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 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.


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.