12 Tips for 2012 to Make a Great B2B Video

I’m often amused when I see people handing out printed brochures with glossy paper and thousands of words that no one will ever read. Let’s face it, business people don't want to read a lot of information. Even if they are interested in your company and products, you need to hook them quickly to gain their interest.  You see this at trade shows or on sales calls where companies hand out thick printed brochures destined for the circular file.

What prospects do want is to easily learn and absorb some new information that will help them. It isn't that the printed word is dead, I find that often it isn't the most sustainable and cost effective way to communicate information. Of course markets are different but as a general rule, I find that most people enjoy passively receiving information (video) versus actively having to read through pages of material (catalogs/brochures). 

As a marketing professional, over the last 10 years, I have been involved in producing dozens of videos. There are many lessons I have learned from my video production experiences. I thought I would share 12 tips for 2012. 

1. Start with a creative brief. This one page document should briefly outline the goal of the video, who the target is, key messages and a clear call to action. It should speak to the tone (upbeat or uplifting). It should suggest where you will use the video so your team understands the resolution and sound quality needed. It should identify roles and responsibilities from your team or outside resources. It should describe your timeline too. The brief should describe what success looks like? How will you measure effectiveness?  Finally, you should outline the total budget parameters. This document allows you to think through the project before you start and to make sure your team and your boss are all in agreement about the plan. 

2. Keep it under three minutes. Nobody wants to sit through more than three minutes of a video except in a few rare exceptions. You can tell a simple story in that time frame and you will find a remarkable increase in viewership if you keep it short. Google Analytics help you see when people leave your video so you can gauge success based on if people stay and watch it all. 

3, Put your key message up front, in the middle and at the end. Frequency rules! If you have a key message to share, make sure it is repeated so that it is clear what you want them to take away from the video. 

4. Have a beginning, middle and end. Seems obvious but I have watched many videos from companies that do not have a narrative or a natural arc to their story. Use a professional copy writer to help you craft a crisp story that delivers a strong punch at the end with a ‘call to action’.

5, Repurpose the video to get a great ROI.  I like to use videos to communicate internally to employees, externally to existing and potential customers, through the media to reach general audiences and thought leaders. We use our videos to show suppliers some background on who we are to help them understand our needs. New employees see videos for orientation purposes too. With social media, it’s a snap to get it distributed but you can really get a lot of mileage out of the material. (Trade shows, in your company lobby, Facebook, via Twitter, to Board of Directors and on and on). Here is a great tip: link your video in your electronic press release to get even more awareness and reach. 

6. Hire a pro: Yes you can do things on a shoe-string with a Flip camera but for corporate video, the quality of the light and sound can help represent your company at a professional level. I have worked with several great video professionals (see list below) and the great ones spend hours in preparation to make sure nothing is left to chance. A pro can help you edit the work to make sure it tells your story in a clean, crisp manner and is visually pleasurable to watch.

7. Don’t include too many spokespeople:  Usually three people are all you should have in a video of three minutes. More than that and it feels like talking heads. The three people should complement the story and bring authenticity to the work. It is nice to showcase diversity too of gender and ethnicity particularly if that is what your audience reflects. 

8. The Sounds of Music The sound quality is so important to make sure you can clearly hear each speaker or the voice over. Cheap sound quality will reflect poorly on your company almost begging the question, what else do you cut corners on ? Music also needs to immediately fade into the background yet it is critical for setting the right tone appropriate to the need. Composers for Hollywood movies will tell you that you shouldn't be aware of the music yet it should move you emotionally. 

9. Who (or what) is the star? Remember that the star may be your product or service- not your spokespeople. Don’t let the video be a talking head that is all blah blah blah. If the camera is focused on the spokesperson for a few seconds to establish them as a credible authorities, you can then use their voice as a voice over to illustrate something interesting to your viewers. This too sounds so obvious but it can elevate your work from rank amateur to top flight professional work. Remember, feature the real star which is the benefit your product or service provides to your viewer. 

10. Testimonials help build credibility. Can you get a customer or an industry key thought leader to help tell the story? They lend some much authority and can communicate your message as a third-party endorser. This is powerful and worth careful planning and consideration. Remember, you can always get a separate crew to videotape them if they are in a remote location. Just make sure that you have clarity about the tone, backdrops and image you want to portray so that both shootings are well integrated into one message.

11. Animation Rocks. It can be difficult with video to show a complex process but a simple animation can break it down. Interestingly, the most highly viewed videos are often animations that explain how something is made and is far easier to understand. Don't skimp on this with an amateur- invest in a quality animator to help show a complex process that is key to your message. I have a great example of how the company I work for makes corcs in a co-extruded process. It is complicated and this animation actually is easier to understand than seeing it live. (at least it is for the non-technical person like me). 

12. Have a premiere. Why not celebrate the finished product by inviting employees to see the video together. Get some popcorn and showcase the new video and explain to employees why it was developed. You want everyone to share it and use it with customers, vendors and other interested stakeholders. Give them some background and context so they understand how these three minutes will help support your company’s strategies. Most of all, it is a great way to have fun with co-workers. 

 Three examples
 Here are three videos that our company recently created. We worked with some great suppliers to help us get it just right. They are all very different in objective and have helped to communicate our key messages. By the way, all 3 of these have been translated into 6 languages (including Mandarin) so we have really got our money worth out of these marketing tools. 

One video is called DID YOU KNOW and takes some key facts about our company and promotes them in a fun and entertaining visual way. The second is a video promoting a new series of closures (corcs) that we sell called The Select Series. Finally, the last video is of our Conversation with our CEO talking about the company’s recent successes and helping to deliver some key messages to the trade. All of these are for B2B situations but although for the trade, everyone wants a clear message told in an entertaining fashion.

Animation: This is a little bonus animation illustrating how to take something complicated and explain it in a simple fashion. And we did it in 38 seconds!

Credit for these videos and scripts go to these professional agencies that supported our efforts and are the property of Nomacorc, LLC. Along with these outside resources, our internal marketing team was very involved in the production of this work.

Script Development                Analie Roth at Roth Consulting

Video/Sound/Light/Editing       Peyote Perriman http://www.digitalpmedia.com/

Animated Video                       The Richards Grouphttp://www.richards.com/index.html

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