5 Ways for Your B2B Video to Compete with Hollywood

Doing B2B video? Congratulations. Your company is now in the entertainment business. Not only are you in the entertainment business, but you’re competing with professional directors like me, big companies like Time-Warner and the New York Times and CBS and Fox, and the millions of individuals who busily upload 48 hours of video every minute to YouTube.

Hollywood director provides B2B video tipsYou’re competing for attention — for the focused time to get your message across to a potential customer. It would be great if customers were sitting quietly in front of their laptops for your message to arrive, but they’re not. They’re drowning in the same tsunami of video that you are.

The good news about the video glut? People only have to watch the good stuff. They’ve learned how to ID a lame video in under 10 seconds and click it off. The bad news? Your customers have this skill too.

Which brings us to why nobody watched your video: You bored them. They didn’t want to hear the VP of marketing talk insincerely about how people-oriented you are. They didn’t want to see charts and graphics. They didn’t want to take 10 minutes to appreciate your sales process. And let’s get really truthful here: You didn’t either.

Great video cuts through the clutter. People watch it all the way through. It gets tweeted, linked and passed around all by itself. Bad video gets turned off.

Yet boardrooms overflow with chatter with about how to shoot video economically, how to get more video posted, how to propagate video and SEO it to the world. They forget to talk about how to make B2B video that anyone will actually want to watch.

My advice? Stop worrying about equipment and SEO, and start worrying about what matters — shooting video that doesn’t suck. Here are my top 5 B2B tips for great video:

1. Entertain or Die

Watching your video is optional for your customers. To get them to do it, you need to reward them for their time. In the entertainment business (which you’re now in, remember?) the expected reward is actual entertainment.

Your job is to deliver enough intrigue, motion, emotion and story to keep customers glued to their seats. If you don’t, they’ll un-glue themselves as fast as they can and run to the nearest episode of “Family Guy.”

“But…but…but…” I can hear you whine from here. “But I have a revolutionary product! Our manufacturing process is second to none! We save customers money!” Yes, of course. You have a very important message. A very important message nobody will ever see if your video is boring.

Think it can’t be done? Check out this Corning video on the I-just-want-to-shoot-myself topic of “the future of glass.” You will see no charts, no interviews with the heads of R&D and no customers talking about cool new trends in glassware. And you will be entertained.

2. Say One Thing

Think of your video as a tight sentence with a noun and a verb. “Our Blenders Grind Anything” is a good, compact sentence you can build a whole video campaign around.

“We have great customer service and low prices and our customer service reps love their customers and we’ve been in business for 50 years” would cause Mrs. Zelermyer’s red pen to go into conniption fits on your third grade composition. Best to imagine her looking over your shoulder when you do video too.

3. Put One Person in Charge

In business, we tend to work in teams and committees. Teams and committees are about sharing ideas, which inevitably leads to compromise. Great to think about before you start your video project. But not while you’re doing it. You can’t design by committee.

Somebody — and perhaps it’s you — has to own the process. Make the choices. Love the good parts and cut the bad. To answer the question — forgetting colleagues and pressure from above: If you saw this video on your computer, would you watch the whole thing?

4. The Secret to Viral Video in Two Words

“Naked Celebrity.” If you have one, you’re viral. If not, it’s time to get real. “Viral” is not a kind of video — it’s a response by an audience that’s so excited by your video that they urgently and quickly share it with everyone they know.

A viral video is, in other words, a hit. Hits take skill, vision, artistry, marketing savvy and a huge amount of luck. You can hire all but the luck — but it’s expensive and still may not work. Rather than focusing your strategy on going viral, focus it on doing great, entertaining video. If you’re entertaining enough, viral has a chance to happen.

5. Hire Help

Do you assign accounting tasks to people who can barely count? Of course you don’t (I hope.) Don’t ask video know-nothings to do your video.

But have no fear. You may already have people in your company who love video and do it well. Odds are you’re paying them to do something else. You can often find these people by just by asking around.

If you’re a big company with a big product, hire big pros. If you have a fun creative challenge and a decent product, there are talented people out there who are dying to work with you. If you’re not that big, hire someone with experience to consult with you on video. They can guide you through the creative and economic pitfalls of the process until you grow your own in-house pros.

What has your experience been making B2B videos and sharing them online with your customers?

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

7 Online Video Tips Every B2B Marketer Should Know

Making and distributing good B2B video content takes time. It isn’t a quick process to arrange a video shoot, edit video and then upload it to the social web. This work though can come with a substantial pay-off if as a B2B company you understand how to do the little things to maximize the effectiveness of online video.

When it comes to online video several issues exist. Search engines don’t index the content of video well. People can’t always watch video at work because of firewall issues and out of date software. Today’s tips are to help fix some of these issues and to make sure that ROI of online video is maximized.

7 Online Video Tips Every B2B Marketer Should Know

1. Always Include URL In A Video Description – This first tip is so simple but so many businesses don’t do it. Most video sharing sites including YouTube, allow the first 30 characters of a video description to be an active URL. Not only does it make it easy to generate leads back to your site from videos, but this links also count in Google’s PageRank system. Meaning if you publish a lot of video and put links in each of them your organic search ranking in Google will be improved.

2. When Blogging A Video Include A Text Summary – This is a tactic that may add a little more time to getting your video published, but is completely worth it. A good example of this is what the folks at HubSpot TV are doing. Under each of the video is a series a bullet points that summarize what the video covers. While this is great for people who can’t watch the video it also provides text for search engines to better index your video blog posts. Adding text with video is a valuable inbound marketing opportunity.

3. Three Short Videos Are Better Than one Long Video – People have short attention spans when it comes to the web. As marketers providing content it is important that we understand this. Online videos should be short, ideally around 3 minutes, or even shorter. If you have a 10 minute interview, then break it up into smaller interviews. Besides improving the chances that more people will watch it, it also provides the opportunity to focus headlines that fit with different messages within the video.

4. YouTube Can’t Be Ignored – More than 90 percent of the videos watched online are watched on YouTube. While Youtube may not have the best looking video player, it holds the audience. Many B2B corporations use proprietary video players for their web sites, while this isn’t a bad thing, video must still be distributed to other services including YouTube.

5. Use A Multi-Uploader Service To Ease Distribution – Uploading online video, especially if it is high quality or HD, takes a significant amount of time. Because of this, the thought of uploading a video to 10 or 15 sharing sites might seem daunting. This is where services that upload to multiple services at once come in handy. A service like Tubmogul will allow you to upload a video once to multiple sites and can additionally provide good analytic information. Like any other type of online content, distribution is critical.

6. The Smartest Person Isn’t Always The Best For Video – Being interesting on video is not as much about knowledge as it is tone and personality. When selecting employees or partners for B2B video don’t automatically select the smartest person. Think about who is the best at explaining things clearly and doing so in a compelling manner. These people are your video stars, not company experts.

7. Brand Video For Viewing Across The Web – It is easy to forget that people watch video all across the web, since video is embeddable. Don’t assume that you don’t have to brand your videos because people will be watching it on your web site or blog. Including brief branded intro and outro to B2B videos will make sure that whereever they are watched, they will be connected to to the brand and company.

Do you have other B2B video tips? Do you plan to make video a bigger part of your B2B inbound marketing?

10 B2B Social Media Videos Worth Watching

When it comes to B2B social media, online video has a special role. While many people online like to consume information quickly in the form of blog posts or tweets, video offers depth. In the way that a B2B product can be complex, so can understanding social media’s implications for B2B companies.

This post is for people in your organization who are just starting to learn about B2B social media. These 10 videos offer important perspective on the power of social media as it relates to B2B. While it takes longer to consumer information online via video, it does a better job at communicating emotion. I also find you will get people repeating soundbites from videos in meetings or when they are selling social media to executives.

10 B2B Social Media B2B Videos Worth Watching

1. Social Media Is a Must for B2B Too By Jay Bear
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2. B2B Marketers on Social Media By ReachForce
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3. How B2B Marketers Can Get Started With Social Media By HubSpot
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4. Creators of Will It Blend Talk about Social Media, Branding and B2B By Koroberi
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5. Colleen Cunningham uses Twitter as B2B tool By NatashaRuckel
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6. The 8 Social Media Commandments By CiscoChannels
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7. Steven B. Johnson at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum By MarketingProfs
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8. Money and Time Saving Tips for Creating Benchmarks in Social Media By MarketingProfs
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9. How to Get Started in Business Blogging with Andy Beal By WebMarketingToday
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10. Finding Content for your Business Blog By CompendiumBlogware
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Were these videos helpful? Do you know of others that should be listed?