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October 1, 2014

Most B2B Marketing Videos Don’t Support the Buyer’s Journey

Most B2B marketing videos do not support the buyer’s journey because they are product-centric. They accompany product introductions, reside on product pages and are featured in product promotions. Most B2B videos are designed for the “awareness” phase of the buyer’s journey — that is, “Introducing (ta-da!) Cloud Security v.3.0!”

These overview “explainer” videos are useful. Customers, prospects, marketers, and salespeople all like short videos that answer the question “what does it do?” when the subject is new to them. But . . .

Product-centric videos — by themselves — do not support the buyer’s journey! Why not?

  1. A product-oriented explainer or demo video by itself will not create that crucial shift in perspective that transforms a viewer into a potential customer. In order to get to the product information quickly and to get it all in, you need to set up the problem quickly, assuming the viewer knows about the problem you solve. That’s OK for a product overview, but not if you’re trying to change how someone sees a problem. And if a prospect doesn’t see that they have the problem or challenge you say you can solve, you will not move the prospect forward in their journey
  2. Today’s buyers are largely educating themselves about your solution’s applicability. When a prospect already knows what your product or solution is for, it needs no introduction. Much of your one-size-fits-all product introduction will be stuff the view already knows. And online video viewers are impatient.
  3. Buyers want information, not infomercials. No one expects a video produced by a solution vendor to be objective. But videos with titles like “Cloud Security Key Differentiators” and “Cloud Security Use Cases” promise to be more informational and less sales-y than “The Cloud Security Story.”
  4. Buyers are working in teams. Team members represent different roles in the organization. They have different interests. If their particular interest hasn’t been addressed 20 seconds or so into the video, many viewers will stop viewing. Besides, when you try to address several different interests (e.g., financial, ease of use, productivity) in one video, all your messages get diluted.
  5. Different buying stages require different videos. You need videos that create awareness of a need, quick how-to videos for the consideration/research stage, demo videos and comparison videos and webcasts for the analysis and comparison stage. For the purchase stage, you need case studies, testimonials, and user story videos that show how your solution is being used and the results achieved. For the post-sale stage, you need videos to show you can get even stronger results with additional support. This provides you with the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell.

So how do you move away from product-centric videos and toward videos that support the buyer’s journey? Here are two solutions.

Solution 1: Create several targeted videos aligned to the buyer’s journey

What kind of videos would be made if, instead of starting out “Hey, we need a product video,” marketers thought “Hey, buyers need information?”

We know that buyers in the awareness and consideration phases of the journey like summarized content. So, short (30- to 60-second) videos make sense. And to accommodate the different interests and levels of engagement of buying team members, you need multiple short videos.

Our clients are increasingly adopting this multi-pronged approach. A sales enablement app vendor is making a 30-second video showing how various product features benefit salespeople, another about benefits for sales managers.

A vendor of security threat intelligence plans one video for CISOs, one detailing product differentiators for buyers just researching the category, and one for IT managers about integrating the product with other security software.

The more focused videos you have, the more videos your lead gen and sales enablement teams can promote, to more accurately segmented lists — and research shows that just putting the word video in the subject line sharply increases open rates.

Solution 2: Start thinking of new kinds of stories

It’s often said that videos need to tell a story — because everyone responds to stories. But it doesn’t have to be a product story. As soon as you start thinking about how video could support the buyer’s journey, you’ll start to generate all kinds of new story ideas that will put this powerful medium to better use. Stories about different personas, stories featuring unusual differentiators, stories set in different vertical markets, stories that challenge preconceptions. Buyers will appreciate how easy it is to find the information they want when they encounter these videos on the buyer’s journey.

Now, take a good look at the videos your organization is using. Do they support the buyer’s journey? What additional videos do you need to add to move prospects down the funnel? Comment below.


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Since 2004, Bruce McKenzie, founding partner of Business Information Graphics, has been developing videos to increase sales engagement for companies such as IBM, Cisco, Brocade, Quantum, Compuware and many startups.

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