Brands are playing it relatively safe when it comes to video, both in terms of commitment to a video strategy and the content itself.

Luckily, Econsultancy has just released an updated version of its Online Video Best Practice Guide.

When the guide was first published in 2013, the author (Steffan Aquarone) wrote that there was a huge opportunity for brands in the video landscape. Brands or businesses could ‘capture the spirit of a global meme in its nascence, retain the direct association of a rising YouTube star, go to market with their own produced content and even own the distribution channel that connects them with their audiences.’

But in the newly updated guide, the author admits that few brands have sought to achieve this, instead moving some traditional media spend over to online paid media (display, Facebook, etc.), where repurposed TV adverts are all too common.

The issue, says Gary Blake, video consultant at Highway Productions, is that “people are dying to stand out with whatever their product or service is but... they’re also trying to keep within their budgets and play it safe.”

He adds, “I don’t know if it’s the budgets that stop people from being creative. Sometimes it’s the lack of belief in video and what it can achieve – they’re just doing it to tick a box,” before sounding a note of optimism saying that, “The role that social media is playing in marketing is certainly pushing businesses to try and approach things in different ways.”

With so much uninspired, underinvested video content out there, particularly in B2B, what should businesses bear in mind when planning video? Well, a large part of understanding what your audience wants is common sense. I've rounded up some editorial advice from the guide. It’s all pretty simple, but also very important.

(I should add that the Online Video Best Practice Guide does include lots of more technical and strategic advice on everything from building a business case, to audience research, mobile, security, planning, advertising, measurement and legislation.)

Getting into the customer mindset

Video should influence people’s thinking and address different motivations at different stages of the customer journey. Those customers who are shortlisting products may want facts and comparables with other options in the market. Those people earlier in the buying journey may simply want entertainment, without a sales message.

Using the wrong video at the wrong part of the journey is all too common. Brands often:

  • Give boring irrelevant information, when what people want is answers.
  • Try to be funny or entertaining when what people actually want is to get to the point, to help them make a decision.
  • Act dull and corporate when what people really want is a bit of light relief.

And, of course, mobile has greatly influenced the customer journey, requiring more speed and less friction, influencing video format and content.

Make it interesting, useful or entertaining

Don’t be tricked into thinking this is a trite assertion. If it was, there wouldn’t be so much boring content out there.

The guide’s author, Steffan Aquarone, gives some perspective on boring content, which feels more like advertising, with the following chart.

willingness to share video chart

So, which should you aim for - useful, interesting or entertaining content? The guide gives some tips on how to achieve each.

Interesting 

  • Tell me something I don’t already know – ‘What makes this different?’
  • Credibility is earned in how you do it, not what you say
  • Tell a story
  • Do things other media can’t
  • Keep it relevant

Useful  

  • Answer a specific question – ‘How do I...’
  • Keep it short, sharp, succinct
  • Show and tell, don’t shout and tell
  • Work it into your knowledge resource
  • Use video SEO so people can find the answer to their question
  • Do a good thing in a good way and people will want to join in  

Entertaining

  • Getting it right is really hard
  • Not for the faint-hearted
  • Needs industrial-strength creativity
  • The whole web is your competition
  • Beware what is only funny to you and your team
  • Serious upside potential
  • Not really about you or your product  

When it comes to B2B video, success comes from keeping it short, to the point and simple, making the viewer remember the product in question.

So, if you can get a good presenter, reign in the crappy soundtrack, long-winded testimonials and cartoon characters, you might just be able to create a video that meets a customer need and that they actually want to share.

For a heck of a lot more on online video strategy, check out the newly updated Best Practice Guide.

Ben Davis

Published 6 March, 2017 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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