TBV Insights

Six B2B explainer video “worst practices” (including some of mine)

Until recently, video was rare on the Internet, and people were grateful to find it because the prose (at least on tech company websites) was so dreary. A video on the home or product page was high-impact communication.  That was the case when we started making 2-Minute Explainer videos in 2004.  Now, video isn’t just popular, it’s a content-marketing essential like white papers and and webinars.  You need to find new ways to get your videos found. Video needs to work harder to get results. So it’s best to avoid the following (still prevalent) B2B explainer video “worst practices” from bygone days.

1. No competitive advantage to take away

When we talk about our “2-Minute Explainer” videos with prospects, they often express the need for a “high-level overview,” by which they mean something like “just the high points,” but which often results in not much more than a list of features. It may be because my video background is in journalism, not commercials, but I’ve always felt that, in B2B video communication, it’s essential to have a tangible takeaway — “We do X. The competition only does Y!” A surprising number of videos simply elaborate a problem and then assert that the solution provider can solve it.

2. Wishy-washy call to action

B2B explainer video
Not wishy-washy at all. Invitation to a conference with one unmistakable call-to-action (“Register!”)

Many B2B videos have no call to action. Many more just invite the viewer to get in touch. Why not make it quick and easy? This workmanlike video from SAP invites viewers to a conference, and, from the outset, provides just one highly visible and unmistakable next step.

 3. Buttons that don’t shout “video”

Until recently, our website lacked clearly delineated links to videos — far-from-best practice for a company in the video biz. For example, we were using this button.

B2B explainer video
Worst practice #3: How would anyone know this links to a video?

This is better.

B2B explainer video
Better practice: There’s no doubt about this one.

4. Hidden away below the fold and elsewhere

If you’ve bought into the idea that video is effective content marketing, it makes sense to give it prominent placement. That means, not confined to the “resources” section of the site, but rather

  • “above the fold” on your home page
  • included in sliders and galleries
  • in the FAQ
  • integrated into feature lists.

5. Video as a product rather than a strategy

Really, this is kinda new. When marketers call us to ask about creating a video, it’s because they need to communicate a complex message. Few have given much thought about how video fits into an overall content marketing strategy.  We try to get them consider questions like how  how they can economically get more than one item of video content out of the production process.  Integrating a video strategy with a content marketing strategy will undoubtedly pay dividends, not only because it sharpens the focus of the creative process, but also because it’s not hard to think up affordable ways to get more out of your video productions.

6. Over-dependence on audio

An awful lot of “explainer” videos leave all the actual “explaining” to the voice track. The dialog may be delightfully snappy, but if you turn the sound off (or play the video in a noisy environment like a trade show), little or nothing gets explained. Rule of thumb: if it would work as a podcast, you’re not getting your money’s worth in video.

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