Friday, 4 March 2016

Spice up your partner relationships with video

Many companies, especially in the tech industries, deliver their products and services using a 100% indirect model through a network of certified partners. It makes sense. To make the relationship work means using a variety of co-marketing initiatives.  More often than not, these tend to be one-off tactics like print adverts, offers and events. Or worse, a lack-lustre selection of so-called ‘digital assets’ like editable PDF’s, PowerPoints and co-branded web-headers.

Whether these are funded through periodic MDF (Market Development Funds) or accrued Coop, or more typically a mix of both, another problem arises from the fact that many partners are liberal with their affections, taking the path of least resistance and maximum profit. Which may mean doing more business with your nearest competitor. Which means you’re competing for their attention, dedication and sales.

Let’s face it. A partnership that involves simply feeding warmed up leads to an order-taking channel to administer isn’t really a partnership at all.

So how do you inspire true partnership when it comes to co-marketing and lead gen? One way is to offer up something highly inspiring, fresh, and proven to work. But on a budget.  Simple then – no pressure.

vCreate for Partners is one approach that may tick all the boxes. Firstly, it maximises the use of video, proven again and again to have greater cut-through than any other medium. It also allows for personalisation, again proven to be more effective in generating leads and more quickly turning them into sales.

vCreate also lets you deliver your brand messaging directly to your partners and their customers in a highly effective and consistent way. Centrally managed and controlled, you can be sure your activity is efficient and measurable whilst reinforcing the power of your trusted partner relationship.

Not only does it give your partners online access to a central video library (managed by you), it allows trusted partners to upload, record and edit clips to use within their own videos to add an element of personalisation. Of course, how much control you give them is entirely up to you.

It’s flexible too, allowing you to roll out new video assets to your entire partner network quickly and easily. Both yourself and selected partners can get easy, 24/7 access to management reporting and customer viewing stats, using viewing data to trigger agreed sales actions.

Despite it looking like a bespoke tool, co-branded with your partner network, it’s inexpensive, and really simple to budget for. It’s also quick and simple to deploy, requiring no software or IT intervention; all cloud-based and device agnostic. vCreate is a gift for innovative Channel Marketing Managers looking for a new way to invigorate and inspire their partners  and get more cut-through to increase sales. 

You have to work at any relationship and vCreate could be the perfect way to spice things up.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

vLog: Powering Newsletters with Video

Video newsletters are an extremely effective way of inspiring prospects, engaging with customers and socialising your brand.

Creating impactful video content and delivering it direct to the device of your target audience is easier than ever. Managed and measured in real-time, a vCreate Channel delivers a measurable ROI with very little outlay or resource.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Make video your New Year’s resolution

Ah, January! That’s when you go back to work (having over-indulged to the point where a single additional wafer-thin mint would have caused you to explode) with renewed vitality and positivity. That’s because this year, 2016, is the one where you’re really going to make a difference. So, as a marketer, how exactly are you going to do that?

Here are five tips that will help you get off to a powerful start.

1 - Power your digital campaigns with video.
Just look at the facts here. A video image with a play button in an email will increase campaign open rates by 300-400%. What’s even better is that, once a recipient clicks through to your video, 46% will take action. If you’re not already using video as part of your campaign strategy, you simply have to wake up to the facts. If you don’t, your competitors almost certainly will.

2 - Power your content marketing with video.
Nielsen claims that video will dominate 64% of marketer’s content strategies this year. That’s because, when it’s done well, it’s far more likely to get amplified via shares than plain text or infographics. It’s noisy out there and customers have as little time to read marketing text as you do. A video gets the job done quickly and with far greater impact. With video tools (like
vCreate) you can quickly create sharable video content without the need for any further expense.

3 - Power your newsletters with video.
People love newsletters but no one more so than the people who send them out. If you want to be realistic about their impact on sales, you need to be realistic about what content works.  A mix of video and text can really add impact to your digital publications, turning a dry news update into something dynamic, impactful and memorable.

4 - Power your sales with video.
Huh? Did I just say ‘sales’? I did. Smart marketers are waking up to the power of precision targeted sales enablement, fuelling sales and accounts teams with video collateral that can be shared personally with customers. Video is an excellent way to move customers through the buying journey and marketers need to be a part of that. It’s also a great way to maximise the exposure of your senior leadership team or subject matter experts to customers. This really should be a part of your video strategy for 2016.

5 - Power your Channel with video.
If you get involved in either marketing to or for your channel, then video is the perfect way to get your message out there. By creating core video collateral to share with your channel, you can empower them to personalise and co-brand the videos (using tools like vCreate) before cascading your compelling sales message in the best possible way. That can either be part of a coordinated digital campaign or as a response to a customer query. Believe me, it works and your channel will love you for it.  And we could all do with a bit more love.

So that’s it - five ways to use video to power your marketing this year. Good luck and happy New Year!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

5 reasons why you should use video for B2B lead generation

Seeing is believing, baby - or so the adage goes. What is almost certainly true is that video allows you to make a personal and emotional connection with a potential customer in a way that no other medium can. But you know that.

So why should you consider using video specifically for lead generation? Here are our top 5 reasons, though they’re not definitive. There are probably a hundred reasons you should be using video for lead gen, but for the sake of time and brevity these five should be more than enough to convince.

1 – Because what you’re doing now probably isn’t getting you the results you need.
Whatever you’re doing to generate leads today without video is probably getting you lacklustre returns at best. Even if you’re a percentage point above industry average for open rates and click throughs with your email campaigns, that’s only because those industry averages are so poor to start with. Including a ‘video thumbnail’ in an email will increase click through rates by some 4X. So you could be doing at least 4X better than you’re doing today. Why wouldn’t you want to do that?

2 - Because nothing tells a story like video.
You know the scenario. The elevator pitch. You get in to an elevator with a client and you’re going to make a pitch. You’d better be quick though because in 60 seconds they’re going to shake your hand and leave. Well, you can’t use a video in an elevator but then you can’t personally visit every possible prospect either. Video is a brilliant way to get your message across quickly and with impact as the first stage in a buying journey. Let them read all that text on your website later when they’re interested. First you’ve got to get their attention and inspire that all important next step.

3 – Because you don’t use existing videos enough.
So the product marketing team made a great video and put it on the website in the hope that people might find it. Good luck with that. Maybe the video will need shortening but you should be asking, can we use a part of it to pep up an email campaign? You really should make any available video assets earn their keep.

4 – Because even your boring slides can become beautiful videos.
Not a lot of people know that you can make serviceable infographic videos with PowerPoint. But you can. You can animate them, add music and even add a bit of narration. You won’t win an Oscar for it but people do like videos and this is a great way to pep up some key facts and figures. It’s easier than you might think.

5 - Because you can see who watched what, when and for how long.
With standard email you can see who opened it, if they clicked through to a campaign page but nothing about what they read. You’ve no idea what happened next. When you use a suitable video platform, like vCreate, you can see when they started to watch your video, where they got up to, whether they paused or not and how many times they watched it. You can even see what device they used to view it with. Which means you can assess whether they’re now a bona-fide warmed up lead or not. You can then take action to move them on to the next stage of the buying journey.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Lights. Camera. Call-to-Action!

By now we all know that, for most marketing challenges, video works better than just about any other medium.  It cuts through where text alone can struggle to make impact and it can make a powerful emotional connection which really inspires action. But should we be spelling out exactly what that action should be?

Video is no panacea. When shared in the right way (with the right person at the right time with the right message) it can have a stunningly positive impact on buying behaviours.  In fact, the wiley marketer will already understand that video can be used strategically throughout the buying journey a step at a time and an all-important call to action (CTA) can be the ultimate guide.

However, not all video platforms are created equal. vCreate is one of the very few that helps you  to build your video content as well as share and measure it. It’s also one of the few that allows you to add an ‘in-video’ call to action at any point during the video. That can be anything from a web-link through to a personal email address, inspiring that all important next step at exactly the right moment in the video.

So how important is it? Well, it could be absolutely critical.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say Vertua are a company selling software that simplifies complex project management and workflow. They have to get that message out to prospects quickly and clearly using an initial video campaign to present their ‘elevator pitch’. So they create a two minute video which focuses on the benefits of their software and why it’s better than anything else out there.

Now let’s say that 25% of the recipients of the campaign email watched the video. What does Vertua now realistically think might happen?  Is that enough to make a customer buy? Probably not. But they may well be interested in seeing a demo as the next step in a typical buying journey.  There is no better way to show a quick benefit-led demo than video. So maybe the CTA on the first video is to click through to a second video, which you can then track as you watch the customer make their way through the buying journey.

So 60% of the viewers of the first video liked it so much that they clicked to watch a second video – this time a demo of the product. What does Vertua expect will happen then? Again, the CTA is critical here. Perhaps it’s now time to engage with the sales teams directly. So why not link directly to an email address?  Or maybe to a campaign web page where the choice widens to include customer case studies, insights and offers.

The point is that used smartly and in short-form, video is a powerful tool in helping move customers along the buying journey. ‘In-video’ CTA’s are really critical to ensure that they don’t get lost and have to find their way to the sale themselves. Because left to their own devices they (and the sale) could quickly get lost.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Why just making videos isn’t enough

We know that video is by far and away the most effective digital medium for sales and marketing. But just making videos isn’t enough. You have to work to ensure the right people are watching your videos; preferably the right video at the right time to positively influence their buying decisions.

The very best way to make this happen is to have a cohesive video strategy that continuously builds on the impact videos can make. But what does this mean in practice? Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking it simply means adding your video to a YouTube channel and vaguely hoping that some of the right people might find it. After all, that’s what the majority of businesses do. Oh – and possibly adding to a page that’s well-hidden on your website.

The truth is that unless the right people are watching the videos you produce, there is little point in producing them at all. When a video on your YouTube channel shows just 12 views, you just aren’t trying hard enough. Being a Fortune 500 player won’t necessarily protect you from this ‘tumbleweed’ phenomenon either.

Quantity counts

Interestingly, one of the patterns that quickly emerges on YouTube is a correlation between numbers of videos posted and average views per video. Bizarrely, in the face of reasoned logic, the more videos you post the higher the average views on each and every video. So the top quartile of YouTube marketers have an average of 181 videos whilst the bottom had just 29.* So you need to get busy producing more video content where even bite-size content works. That means adopting a strategy that moves away from single, one-off linear videos, towards activity that generates multiple clips that can be used separately or blended together into longer form variants. 

You can’t afford to be anti-social

Audiences are 10 times more likely to engage, embed, share, and comment on video content than blogs or other related social posts. So you need to let them know it’s out there and that’s not a one-person task. Social marketing is a job for the whole team so you need to galvanise the troops to post, share and distribute as widely as possible. If you use an enterprise video platform (like vCreate) you can also track which posts got what results and work on constantly improving the hits.

See video as part of the journey – not all of it

Video is a great tool to really help market and sell products and services. But a single video can rarely cover the entire sales journey. Just like real-life selling, video can have impact at every stage of the buying cycle. It’s a great medium to put forward the door-opening elevator pitch, but it can also help further into the buying journey too. A classic example would be in software sales where a benefit-led video could start the buyer’s journey but is later enhanced with demo videos or customer testimonials. Videos rarely work in isolation so you need to really consider where they sit and what they need to achieve at every stage.  
 *Content Marketing Institute 2014

Friday, 2 October 2015

Measuring ROI for video

I love using video because it’s so much easier to measure ROI than for just about any other medium.

Given that you understand the basics of how to measure ROI per-se, why is video easier to measure than text for example?  Well, seeing as I asked the question I’ll attempt to pen a cohesive answer.

At its simplest, when you send a text based email or drive people to a text based site you have little idea of what has been read; only that the text was accessed. But in-video analytics allow much more insight. How much of the video did they watch before they stopped? How many times did they watch the video? Did they watch any parts of the video more than once? All questions easily answered with some level of certainty whereas with text based communication you really have no idea what was read at all.

But of course that’s all simple stuff compared to the detailed ROI analysis you can achieve if you plug your video tool into your CRM. That’s where things start to really shape up. You can start to measure specific video views influencing won deals for example. You can fast track to any prospects  who have viewed your video in full at least once and give them a call. You could try the same trick with those who haven’t and gauge the difference in sales impact. You could call off reports monthly to tally increased sales success with increased video views. Or see how your video is impacting new business or affecting uplift with existing clients. Or which Accounts people shared which videos and measure their sales success. Or measuring video consumption against deal size. And so on. There are a zillion ways to measure video impact.

For training you can get the same depth of ROI analysis by plugging detailed video viewing data into your Learning Management System to see how video viewing is impacting successful learning outcomes. Or you can measure the effectiveness of delivering training in new ways using video (record once – get watched a thousand times) as opposed to traditional class-room based ‘lectures’.

Or you can track the video your CEO sent out to all-staff to see who watched it in full and (perhaps more importantly) who didn’t  - and follow up to ensure important messaging wasn’t missed. You can’t do that with a text based email because there’s no way of knowing.

Once you have all this data you can quickly assess genuine ROI – the money spent producing and serving your video to get results versus alternative spending to get the same results. I’m prepared to bet my bottom dollar that in most cases your video will have paid for itself time and time again. Which begs the question – why aren’t we all using video more often? We’ll get there.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Video messages work – and they’re so simple to do

Ben Moore, Managing Director, Positive Image, is a great advocate for the use of video messaging and claims it’s simple to do. 

To prove his point he took five minutes out of a busy travelling schedule to record this message. 

Watch and learn!

Thursday, 10 September 2015

5 video tips for Trainers

Video as a medium is perfect for training. Why stand and repeat a lesson endlessly when you can record it once and let your teams absorb at their leisure? If only it was so simple!

Having produced hundreds of training films for companies like Next, Dell, Vodafone, Clarks Shoes and many more, as well as offering the world’s first truly personalised video platform with vCreate, we think we’re well qualified to share some best practice.

So to help training teams with limited resource, time and budget get the get the very best from video, we’ve compiled a brief list of 5 top tips.

1.    Keep it short – training videos are best served in short, easily assimilated chunks. If you can’t keep it short then make sure you chunk the video into clearly defined chapters. Short videos are perfect for post-training knowledge top-ups or for pre-course knowledge sharing. People absorb more and retain more with video than they do with text based materials – but only if you keep it short. Remember, a picture’s worth a thousand words so you can get a lot of information across in a very short time.

2.    Measure it – see who’s watched and (perhaps more importantly) who hasn’t. Using the right platform you’ll be able to access in-video analytics that will tell you how long a viewer watched, when they watched it and on what device. Although this is great for your records, it’s especially great if your video is reflecting training with a legal compliance issue.

3.    Make it personal – Every trainer knows that one size doesn’t fit all. So why make it so? Using a personalised video tool like vCreate will allow you to tailor each video sent to every individual’s needs. That means you can select only the most relevant clips. You can then top and tail the video with a personal message recorded on your phone or laptop. Personalisation works so apply it to your training videos too.

4.    Think mobile – more and more video is being viewed on mobile devices than ever before. Many Generation Y’ers wouldn’t dream of watching it on anything else. That means making sure the video doesn’t contain too much detail, If you’re using PowerPoint (and why not – you can make some great video infographics with it) then don’t use too much text. As a wise old audio-visual sage used to say to me, if you wouldn’t put it on a T-shirt, don’t put it in your video. 

5.    Do the unexpected – be provocative, have fun, dare to be different. We’ve worked with many adventurous and creative trainers over the years who understand how doing something different or crazy makes their video memorable. Even if you’re just self-recording on an iPad, think about what you’re saying, where you’re going to film and what will make it stand-out.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Using video to respond to comments on social media

There are good comments and bad comments on social media. Then there are the ones in-between which might simply relate to more general business issues which you can help with. These are gold dust and if you’re tracking comments and responding with offers and solutions then there is no better way to do that than with video. People share videos and the benefits of positive amplification are huge.

But what about the bad comments - social media negativity? It’s the B2B nightmare. If it remains unchecked it can quickly amplify, leaving your reputation in tatters and badly affecting business success. Whether the initial complaint, report or expose is true or not, it needs to be dealt with. But how?

If it’s a random tweet then as long as it doesn’t go viral it will quickly disappear into the ether, hopefully to never rear its ugly head again. But what if it’s on Facebook, LinkedIn or a consumer review site like Travel Advisor? Or on your blog? Or on YouTube? There are ways of deleting or refusing comments if they’re on your own wall or page. But does that work? Does that really make them go away? Maybe defence really is the best means of attack. Silence is often construed as guilt.

People respect others who keep their cool on-line. Stick to the facts and respond with empathy and understanding. If what they’re saying is true, acknowledge it, explain what went wrong, what’s going to happen as a result and thank them for bringing it to your attention.

Even better still, because social media is all about connecting in a personal way, get someone senior in your organisation to pick it up and respond with authenticity and humility. That can quickly turn a negative into a positive.

One difficulty you might have, of course, is the idea that your senior person is merely putting their name to a natty piece of ghost-writing, penned on their behalf by the PR team which could simply back-fire.

So why not use video? Video is the ultimate medium for authentic, one to one social media posting. People can read between the words you say, put a face to your organisation and connect emotionally. They’ll almost certainly appreciate the effort involved and the importance you have placed in their complaint or grumble.

But all this takes time and effort, right? Well, yes and no. It does take a modicum of both, but that’s the point. But it needn’t take any more effort or time (or cost) than you spend today writing a suitable text-based response.

By using a video tool like vCreate, self-recording videos on a laptop, tablet or mobile device is a cinch. You can even use its built in autocue to stay on message and take the strain out of remembering it all. Most senior people know how to talk well and on-screen prompting merely helps them stay on message and maintain eye contact with their audience.

So are there any good examples of this radical practice I hear you scream. Why yes - several near legendary examples. Like this one

You may not get 6 million You Tube hits to every response you make but a little thought, a little effort and a personalised video will go a long way. Food for thought?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Video just works. But why?

According to a Forbes research report from a couple of years ago, respondents accessing B2B online content preferred video over white papers, case studies and live demos.

There’s no doubt that its impact has grown in stature since then. YouTube is now the number two search engine in the world.  The statistics keep rolling in support of video: people are five times more likely to click on a blog with video than one without (note to self!) and 88% more people share. 

With nine out of ten B2B buyers now saying, don’t call us we’ll find you, it’s more important than ever to make their online visits count. Visitors are likely to dwell an extra two minutes on your site if you have video content and are 64% more likely to purchase. I could go on.

So video works. But why?

Let’s ask a Doctor

In a quest to answer the question, Forbes cited Doctor Susan Weinschenk who claims the reason we respond so much better to video than written material is that, as humans, we are naturally drawn to other human faces as a means of understanding. Secondly she suggests that the human voice is a highly effective tool for converting dry information into palatable, meaningful content.  She claims emotions are contagious – just watch how quickly people in a room reflect each other’s body language.  But perhaps most interesting of all, she claims that movement naturally grabs attention. We’re wired that way. It’s in our DNA.

I totally get that. But we enjoy reading too, right? Well, yes but then we’re very selective about what we read. So in terms of getting attention, video just works. It may be a conduit to a more detailed document that requires the effort of reading but that’s OK. We’re beginning to understand better how to take people on a buying journey that suits the way they want to travel.

It’s only information

I think people often like video because it’s easier to assimilate information quickly. If it’s done well it uses a combination of emotional drivers (editing, music, colour) as well as well considered, concise information delivered clearly, sometimes supported with non-verbal cues like facial expressions, hand gestures or helpful supportive graphics.

People naturally retain more from a well-made video than a well written document.  Think back to a TV programme you watched a couple of weeks ago.  I’ll bet you can remember much of it as if it was yesterday. Now think back to something you read.  I’m guessing a little hazy?

Arguably reading takes more effort than video so perhaps the reason we all like it so much is that we’re intrinsically lazy. That may also be a human truth.

Let me ask you a question

But if I asked you why you like video I suspect the answer would be because it’s more entertaining. Despite the fact that we’re talking B2B here, we all like to be entertained.  If we didn’t we wouldn’t be bothered about getting inspiring speakers to our conferences; anyone would do as long as they read out the facts. We don’t stop being fun loving consumers the second we reach the office. In fact, the tedium of some working lives may make the prospect of being (legitimately) entertained even more attractive.

Of course, we may never truly understand why, for B2B marketing, video works. But one thing is a cert. It just does.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Video - bringing the power of the personal to internal communications

Hands up anyone who remembers the traditional office memo? Remember when a printed text-based memo would arrive in your department in a brown envelope which you signed to say you’d read and understood it? Often impersonal edicts from the folk at the top.

It’s easy to sneer but back in the day what was the alternative? Occasionally everyone would gather in the staff canteen (in the days before it was called a restaurant) to hear a few wise words from the Grande Fromage. But that meant everyone had to stop what they were doing at the same time. But at least it was personal.

Today there are myriad ways to communicate with the troops. An all staff email is probably the most obvious but does that really make an emotional connection that might change behaviour, inspire or inform in a way that will be retained?

Live webcasts are an alternative of course and these allow some modest level of interactivity. But most are too long, badly planned and executed and nowhere near engaging enough. And then you’ve got the same old problem of everyone having to stop what they’re doing to join in, often in time-zones where the hours involved are hardly ideal.

So video is unarguably the most powerful and personal way to connect properly with an internal audience. Agreed? After all, people now watch at their convenience, on any device at any time. Using the right tools, you can also see who has watched and (perhaps more importantly) who hasn’t. Which is all good.

But sometimes (well, often actually) internal messages are just that. Which means you don’t want people outside of the organisation watching them. If you use the right platform then there’s no need to worry. Everyone you want to see your video gets to watch it and everyone that you don’t, can’t. Or something like that.

But then there’s the thorny issue of filming and editing the thing – essential if you want it to look half-decent, right? Wrong again. Using the right platform (cough…vCreate) you can get your top-dogs to self-record using the onscreen autocue prompting, all at the click of a button. So when the mood strikes, and thoughts from the top need to be shared, it’s no tougher than writing an email and far more effective. You can get your message across quickly in a way that sticks.

It’s worth noting that people in the 18-34 age group spend 50% more time watching online video than they do TV (Google Industry Trends). They’re used to it. What’s more, if collaboration and democracy is your thing, the right tool will also allow viewers to add comments and share ideas.

So whether it’s the CEO wanting to inspire and lead even greater success or a trainer delivering some top-up tips, or an important issue of compliance from the legal team – video is best.

What’s more, one of our customers, a sizable organisation with several thousand staff, tried video for their bi-weekly updates on the state of the nation from their CEO and asked the recipients which form of update they preferred (email as previous or video) the answer was a resounding 100% in favour of video. Surely worth thinking about?

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Personalising Video for Winning Bids

Powering Bids with Personalised Video

Bids are generally part of everyday life for most B2B brands yet the costs involved in responding can be eye-wateringly high. Indeed, even getting on to the vendor list can be the result of huge effort on the part of marketing and sales teams and is often an invisible cost that isn’t counted in. So the bottom line is that, if you elect to participate, you really need to win.  After all, business life is cruel. As the song goes, the winner takes it all. If you come in second place you’ve lost.

So what makes a winning bid? Ticking all the usual boxes is just the start point – or at least as many as you can. But that’s a given.  Once those boxes are ticked, and you’ve ‘met the brief’, what elements will help tip the balance in your favour?

Tipping the balance

Some anecdotal research* with a small sample of procurement heads said that their biggest turn-off was when tender responses look like someone has done no more than cut and paste their sales blurb. Equally, they don’t like responses that seem to shoe-horn a ready-made solution to vaguely fit their needs. They want to feel listened to. So personalisation and relevance are key.

What’s perhaps more revealing is that they consider the best responses add an inspiring and thought-provoking element – something beyond initial expectations.

Executive sponsorship and beyond…

When searching for this ‘missing ingredient’ it’s worth remembering that, with everything else being equal, making a personal connection can be key. Many large enterprises, that might otherwise seem cold and impersonal, have started to enlist the help of their senior leaders as executive sponsors. A high level personal commitment can go a long way. It can have an even greater impact on video.

“Personalised video messages from your senior leadership team and subject matter experts can make a powerful impact on bid success.”

But video filming is expensive and time consuming, right? Well, it is if you need to get into an executive’s diary, bring in a film crew, record, edit and upload a video.  But it really isn’t if you can facilitate the recording via an application like
vCreate.  With one click an executive can record a message directly from their desktop, even using on-screen autocue prompting to keep it simple. That can be mixed with other clips or a link sent directly to the customer for them to securely view or cascade to other stakeholders.  You can track views and ensure that everyone who ought to see it does exactly that. Add to that the opportunity to record subject matter experts, create bespoke animated graphic sequences using PowerPoint, as well as tools to upload and edit existing clips and suddenly you’ve got a powerful, differentiating engine to go to battle with.  It could give you an unfair advantage over the competition.

*Strategic Proposals 2015

Monday, 3 August 2015

Is Account Based Marketing the future of B2B?

More and more B2B brands are dropping traditional marketing strategies in order to focus on account based marketing (ABM). That means precision targeting and increased personalisation.

Fujitsu leading the way

Fujitsu recently divulged that they spend substantially less on traditional lead generation activities like email, telesales and direct-mail, in order to focus on more targeted campaigns. According to Simon Carter, Executive Director of Marketing UK & Ireland, every member of the marketing team has a single significant account allocated to them to focus on alongside their normal day job. They access an asset library and distribute and share the most relevant materials with their given account. But more than that, they can personalise the assets too and they regularly share best practice in monthly meetings to help inspire even greater success.

arketers at the sharp end

To me this all sounds highly sensible. Rather than hiding behind faceless email blasts and endless brochure filling, here are marketers at the sharp end.  Sure, they’re using centralised collateral but they’re smartly adapting and personalising materials to better connect with customer needs. Even better than that, they’re making a strong personal connection with customers and prospects who generally reward such relations with increased business. We all like working with people we know and trust.

What’s even better is that, having become attuned to the core collateral’s value, these marketers are also empowered to reinforce what they do in a social way, through LinkedIn and Twitter where the opportunity for amplification is as strong as it ever was.

Keys to success in ABM

There are many ways to ensure that your ABM yields results. Selecting the right accounts to target is clearly key. Existing accounts are an obvious start point but then identifying success criteria based on previous experience is smart too – so by vertical, geo-location and so on.

You then need to get an account plan that profiles the targeted decision makers and influencers as well as likely needs, buying process and so on. Without these insights you’re back to working in the dark.

Next up is content. Where will it come from and how will you personalise and deliver it? How will you keep this up to date? How can you ensure the sales teams are using what is created in the most effective way possible? Finally you need to not only measure success but share and use that knowledge in a meaningful way.

In short, a lot to do.

Personalised video for ABM

Now I don’t know or work with Fujitsu (if you’re reading this Simon, we’d love to) but I’d like to hear about what they’re doing with video which is the perfect medium for targeted and highly personalised marketing. Imagine the power of a dedicated team with the ability to mix and match video clips, perhaps top and tailed with a personal video message, delivered straight to the customer’s desktop or mobile device? Powerful stuff indeed.

ABM won’t be for everyone but for enterprise-level B2B, where large accounts make up the customer base, it’s proving to be far more effective than traditional alternatives. Of course, it does blur the lines between marketing and sales even further but that debate is for another blog.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The rise and rise of personalisation in marketing

Marketers have long known the power of personalisation. It’s common sense really. The more relevant you make your marketing messages to anyone consuming them, the more impact you’re likely to make.

Researchers at the University of Texas studied why people seem to love personalised experiences and their research suggests that it has to do with our desire for control. If something is made exclusively for you it indicates that you had something to do with its creation, and therefore, you are in control.  Which means you’re special and important. Which means you like it.
Back in the day
But if we rewind fifty years, personalisation (as we now think of it) wasn’t possible to any fine degree. Those were the days where one-size-fits-all generic messaging was king; not because that’s the way marketers wanted it, but because it was all that technology allowed.

So let’s rewind a little less to just thirty years ago. Personalised direct mail print arrived and for the first time we started getting pamphlets through the post that would include our name (often over and over again) in the copy. Or lines like “…this winter, as the cold winds whistle past 22 Acacia Avenue, it’s time to consider double-glazing’.  It felt like rocket science at the time.
So what happened twenty years ago to fuel the rise of yet further personalisation? Come on people, think. Any ideas? Yes – the internet and more specifically the advent of e-tailers like Amazon who learned to take personalisation to a whole new level. Now our buying patterns were up for analysis, even our browsing patterns, allowing for genuine one-to-one recommendations to become a reality. It all felt a bit spooky at first, often getting skewed at Christmas when you bought gifts for friends that became part of your profile but over time the recommendations that this particular Amazon customer gets are strikingly tempting.  
Advertisers quickly took advantage of serving the right advert to the right prospect at the right time based on search and browsing data so that, miraculously, minutes after doing a search on home insurance for example, adverts would appear with offers for … well, you know the rest.
Personalisation today
Today, when we are bombarded with so much information, if we get highly targeted and relevant information that has been tailored to our needs and desires, it has a much better chance of cutting through. Fact.
So personalisation works and advances in data analytics and CRM technology mean that precision targeting is the norm. Or is it? The truth is that many marketers have been slow to adopt personalisation across all media and in particular video. Despite the fact that video consumption has grown exponentially over the last five years, many marketers doggedly continue to deliver single, generic videos to the masses. In fact, they use fifty year old thinking, despite the incredible advances made elsewhere.
With the right tools, marketers could have the very best of all possible worlds, with highly targeted personalisation combined with the power of video. It’s the next natural progression in the rise and rise of personalisation.  If you’re in marketing and it’s not on your radar, it really should be. It’s only a matter of time before it will be on your competitor’s.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Power your daily content with video

If I was working as part of a busy content marketing team, responsible for fuelling an organisation’s social marketing, I’d give my right arm for a way to create highly relevant videos, simply and easily and then serve those via whatever channel I choose.  Imagine reacting to customer comment with a highly relevant video post – perfect for some much needed social amplification, right? In fact, how long, realistically, until that becomes the norm?

But we all know it’s not that easy. Although video production costs have fallen considerably, making your own professional looking (and sounding) video response is actually quite tough. As an old marketing sage may well have said, you can hand anyone a pencil but that doesn’t mean they can draw.

omething’s got to change

We’re in 2015 and it already looks like Cisco’s prediction that 70% of internet traffic will be video by 2017 is pretty much on track. In the consumer space, YouTube vloggers are multiplying like locusts, posting tens of thousands of hours of material every day. Every hour actually. But as responsible business people we can’t just set up a webcam and produce rambling, unedited and poorly produced Vlogs can we? Don’t think about this for too long. The answer is no. No you can’t. What you can do is use any available corporate video material and post that. But then what? Once you’ve posted a generic video half a dozen times it’ll lose its bite, surely?

Where there is a want, there is a way

So having got excited about the prospect of fuelling your content with relevant video, how can you realistically make that happen? Personalised video technology may well provide the answer. Although you’re not necessarily dealing with your audience one to one, you’re not quite addressing the masses either. If you respond to a tweet with a video, it’s a response to one, though seen by many. Confused? You needn’t be.

The key word here is relevance. If you can post an entirely relevant clip for any purpose then you’re really on to something. Personalised video, like vCreate, allows you to do several things to ensure that every video you post is exactly on the money.

Personalised video to the rescue

he first opportunity is that within every corporate video library lies potentially hours of relevant material, often frustratingly surrounded with something too generic. A cloud-based personalised video tool (like vCreate) will let you select just the right clips and blend these into a single video.  Secondly, if you want to add something super-relevant, you can create video clips from PowerPoint, like an animated infographic for example, perhaps with a well-defined call to action. You can join this to either end of an existing clip if you wanted, to create something new and unique.

Video is the future of content marketing.  In an age of information overload it’s the perfect way to really cut-through, but only if it’s 100% relevant. For content marketing, when you’re reacting to comments and unfolding world events and business trends, staying relevant and incisive is the challenge. But personalised videos are more than ready to meet that challenge. But only if you are too.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

No need to get so emotional - unless you're in B2B marketing.

Creating an emotional connection with a viewer, reader or audience member is really important, especially in B2B marketing. Instinctively we know it, but in our attempts to tread carefully through rules of corporate brand governance it can easily get forgotten. The trouble is, if you ignore this basic human principle, you’re in grave danger of being ignored or lost in the clutter of other competing messaging. In short, your efforts will have been wasted.

According to Psychiatrist Robert Plutchik there are 8 key emotions to choose from: Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Anger, Surprise, Anticipation, Trust, and Disgust. The eight dwarves if you will.

(Just to remind yourself how powerful and distinct each if these are, put yourself in front of a mirror and pull a face for each one. Perhaps a waste of time but when you see what you do for ‘surprise’ it’ll be worth it.)

That’s quite a choice when you consider that any one of these can work to enhance the power of your communication.

Why bother?

According to Google, CEB and Motista, there are lots of good reasons to pack an emotional punch. If a B2B buyer has an emotional connection with your company they are 5 times more likely to consider buying from you; 13 times more likely to purchase something and a whopping great 30 times more likely to pay a premium for the privilege.
Martin Lindstrom, author of ‘Buyology’, claims that when we buy, 85% of that decision is based on unconscious drivers and a mere 15% on jolly-good sensible conscious drivers. So appealing to the unconscious through emotional selling makes excellent sense.

Getting emotional

So how can you start to apply a little bit more emotion to your marketing? There’s no definitive formula here but here are a few ideas based on personal experience of successful campaigns.

Relentless positivity - Look for the positive benefits of what you and your company do and hammer these home. Medical insurance isn’t about being ill, it’s about well-being. A new smart phone isn’t about technical performance, it’s about enhancing lifestyle.

Fear - A powerful emotion in B2B where people are typically more risk averse than consumers. However, generally even more powerful when served up with a soupcon of positivity too. So anti-virus software may prevent virus attacks and hacks but also gives the peace of mind you need to focus on your own business, for example.

urprise - This one is a personal favourite as it’s all about doing the unexpected. Adding something unexpected is a great way to get and retain attention. Like a campaign we did for which took the viewer’s name and photo from Facebook or LinkedIn and turned them into a business hero in the video they were watching. That stuff really works.

Let it all out

There are many ways to make an emotional connection but it’s a lot harder to do with a few lines of written text than it is to do with a picture. And it’s a lot harder to do with a single picture than it is with a video. And it’s a lot harder to do with a generic video than with a personalised one. But not impossible. To really shortcut to making an emotional connection I would opt for personalised video every time. But that’s only because I know it works. But I don’t want to get all emotional about it.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Do people really want to buy from people?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot and I think I can say with some degree of certainty that the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ – but not always. Let me explain.

If I want some milk and bread do I have a preference from buying from a real-life human being? Probably not. If I did I wouldn’t rush to the self-service checkouts do the check-out job myself.  I trust that the milk and bread I get won’t be impacted by my interaction with a person. I’m not relying on them for anything more than taking my money in exchange for a receipt.

So let me move on. Let’s talk hair-cuts. Now that’s a personal service and we put our trust in certain individuals to do this task without making us look like one of the Three Stooges. But if that were automated and the results just as good, would we abandon our regular hair-dressers and be happy to sit in an impersonal booth? Well, some of us might and some of us wouldn’t.

So let’s move on again. I want a new Kitchen. I’m faced with a couple of options. I can measure it all out and order materials online. Or I can engage with a person who will help me make the right choices and save me from making mistakes. So now my preference is definitely to buy from a real-life person.

In B2B, there are often very different drivers to buy than in the consumer world. Often the sale is less one dimensional and transactional. It can often be complex with a variety of stakeholders involved and a project team required to make it happen. The fear of making the wrong decision is a big emotional motivator but it’s only one of many. So when everything else is relatively equal, business people will make their final buying choice based on the people they’re engaging with.  As Bob Burg puts it: “All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”  We’re human beings after all and when we make an emotional connection we create a bond of trust. We rely heavily on instinct at this point and if the instincts are saying ‘I like and trust this individual to deliver’ it has a powerful impact on choice.
This time it’s personal
So a challenge for the B2B marketer and their sale’s colleagues is to create and maintain personal relationships with customers. Typically a sales person deals with more accounts than ever before. They can find that the customer knows as much (or more) about their products and services than they do.
So if we believe that people buy from people, how can we efficiently bring the ‘personal’ in to our marketing and sales strategies with limited budgets and resource?  How do we humanise our often huge, global brands?  Social media is certainly helping, as long as you have well-connected brand advocates who understand the rules of the game. When you get it right, the amplification of that ‘human’ side of the business can be huge.  But what about on a more micro-level?  One to one. Where it really counts.
There is a way
One highly effective way is through video personalisation; using video tools that allow self-recorded messages as part of the sales process.  It won’t replace the power of face to face meetings of course, but it’s a giant step up from de-personalised text.  In an important bid, for example, this type of personalisation is extremely powerful in showing personal and very real commitment to delivering the promise.  When the stakes are high, a short, personal video message from a senior individual can make a huge difference in closing the deal.  I’ve seen it work.
So if people buy from people – shouldn’t your people be speaking to their people? Even if it’s only on video?  It’s certainly worth thinking about when the stakes are high.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Video - powering every stage of the buying journey

There won’t be many switched on marketers who haven’t used video at the top of the sales funnel for lead generation.  All the evidence shows it works, with a video play button mesmerising email recipients into opening  4x as many emails as they would without. But how many B2B marketers are using video at other stages of the buying process, all the way through the funnel to a successful sale? A new report published last week* suggests that if you haven’t, you really should - because it works.

9 out of 10 cats prefer it…
The report revealed that a vast majority (91%) of B2B buyers prefer to consume visual content during the buying process and they valued video content over other visual formats such as E-books, webinars and infographics. So why don’t we give them video content? One challenge is that we like to get something back from our videos. Why should we let people have them for nothing? We want at least a name, an email address and a job title before we’ll let them see the video. But according to the report, 75% of users expect videos to be un-gated.  The online equivalent of ‘I’m just looking thank you’ when being approached by a sales assistant in a retail store. But if up to 60% of the buying journey is managed by the customer themselves, why put up a hurdle to accessing video content that takes them there?

There is much insight to be gained in seeing even anonymous viewers engage with video on-line. By using short-form video, accessed at each stage of interest, the buyer will be more than ready to share their contact details once they’ve made their way through your video journey.  Your sales people should love it too. After all, all the hard work up till then has been done by your videos and the customer themselves.

Understanding buyer Intent with video metrics
By using video viewing metrics you can start to really understand the buying journey. Are they watching whole clips? Are they forwarding videos to colleagues – an excellent buying signal in a complex sale?  This is a whole new way of lead scoring where you can qualify with fact based insights based on what ‘you know they know’.  In theory, having done so much of the ground-work already, these leads should score more highly than those who have not participated in a video journey.

Video during the mid to late stages of the buying cycle
Integrating video into your marketing automation and CRM platforms is a great way to keep engagement data accurate. When you have good data about prospects you can start to be strategic about how you use video in the mid to late stages of the buying journey.  It’s an opportunity to personalise the video journey to a greater degree, sharing only clips with relevance to the customer’s interests and background, really moving the sale forward with every click and view.

At this stage, video helps continue the conversation and personalisation can make an important emotional connection at the moment of truth. After all, people buy from people, right? (See next week’s blog for more insights about this).

Think about video differently
You’ve really got to get into the customer’s shoes to think about how video could progress a sale at every stage in the buying cycle. One route might be to send out an email with a short (60-90 seconds) problem-busting elevator pitch. That could be followed with a link to more product or solution focussed videos which in turn could lead to a call to action. Finally, a sales person using personalised video to help close the deal completes the cycle. Now imagine that journey without video.  No competition, right?

And finally…
Using video throughout the buying cycle doesn’t mean a seismic shift from the way you work today; it just means a shift in emphasis.  It also means taking the time to go beyond lead gen all the way through to helping contribute to the close. Now that really is a different way of thinking.  If you want help mapping this journey and making it happen then I’m bound to say, it’s what we do.

*DemandGen 2015

Monday, 22 June 2015

Video killed the radio star - and other stupid predictions that never came true

Every time I see a post that promises a glimpse into the future I read it. But is there any value in this endless future-gazing? After all, we seem to get it wrong as often as we get it right. Will my prediction that video personalisation will become the new norm in B2B marketing by 2020 actually come true? Early signs are good but one thing’s for sure - only time will tell.

Here are 5 predictions that never really materialised.

1. Video will kill the radio star.
When Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club released the original ‘Video killed the Radio Star’ (‘ Buggles’ had the hit a year later) it did seem incredibly prophetic. After all, three short years later MTV was formed and suddenly we were listening to music in a whole new way - by watching it. Not long after that, VHS became common currency and bands fell over themselves to release visual versions of their music. Why buy an LP with sound only when you could get all that and more on a tape? And why listen to the radio when MTV was on 24/7? There was a time in the mid-80’s when you couldn’t step into an agency reception without having seen a giant CRT monitor precariously hoisted above the receptionist’s head blasting out MTV. So did radio die? To the contrary, we all got so fed up with watching our music that MTV ratings eventually fell to an all-time low and sales of music videos plummeted. In contrast, radio enjoyed something of a renaissance until 2009 with 250m Americans tuning in every week. But that dipped again in 2014 with the advent of streaming. Maybe that really will kill the radio star?

2. Ebooks will destroy the book publishing industry.
Well, we all thought this didn’t we?  Those of us that got the first Kindles saw it as a paperless future. But where would that leave physical publishers? Down the pan, surely? Not so. It appears that the Kindle became exactly that for reading in general, igniting fresh interest which saw e-books sales consistently rising year-on-year by double digit growth whilst sales of traditional books fell by merely fractions of single percentages.

3. Vinyl’s dead. Long live the CD.
I can smugly claim to have played the long-game on this one. As most of you cast aside your creaky old vinyl in favour of digital formats, notably the CD, I jealously guarded my vinyl collection which I have to this day. I always enjoyed the ritualistic exercise of dropping a needle into a groove and favoured what I felt was a warner analogue sound. It seems I was not alone.  Lots of middle-aged men have revitalised their juvenile love of vinyl and a new generation of girls and boys, anxious to own something physical and fun, have adopted it too. 2014 saw vinyl LP sales reaching a 20-year high in the UK at 1.29 million, following seven years of unbroken growth.  It seems that data for the first quarter of 2015 shows that this trend is continuing with vinyl album purchasing up yet again by 69% over the same period in 2014, and vinyl singles also up 23%. Cool!

4. Tablets will replace laptops.
When we saw the first iPads you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the future. Why would anyone ever need a laptop again? Portable, simple, cool, it seemed like the first step towards a brave new world. (Alright, so one of my daughters saw it as a giant iPod for old people who couldn’t see that well, but we knew better, right?). Manufacturers like Dell and Samsung fell over themselves trying to get tablets out there only to be disappointed by slow take up of non-Apple devices. Now it seems the tide has turned. Sales in iPads have slowed whilst laptop sales remain stable, possibly rising. So it turns out there’s plenty of room for both.

5. No one will want long-playing albums again. 
Oh dear. Back to music again. Famously in 2007, due to the way people were constructing playlists on world-dominating i-Tunes and later on streaming service Spotify, the band Ash claimed that the LP was dead and that they would never make another again. They then set about releasing 26 singles in as many months just to hammer the point home. Sheepishly, last month they released their first new long-player since making the statement. Oh well. You can’t always be right.

So what next?
So, up for discussion. Will physical media (CD’s, DVD’s, Blu-Rays) soon be a thing of the past? Will media streaming kill downloads? Will cloud computing be the only computing? Will there be a time when we are no longer allowed to drive cars unassisted? Will personalised video be the new norm for video marketing?  I’m saying yes to all of these. For now at least, but then again, we’ll just have to wait and see.