With the implementation of the NBN (National Broadband Network) in Australia, businesses are starting to employ video as a primary method of communicating with their clients and prospective customers.
Whether created in-house, as a plug-in video service or by a professional video production company, video is quickly a marketer’s media of choice. why? Firstly, video is engaging and, more importantly, video is persuasive.
Here are some of the ways that businesses are using video to help improve their bottom line:
Customer testimonials are indubitably the best way to take people from potential customers to customers. The key to these videos are to use real customers give an honest, unscripted account of how your service helped them achieve their business goals. These videos usually run from fifteen second snippets to a minute and are typically combined with or used to support other marketing material.
Similar to a customer testimonial these videos run between one and two minutes and follow an interview format where the person on-screen answers questions posed by an interviewer just off-camera. These videos are usually delivered as stand-alone marketing support materials and are often grouped with other customer success stories.
A video case study combines customer testimonials with more a more in-depth explanation of how your company’s products and services helped your customer be successful. These case studies usually incorporate two voices – a narrator and the voice of your customer and can run anywhere from two to five minutes. The video structure follows the same “Problem, Solution, Benefit” format found in a printed case study and usually include b-roll or other supporting text and video.
Also known as “vox-pops”, these videos are typically done to promote events and to build buzz around coming events but can also be employed to capture ‘spontaneous’ responses to targeted questions that help promote your product or service or to help differentiate the benefits of your brand compared to the real or imagined problems associated with your competitors. Consumer focused companies such as soft drink manufacturers, phone companies and fast food companies often use this video format in advertising but you are starting to see this type of video appear as a stand-alone promotion on business websites or YouTube business channels. Sometimes these videos are genuine.
If one of your customers is presenting at a conference, trade show or event or even in your offices and is talking about your products or services either directly with you or indirectly as part of a larger discussion this may be a perfect opportunity to capture the presentation of video (with permission, of course) to re-purpose on your website and intranet.
Product (or service) presentation videos are typically employed early in the buying cycle. Product or service presentations focus on benefits and talk from your customer’s perspective. They should speak clearly to how your product solves a specific business, personal or economic problem that your prospect is experiencing. They are used to help your customers and prospects differentiate between the benefits of your products and services to those of your competitors.
Product demos show how your product works and highlight the features that differentiate it from that of your competitors. Software screen captures, a 3D cut-away, or a high impact demo by a presenter are all excellent ways of showing how your product or service works. These videos are typically used to influence a prospect who is relatively far along in the sales cycle. In technology marketing these videos would be targeted at the technical approvals who need to understand how something works. In consumer marketing these would be targeted at the economic buyers of larger ticket items who may be further along the sales process.
The best product reviews are trusted third party reviews. Video reviews can be found anywhere from YouTube to various business portals. To the extent they are positive and promote your brand, they should be referenced. You can also partner with trusted third parties to create product reviews for your own products.
Quickly rising in popularity, visual stories employ illustrations, animations and motion graphics with a voice-over to explain complex products or services in a simple and compelling manner. These are sometime referred to as ‘explainers’ and are usually between one and three minutes in length. A new version of this tool, used primarily for entertainment, are websites that offer predefined characters and backgrounds that you can both animate and add an automated voice to (sort of like building your own Second Life commercials). You will begin to see many new hosted services offering customizable cloud-based animation modeling options – some good and some quite awful.
These videos are the video equivalent of the ‘company brochure’ for small companies – intended to give new visitors to a website a better idea of the company. Corporate overview videos typically company history, key products, executives/owners and other top-level business info. As the cost of video production continues to decrease and the popularity of video increases you will start to see these videos being replaced by multiple, more targeted video.
Whether you are preparing for a quarterly update, responding to a major event in your industry or making a regularly scheduled presentation there is great value in presenting the “face” and “voice” of your leadership team to all of your constituents.
Social media and other Web 2.0 trends have caused companies to reconsider how they communicate with external audiences. Your senior leadership team should not be the first and only consideration to represent your company. It is becoming more imperative to consider showcasing the people that drive the day-to-day operations of your company. Customer service representatives, technical experts and legacy workers are all valuable considerations for this new category of corporate video. Surveys show that there is more trust associated with these employees than with senior management. When you are selling to influencers in organizations (versus economic buyers or decision makers) it is especially important you represent your company with people that your customers and prospects can relate to.
Ten years ago corporate facility videos and equipment tours were popular. Down-sizing, off-shoring, outsourcing, a couple of recessions and a hollowing out of North America’s manufacturing base has change the priorities placed on these videos. Uniqueness is key to success here. That said, it’s really not about you and your stuff any more – it’s about how you can solve your customers problems.
Public companies are legally obliged to create annual and quarterly reviews. As well, larger privately held companies also create their own quarterly and annual reviews. As print continues to fall out of favor video will either supplement or replace these materials.
Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are just starting to enter into the corporate culture even though they have been part of the social culture for years. Other social sites like web-based dating services are now commonplace. Video is becoming a key component in how you ‘sell’ yourself, in your private life… and in business. A video signature is a video (either embedded or direct link to video) that is in the signature portion of your email. Introductory videos serve the same purpose – to give people who don’t know you a better idea about who your are.
Corporate video first gained prominence with training (service, support, sales, personal development etc.) and continues to be one of the best uses of video. Online Video is a cost-effective substitute for in-class training. You can also easily integrate video into online training management tools.
If you serve a large geographic area or sell through channels then it is well worth the effort to put together short ‘overnight expert’ sales support videos that highlight the key selling points, features, benefits, objection handling and follow-up issues to consider by your direct or channel sales force.
Contextual training videos are becoming very popular on the web. ‘How-to’ videos, video manuals, on-site video reference, quick assembly demos, and other types of video are being used to supplement or replace traditional training. Mobile video will increase the popularity of this type of video.
No one reads manuals. You can save thousands of dollars of post sale support by creating informative assembly, installation and maintenance videos for your products and services.
In certain formats video can be a suitable replacement for text where an authoritative voice, support materials or other visual references are required. A list of FAQ’s answered by a company expert is an example.
I believe an interesting application for mobile computing and video is going to evolve around the ability to incorporate live and recorded video into the customer support process. Imagine being able to show someone the problem you are having with their product rather than trying to describe it or send them a photo. Showing someone the problem is just the beginning. Getting a step-by-step video response with someone talking you through the solution – live… that’s the holy grail of customer support. Most companies will dismiss this as too expensive. Other companies, like Apple, will integrate these types of services into their entire brand experience.
In larger companies few people have the time or interest to understand what other groups or functions within the company do or even why they exist. Internal videos that highlight business plans, new business activities and achievements can improve knowledge transfer and lead to more effective communications. They are also a great way to show off your local heroes. These videos can be either live or recorded and are typically used in larger more geographically dispersed companies. As employees continue to work from home these videos will become more important.
Most companies spend a disproportionate amount of their marketing budget on attending and participating in a variety of industry events and yet only a very small percentage of employees ever benefit from these activities. Share the knowledge gained at these events by capturing the presentations, demos, interviews, commentaries etc. on video.
Once your new recruits are on board employee orientation videos are a great way to get new staff up to speed. Company history, structure, procedures, policies and codes of behavior can all be communicated effectively with video.
The cost of dealing with health and safety related issues within organizations continues to grow. Video is one of the most effective means of minimizing these costs.
While advertisers are becoming more selective in how they chose to spend their promotional dollars with broadcast television, other venues for commercials such as online video pre-roll, online sponsorships, in-game advertising, event sponsorships and in-theatre advertising are starting to take the place of broadcast / cable commercials. A proliferation of video screens cropping up on every building, device and structure will create an even more diverse set of advertising opportunities. The challenge will be to create specialized content targeted to ever shrinking niche audiences.
A video is viral if it is so compelling that people want to share it. (Calling a video ‘Viral’ doesn’t make it so). Viral videos have to be extremely engaging, entertaining, shocking or meaningful to be successful. Unfortunately some of the most successful viral videos have little connection (and therefore value) to any brand. Everyone references ‘Will it Blend’ but very few viral videos are remotely this successful in actually driving sales. Viral video is very difficult to do well.
Testing has shown that open rates can double if you include video in your email marketing activities. To be effective the video should be purpose-built to elicit a specific conversion activity such as requesting a demo, more info, etc. E-mail is seeing a resurgence with marketers and embedded video in emails (like Gmail supports) or links to video in email is becoming very popular.
Infomercials have been around forever. While they continue to be the primary focus of web-based parody videos they have remained remarkably resilient over time. The shopping channel is, in effect, a 24 hour infomercial. If done well, Infomercials can be very effective at selling certain consumer products.
This is a broad category that will become very important over the next months and years. Much of the content (video or otherwise) being created today by companies is focused on selling and focused on the brand. Focusing on solving your customers problems first and then associating your brand with those solutions will be increasingly more important and effective. (i.e. Home Depot has developed branded ‘how-to’ series that sits on their website and shows their customers how-to fix various things around the house. ) What knowledge do you have that can help your customers and prospects. People don’t go to your website to see your sales pitch. They go to see if you can solve their problem.
Video is beginning to replace or supplement text and graphics as a content element on many corporate websites. Landing pages can offer a more compelling call to action with video. Some micro sites on larger web properties are self-contained, purpose-built conversion machines that have the singular purpose of generating a conversion activity (sign-up for more info, attend event, order something etc.). Video is becoming an important part of the conversion process.
The promise of interactive video has been around for years but we’re just starting to see companies build in interactivity into their videos. You can build in calls to action, form fields, multiple scenarios and any number of engaging content that get people to not just passively watch your video but actually gets them to start to interact with your video. Technology will play a huge role in interactive video over the next few years. You can already see the foundations of this with YouTube allowing you to add annotations and links to videos.
Viral Video in many ways is just branded entertainment. There are many ways companies can benefit from having their names attached to content. In the ’50 the ‘soaps’ were a great way for P&G and other consumer companies to promote their brand. Everyday there is a new format for sponsored video being created for delivery on the web. Many will fail but some will become hugely popular. Associating your brand with the right entertainment and informational content on the web is a very interesting opportunity.
The standard four paragraph press release is now being supplemented with video and rich media to tell a more engaging story. Video is now being purpose-built to directly support the important company announcements. The new challenge for press releases is to change the focus from the company to the customer.
Make it easy for networks, bloggers, news gathers and others to promote your business and also to talk about your industry. Smart companies are developing video support catalogs of company and industry related materials (b-roll, industry footage, sound bites etc) and offering them to news and business portals. The demand for video is everywhere. If a news agency (online or broadcast) is looking for stock footage to use in a story it might as well be yours. (assuming the story is positive, of course)
If your company is out working in the community, being good corporate citizens, helping the environment or contributing to important causes you should be capturing those efforts on video. Show the world what you are doing, don’t just talk about it.
Weekly newsletters require a lot of effort and the ‘open’ rate on most of these is quite low. Companies of all sizes are now starting to develop talk-show format video where a host interviews various people (either internal or external to their company) to discuss things that are important to your audience. Think of it as the long tail of interviews where very specific interviews are being delivered to very specific audiences.
While EPK’s are still being delivered on DVD, web-based video and text are quickly replacing this electronic version of the press kit which became popular in the mid 90′s.
Events represent a unique confluence of expertise and opportunity – often under-leveraged. Trade Shows, meeting and conferences are usually attended by your top sales people, your corporate executives, industry experts and other influential business people. If you are speaking at an event or someone is referencing your company you should be capturing this valuable content on video.
Take the opportunity at an event to corral four to six of your best customers and other industry experts, put them in room and video tape them talking about industry trends, business issues and the future of your industry. This content will be the most valuable content you could ever capture.
There are many opportunities to take specific event participants to the side and take them through informal Q&A sessions on various topics that matter to your customers. This content is valuable lead generation content.
Finding the best employees is the single most important function of any company and yet comparatively small amounts of time and money are allocated to this critical task. Recruitment videos that feature company employees, highlight corporate culture and promote the direction of the company can be very influential.
There are many levels and types of Vloggers today but for the sake of brevity I will identify two: 1. Pro Vloggers who have engaging styles, rich content and a growing list of followers who promote their vlog on their site and through various syndicated channels and 2. Regular Vloggers who have chosen, for whatever reason, to speak into a camera instead of typing on a keyboard. The problem today is that, unlike onscreen text, you can’t scan a vlog – you have to watch the whole thing to see whether it is worth your time. The other problem is that most people just aren’t that compelling on camera so there is little, to no value of a talking head – and often it’s a distraction. Of course everyone references Gary Vaynerchuck (from Wine Library TV) as the rule (rather than the exception) for video blogging in the same way that everyone references the success of Will It Blend as being what to expect when you launch your first viral video project. For individuals looking to gain notoriety from their passions vlogging can be a good option if you have a good on-camera presence and great content.
Wal-Mart has its own profitable in-store TV network that makes shoppers aware of new promotions. LCD screens are ubiquitous. In store LCD’s will be networked and customizable offering you the ability to promote your own goods and services or make money by promoting other complimentary services.
HD video screens are popping up everywhere – why not in your lobby or reception where you can get a jump-start on first impressions and also take advantage of a captive audience.
Yep, ‘there’s an Ap for that’. Mobile video will soon be the largest video category outside of broadcast. In the short-run, mobile video will consist of hastily re-purposed video made to fit on a mobile device. It will quickly evolve into a much more specific format – i.e. five to fifteen second hyper targeted messages that are part of geo-located (‘location aware’) and micro-niched promotions. Adding mobility (true context) to video will generate many new uses and formats for video.
Market research firms are now capturing the anecdotal feedback along with the raw statistics of their research. If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video of your customer describing her likes and dislikes of your new product is priceless. Go to YouTube to see how people are describing your products and services.
Video white papers have evolved over the last years from basically a person reading a white paper on camera (what’s the point) to a professional delivery that is accompanied by charts, graphs and other visual references to make the presentation more valuable.
Some video production companies specialize in helping companies deliver serialized video content to their customers. Like the name implies video content is created on a regular basis (usually monthly) that customers and prospects can view through a subscription service. While it makes sense to apply tradition formats to new technology and ideas, not all ideas transfer as elegantly as others.
Personalize your brand. Open up the cultural veil and let customers and products understand who you are – a group of humans rather than a ‘brand’. Authenticity is important.