“Let’s produce a video and make it go viral,” is a statement we have been hearing frequently. Marketing folks at B2B companies must think, “if we create it, they will come”, or ‘view it’ in this case. That’s a lot easier said than done and it’s an art form to create a truly compelling online video. However, this article will give you the tools and aspects to consider in order to create a video that has a chance of “going viral.”
B2C companies have been using videos, in the form of commercials or print ads, long before B2B firms ever thought about marketing their services to other businesses or professional entities. Legal restrictions constrained law and accounting firms, as well as consultancies and financial institutions with what they could create and communicate in print as late as the 1970s. But times have changed, and the B2B world is playing catch up by using online videos for biographies, branding, recruitment, training, and thought leadership content.
Though many B2B firms are still in the inception stages of online video creation and distribution, catching up to their corporate clients in both the creative and technological aspects, we are seeing more creativity and higher production value as more companies hire professionals both internally and externally rather than trying to be their own Steven Spielberg or Ang Lee.
What Story are You Trying to Communicate? Is Online Video the Best Medium?
While this sounds simple, it is an important question. Video needs to have a story and a message for it to be effective. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Even a good 30-second spot follows this rule. Think about your story and your take-away. What will the call to action be at the end of the video?
Additionally it needs to have some interesting visuals. Infographics can make a bland piece pop. Some basic after effects can add a high production feel to an otherwise flat piece.
If you just want to shoot a talking head, consider a podcast instead. It is faster and cheaper and a talking expert’s head without any graphics, visual content or focus, is pointless, unless you are creating the video with the sole focus to help with SEO. Then it becomes a question worth debating.
How Will You Distribute the Video?
This question may sound premature, but it is not. You can create the best video in the world, or throw the best party on the block, but if no one finds you, what is the point? The video is the vehicle – it is 50% of the equation. Distribution is the other 50% And of equal importance. And yes folks, there is more than just YouTube for the B2B market. There is a new site we are partial to www.Vid4Pro.com, there is also Vimeo Pro and additional ways to effectively post video on your own web site. Your tech team needs to ensure your videos are coded properly on your backend to be best found by search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo! Check out the new Schema mark-up that has just recently been agreed upon.
Additionally, videos can and should be used with email, e-newsletters, blog posts, FB, Twitter and you can also buy video ads on Google rather than just keyword ads.
Producing Awesome Content
Producing basic video content may be acceptable for a regular blog post, or for a video on YouTube showing a Law Firm Summer Associates’ bowling night at Lucky Strike. However, like all the marketing tactics your firm or business deploys, video will paint a picture of your firm, your professionals, and your approach to clients. If the video looks sloppy or the sound is poor or looks hastily thrown together, people may assume it is representative of the work your firm does. Create video as you would any other professional marketing project for your firm, with care and intelligence.
For example, Loeb & Loeb’s Energy Video sits on the Practice Area Page on their web site. The company’s video shows who the members of their Energy Group are and how their knowledge helps clients.
Creating World-Class Video Content: Don’t Try this at Home
All professionally shot videos should have legal disclaimers. For example, the BMW television advertisements announce that they are shot on a closed driving course – except the commercial should say “professional directors of photography, editors, producers and directors: do not attempt at home.”
Many production houses have extensive backgrounds shooting film, commercials or documentaries. Although, it may require a different set of skills to create short videos for business development purposes for the B2B market. Don’t be WOWED by folks who have shot fashion or film. Much of the magic of sizzle reels happens during editing. Your firm probably doesn’t want or need a ton of glitz. Assess your crew carefully as there can be many additional hidden charges in contracts and the technology regarding the distribution of the piece is crucial in its success.
To get you started here is a short check-list to help you assess agencies, shooters or producers and get the best video for your dollars:
1. Create a clear business, recruitment or training goal
2. Let your film professionals help determine what type of video and distribution will best accomplish that goal
3. What type of visual content do you want? Do you want to keep costs down and use stock video with Voice Over (V.O.) or do you want to film your professionals?
4. What is the tone of the video? Will it be humorous or will it present a mini-story?
5. Will music support the video or will it guide the viewers’ emotion?
6. Do you want to script a piece or have a qualified producer ask questions that will garner natural and authentic responses from your partners, management, clients, staff or recruits?
7. What role will your producer play in creating these questions?
8. What look/feel do you want to exude? What lighting/background will be used to achieve that? Will you scout locations and props or will your producer?
9. How many rounds of edits are included in your contract? What additional rates apply?
10. How will your final video be delivered to you and does your production company address video hosting and distribution to your targeted clients?
11. Have you considered Social Media in relation to your videos?
12. Have you thought about who should be on camera vs. who wants to be on camera?
13. Do you know how to ensure a room you will shoot in will be appropriate?
Best-in-Class Business Videos from Major Companies
Below is an example of some different ways that businesses have created online videos for different objectives.
For example, Kenneth Cole creates a dynamic annual report on video. BP used video for crisis communications. IBM used video for educational purposes and Deloitte used video for recruitment purposes and produced a video called Born2Consult that went viral on YouTube with more than 160,000 hits. Below are links to these videos.
1: Kenneth Cole: http://icrinc.com/web/videoportfolio.php#video_annual_report
2: BP: http://www.youtube.com/BPplc
3: IBM: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=IBM+smarter+planet&aq=f
4: Born2Consult: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9ghb6-l7Fs
Video is a vital component of any marketing mix because of its ROI and its efficacy. If your business wants to recruit professionals, market to other businesses or train in the most powerful way possible, you need to create a line item in your budget for video as a professional but affordable spend. As print continues to decline, video will replace it in marketing budgets world-wide. Additionally SEO will develop a concerted sub-specialty for VSEO. Could you imagine your firm today without a website? In two or three years, you will be saying the same thing about professional services B2B videos. And you can say, you read it here first.
Linda Orton is the founder of Vid4Pro, an online video platform exclusively for the B2B community. Vid4Pro helps B2B companies attract highly targeted viewers to online videos created for marketing, training or HR purposes. In addition, Linda Orton founded Intelligent Video Solutions in 2009, a company that produces and distributes B2B videos. To contact Linda please email: firstname.lastname@example.org