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.
You’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?