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.