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.
The first rule for keeping videos for IT decision-makers short, is “Don’t tell them what they already know, just tell them what they want to know.” Maybe that’s two rules, but enforcement is hard either way. It’s particularly hard to say what each person on a buying team starts out knowing or wants to know. Not everyone is out to acquire “product knowledge.” Some good general guidelines on what IT decision-makers want to learn can be gleaned from the wealth of statistical factoids in IDG’s Guide to engaging IT decision-makers in the digital-first age, an infographic which summarizes the findings of several recent in-depth studies. Here are a few of the findings worth taking into account when you plan video content for customer engagement.
It takes a whole semester
The average sales process is 4.8 months, during which you’ll need to reach 16 influencers, half of them from IT, half from the business. You want to avoid “marketing hype/buzz words” — most IT decision-makers (56%) have problems with that. 90% put a high value on “tailored” content — by tech platform, industry, or company size.
Many decision-makers (78%) say end-users are playing an increasing role in process. 71% said they would like to have”more educational resources” from vendors, tailored for non-technical functions. 85% are “more likely to consider a vendor who educates them in each stage of the decision process.” The average decision-maker downloads five “educational assets.”
Keep in mind that not every learner needs to master the subject. For some, it’s enough to tick a few boxes.
Marc Brown, who analyzes digital marketing strategy, trends and practices at Gartner, argues persuasively that the differences between B2B and B2C are are rapidly disappearing. This trend has important implications for sales and marketing video production, and for content marketing in general. And it supports the case for new types of video for technology marketing: video that improves the customer experience.
The commoditization of products
I’ve loosely paraphrased and simplified the disappearing differentiators cited by Brown in the form of hypothetical survey questions. The big driver of customer experience in B2C these days is commoditization. Consumers don’t see much difference between brands and product until they interact with them.
Weighing the differences. To the extent that B2B and B2C both focus on the individual customer journey, the requirements are very similar. Channels and touchpoints are complicated in B2C; buying committees complicate the nature of the customer experience in B2B.
Commoditization is not a term used by Brown, but that’s what he’s talking about when he observes that customers “aren’t interested in ‘market leading’, ‘state of the art’, or ‘best in class’.” These phrases imply that the differences among competing products are actually pretty hazy. The rapid growth of sales enablement, account-based marketing, and similar technologies to keep up with customer wants and needs is evidence that customer experience should be increasingly important for B2B marketers.
If your product is perceived as a commodity, why would anyone watch a video about it? Yet product-centric videos are the norm in B2B. Brown refers to product-centric content as “corporate selfies.” A typical technology product video promises to deliver capabilities like visibility, scalability, and security to achieve productivity, cost savings, and customer satisfaction.
You have to ask yourself, how different from these are our competitors’ promises? If the customer can’t distinguish your features and benefits from the ones promised by your competitors, shouldn’t you be looking for new types of video that deliver what customers are looking for? As Brown puts it, “they’re looking for ways to be more effective at their jobs, save time, and avoid pressure from their management team.”
“Okay, I know what we are talking about. I get it.”
That’s the only response you want to your positioning statement, according to Gartner research analyst Hank Barnes, who has conducted more than 1500 positioning reviews in the last five years.
You don’t share your positioning statement? Neither had we. Neither do lots of companies. Positioning, as Hank points out, is not messaging. Positioning statements are supposed provide a framework for messaging, but they tend to be formulaic and not very interesting. The canonical structure is along these lines:
Who the target customer is
What they need
What you offer
Reason(s) to do business with you
A competitive differentiator
It’s hard to turn this structure into enticing, snackable text. But it’s not so hard to do it with video.
Why would you want to make a video positioning statement?
You certainly wouldn’t be following the crowd. A Google search turns up lots of videos about writing positioning statements online, but no videos that communicate an actual positioning statement.
30-second rebranding announcement for Technology Business Video.
We created the positioning statement video here as part of our recent rebranding effort. Like many technology solution providers,
An arresting Biznology article by Ruth Stevens, “How do you sell when your buyers can’t buy? Mounting dysfunction in the B2B buying process” has interesting implications for creating videos geared to the customer journey. The article recounts an interview with Brent Adamson, Principal Executive Advisor on Sales, Marketing, & Communications at Gartner. The cause of the “mounting dysfunction” Adamson identifies is the growth and complexity of buying groups, averaging 6.8 individuals (up from 5.4 just two years ago) and representing 3.4 functions.
Yikes. The probability of getting any decision drops dramatically as soon as the second member joins the buying team. And — bad news for vendors — it takes just about as long to reach a decision as it does to end the buying process by deciding not to decide. Adamson recommends trying to understand what makes it hard for the customer to buy. If you can identify the issues that prevent them from reaching agreement, if you can pinpoint when “analysis paralysis” takes hold, you may be able to offer help — a workshop, for example, or decision analysis tool.
A different kind of video for the customer journey
“When customers are considering a purchase, they receive an overwhelming amount of content from vendors. So designing information and deploying content in a way that makes buying easier can be just as powerful as prescriptive selling,” Adamson notes. Most videos, of course, are designed to prescribe what a solution is for, not to address issues that people disagree about. Marketing content, including video, designed to knock down competitors‘ claims is not unusual, of course, but I’ve seen very little content that acknowledges and seeks to resolve internal conflict. Yet, video storytelling thrives on conflict. Overcoming obstacles is essential to the “hero’s journey” structure of most storytelling in literature, film and video.
So, at the very least, next time you think about making a video, you may want to ask “what do buying committee members disagree about?” It could make a good story. At least, we plan to add it to our list of good questions to ask subject matter experts.
Video content marketing is about providing viewers with many opportunities to engage with your company through its videos. Here are some signs you may be missing out on some opportunities.
1. You think you just need a video.
Maybe you’re introducing a new product. You want a video that gets people excited, right? But if your glitzy product video leads the viewer to content that is flat and quickly abandoned, you have reduced the ROI of the your centerpiece video. Makes no sense. For video content marketing to work, every video needs to deliver value.
2. You’re not repurposing videos.
I keep banging on about this. Your existing videos almost certainly contain a great deal of good stuff that could be re-purposed to make other good stuff. Maybe it’s the “demo” section of a recorded webinar. Or just the part of the demo where the user clicks through to find the right information. A good way to make an old talking head video new again, is to add graphics.
3. None of your videos measures viewer engagement
The leading producers of branded video (mostly B2C companies) are increasingly relying on engagement metrics, not views or viewing time, to measure performance. It’s easy to add calls-to-action in YouTube and other video sites. It’s easy to add interactive chapter headings to video.