What is B2B video storytelling?

What is B2B video storytelling?

369 217 Tyler Lessard

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We all know how powerful video is as a content medium for storytelling, education and entertainment. Few will argue that it’s the next best thing to being there in person and the medium of choice for connecting with audiences online, sharing new ideas, or simply making someone laugh. While we often associate online video with our personal lives and B2C brand marketing, it’s quickly becoming the secret weapon of full-funnel B2B marketing.

A research report published by Demand Metric in October 2017 showed the average B2B company is now producing more than 30 videos per year (up over 30% from 2016) and that more than 90% of them create at least some of that content in-house. The surging use of video in B2B is being fueled by its proven effectiveness at various stages of the buying journey. In fact, more than 70% of B2B marketers in that same report indicates that video converts better than other content types.

Video Goes Full-Funnel in B2B

While brand and social media videos remain important in B2B, more and more content is being created to support product marketing, content marketing, demand generation, digital marketing, SEO and sales enablement. Think product explainers, customer stories, engaging content campaigns, video advertisements, instructional how-to videos and more. Refer to the 12 Types of Videos for the B2B Customer Lifecycle (or VSI’s 16 Video Storytelling Types – part 1 and part 2) to understand the expanding role of video in B2B marketing. What’s interesting about this evolution is that it lowers the bar on production quality while raising the bar on the need to have a strong message, high-value content and a great story. Video content creation is quickly becoming democratized but most B2B marketers are still figuring out how to use it in a way that effectively leverages the innate qualities of video and its ability to tell a richer, more emotionally charged story that can drive action.

Using Humor at the Top of the Funnel

One of the most important trends in top-of-funnel B2B marketing is the shift from “speeds and feeds” to storytelling and customer engagement. Brands in every industry are now grappling with how to connect with audiences in a more emotional and personal way, and storytelling via video can be the best way to do this. In B2B, we often see that humor can work well to create a more engaging narrative and to build a more human connection with potential buyers. While many B2B companies still have a cultural barrier to overcome when it comes to using humor, those doing it right have seen some amazing results. Take Lenovo’s B2B marketing team as a great example. In additional to the typical product-centric videos and campaigns they launched for their rugged laptops, they produced an unexpected video series called “Users Happen” that pokes fun at individuals within larger enterprises that often have ‘challenges’ with keeping their devices in one piece:

The series was a big hit within their core target audience and not only garnered a massive number of views, it helped their demand team accelerate lead generation and pipeline development. And with the final video in the series, the IT Anthem (a parody rap video), they took it one step further and sent out a personalized version that incorporated each viewer’s own name and company name directly into the video. By personalizing the experience and using video in a creative way, they increased their click-through and engagement rates by more than 300%. Lenovo saw similar results with a personalized “Happy Holidays” video as well.

Educating Prospects Through the Buyer’s Journey

Once audiences are engaged with a B2B brand, content marketing and nurture streams take over to help educate potential buyers and move them closer to a sales conversation. Most B2B companies are now investing in thought leadership content to help educate buyers and to make them better equipped to make a buying decision. How-to videos, thought leadership interviews, whiteboard videos and Chalk Talks have become simple, inexpensive ways to fuel audience education in a way that more’s more engaging, more informative and more personal than traditional text-based content. One great example of how my own team has embraced this idea is with our video marketing Chalk Talks series. Every week, someone gets in front of a camera with a chalkboard behind them to discuss a very specific topic, best practice or set of tips.

Each video is roughly 7 minutes in length and we share them on our blog, social media, resource center and customer community. The mix of visual cues and a human narrative have made these videos a staple of our content marketing program and the feedback we get from our audience has been overwhelmingly positive. For a bit more inspiration, check out our Chalk Talks video hub to see what kind of content we’ve created.

Facts Tell but Stories Sell

You all know the old adage that facts tell but stories sell. So why don’t more B2B organizations equip their sales teams with killer stories to help build trust, empathy and an urgency to buy amongst their prospects? Video-based customer stories can play a key role late in the buying cycle, helping potential customers see real stories from real people that have seen both personal and business success. Customer stories can be inexpensive to film but can be a great tool for sales teams. Here are two customer stories that our own team recently created that are helping our sales teams progress opportunities. The first is a higher quality production where our producer went onsite and built a grander narrative around their challenges:

The second, which I personally think is pretty amazing, is one that we created by simply asking our customer to get multiple users on camera answering a few simple questions. They captured all of these videos using a free Chrome plugin, shared with us via Box, and we did some basic editing to stitch it together. Simple, but extremely effective and carries the feel of being 100% authentic:

Fast Forward

Video is already here for B2B marketers, but most still struggle with how to use it effectively, how to scale their production without breaking their budgets, and how to adapt their approach to content to truly embrace video and strategic storytelling. But the answers to these are all out there, it just requires that one keen practitioner or executive to disrupt the status quo of “how things are done” and to look ahead at where video can take them.

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Tyler Lessard

Marketing, Product and Business Development executive with a passion for customer-centric problem solving, creative storytelling, and data-driven marketing. Over 15 years of experience in enterprise technology, marketing tech, sales enablement and video marketing. Currently, serves as VP Marketing at Vidyard.com, a versatile B2B video marketing platform, host of the Content Pros podcast, Chief Architect of Viewtopia and avid Chalk Talker.

All stories by: Tyler Lessard

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