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.


B2B story telling videos or software demos?

B2B story telling videos or software demos

Everything else is data-driven these days. Shouldn’t software demos have plenty of data, too.

A recent BtoB Magazine article showed that 47% of B2B marketers favor product demos as a lead generation strategy. This may be effective in generating leads — but what about conversions? B2B story telling videos or software demos?  Where should your organization be investing your marketing budget?

Through our work with 100 or so technology companies like BMC, Brocade Networks, UPS Logistics, Sterling Commerce (an IBM Company), Taleo (an Oracle Company),  we have seen a lot of software demos can only be characterized as lame. 


Building video marketing content around ideas

We most often think of short videos in the context of outbound marketing as they are included in most product introduction packages. After all there’s no quicker way to communicate essential features, benefits and points of differentiation. But, what about using short B2B content marketing videos to change perceptions – instead of focusing on features and benefits.  Below, we show how two companies are building video marketing content around ideas.

Compuware Creates Videos for Featureless Technology Solutions

Not all technology solutions are products with features.

Sometimes the marketing task is to introduce an idea, or to get an existing customer to think about solutions in a different way. Compuware, a large (~$1B sales) U.S. software company, has been a top provider of tools for mainframes since the 1980s.

Now, Compuware is big in mobile solutions, application performance management, cloud computing, services, and lots more. The company now puts a good deal of effort into thought leadership campaigns. Their “thought leadership” video was designed to divert thoughts toward Compuware solutions and capabilities the viewer may not be aware of. Hence the diverting style.


This particular video saw its first use at Detroit’s OpenCo Business Conference and will find its way into many other venues and content collections as time goes by.


Condensing product information into an explainer video

Condensing product information into an explainer videoThe most important constraint on the length of a video message is the number of words spoken. But it can also be helpful to consider different shapes for the message container. Here are some ways that we condense our clients’ product information and marketing messages in a two-minute or less video.

1. We Tell Stories

Stories draw people in. With a lifetime of watching TV commercials behind us, most people know that two minutes is more than enough time to tell a pretty good story.

Of course the story in TV commercials is usually about love, happiness, or, having a good time. Payoffs that are appropriate to B2B solutions  — ROI, agile operations, customer satisfaction  — don’t resonate in the same way. This may be why music tracks in B2B videos often sound inappropriate or even cheesy.

Nevertheless, shaping a story to fit the available space usually works. Here’s a story about trying to identify a retail store (bricks and mortar type) customer online.

Where do you find stories? Sales engineers, account reps, anyone else who spends a lot of time talking to customers.


Information to include in a two-minute B2B video

This article will share what I think is the essential information to include in a two-minute B2B video.

Because short videos play such an important role in inbound marketing, it’s probably safe to assume that:

1) The viewer is pressed for time

2) The viewer wants to know right away “What’s in it for me?”

So, first, it’s important to define the “me” you’re talking to. This is often done with a character (“This is Mike, the CIO”). This works particularly well if the solution you’re pitching is to a problem that is subtle or overlooked. A more general way to enable a person to see himself in the picture is to indicate the common pressures and problems your solution addresses.

Watch this 2-minute explainer video to see how our client identifies with key decision makers right away:



Common mistakes when condensing information into a 2-minute video

1. Saying what goes without saying

Promises such as “increased productivity” and “lower costs” are tough to deal with because they are among the benefits of technology in general, and all B2B technology products I can think of promise them. On the other hand, if those are the main benefits, you cannot not mention them.

But if you’re aware that you’re dealing with what goes without saying, you’ll put more effort into graphics and animation. Showing specific costs being knocked down, or employees reassigned to more mission-critical work (e.g., from maintenance to develop and test) is more interesting and persuasive than mere talk about productivity and savings.

2. Telling people what they already know

Let’s say your target audience is compliance officers. The last thing they need to hear is that the consequences of ineffective compliance include loss of company reputation, customers taking business elsewhere, failed audits, heightened regulatory oversight, fines, penalties, and possibly people going to jail.


B2B video teams instead of committees

I was asked in a LinkedIn group discussion, “If you don’t use storyboards, how do you develop the finished product, particularly if a team is working on it?”

A creative process and a business process

B2B video is as much a business process as it is a creative process. Like many business processes today, there’s an ad hoc team on the case. Good teamwork comes about when everyone on the team is doing work they are good at. So I prefer a process that is as close as possible to WYSIWG, where everyone can respond based on what they know, not what they can envision (based on, say, storyboards).

B2B video teams

B2B videos are always a team effort. So it’s best to have a process that gets the most out of teamwork.

Who is on the team?

Teams we work with generally consist of one or two marketing execs, a product manager, and several subject matter experts (SMEs).