Apr 13, 2018 Categories: Social Media & Digital Communications Tags: Brand Visibility, Content Marketing, Video

MS-AprilOnline video content is a staple for consumer brands, not to mention an increasingly prominent feature for websites, social channels and mobile messaging.

But online video is not just for consumer plays.

In light of how media consumption is changing—with a keener eye on visual communications—online video programming needs to play a much bigger role for b-to-b brands and organizations.

The numbers help tell the story.

According to a HubSpot survey released last year, 53 percent people want to see more video content from marketers.

The survey also found that 52 percent of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

The four most common b-to-b videos are explainers, product demos, how-to content and testimonials, HubSpot said.

That cuts a fairly large swath when it comes to how to leverage video and spike the top and bottom lines.

However, there are plenty of other marketing vehicles to drive video content. B-to-b companies need not limit their scope.

Depending on the market—and the type of message being sent—online video also lends itself to employee relations/brand ambassadorships, client campaigns and content generated from events catering to your stakeholders.

Resistance is futile, as video creeps toward the core of marketing communications.

U.S digital video viewers from 221.8 million, to 239.2 million between 2017 and 2021, per eMarketer, while the penetration rate among Web users will increase from 81 percent to 84 percent.

“Video allows us to be engaging in a more immersive way than other mediums,” says Ann G. Rubin, VP, IBM Corporate Marketing. “And video allows us to communicate on a variety of levels: intellectually through education, emotionally through use of brand elements and stories and contextually based on video placement.”

Rubin adds, “B-to-B companies that don’t use video miss out on an immersive storytelling tool that can help shape their brand and deliver key messages.”

Creating online video is not a leap of faith. It’s not even a matter of how brand managers find their inner Scorsese. (Marketing budgets will likely determine whether the video shoot is produced in-house or outsourced, but online video is not going to break the bank, nor should it.) It’s a matter of being in front of your customers, who are spending more and more time watching online video.

It’s little wonder: People retain visual communications far better than text.

And while the written word is not going the way of the wooly mammoth anytime soon, text is gradually becoming subordinate to the visual.

What’s more, 80 million millennials who have been conditioned to consuming online video for almost their entire lives are now stepping into management and decision-making roles.

Do brands honestly believe millennials are going to kill their appetite for video content just because they work in a b-to-b environment and deal with long sales cycles?

Not likely.

Here are a few ways for how b-to-b brands can frame their online video strategy.

  1. START TO THINK ABOUT YOUR BRAND IN VISUAL TERMS. In addition to their products and services b-to-b brands own a great deal of content, including white papers, ebooks and market-based intelligence (not to mention the greatest asset of all, human resources). Marketers need to find those nuggets within each of their media assets that could be translated into video programming. Without getting overly sentimental, b-to-b video can also help to dramatize how XYZ products and services help the end user do his or her job better and enable clients to bolster their top and/or bottom lines.
  2. KEEP THE VIDEOS BRIEK (BUT DON’T BE AN ABSOLUTIST). Sure, most b-to-b brands’ customers are pressed for time. But that’s no excuse to dismiss online video. That would be cutting off the brand’s nose to spite its face. Rather, b-to-b brands have to build their online video strategy incrementally. Start off with a few video bursts and see how they rate with your audience(s). If the videos hit a nerve it may be that your customers have a bigger appetite for online video than originally thought. Don’t get dragged down by the conventional wisdom that b-to-b video must be two minutes or less in order to be effective. If the content is compelling and provides added value, customers will take the time to watch.
  3. DON’T GIVE PRODUCTION VALUES SHORT SHRIFT. When online video first started to emerge in the early 2000s it was OK to run videos with a herky-jerky quality. Such videos somehow endeared the company to its customers. No more. These days, if customers take the time to watch a video they want to make sure it’s quality content, with decent production values. That’ll make them more likely to share the video and/or discuss it with their peers. That’s the ultimate call to action.

BOTTOM LINE: As text becomes subordinate to visual communications, the onus is on b-to-b brand and organizations to create a steady flow of online video content.

—Matthew Schwartz

Image via Pexels