In fiction, everyone in the audience starts out knowing little or nothing of the story — and looks forward to the telling. Effective commercials tell stories. Most technology marketing videos tell the story of characters (e.g., the CXO) overcoming difficulties (e.g., bad data, poor performance) with new technology solutions. This article will discuss approaches to explainer video scriptwriting in chapters.
The case for chapterization
But a good case can be made for “fragmented” storytelling in marketing videos — loosely connected chapters that can stand on their own. For one thing, buyers today are doing their own research, so they already know some of your story — and you don’t know exactly how much they know.
There are few exceptions to the rule that you can’t have a good video without a good script. Even if the production is improvised, what gets used is judiciously chosen and edited to create the script. Here are some of the best information sources for B2B technology videos which you should furnish to the writers to help them come up with the best possible B2B technology video.
Diagrams, flow charts, timelines
This video is structured around a diagram that tells a story. Adapted from a company publication, the diagram depicts both the steps in the process, and how Ultriva’s demand-driven solutions work together to support lean manufacturing..
The best diagrams can usually be found by flipping through PowerPoint decks and white papers, sometimes in blogs and whiteboard videos. You’re looking for a chart, diagram, or Illustration that tells a story — how something works, data relationships, the steps in a process, the jobs and departments involved.
The thing about pictures is — it takes a lot of thought to make one. That’s one reason they make a good starting point for a video. Looking at and discussing pictures also tends to lead to new visual ideas.
Images depicting an “integrated approach” to something are fine for PowerPoint or static web pages. In video, they are apt to “cost” a thousand words.
However, a picture is only worth a thousand words (of narration) if it captures a story pictorially. Diagrams that are themselves made up of words are more likely to require a thousand words of explanation than they are to convey a narrative that can be instantly grasped.
And you can also be sure you’re looking at a lot of thought when you see a process flow chart, a timeline, or a representation of system architecture.
If you market to IT Service Providers, you can get a lot of insight into what they’re doing to grow their businesses here.
I recently did a podcast with Joshua Feinberg, an interesting guy and certified HubSpot partner, whose company, SPHomeRun, helps IT service providers (Cloud, MSP, Consulting, Repair, etc.) with inbound marketing.
One of the subjects we covered was the value of talking to sales reps — people who actually talk to customers — when planning a video project. Even though, as Josh and many others point out, 60% of the typical B2B sales cycle over before a potential client even reaches out to any vendor’s sales department, sales people know the kinds of questions good prospects ask. That’s the kind of question inbound marketing — and your video — needs to answer.
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.
Why 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:
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.
How narrowly can you target a video? This article looks at 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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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:
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