Author: Alexa Mills
There’s no doubt that video is one of the most powerful ways to engage an audience. However, despite a general awareness of this in the B2B space, I often hear comments such as, ‘The products/services we sell aren’t exciting enough for video’ or ‘Our products are part of a wider technology so you couldn’t see them on camera’ or ‘There’s just nothing sexy about what we sell’.
So although there’s clear evidence of how impactful video is as part of the marketing mix – yes, even in B2B communications! – such observations can be reason enough for the idea of video to be dismissed in favour of something deemed ‘simpler’ to execute.
To me as a creative storyteller, the feeling that B2B video is too difficult, too dry, too expensive or is never going to pack the same punch as B2C content, is the perfect challenge. Why? Because I’ve seen B2B video done really well, I can demonstrate how and why it works and I want to convince clients of the benefits.
Ultimately, with any video content we are targeting a very specific audience. So content will only ever be engaging and successful if it appeals to (and talks directly to) that audience. As a crude example, there is little point in creating video content that depicts a highly corporate environment if the very people you’re trying to reach are in the agricultural or manufacturing sector. A viewer needs to immediately identify with the content (either through character representation, tone/humour or ethics) or you’ve lost them. And if you consider that our average attention span is now said to be just eight seconds, those first eight seconds need to hook the viewer.
If we remember this all along the production process – from initial creative concepts to output format and delivery platforms – there is no reason why B2B video can’t be just as engaging and achieve a return on investment equal to its B2C counterpart!
If you need convincing, take a look at these examples of B2B video:
As a company that sells energy management and automation solutions, Schneider Electric opted to create a video narrative that demonstrates the impact its products and services have on the end-user rather than focusing on its technology or software.
Here we see how, in under two minutes, ‘just a facilities manager’ single-handedly changes the lives of a father and daughter in Peru. How does he do this? By simply correcting a cooling system error in his office with Schneider Electric technology. This ‘butterfly effect’ concept, whereby we witness the larger effects of his small action (including a lama going viral!), leads us back to our hero who is given the confidence to loudly declare ‘I am THE facilities manager’.
Why does it work? Because it doesn’t push a product; it immediately resonates with the end-user and their sense of humour, it’s succinct and it’s memorable.
Does it matter that you can’t see the product? Absolutely not.
Much like the Aldi TV advert in which a retired lady discloses: ‘I don’t like tea. I like gin’, this video by Zendesk – a provider of customer service software – takes a light-hearted approach that makes it difficult not to watch to the end.
We see a retired couple on the sofa in their living room discussing bad customer service as if it were their relationship. In the accompanying online content, Zendesk explains the impact of bad customer service and how “this sweet lady has the power to turn your customers against you. All it takes is one bad experience and her entire social network will hear about it.” The nice touch here is that you wouldn’t expect this lady to be the driver behind a scandal on social media.
The closing line of this dialogue makes it work perfectly: “I like it when he gives me the business.”
Again there is no product; the video content is relatable, fun and memorable.
OK, it’s big budget, it falls into the B2C category as well as B2B, and its success in getting truck drivers to want to drive its vehicles is disputed, but I had to share this one! Jeane-Claude Van Damme doing the splits across two reversing trucks to Enya – what’s not to like?
Engaging B2B video does exist. The key is thinking creatively and planning from the outset with the right audience and its values in mind.