B2B marketing video best practices for on-time, on-budget productions that boost customer engagement.
When it comes to video marketing, your goal is not to inform, entertain, or create awareness. Your goal is to make someone involved in a buying decision want to learn more. Your call to action should lead to more detailed content, a software download, a live demo — anything that helps educate the buyer.
You’ll find it a lot easier to shape a user-friendly and engaging video if you keep these tips in mind.
1. Understand how the viewer arrived at your video
To get to your video, the viewer clicked on a link to your website, video channel, Facebook page — somewhere your brand and products are prominent. Why did he click? He must have some preconceptions about what your solution can do for him. Try to figure out what they are so you don’t waste time on stuff he already knows.
2. Nail the first 15 seconds
Money spent on video needs to be converted into viewers’ time and attention. Technology buyers have precious little of either to waste on information that isn’t pertinent.
Your video doesn’t need to start off with an attention-grabbing explosion. If the viewer clicked to get here, you’ve already got their attention. But you need to say something worthy of attention right off the bat so viewers don't abandon the video.
3. Know exactly who the viewer is
It’s a safe assumption that everyone likes to be amused — but that doesn’t make it a wise assumption. How likely is it that the viewer decided to click on a link to your video anticipating a good time? You should assume the viewer wants to be taken seriously. So make it clear that you value their time and attention.
4. Communicate your time and budget parameters
With a well-defined goal, you'll almost certainly get your money’s worth from a reputable video production firm. Their cost — unless you’re shooting on location or using actors — represents the amount of effort they need to put in to the project to deliver a good video. They’ll give you a lot more creative options if they’re working with a set budget, not trying to come up with a low bid.
You should also set a firm delivery date for the finished product. Timelines enforce discipline and get results.
5. Share corporate standards and expectations
Setting expectations for the look and feel of your video up front helps you establish a reasonable budget — and keep within it. Constructing a video is a lot like any other kind of construction project — without specifications, cost estimates are meaningless.
The look and feel will depend to a great extent on the budget — 3D animation and elaborate effects can cost plenty. Look and feel is also important in the script writing process— a video written for talking characters sounds a lot different than one written to walk the viewer through IT architecture or your vision of a new business paradigm.
6. Establish a script word count
We like to limit the word count in the script so the viewer only has to listen to about 125 words-per-minute. Most people talk faster than that (about 150 wpm). But when someone talks at you (as a narrator does) for a full minute or two at top speed, without seeming to pause for breath, it starts to sound overbearing. We try to maximize the information conveyed in the visuals, allowing the narrator to take a much more easygoing approach.
Knowing the target word count helps reviewers understand why not every “key” message can be included.
7. Set the narration style and music early on
The tone of the video is set during scriptwriting. In most cases, you’re looking to set a conversational tone. This can make for difficulties in editorial reviews because what will sound good read aloud by a professional actor is not what most people hear when they read to themselves. As Duke Ellington said, “If it sounds good, it is good.”
The narration also needs to synch with on-screen visuals. This means that the words chosen, and the order in which they are spoken, should be determined by how the visual story will unfold, rather than what looks or sounds best on the page.
8. Work closely with your reviewers and subject matter experts
Ideally, no one weighs in with a fresh point of view at the end. Right at the start, figure out who are the key players, make sure they understand the goal, and then try to keep them involved.
It's your reviewers, not your video team, who are most likely to jeopardize your timeline. The production timeline is at risk during the development of the script, storyboards, and the video itself, anytime people are waiting for feedback and approvals before they can do whatever comes next.
A few of the questions we like to ask subject matter experts:
- Who are we talking to?
- What do they already know about your solution?
- What is the biggest pain point you address?
- Why isn’t what they’re doing now working?
- How will your solution change the way they work?
- How will your solution make them a hero?
- What are some misconceptions about your solution?
- When you demo the solution, what features do customers find most appealing?
9. Have a plan for distributing and re-using the video
Video distribution platforms (Wistia, Vidyard, Brightcove, many others) provide analytics, interactivity, and other valuable additions to your video.
And, since video assets aren’t cheap to develop, they should be repurposed as much as possible. Obviously, you’re going to feature video content on your website, link to it in emails, and feature it in presentations and trade shows. But did you consider any of these? They can all work.
- Edit animations into other videos
- Host on more than one platform (YouTube and Vimeo are good; platforms like Vidyard and Wistia provide better analytics and support.)
- If your video can be segmented (by features, for example), send links to specific start times and end-times. Like this 30-second segment highlighting key features of a storage network switch.
- Embed in PowerPoint, or other slideware, including SlideShare
- Embed in white papers and product literature
- Share on social media. Facebook, and Twitter have become much more accommodating of video sharing, for example.
This list of best practices is certainly not exhaustive. But if you overlook none of these, you’ll almost certainly be making videos that represent good value for your customers, your sales team, and your budget.
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