12 Tips to Produce Compelling B2B Video

B2B marketers need to add video to their arsenal of skills in today’s online world. Video can sometimes tell a story quicker and easier than a written post, can humanize a company and can turn marketers into brand journalists. And a keyword-titled video seems to be more likely to show up in higher search results than a written post. There are plenty of B2B companies making high production videos to share online, but this is more about getting started and producing videos alone or with minimal help.

Here are some basic tips to get you started on the path to becoming a Hollywood director.

1. Keep it Simple
Online video is more compelling if the idea is simple. People are distracted when watching video, so you can’t try to put too much into a video. Try to convey one or two ideas at the most. If you do a longer interview with someone, produce several shorter videos out of the footage, each about one thing.

2. Compose Like a Photographer
Video is a visual medium and your video will be me more compelling if it is shot well. Photographers often compose shots using the rule of thirds, which means the most important item in the shot is not centered. Pay attention to television and movie shot composition and imitate what you like.

3. Use a Tripod
Avoid shaky, hand-held video. The easiest way is to use a tripod. Simple full-sized tripods give you more flexibility in shooting, but table top tripods are more portable. Either way, securing the camera will help tremendously. If you are shooting with a smartphone, there are inexpensive mounts available to attach to a tripod.

4. Find a Clean, Well-Lighted Place
Shoot video in well-lit areas. Harsh shadows or uneven lighting can be distracting, especially if you are shooting an interview. Always think about the viewer, and can they see the subject matter in the shot.

5. Listen for the Quiet
Many common environments that you might consider shooting in are noisy. Try to find quiet areas off the tradeshow floor and the manufacturing area. While it is fine to shoot there to provide context to a video, do not try to shoot lengthy interviews where the most important thing is to hear the person. People will watch poorly shot video if the sound is good, but they will not suffer through bad sound.

6. Use Stills
Shoot still pictures to augment the video. Ken Burns made the style of movement on still images so common in his Civil War documentaries that Apple calls it the Ken Burns effect in its video editing program. They are a good way to set the scene or help with transitions.

7. Make It Branded
Create simple title slides that include your company logo. A black screen with words that includes your company name is not enough. Customers and prospects need to visually connect this video to your company, and opening with the company logo is the best way to do that.

8. Keep it Short
Unless you are using video to tell an involved story that must build out over several sections or creating a how to which requires many steps, keep the video under 5 minutes.

9. Cut it Together
Editing is key to improving the quality of your video. Don’t get wild and cut between multiple shots frequently, but use editing to tighten conversations and remove extra footage. Use simple transitions in your editing rather than fancy spins and wipes.

10. Music Makes the World Go Round
Simple music during title cards adds a level of professionalism to the video. Continue the music at a lower beneath the entire video to add a bit of aural texture. It really makes a subtle difference.

11. What’s the Call to Action?
The end of a video should end with a company URL or a landing page. What action should people take after watching the video? Many video platforms include the ability to embed links in the video. Take advantage of that with your calls to action.

12. Post and Share
After editing the video, post it on a variety of social channels, including YouTube and Facebook. Embed the video on your company blog and drive traffic back to it with updates on Twitter and LinkedIn. Add a screenshot to an email newsletter for extra viewers. Depending on the content, others may want to embed the video on their sites, so make sure that’s possible. It is with all common video platforms.

Bonus: Think Mobile
Make sure the video makes sense on a mobile device, as more than 23 million Americans watch mobile video. This means more medium shots and close-ups than long shots, as well as clear audio.

What tips would you add for making compelling B2B video?

Photo credit: Maxymedia

Comments

  1. says

    Nice post Jeffrey and a reminder of how accessible video is for all businesses. It can bring companies, brands, products, services and complicated propositions to life.

  2. says

    Thanks for this. My added tip would be to consider animation. It’s a great way to convey abstract ideas like supply chains or very complex machinery like what you find in the industrial space.

  3. says

    What do these 12 tips have to do with B2B video? This is extremely elementary and can be applied to any web video.

  4. says

    Great suggestion, David. Do you have a recommendation for an easy way to accomplish that? I would use a series of still images created in Photoshop, but that’s what I am familiar with.

  5. says

    I wish there was an easy way animation amateurs like myself could do it, like how XtraNormal lets you animate two people talking to each other. But for conveying complex ideas, I’d rely on an animation developer who will charge several thousands dollars.

    But when you consider the return on the investment, which would be sales ranging from hundreds of thousands to billions, that’s a pretty small figure.

  6. Steve Chipman says

    To expand on #5 — use a lapel mic. Here’s a post that I wrote called “Audio — the Most Important Part of Business Video?”, which includes a trade show floor interview. http://goo.gl/wUccX

  7. says

    Noah

    Thanks for the question. B2B marketers visit our site and read our posts, so even information that is not specific for B2B marketers is targeted to them. The information may seem elementary to some, but they are helpful tips to others.

  8. says

    Thanks Jeff, this is really comprehensive! You have a lot of great, fundamental ideas here. I think it’s especially important that people keep things simple and relatively short. Desktop editing software, even at the consumer level, is so feature-rich, I think the casual film maker feels like they need all kinds of fancy transitions when they don’t. I think you are right—good lighting, good composition (with the rule of thirds), and maybe a little b-roll like you mention with the Burns’ stills is about all you need. HD camcorders are so inexpensive these days—let these basic qualities mark your professionalism. I also absolutely agree with Steve—an external mic is a necessity. There’s a lot of fun that can be had with this—thanks for this guide. @ryoatcision

  9. says

    Ryo

    Thanks for the comments. I had just finished up a short video project before writing this post, and it really made a difference to keep everything simple. A professional looking video was the result.

  10. says

    Jeffrey, great article. My favourite point was the twelfth – “12. Post and Share” Very important! Too often videos will be created but not properly spread or shared! What use is a marketing video with it being pushed down the right channels!

    Absolutely agree. Also, that thumbnail screenshot showing the juiciest shot from the video is so very important – an article alone on WHY this is true could be written I bet!

    Looking forward to more articles from you, cheers!

  11. says

    Great points. I especially liked #12. Video has proven to be a great platform for both connecting and creating conversations that lead to a deeper and enduring brand engagement. Thanks for the insight.

  12. says

    Thanks for sharing, I agree with most of it but I wouldn’t keep the music
    bubbling underneath all the time, it gets very dull. Best use more than one track to add variety and use the silences between the music to give the viewer a jolt. I do this all the time in reality tv.

  13. says

    Reel: Thanks for the comment. YouTube chooses the deadcenter frame for its thumbnail, while vimeo lets you select a thumbnail. You can even upload a separate image to use.

    Debbie: Video can humanize a company too

    Jules: Yes, well-used music can subtly create emotions with a video piece that cannot be created any other way.

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