Why the Buyer Dictates Your Video Marketing Strategy

By Rhen Wilson

Video plays a crucial role in the buying process, but have you built it into your content strategy? Using the buyer’s needs and purchase journey as our guide, find out how to create an effective video marketing strategy.

I probably don’t need to convince you about the popularity of video. We’ve all seen stats like these pop up in our marketing email newsletters or LinkedIn feeds:

  • “U.S. adults spent 10 hours, 39 minutes a day consuming media in the first quarter of 2016.” (Adweek)
  • “Advertisers are spending on average more than $10 million annually on Digital Video, representing an 85% increase from [2014].” (IAB)
  • “Facebook last reported that its users watched 8 billion videos per day on both desktop and mobile” while Snapchat’s video “traffic more than tripled to 6 billion per day.” (Fortune)

So if we all know how valuable video is, this begs the question: Have you developed a clear and effective video marketing strategy?

My guess is no.

At least, if you believe Content Institute’s recently published 2017 B2B Content Marketing Trends. In the report, 30% of marketers believe pre-produced video will be critical to their marketing success in 2017. That number seems awfully low when we compare it to how much time we all spend consuming video (10.5 hours is nothing to thumb your nose at).

What makes that 30% tougher to swallow is that we know video works in the sales process. Sixty-four percent of businesses attribute direct sales to video marketing.

So what’s going on here?

A Lack of Video Marketing Strategy

In my previous post on creating a blog strategy, I shared that only 37% of marketers have a documented content strategy. Therefore, none of us should be surprised when Ascend2 surveys more than 50,000 professionals and finds that 48% say a lack of video marketing strategy is the number one challenge they face.

Creating a video marketing strategy is more than conceptualizing a viral idea, pointing a camera, uploading it to YouTube, and waiting for the sales numbers to skyrocket. You know the truth: A video strategy is, in part, just an expansion of your content strategy. The role of video, like all marketing content, is to address a need or pain point at each phase of your buyer’s path to purchase.

Let’s take a look at some successful types of video content:

Ascdend2's Most Effective Types of Video Marketing Content

Source: Ascend2

Ascend2 does a great job outlining the most effective types of video content. But now we need to take it a step further and understand where and when this content enters your buyer’s journey. For instance, when does a prospect need a thought leader interview video versus a customer testimonial video?

Answering this question and others like it will make a huge difference in how you:

  1. Prioritize the videos you create
  2. Budget for video based on your business objectives
  3. Design your website for showcasing video content
  4. Distribute video to meet your audience at the right time in their purchasing journey

The Right Video in the Right Place

To make things simple, I created the infographic below to demonstrate where and when to utilize different types of video content at different phases of the buyer’s journey.

Video Marketing Strategy Funnel Infographic - Rhen Wilson

Click for full-size image.

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Expanding this idea further, I’ve also found some great examples of companies utilizing each type of video content to attract, nurture, and convert customers.

Awareness Stage Videos

At the awareness stage, prospects may or may not know they have a problem worthy of your company’s solution. They may not even know your company exists. At this stage, you need to remember the role of video.

The Role of Video: Trigger a need or help a prospect pinpoint an existing problem.

Awareness stage videos include:

  • Branding videos
  • Company introduction videos
  • Educational videos

Branding Video

The quintessential branding video is a must for every business. The branding video allows you to share your company values, mission, and promise. With a branding video, you have the freedom to get creative, show the world who you really are and what you stand for, and push the envelope.

Definitely talk about your products or services, and definitely speak to the right audience, but this isn’t the place to go into too much detail. You simply want to spread the word about who you are and what you do using an incredible hook to catch their attention. A good branding video should trigger a viewer to think, “Hey, I think our company could benefit from something like that.”

Schneider Electric

 

Why it works:

  • Schneider Electric demonstrates that its brand is fun and funny, and it believes in its product’s ability to impact the world.
  • It’s popular. It has nearly 700,000 views on YouTube—and don’t forget we’re talking about an energy company.
  • You know exactly what type of companies Schneider Electric works with and what solutions it provides, and notice that at no point in the video are either things mentioned.

Company Introduction Videos

You could argue there’s a gray area between a branding video and a company introduction video, but I think a distinction is worth making. In a branding video, your goal is to hook a viewer’s eye, create buzz, and hopefully foster some name recognition. You really don’t have a lot of time to talk about products or services.

In a company introduction video, you can spend a bit more time on why your company does what it does and why it’s so good at it.

Your goal here is to clearly articulate your offerings and go into more detail without overdoing it. Remember where your audience is on their journey: They’re not quite sold on your company, but they are interested in the problems you’re addressing because you’re helping them pinpoint the problem they face themselves.

FreshBooks

 

Why it works:

  • In simple terms, FreshBooks tells you exactly who the company is and what it does.
  • FreshBooks identifies its target audience: a small business owner.
  • The video establishes a common problem its audience faces: keeping up with financial paperwork is impossible, time tracking is difficult, etc.
  • It highlights its solution without overwhelming you with too much detail. It gives enough away to entice you to learn more.

Educational Videos

With today’s customers more in control of the buying process than ever before, the amount of research and self-education happening is staggering. Forrester reports that 74% of B2B buyers conduct more than half their research online before they make an offline purchase.

As you build out your video marketing strategy, you need more than strong branding videos. You need to help buyers during this crucial research phase. For every problem your brand solves, what can you say about it? Is this problem dangerous for businesses? Will it continue eating away at their bottom line if they don’t do something to stop it? How have changes in the industry compounded this problem?

Use educational videos to (you guessed it) educate your buyers about the problems they’re facing and start positioning yourself as a thought leader.

FedEx

 

Why it works:

  • FedEx uses stats and data to educate viewers on what current consumers’ expectations are when it comes to online shipping and delivery. This information may validate concerns a potential FedEx customer is facing or it might trigger a prospect to consider better shipping and delivery options.
  • The format is the equivalent of any listicle-type blog post, but in video format, so it’s simple to follow and understand.
  • While FedEx’s brand is apparent in the video, the company isn’t the star here. Prospects can enjoy the education without feeling like they’re sitting through a commercial.

Some other ideas on providing educational videos include creating on-demand webinars. Most webinar software allows you to record the session. Afterward, upload the video online and give that webinar a longer life.

Example: Marketo’s On-Demand Webinar

Exploration Stage Videos

As prospects move from Awareness to Exploration, they understand their problem and have accepted it needs a solution. The right solution, though, is what the Exploration stage is all about.

The Role of Video: Educate and guide a prospect to the best possible solution.

Prospects will explore their options. This exploration means continued self-education. They want to learn what others who have been in their shoes have done to solve the same or similar problem. They want to review different types of solutions, understand what is required of them or their business to implement the solution effectively, and feel confident this solution will provide a positive ROI.

Exploration stage videos include:

  • Explainer videos
  • Thought leadership videos

Explainer Videos

Remember how I said in your company introduction videos that you shouldn’t spend a lot of time going into the details about your services and offerings? Well, for explainer videos, that’s all you have time to do.

This is also the video you want to prioritize as you plan out your video marketing strategy. Consider Ascend2’s bar chart from earlier: 50% of B2B buyers believe explainer videos are the most effective type of video content—the second most effective on the list.

An explainer video’s mission is to explain succinctly how and why your services and offerings work to solve problems and create results. Let me underscore an important part of that sentence: to solve problems and create results. Keep that phrase at the forefront of your mind as you sit down and plan out your own explainer video. If you don’t clearly articulate that your products solve a specific problem in a positive way, your video will fail to meet the needs of your audience at this stage.

ScaleArc iDB

 

Why it works:

  • ScaleArc iDB presents the problem of its audience right up front: Because your business is growing fast, you’ll need to scale your database to meet demand—but this can be difficult and costly.
  • It explains its offerings in simple, easy-to-understand terms. The animation as a metaphor is a common approach for B2B companies, and this one has created an analogy all customers can easily grasp. Plus, I love the Dr. Suess-eque design.
  • It delivers on the simple message that by working with ScaleArc iDB, you can keep your business growing without spending a fortune.

Thought Leadership

Coming in as the number four most effective video content type, thought leadership videos provide your business a unique opportunity to further educate your prospects while simultaneously demonstrating your expertise in a particular industry or field.

Business buyers don’t buy your product; they buy into your approach to solving their problems. – Jeff Ernst, Former VP at Forrester

A video interview with your company’s thought leaders is the perfect way to put a face to the brand. I know producing these videos can be difficult and costly, but you have a few ways to keep them simple:

  1. Fireside chats: These types of videos can be short, one-to-two-minute commentaries on current changes or news around the industry. I consider them fireside chats as they are typically filmed in a reliable and consistent location, such as the thought leader’s office.
  2. Film presentations: Your company’s thought leaders likely travel frequently and present to forums and conferences. Bring a camera to the next event and record. Ensure your speaker is properly miked, and you’ll have a great video on your hands. Go one step further and edit the presentation into different pieces to create a series of videos on a single topic.
  3. Interviews: Prospects expect honest, authentic expertise, and an interview-style video can often meet these expectations. Have someone interview your thought leaders on camera and capture those authentic answers on tape. You can, of course, cut what you don’t like or what doesn’t meet the needs of your compliance department, but try to toe the line between over-rehearsed and off-the-cuff.

Vanguard

 

Why it works:

  • The setup here is simple. An interview with two of Vanguard’s chief economists. What’s more, because the topic is on Brexit, the two selected thought leaders bring both European and American perspectives.
  • Because the topic is timely, interested prospects will seek out this information with the aim of self-educating themselves. They will in return regard Vanguard and the people who work there as authorities on the subject.
  • Vanguard clearly has a production set, making this video even more professional, but you don’t need to create a studio to make a professional video. This interview could have been filmed just as well in a conference room or large, executive office.

Consideration Stage Videos

At the Consideration stage, the prospect has in mind the right solution to meet his or her problem(s). Along the way, the prospect has come across several brand names—including yours. That means the prospect has the task of narrowing down his or her focus on the top brands and/or top solutions (depending on the prospect, those two may or may not be inseparable).

The Role of Video: Strength the prospect’s preference for your company.

Again, your prospect should know your company well by now—especially assuming you have done your job and created the videos we’ve already discussed. But now the time has come to pull out the big guns in your video marketing strategy. What might have been subtle selling and more branding in the first two stages, now becomes an all-out assault.

Okay, maybe don’t overdo it. You want to convert a prospect, not clobber him. Nevertheless, at this stage, the prospect wants to know more about your company and what makes your company the best.

Consideration stage videos include:

  • Case study videos
  • Company culture videos

Case Study Videos

Case studies are a must. Seventy-two percent of B2B buyers report them as the most valuable piece of content during the decision-making process, according to eMarketer.

But let’s face it: Case studies can be terribly boring to consume. Those 10-page white papers with nothing but long scrolls of text and the occasional image of happy customers? Give me a break.

A video case study on the other hand…that’s something entirely different. With a video case study, you use the power of storytelling to prove your efficacy. You build up the conflict and stakes your client faced before working with you. You stir emotions with moving music and dramatization. In other words, you can turn a stodgy old case study into an emotional, compelling film.

Horizon Beverage

Why it works:

  • This series is all about the customer. Horizon Beverage’s goal as a business is to help grow companies like the small craft makers featured in this series. To highlight that, the maker is the star, while demonstrating Horizon’s partnership as a side character.
  • The visuals and professionalism are superb and reflect the same attention to detail and service Horizon provides its customers.
  • You can see yourself in the shoes of the customer. These videos were made for other makers, who will work with Horizon, and they can see how powerful the business relationship will be with Horizon.

Disclosure: I wrote and developed these videos with Boston Interactive as part of Horizon Beverage’s video marketing strategy. Read more about the video marketing project.

Company Culture Videos

Especially in the B2B services world, people don’t hire companies, they hire people. Therefore, one of the decision criteria a prospect will need to address is whether he or she wants to work with your people.

At the end of the day, no video will make up for the real thing, but a company culture video is all about setting the right expectations. Unlike a branding video, where the purpose is to demonstrate your brand’s values, a company culture video is meant to demonstrate the values of the people behind the brand.

Wistia

Why it works:

  • Love or hate this video, you know who they are. Wistia makes no bones about the type of people who work there (the video literally mentions the entire team by name). They’re young, energetic, and a bit goofy. They love their jobs, and they love working with each other.
  • It reinforces the Wistia brand. A strong company culture should be an extension of the overall brand. This video clearly demonstrates that the people who make up the Wistia team are the perfect group behind the brand.
  • In between the rap song’s verses and another round of the shots, the video manages to inject a number of company announcements. The company proves its worth in providing growth and innovation all while making you wish you were hosting “workshops, teaching people shit.”

Decision Stage Videos

In the final stage, most businesses want to turn the work over to the sales team to close the deal. While that is a strategy I wouldn’t disagree with, I also believe marketing’s role here is crucial to success. Especially as you consider your sales enablement strategy, providing your sales team with the right marketing content can help increase those win rates.

The Role of Video: Remove the last barriers and convert the prospect to customer.

To do this, consider what your prospects need at this final stage. They’ve gone through the effort of narrowing their selection from many to a few. What are the last moves you can make with your video marketing strategy to ensure you end up selected?

Decision stage videos include:

  • Testimonial videos
  • Process/how-to videos

Testimonial Videos

Refer back to the Ascende2 bar graph above, and you’ll find customer testimonials as the number one most effective type of video content for B2B buyers. By this point, the buyer knows your company can deliver the right solution. Maybe your prices are even in line with the few other competitors still under consideration. If that’s the case, then a prospect doesn’t need to just hear that you do good work—he or she needs to hear that you’re also good to work with.

More often than not, a prospect will reach out to your customers personally, and that’s fine. But having a few videos on hands demonstrates that your customers like you enough to actually go through the process of being in a video you produce.

That said, a customer testimonial should be as authentic as possible and never scripted. Allow the customer to speak openly and honestly, and your videos will resonate.

Swipely

Swipley - Video Marketing Strategy Example

I couldn’t embed the video due to privacy. Visit the Vimeo page to watch.

 

Why it works:

  • This video brings in several customers to provide testimonials for Swipely. By combining them, you get a sense of the size of Swipely’s impact and how much the company is loved by its customers. Bonus: Each of these mini testimonials can be recut and produced as standalone videos of each customer.
  • Testimonials can risk being too boring if you just show a talking head rambling on for several minutes. Through its fast-paced editing and its visuals that complement the dialogue, Swipely’s video never feels boring.
  • Each customer discusses not just the features of Swipely, but how the features provide meaningful solutions and positive ROI. A testimonial should always speak to solutions and impact.

Process/How-To Videos

A prospect may know your key players, each of your services and offerings, and what your office looks like, but sometimes the thing that keeps prospects from choosing your business over another is the uncertainty about your overall company process.

A prospect wants to know not just how he or she will feel working with you, but how working with you works.

How often will you meet? What communication platforms do you use? How many milestones are you expecting in the project and how long does each milestone take to achieve?

These questions can be addressed in a formal meeting, but meetings can be canceled and rescheduled and pushed off until the prospect’s already met with your competitor and heard all about their own “seamless” process.

So why risk the wait? With a process or how-to video, you can pull back the curtain on your prospect’s uncertainty. Use these videos to clarify any questions he or she may be waiting for your formal meeting to address.

Broadcast2World

 

Why it works:

  • If you’re considering Broadcast2World, you know exactly what you’re getting. The video even gets as specific as turnaround and feedback time: “Within the next 7 working days…”
  • Broadcast2World is a video production company, so you’d expect the company to create exceptional videos, and it doesn’t disappoint here. Even if you’re not a video production team, your process video should be equally professional and demonstrate your skills.
  • At one point, the video discusses the need for following its strict process—to the point where, to be honest, it’s slightly brusque about it—but in doing so, Broadcast2World explains how it’s able to provide exceptional video quality at affordable rates. The takeaway: Even in your process video, you’re still trying to win a customer, so don’t forget about your selling points.

Bringing It All Together

Hopefully, at this point, you’ve got a stronger idea on how to plan your video marketing strategy in a way that efficiently utilizes your budget while still meeting the needs of your content strategy. But if you need one last reminder, in my research for this article, I stumbled across a company called Gusto, which I thought did a great job in outlining exactly how this video-to-buyer’s-journey comes together.

In the video playlist below, you’ll first watch four branding videos featuring the hilarious Kristen Schaal. Gusto first hooks you with its absurd commercials and Schaal’s delightful comedy. But then watch how, after the fourth video in the playlist, the video types switch from branding to two testimonials.

Now, yes, Gusto skipped over quite a bit of buyer journey the way we’ve been describing it in this post. Nevertheless, my point is how the company used powerful branding videos to hook me and keep me watching. The company packaged up the videos into a YouTube playlist, allowing me to binge-watch without the risk of clicking offsite.

Gusto

How are you addressing the buyer’s journey with your video marketing strategy? Any other video content types I should include in this blog? Leave your thoughts below in the comments. Thanks.