Author: Bruce McKenzie


What types of video speed up the customer journey?

Speeding up the customer journey sometimes looks like an iffy proposition. Gartner’s version of the modern customers journey below makes you wonder how it could ever be completed. Yet, businesses are demanding even  faster buying decisions for software purchases. If you agree that video is one of the fastest ways to move ideas forward, then it makes sense to look into how can we use video to help buying groups evaluate solutions.

It stands to reason that if anything can speed up this journey, it’s video 🙂

Here are a few things we know from about buying decision-makers:

  • 81% of B2B buyers prefer digital channels to face-to-face encounters
  • 63% of B2B buyers disregard content that is not personalized to their interests, needs, industry, or role
  • More than 80% of the buying journey it taken up with independent research and buying group discussions

These findings are drawn from a Netline eBook, Nology – State of B2B Marketing for Global Tech, [download link]. The findings point to this conclusion “the breadth and depth of your content is the single most important variable in your marketing strategy.”

Technology product videos for speeding up the customer journey

Today’s customers want videos throughout the buying journey. Survey respondents said they watch product information videos (81%), videos about trends and predictions (59%), and real-world scenarios or case studies (56% ).

Business decision makers are more likely to watch advice or tutorial videos “with actionable takeaways.” IT is more likely to watch videos reporting on research summaries or in industry trends.

To increase the breadth and depth of a video library, real-world scenarios and case studies are good subjects, because viewers like to learn from stories. The everyday issues tech buyers care about — onboarding processes, learning resources, ease of integration, and the like — make humdrum reading on the page but can be brought to life in video.

Five minutes appears to be the upper limit on attention spans for these types of videos.

Advice or tutorials (actionable takeaways) 4–5 mins
Product information 2–3 mins
Real-world scenarios / case studies 3–4 mins
Research summaries 2–3 mins
Trends and predictions 2–3 mins

Demos and webinars

Webinars continue to be a good source of product information. Respondents said they’d prefer to hear from several speakers, not just one, and agreed that 30–60 minutes is a good length. The more show-and-tell, the better. Recorded webinars are easier to watch if they include clickable chapter titles and edit out irrelevant introductory material.

Training resources

Training resources represent a key differentiator for software buyers. First-rate training materials often contain videos resources that can be highlighted in videos  describing why your implementation and support services contribute to making yours the winning solution.


70% of respondents participating in the survey were using chatbots when this survey was conducted — prior to the recent explosion of interest in AI. Clearly, we should all be thinking about what kinds of video chatbots and other AI tools we will want to use. AIs learn largely by reading text — another reminder that videos should be published with transcripts and captions.

The takeaway

Buyers want videos they can learn from and share, containing information that is immediately useful for evaluating vendors and making decisions. They are looking for videos that are more than “explainers” in name only.


Take Advantage of 2023 Software Buying Trends

Gartner’s 2023 Global Software Buying Trends (free download with registration) touches on several issues that will interest sales and marketing teams looking for a competitive edge. Below, you’ll find some ideas for crafting videos to take advantage of these software buying trends.

Top software buying trends: productivity, security

Not surprisingly, improving productivity was the top motivation, cited by 37% of business leaders surveyed. But other reasons, (> 25%) were meeting growing technology needs, addressing security and cyberattacks, expanding product offerings, and targeting new customers.

Content that demonstrates awareness of these motivations, and documents your solutions’ strengths, will be useful at the awareness stage of the buying cycle.

How buyers research and compare software

At the consideration phase of the buying cycle buyers rely heavily on customer reviews, but they also attend personalized product demonstrations and review product documentation and training. Video is widely used in these areas, though most companies will probably agree that there’s plenty of room for improvement.

A frequently overlooked marketing opportunity here is repurposing (shortening and anonymizing) personal demos to highlight use-cases.

Software evaluation

The report found that ease of use and security are top factors buyers consider when shortlisting software, followed by product features and functionalities.

Ease of use, including details about features and functionalities, are what the buyer is looking for in the consideration phase, not a short explainer video. However, tutorial videos that have been repurposed to show “how easy it is to accomplish X” could be persuasive for some members of the buying team.

Gartner also notes that most buyers opt for customized solutions versus off-the-shelf products. So, it makes sense to highlight custom and integration options in marketing content.

IT Influence

Though certainly not a new software buying trend,  survey responses underscored the fact that IT stakeholders are usually the most influential in software purchases, and their biggest concerns are the learning curve and potential downtime.

Demonstrating quality in training resources and implementation guides can make or break a deal.

Somewhat surprising software buying trend: faster purchase decisions

Another key finding in the Gartner report is that “while a majority (35%) of businesses took 3 to 6 months to finalize a software purchase in 2021, that percentage grew to 47% in 2022.” (Also, they are evaluating more software providers.)

It follows that providers gain an advantage by explaining their solutions efficiently and effectively. In many cases, that will be a visual explanation, and that’s a good way to think about video: an efficient tool for creating visual explanations. A good video team will be able to come up with several cost-effective options for quickly explaining something that’s hard to explain.


How virtual events can outperform in-person events

It’s now common wisdom that the big shift from in-person to on-screen sales engagement is here to stay. Virtual events can outperfrom even traditionally schmoozy get-togethers like trade shows and conferences  in important ways:

  • more attendees
  • greater flexibility to attend multiple sessions
  • much lower production costs
  • little or no T&E expense
  • better audience analytics

Still, according to a 2021 Forrester study, most marketers admit to having a tough time replicating the “compelling storytelling and lead-generating aspects” of in-person events. Well, of course. As a customer experience, online business events are mostly okay, but far short of “compelling.”

Reusable marketing assets for virtual events

Nevertheless, marketers are upbeat — 80% agreed that their virtual events and hybrid events could eventually achieve the same or greater success as in-person events with the right strategy and software solutions (e.g., those available from BlueJeans, the company who commissioned the study).

As to virtual events strategy, the Forrester study suggests that marketers should revise their thinking to “focus on creating reusable marketing assets and a personalized, educational CX.”

Because video is often the most efficient way to deliver information and can help fend off Zoom fatigue, many of these assets will be videos. But it’s also true that the video formats most marketers are comfortable with today — product-centric explainers, webinars, demos, tutorials — aren’t intended for a “personalized, educational customer experience.”

For that, you need to develop an easy-to-navigate library of videos on the specific product features and benefits that customers and prospects ask about. The value of this approach goes beyond virtual events. Videos that make virtual events more effective can easily be re-used in sales presentations, on website product pages, in social media, even in text documents like white papers. And, unlike the interactions in live events, engagement with videos can easily be measured, providing valuable insights into what your audience really cares about.

Where to start

If you look closely at your existing video library, you’ll almost certainly discover segments that can be re-edited to enliven virtual events. You can start creating new marketing videos and demos with segments that are easy to excerpt. Slideshares, process diagrams, and other graphic assets can also form the basis of short videos used in online events and reused elsewhere.

Online events play an important role in the competition for customers — and an effective video strategy will be a competitive advantage.


How LinkedIn Can Transform Your Video Strategy

More than 80% of B2B marketers think their lead-nurturing programs should be a lot better than they are, according to a recent Demand Gen Report survey. LinkedIn video is an opportunity many aren’t taking full advantage of.  The professional networking platform grew to 830 million users during the pandemic, and has continued to introduce new tools for segmenting audiences and sharing content. Indeed, users are complaining about oversharing. Still, many users use LinkedIn mostly for research, not for socializing. Compared to other social media, there’s far less quality content — particularly LinkedIn video content — competing for attention. Superior videos will be appreciated, whether people are checking out your company page or you’re reaching out to nurture leads.

LinkedIn Video = Native Video

What’s more, there’s a good chance your competitors aren’t taking full advantage of LinkedIn’s tools yet. For example, you probably already post links to videos you’ve posted on other platforms like YouTube and Vimeo on LinkedIn. There’s a much better way.

Native videos are video files uploaded directly to, or created on, LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s algorithm gives native videos preferential treatment in searches and feeds. Given that native videos get about ten times more shares than video links get on Facebook, the same should be true for LinkedIn native videos. In addition, LinkedIn’s content (and video content, generally) does well in Google search results.

Optimize Existing Videos

Just like other social media, most users connect to LinkedIn on their phones, so video in square or portrait format takes longer for users to scroll past, compared to videos in the horizontal HD format commonly used for explainers, demos, and most other business videos.

The simplest way to optimize horizontal videos for LinkedIn is to use editing software to place the existing video in the center of a square frame. Add titles or headlines above the video and captions under it. Now, you’ve got a video that communicates on three levels. Captions are important because most people watch videos on social media without sound.

Include a Helpful Description and Hashtags

Your optimized video will be sure to catch the eye — but it’s even more likely to get watched if the text around it helps people evaluate its relevance to them. Include links to your other relevant content, too. Meaningful hashtags can help your video reach the right people. Here’s The Only Article You Need To Read About LinkedIn Hashtags.

Narrowly Target Content

Obviously, LinkedIn video offers many opportunities to target content for different roles. There are lots of ways to create or edit video in order to speak directly to those different roles. Here are three effective ways to do that:

  • Use different characters to represent different personas
  • Structure explainer videos in chapters or as listicles
  • Share appropriate excerpts from demo videos with LinkedIn contacts

The next time you plan a video, or your annual budget for video, consider the new opportunities LinkedIn can open up.


Sales Transformation and self-service video

You may have noticed that more and more sales management roles are adding “Sales Transformation” to their job descriptions. It’s not hard to see why.

  • Today buyers spend 80% their buying time researching independently and talking with other decision-makers on their team (Gartner).
  • 99% of B2B buyers would opt to make new purchases through self-service, if they could (McKinsey).
  • And, even when they do meet with vendors, they prefer meeting online. (Gartner)

Where does video fit into this necessary Transformation?

Virtual selling and visual selling

We all know from experience that it’s very easy for attention to wander during online meetings. That’s why it makes sense to use as many relevant visuals as you can in your online presentations. Short-form videos are attention-grabbers. Did you know that videos under 60 seconds draw 57% of YouTube views (as of July 2022), compared to just 11% two years earlier?

Self-service and the microlearning model

With self-service B2B buying efforts, the buyer’s attention is more or less guaranteed — but so is their frustration if they don’t find out what they want to know. White papers and blog posts are valuable learning resources because the content is easy to skim. Information-rich visuals like diagrams, charts, and screen grabs get the point across quickly.

Many videos can be skimmed, too. YouTube and other platforms automatically add chapters and subtitles (though adding them manually gives a better result).

Still, traditional video forms aren’t designed for self-service learners. Explainer videos and testimonials are sales-y, webinars are slow, tutorials get too far into the weeds.

Perhaps the best model for self-service selling can be found in microlearning —  the use of2-5 minute lessons that deliver bursts of learning for people who are eager to learn. Microlearning lessons are typically devoted to a single problem and its solution — the opposite of an overview.

Leveraging short-form videos

If you can break down your messaging into interesting problems and solutions, you can easily make short videos that can be leveraged and shared it in multiple channels.

Your sales team’s cadence, for example involves a certain number of emails or text messages, some of which can include video. And Sales always needs follow-up messages.

What’s more, these problem-solution videos are extremely effective because they are very easy to share within the buyer’s organization.

A more consultative role for sales

In a recent Salesforce survey, 74% of sales reps said that their roles have become more consultative and less transactional since the pandemic. Buyers will have done their homework when they talk to sales—  and sales should know what content they’ve viewed.

As the conversation develops, having new insight and guidance —   subject matter expert perspectives, software demos, customer stories — readily available can be a real confidence booster for both the seller and the buyer. At this stage, videos don’t need to be slick —  but they can’t waste time getting to the point, either (the same is true for other content).

All of this is to say that sales transformation will require changes in how we think about the role of sales support content, including video.


Winning Differentiators

If your company sells enterprise technology solutions, if pays to think of video in the context of the buying process. For surprising insights into buying processes — teams, activities, decision-making, and what it takes to come up with winning differentiators,  — I’ve found Gartner analyst Hank Barnes to be a reliable source over the past decade, 

Winning differentiators and high-quality deals

Consider, for example, the high-quality deal, where “both the customer and the vendor should be (at least relatively) happy.” The Gartner team has been researching these deals for quite a while; here’s a graphic from a recent blog post by Hank Barnes that summarizes key findings:

Demonstrating Winning Differentiators

What’s notable here is that there are only two bullet points, both of which begin with the word demonstrated. Demonstration is one thing every tech company uses video screens for. Shouldn’t every technology solution demo emphasize situational awareness and industry knowledge?

How would you do that?

  • Choose use cases familiar to your ideal customer
  • Draw clear comparisons to alternative approaches
  • Clarify the customer benefit of every feature you demonstrate
Reuse and Repurpose

Sharing excerpts and use cases from targeted demos is an opportunity for sales to communicate the kind of situational awareness and industry knowledge customers are looking for.

Because it’s video, this sales communication is more likely to be shared internally within the customer organization than ordinary email. It’s an efficient and unobtrusive way to get buying team members on the same page as they build their business case.

It’s also a pretty simple task for a video producer. Step-by-step demos of a software solution tend to look pretty much the same from one industry and use case to the next. It may even be possible to use the same screencast sequences with different customers and industries. Personalizing the demo can be done with narration and introductory graphics. If it’s directly relevant to the viewer, it’s not going to require a lot of pizzazz.

Add Character

You can turn a demo into a quasi-testimonial with an animated character recounting the use case as a stand-in for subject matter experts. Simple facial expression animation is relatively inexpensive and easily adaptable to different stories.

Achieve Differentiation with Digital Selling

Differentiation is always hard. In today’s environment where sales interactions on video screens is growing, opportunities to use video to demonstrate industry knowledge and understanding of your customer’s situation are growing too. You’ll probably be able to identify lots of them in the online demos you’re already doing.


6 Tips for better video narrations

In developing marketing videos, we usually start with a script — that is, words on paper. This is a sensible and congenial way for technology marketers to work, since most of us spend a lot more time dealing with text in various forms than the do with video. Better-written scripts help assure better video narrations. But the spoken words of a video script needs to be looked at differently from the way you look at written text.  On the page, human expressiveness doesn’t look like corporate messaging. It’s easy to overlook how every single spoken word will increase the length of the video. If they’re the right words, spoken persuasively, they’ll also add to the video’s meaning and its success. Wasted words add length, even as they subtract from the message.

1. Count the words

better explainer video narrations

Every word adds to the length of a video. That’s why it’s so critical to make every word count. “All the logistics” takes up about 1 second.

Many smart people who write well have trouble converting the number of words they write to the length of time needed to say the same words aloud. If your aim is to write a video that’s 60 seconds long, your first draft should contain about 125 words.

Yes, you can say more words than that in 60 seconds. I, myself, normally speak about three words per second when reading aloud. But if you listened to me — or James Earl Jones, or Scarlett Johansen, or anyone else — rattle on about a technology solution at 180 words per minute — well, you wouldn’t listen. No one would.

Sentences need rhythm. Viewers need time to absorb what is being spoken and the visual storytelling. If you want to keep your message short and understandable, you need to be an implacable word counter from the get-go.

2. Talk the talk

Another consideration marketers are apt to overlook is that the narrator needs to talk the way people talk. Industry jargon may be a big plus. On the other hand, marketing-speak, 


Testimonial Videos Made Simple

The ideal testimonial is a story about how someone like you solved a problem like yours. But good video testimonials are rare, despite their obvious value in an era of digital selling. Why? Because, however much they truly value a product or service, customers see little benefit in a not-entirely work-related project that will probably require legal department sign-off. And sales reps are reluctant to ask their customers to put in the effort needed to make a good video testimonial.

Testimonial video “based a true story”

Some of the best recent entertainment in film and TV has claimed to be ”based on a true story.” Viewers understand this to imply a mixture of truth, glossed-over details, and “composite” characters introduced to help to propel the story.

If you think about it, except for the composite characters, much the same could be said of the content B2B buyers value most highly when they are researching their needs.


You rarely encounter an interesting character with a compelling story in any of the content types shown in the chart. Dull storytelling is one reason why most of this content takes a good deal of patience and mental work to absorb.

Being real about business

You can use video to turn reports, case studies, and similar content into stories people will be interested in. All you need to do is

  • develop composite characters with jobs like those in your target audience — maybe based on personas already developed by the marketing team
  • give these characters credible stories to relate

No one will mistake animated characters for “real” people, but a competent voice actor can make your character sound credible. If what they are saying rings true, people will listen.

This doesn’t require Disney-quality animation. Your character doesn’t need any dramatic moves or facial expressions. You can keep things moving along with a minimum of character animation and simple visual support like charts, illustrations, photos, and lists or bullet points.

You don’t need an elaborate environment — something resembling an in-person or online meeting works. Hearing real(ish) people, talking realistically, about real problems is a good way to learn something new about a product or service. In fact.  a testimonial video narrated by a professional actor is likely to be more concise and easier to watch than hearing the story from a real customer.


Conversational Video For Hybrid Selling

A technology consultant contacted me recently looking for a video solution to this problem: how to spread the word about his firm’s software solutions in order to start pilot projects for new applications. What he had in mind was a 2-Minute Explainer® video — that’s what we’re best-known for. But it quickly became clear that, while his target audience can be defined with unusual precision, the “product” and its value proposition hadn’t really come into focus as yet. What’s needed is the type of conversational video, which I’ve been writing about for years — but in a format that meets the needs of today’s hybrid selling styles.

The “Rule of Thirds” for  Hybrid Sales

More digital, less in-person.

Recent research has been published by McKinsey & Company on the hybrid sales model that has emerged to prevail during the pandemic. Basically, hybrid sales is like field sales, but much more digital, less in-person.  McKinsey’s research  identifies what they call a “rule of thirds.” B2B buying decision-makers say they are using roughly an even mix of three sales channel types at each stage of the sales process:

  • Traditional sales, like in-person meetings
  • Remote sales, like videoconferencing
  • Self-service, like digital portals

94% of decision-makers now say this ‘omnichannel’ sales model is at least as effective as what they were doing before the pandemic. (By contrast, in April 2020, only 65% of respondents thought the new ways of selling were as effective as their pre-COVID-19 model.)

Conversational Video: Credible Personalization

At each stage of the sales process  there’s a conversation going on in every channel that would probably move along faster and smoother with strong visual support, including video. Take self-service portals, for example. They have always been the sweet spot for explainer videos — but there’s room for lots of different types of videos here and elsewhere. The more specific to the customer’s interests, the more “personalized” the feel.

The technology consultant who is looking for pilot projects, for example, needs videos that illustrate the concepts and use cases that are normally discussed on video calls and searched for in web portals. He doesn’t need traditional videos as much as he needs animations and stories can both arouse interest and help to better define the product’s appeal from the customer’s point of view.

Sources for these visuals could be whiteboard sketches, PowerPoint or technical discussion diagrams, even internal demos and presentations recorded with Slack. The key is to deliver them in a cost-effective video format —like video messaging,  that promotes conversation. Hybrid selling is here to stay. Tap the talents of your video team to give customers more of what they are looking for.


Video Messaging for Customers and Colleagues

When was the last time you read an email that made you feel smarter? Or felt enlightened during an online meeting? The unexpected experience of a clear, concise explanation of something that matters to you is both rare and refreshing in the “new normal” online information environment. Crafting clear, concise emails is tedious work that often goes unrewarded because the recipient doesn’t have time to read detailed emails. And sometimes just trying to schedule a screen-sharing meeting can be frustrating. Video messaging is a communication solution with a much better chance of being viewed and understood than an email.

What is video messaging?

It’s asynchronous communication, meaning you never need to find a convenient time or request permission to share your screen.

The sweet spot for video messaging is when talking through a concept or a process with visuals is the most efficient way to give the viewer an Aha moment.

The format can be quite informal and personal, like video chat. The visuals can be diagrams, video snips, even something you draw on a white board. You can focus on explaining just one thing as well as you can. So you won’t need bullet slides. On the other hand, you can create video messages that work like slide decks — viewers can click through selectively.

Cost-effective videos

If you can’t repurpose visuals that you already have on hand, consider tapping professional creative resources to help build your video messages. It is video and, consciously or not, people expect videos to be like TV, with some level of professional production quality. Upgrading your video message with professional illustrations and animation will cost a fraction of what a typical marketing video costs — and professionally crafted visuals will almost certainly have multiple uses.

Ease of production

The presenters in video messages are likely to be subject matter experts or salespeople who may not feel comfortable on camera. But video messaging is much less stressful than they may fear. It’s done with recordings, not as live events. There’s time to rehearse and polish each segment. Presenters don’t need to command the screen. They can add commentary, personality and humor from a small window in a corner of the screen, or off-screen.

Personalization and re-use for a wider audience

Obviously, it would be fairly easy to tweak a presentation that like this for individual recipients. But it may not even be necessary. From the viewer’s perspective, the experience of having a real person, who knows what they’re talking about, deliver a crystal-clear explanation, is bound to feel special.

Getting started

To make and share video messaging recordings takes some practice, but not a lot of technical equipment or video experience. You can leverage video creation tools built into Windows and MacOS, or online meeting software. Specialized video messaging platforms with more options for creation and sharing (e.g. Loom, mmhmm) offer free trials.

So, ask yourself, do I need to persuade any teammates, prospects, or customers to take a look at something from a different perspective? If you do, video messaging is a solution worth looking into.