Buyer’s Journey Videos are packages of videos designed to educate the whole buying committee.
For technology solution providers, the “Buyer’s Journey” (or “Customer Journey) is the paths taken by of a buying committee. Members can be defined by role or position.
According to LinkedIn research, just over half (57%) of the members of a typical buying committee are in IT (managers, executives and “contributors”). Others represent sales, marketing, facilities, and finance.
These are all people with different interests. They may have short attention spans. In any case, most of them don’t want to be “marketed” to with sales-y happy talk. And much of the time, they prefer quick video summaries of information.
Buyer’s Journey Videos come in packages of related videos that address different interests in different ways. They may focus on different use cases, specific new product features, different ways of framing a problem, or almost anything else.
The key thing is to try to get to the point fast, since what most technology buyers have in common is many competing demands for their time, and impatience with “fluff.”
“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 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.)
Defining specifications, defining a budget or securing funding
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.
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.
It’s easier and cheaper to grow your business with existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. So why don’t technology companies devote more video resources to this marketing tactic? Because most marketers think of making videos in just a few categories — overviews, testimonials, executive presentations, demos. But there is a more appropriate way to think about video to increase penetration at key accounts.
A templatized approach
Here’s a cost-effective approach to producing animated explainer videos to support major account penetration, when the following conditions apply:
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.
A recent LinkedIn post asks “Are B2B sales reps getting spoiled by inbound marketing?” Now, I don’t know about all B2B sales, but in my experience with technology solution sales, I’ve certainly never run into a sales professional who seemed overly satisfied with the leads produced by inbound (or any other kind of) marketing.
A recent Hubspot report provides the telling stat that only 24% of marketers have any formalized agreement with sales on who does what and when. This has been construed as marketing “forgetting” sales, which may be unfair,
Today’s technology buyers have specific interests and specific questions. They want guidance, not product-centric, sales-y, overviews with something for everyone.
When we started making 2-Minute Explainer® videos in 2004, what seemed to need the most explaining was what businesses do. We prospected for new business by reading news releases about new products. If we couldn’t understand the product or service on first reading, we called up the executives quoted in the release and pitched them on the idea of making their value proposition clear with a video. Just about everyone we talked with agreed that video would be a great way to introduce their product or service — far superior to web text. The idea caught on — and nowadays just about every technology solution is associated with a video overview, many of which we produce. This article will explain how using explainer video for buyer engagement pays off, all along the buyer’s journey.
The opportunity: buyer engagement
But what of the people who have actually embarked on “the buyer’s journey” and made progress toward a decision? Do they still need an overview?
Consider the following situations:
You are trying to cross-sell or up-sell to a prospect who is already a customer for some of your solutions or services.
The buyer has a clear idea of the solution, but needs help sorting out the differences between competing versions.
The individual “buyer” fits one of the following categories (suggested by Gartner research director Hank Barnes)
Business Buyer – does this solve my business problem? Financial Buyer – do the overall costs make sense vs. potential return? Technical Buyer – is the technology is sound? Risk Buyer – are the potential risks worth taking? User Buyer – how will we actually use it?
Let’s assume that you work for a technology company with a viable brand and a professional marketing operation. Which of the following does more to make your brand central to the business lives of your customers:
Advertising, corporate identity, and PR? Or
Everything else employees do?
Sure, branding is important. In an era of increasing information overload, maybe more important than ever.
However, as Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech argue in a Harvard Business Review article, the most successful digital brands (e.g., Apple, Google) do comparatively little brand image advertising. How we feel about these companies’ brands depends almost entirely on how we feel about their products. Apple’s advertising by product placement is certainly pervasive — which underscores the authors’ observation that Apple’s advertising is basically “boring product shots” anyway.
Skibsted and Bech conclude
Brand builders must embed themselves across the customer value chain. As information is more and more available and the importance of brands increases, the ability to tell a meaningful story through actions and products, not words, is the only way to win.
Marketers embedded “across the value chain” is not something I’ve seen in many companies. What I do see too often is marketers more interested in controlling the message than in enabling sales to increase customer engagement. I’ve seen video projects delayed for six months to a year while marketers debated messaging and tweaked graphics standards.
Click image to view our 1 minute explainer on buyer journey videos.
I’ve been writing recently about videos for the buyer’s journey. We tried to capture the essentials of these ideas in the video linked to the right. It’s under a minute long, so I won’t give away the plot except to say that targeting different interests on the buying team seems to us to be a best practice. Another best practice, with respect to any content published for people with short attention spans, is that you need to get to the point fast. Taken together, these two best practices generate a third: multiple videos that appeal to different interests — from the start. We call this a video bundle.
Example: New buyer’s journey videos bundle for a sales enablement app
If your company uses SalesForce you’ll be interested in the video bundle supporting a new sales enablement app launched recently by our client JourneySales on the SalesForce AppExchange. The Journey Sales app transforms the familiar SalesForce reporting interface into user-friendly SmartRooms where salespeople can share content and engage with customers.
Most B2B marketing videos don’t support the buyer’s journey because they are product-centric. They accompany product introductions, reside on product pages and are featured in product promotions. Most B2B videos are designed for the “awareness” phase of the buyer’s journey — that is, “Introducing (ta-da!) Cloud Security v.3.0!”
These overview “explainer” videos are useful. Customers, prospects, marketers, and salespeople all like short videos that answer the question “what does it do?” when the subject is new to them. Our company has made hundreds of product introduction videos. But . . .