TBV Insights

Explainer videos for prospects who avoid “marketing” videos

Explainer videos for prospects“Make sure it’s not too sales-y” is a request we’re hearing more often when we begin scripting a marketing explainer video for prospects that don’t want to see a marketing video.

A software company CMO recently told us that his buyers, mainly software developers,

  • Do NOT want to be marketed to
  • DO want video, not reading material

When we began making 2-Minute Explainer videos in 2004, few technology companies were using video to help customers understand their solutions. We built our business helping explain unfamiliar concepts like BPM, SOA, MDM, etc. But these are familiar categories, today, and buyers have seen a lot of marketing videos since 2004.

“We cure your pain” — but doesn’t everybody?

Most product-oriented explainer videos have this structure:

  1. We recognize that you have these pain points.
  2. We provide relief.
  3. Here’s how.
  4. You’ll like the results.

This is a logical approach for a product introduction. But it is unmistakably marketing. Especially if there are competing solutions, you should consider a different storyline for the marketing-averse.

Alternative plot lines

Here are some other “plot lines” for solution overviews that can come across as more interesting than sales-y:

  • A day in the life (before and after)
  • A different way of looking at the situation
  • Have you ever seen this before?
  • Five things you can do with our solution you probably can’t do now
  • How would you (or your staff) answer these questions?

Can you eliminate marketing messages — all of them?

No one expects you to. But in most cases, the people viewing your videos have done their homework. As noted in a previous post, Google finds that the average B2B researcher does 12 generic searches before ever venturing on to a brand’s website. It’s likely, then, that when buyers do arrive at your website, it’s because they’ve already learned something positive about your solution. So you can tone it down.

What does a non-marketing video look like?

What kind of video do buyers who don’t want marketing videos actually want? Videos that teach them something new and relevant. That they don’t need to work to absorb.

Eliminating unnecessary visuals

One way to make your video more informational and less sales-y is to eliminate the types of things that video is not good at putting across. Bullet points, for example. Are the five benefits of your solution really different from the five benefits of your competitor’s solution? Will a list of them be impressive and remembered? Really? The same goes for vague and unsupported assertions (“efficient!”) and comparisons (“more efficient!”). No matter how cleverly you depict it in a video, a picture of “efficiency” — without no supporting evidence — won’t convince anyone that your solution produces it.

Along the same lines, if the pain points you address are the same as those of your competitors, maybe you can safely ignore them. Video can dramatize pain points effectively. (And amusingly, as is often done in lightweight explainer videos.) But if you’re talking about “complexity,” or “siloed systems”, or “growing volumes of data” — well, your audience has seen that many times before in lots of marketing videos. So don’t feature them in your video if you want to keep the reluctant viewer watching.

Non-visual stuff is bound to creep in, but if you start with images that support your case and build the video around them, it will make a lot more impact.

Don’t forget the surrounding context

On your website, on YouTube and elsewhere, your video will be surrounded with text and graphics. If you want to come across as strictly informational, with a minimum of marketing-speak, try the FAQ approach — answering the questions buyers are likely to ask. Use a combination of short videos — animated processes, integrations, inner workings, competitive advantages — textual bullet lists and diagrams — however the question can be answered with the least investment of time by the questioner.

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