fast, and if you are trying to explain a complicated concept — then an animated video may be the best choice. Here are four reasons why you should consider creating animated videos to use with your sales and marketing efforts.

1. You can take things in a different direction fast

Why animated videos should be in your B2B video marketing plan

This is a revised version of a video animation of a graphic that appeared in this Gartner blog post.

In a previous blog post, I included a short video that added simple animation and narration to an interesting illustration that appeared in a Gartner blog on the B2B technology buying process. The Gartner analyst, Hank Barnes, whose illustration it was, and made this comment:

I think most of the team is at the same “place” in the overall flow  — versus some late in flow and some early . . . But their focus varies (as described) and they definitely move between streams.

So, I reworded part of the script, snipped out part, re-recorded one item, and worked with animator Tony Coccia to move some graphics around and change the animation flow. The new version took less than three hours to get online. 


B2B technology sales cycle and marketing videos

The concept of a sales cycle (or process) generally refers to a buyer and the various mental states he passes through on his way to a “buying decision.” But, should we focus on a “buyer” or a B2B buying team.

B2B Buyer or B2B Buying Team?

B2B technology sales cycle and marketing videos

“Teams, Streams, and Provider Dreams” by Gartner analyst Hank Barnes suggests a different way to think about the B2B technology sales cycle.

B2B technology sales cycle and marketing videos

This short video attempts to capture the main ideas expressed in Hank’s post.

An intriguing post on Gartner’s blog suggests a different way to think about the sales cycle for B2B technology. Titled “Teams, Streams, and Provider Dreams,” their post offers a high-level view of findings from Gartner’s recent  Research report “The B2B Customer Buying Cycle for Technology Products and Services” [subscription required].

Initially drawn to it because the author is a long-ago client of ours [on this project], I was so intrigued by his re-imagining of the tired old “buying cycle” graphic. And, as I am convinced that you, the reader, would be too, I decided to make the illustration of the concept easier to grasp (it took me a while to figure it out) with some simple animation.


Technology video “demos” that convert prospects to leads

B2B technology marketers, especially those with SaaS and cloud-based software solutions, like to feature “DEMO videos” prominently on their web sites and landing pages. This makes sense if the website visitor is the same person who is going to be forking over the subscription fee. But that person is probably going to need reasons to buy before anything else. If you want to make videos for top of the funnel prospects who are just beginning their search, your initial videos should be anything but an actual demo. This article will provide several examples of technology video “demos” that convert prospects to leads.

For example, in the lean manufacturing video below the challenge action is all about what the software can do, rather how you would do it if you controlled the mouse and keyboard.