Selecting an explainer video production company

“Agility makes smaller agencies appealing” according to Gartner marketing expert Jay Wilson. Agile businesses want agency partners who are flexible, collaborative, and responsive. Here’s why you might want to demand these qualities when you’re selecting an explainer video production company.

1. You’re introducing a new product

New technology products are often in still in development — and the messaging is still being defined with feedback from customers — right up to the launch date. What do you do if you find that messages baked into your video script aren’t resonating? An agile explainer video production agency will take pride in their ability to come up with an effective way to work in the new hot button without busting the budget — and still deliver on time.

2. You haven’t written the script

Lots of explainer video companies offer fixed (sometimes astonishing low) prices, which they can do because they will simply put the message you deliver to them through standard production processes in standard styles.

But if you haven’t already written your story down in a way you’re sure will make a good video, the script will probably take more hours to write. The more technical your solution is, the more drafts it will take. You want a writer who is willing to create as many good drafts of the script as needed in order to come up with a video that comes across like a good conversation about a topic the viewer is keenly interested in.

3. There are lots of stakeholders involved in the explainer video production

An agile agency can help you balance and accommodate different points of view. How? They’re well accustomed to

Revisiting the customer buying cycle

“The Customer Buying Cycle”, the “Buyer’s Journey”, and similar models of how the technology purchasing process works have inspired countless blog posts, ebooks, and analyst research reports in recent years. Among the most insightful writers on tech marketing has been Hank Barnes at Gartner.

Technology customer buying cycle graphics

I’ve long subscribed to the idea that there’s graphic solution to explaining almost anything. So I’ve been especially drawn to Barnes’s efforts to develop graphics depicting the technology buying process. I wrote about Hank’s graphic of the buying process as streams of activities shortly after its 2013 publication. We even put together an animated version of the story.

Technology customer buying cycle videos

I read that post at about the same time that a head sales guy with our long-time client CompuCom (IT services and outsourcing) told us

Tech marketing videos in account-based selling

Tech marketing videos are often seen as  “top-of-the-funnel” infomercials. They’re intended to  increase awareness in the early stages of “the buyer’s journey.” But the technology buyer’s journey is different. LinkedIn research on the tech marketing buying committee discussed in a previous post lists these stages. (Note that it’s a cyclical process.)

  1. Needs Analysis/Definition
  2. Defining specifications, defining a budget or securing funding
  3. Vendor selection
  4. Implementation
  5. Management (Use)
  6. Upgrade/Renewal

Account based sales and marketing

Everyone agrees that buying committees do a lot of research before they contact sales. The point at which they do reach out varies by type of solution (e.g., storage vs. security). This is interestingly discussed by Forrester’s Lori Wizdo in Myth Busting 101: Insights IntoThe B2B Buyer Journey. The problem is, the vendor may find out too late. If an RFP at the vendor evaluation phase comes as a surprise, that’s too late. Now, it’s all about whether your features and pricing fit the buyer’s solution definition better than your competitors’ . But what you really wanted to talk about is how you redefine the problem.

Account based sales and marketing

Account-based sales/marketing strategies are increasingly seen as an effective way to avoid this problem. Sales and marketing work together to

  • get in front of buying groups early
  • influence “problem definition” and “solution identification”
  • follow up consistently with relevant messages.

The role of tech marketing videos

Most planning sessions for targeting specific accounts probably center on relationships. Who do we know? Who should we get to know?

This is the time to raise questions about existing content relevant to the account. And what content could be repurposed/repackaged. Or, what new followup content should we create?

A video expert in the planning session might suggest some of the following:

  • Review existing tech marketing videos, including explainer videos, for content that could be extracted and “bookended” with account-specific opening and closing. This could be something as simple a personal message recorded on a smart phone.
  • Make existing webinars and other long form videos interactive with chapter titles that are relevant to the account you’re targeting. This is the easiest and cheapest way to add interactivity to your videos. I’ve written about this, and some other cheap forms of interactive video, previously.
  • Prepare links to specific segments of video that salespeople can share. If it’s on YouTube, for example, just specify a start and end-point in the URL, like this link https://www.youtube.com/v/xyJ_ZbU046I?start=45&end=57, which shows, in just 12 seconds, the most essential feature of Quantum’s new Artico storage platform.
  • Create a package of videos aimed at the personas identified as key buying influences. We call these Buyer’s Journey Video Bundles™. Usually there is an overview about 90 seconds in length, plus several shorter videos that address specific concerns on the buying committee. Because some ideas and video segments are re-used, the Bundles are quite cost-effective to produce. More information here.
  • Develop a library of excerpts that can be assembled into account specific videos. This is a much more ambitious undertaking, previously described here.

Put tech marketing videos to work for in your account-based selling. It just takes imagination

An imaginative video producer will be able to come up with ways to generate account-specific video content cost-effectively. This can be done by repurposing existing tech marketing videos, or by creating new videos (and other content)  that can be easily adapted to targeted accounts. It will all take a significant amount of editorial skill. But there’s no reason it should cost a lot of money.

The technology buying process and your videos

Linked-In has updated their research into the technology buying process, who’s on the buying committee, and how the technology buying committee proceeds along on their buyer’s journey. (I previously wrote about the earlier study here). The takeaway is this: thinking about  journeys, or even committee meetings, is not helpful. Marketers need to envision  random walks through their content. As they amble along toward a purchase decision (or non-decision), buyers choose their own paths because they have their own goals. There are occasional contacts with sales and sales support.

The new survey canvassed more than 8,000 professionals, nearly half of whom said they had purchased, implemented or managed business technology solutions within the previous three months. That’s a lot of expertise and experience to draw on, so I set out to extract the findings that might guide us in producing more effective explainer videos.

The buying committee and technology buying process

The study looked at four kinds of buying decisions: hardware for end-users, software for end-users, hardware for data-centers and software for data-centers. Not surprisingly, data-center buying committees are slow to come to decisions (up to 35 months) — but there is a great deal of overlap in committee membership.  

Write a better explainer video script with help from Microsoft Office

explainer video script

The scariest moment in explainer video script development is when the page is blank. The visualization technique suggested here can help you get going and keep you on track.

An explainer video script for a technology solution is an “elevator pitch.” It says what needs to be said in a way calculated to win over a prospect in the course of an imagined elevator ride to the executive suite.

“SmartArt” is not as dumb as I thought it was

explainer video script

Forget about what this looks like. No one else need ever see it. This simple visualization can help you structure your script and make sure you tick all the right boxes. Here’s a tutorial (which I needed) on using Office SmartArt.

I’ve been ignoring this clip-arty feature for years, but I’ve recently discovered a use for the “Smart Art Graphic” selection in the Microsoft Office “Insert” menu.  Turns out, It can be very helpful in constructing explainer video scripts for marketing technology solutions.

There’s certainly no aspect of “Art” in what I do with Smart Art.

Add these 5 tips to your technology marketing video best-practices checklist

technology marketing video

Here is another list of technology marketing video best practices that comes out of our experience creating videos for enterprise technology marketing. It’s a list of things that are easily overlooked.

1.    Did you take account of the word count?

For my company’s videos, I like to limit the word count in the script so the viewer only has to listen to about 125 words-per-minute. Most people talk faster than that, but we believe viewers absorb more when using the brain’s auditory and visual processing systems together. (They work differently.) We try to maximize the information conveyed in the visuals, allowing the narrator to take a much more easygoing approach.

2.    Did you set the narration style and music early on?

The tone of the video is set when the script is being written. In most cases, you’re looking to set a conversational tone. This can make for difficulties in editorial reviews because what will sound good read aloud by a professional actor is not what most people hear as they read to themselves. This is especially so if the narration is written to sync with on-screen visuals. Viewers won’t need descriptive adjectives and adverbs when they’re watching the action.

As to music, technology explainer videos may benefit from music, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the explanation or sound like a commercial. A search for “corporate” and “technology” in a large music library will produce many tracks with an appealing techno sound that won’t call attention to themselves.

3.    Do you know who your reviewers and other stakeholders are?

Figure out who they are up front and try to keep them involved. It’s your reviewers, not your video team, who are most likely to jeopardize your timeline.

Explainer video production planning checklist

Explainer video production planning checklist

Here is an explainer video production planning checklist list of best practices that is based on experience creating explainer videos since 2004. These tips apply to technology marketing videos intended to help customers “get” why they consider a software or I.T. solution.

1. Have a specific goal

Obvious? Maybe. That doesn’t make it easy to write down a specific goal .

If you’re selling a technology solution with a price tag in the thousands, it may not be realistic to set goals in terms of sales, conversions, shares, or even views. The most important goal is to produce understanding and sales engagement among buying team members. Over time.

The temptation with product-oriented technology marketing videos is to rattle off as many features and benefits as possible. But even if you succeed in covering all the bases,  you’re unlikely to hit it out of the park. You’re more likely to produce a ho-hum video, indistinguishable from all the other marketing content buyers see.

Here are some specific goals a well-crafted video can accomplish:

  • Increase awareness of a specific issue that your solution addresses
  • Enable prospects to understand how your solution differs from the competition
  • Make an attention-getting use case come to life in a memorable way

2. Nail the first 15 seconds

If you have a specific goal, you’ll find it a lot easier to decide on what to present to the viewer first. That’s crucial. Buyers’ time is the most precious commodity on the Internet — and technology buyers have precious little to waste on information that isn’t pertinent. Make sure they’re not tempted to tune you out before you ever get to the point.

3. Have a budget

With a well-defined goal, you’ll almost certainly get your money’s worth from a reputable video production firm. But

Keys to surprisingly effective technology marketing videos

effective technology marketing videosWhen you make a technology marketing video to educate buyers about your solution, even if your audience is eager to learn, there’s no end of stimuli out there competing for their attention. Here are some ideas on how to make surprisingly effective technology marketing videos.

Acknowledging this, eLearning professionals try to build as much variety as possible into their courseware. The objective is to make the subject you’re teaching the most interesting stimulus in the environment.

Surprise! This really helps people learn

The part of the brain that eLearning targets is amygdala, the region that responds to interest, surprise, attraction, and motivation. The general idea is to lob new stuff at this part of the brain more or less continuously in order to  to keep the synapses firing and to form new connections. If the incoming information coming in is not new, the synapses relax, and no learning takes place.

The amygdala alsohelps to contextualize the new stuff with what the learner already knows.

Explainer video production questions for subject matter experts

Knowledge transfer is the aim of most of the videos we make. When you begin an explainer video production project, the “knowledge” you want your prospect to take on board resides in the minds of subject matter experts — salespeople, product managers, marketers and engineers. Some subject matter experts (e.g., salespeople) are invested in the success of the video. Others may resent having to invest their valuable time in a marketing initiative that’s not central to their real job.

We like to keep our “interviews” short, informal and conversational because what we’re really trying to discover is, not how a solution works, but how it’s best explained. Here are a few questions you can ask your SMEs that will help make the knowledge transfer go smoothly.

What do people have the most trouble understanding about your solution?

This question helps to focus the conversation on learning needs and away from video content. It can help in structuring the explainer video production content, too.

What do you think should be the three most important takeaways from this video?

Creating marketing videos using eLearning techniques

marketing videos using elearningThis article describes how to create effective marketing videos using eLearning techniques. It’s reasonable to assume that viewers choose to watch technology marketing videos not to entertain themselves but, rather, to educate themselves. Like most adult learners, they are result-oriented and hope to learn something they can apply, on-the-job, right away.

I’ve been exploring tips and tricks shared among eLearning professionals, to look for ideas that will help us create more effective videos for our technology solution provider customers.

According to eLearning expert Dr. Joel Gardner, the fundamentals of instructional design haven’t really been improved upon since you learned how to add and subtract: Tell-Show-Do-Apply.

Here are some ways this model can help you create an explainer technology solution marketing video using eLearning tricks.

Tips for opening the video: the “Tell” strategy

According to Gardner, the first component of good instruction is the Tell strategy: you tell the learner what she’s going to learn.

This eLearning blog post suggests some effective ways to introduce new learning:

  • Use appropriate attention-grabbing techniques — a specific problem, a comparison, a memorable visual, a thought-provoking question, a clear contrast, a checklist
  • Tell learners how what they’re about to learn applies.
  • Refer to prior learning to link what you are about to teach to personal experiences.
  • Discovery learning: help learners discover and become aware of what they already know.