B2B videos are no longer limited to the talking-head style of old.

In fact, brands are now becoming more creative than ever before, leading to an increase in enthusiasm for the medium within B2B circles.

According to a recent study by LinkedIn, the majority of B2B marketers now view video as the most important and creative content format around. 62% of survey respondents said that video helps them to build brand awareness, while 26% said they are planning to spend more than £300k on video advertising this year.

So, which brands have set the bar for B2B video already? Here’s a run-down of some of the best in recent years, the reasons why they work, and what marketers can learn.

Hootsuite - 'Mean tweets'

Hootsuite, the social media management platform, took inspiration from pop-culture in 2014 with its ‘Mean Tweets video' - the popular feature made famous by Jimmy Kimmel. 

Why would a brand choose to read out bad comments about its own product? 

Rather conveniently, the video coincided with a new design update, meaning that the brand would be able to recognise and acknowledge negative views and counteract them at the same time. 

As well as nice bit of self-deprecation (and insight into the people who work there), the video also instils the sense that Hootsuite is a company that listens to its customers. 

Zendesk - 'Relationships are complicated'

Research suggests that viewer engagement drops off at two minutes, six minutes, or 12 minutes. As a result of this, the majority of B2B brands play it safe and aim for the one-minute mark.

Zendesk, a cloud-based customer service company, goes against the grain with a fast but furious technique – creating videos that are just 16 seconds long. It could be a risky strategy, with videos failing to make any real impact. However, they're also so short for a reason.

The videos convey a simple message in a highly offbeat, humorous style (i.e. that Zendesk can improve relationships between customers and companies). Their quirky nature means that if they were any longer, the joke would be more at risk of falling flat.

Shorts like this can be particularly effective when it comes to social, successfully grabbing user attention in the feed. They are also likely to standout on platforms like LinkedIn, where the majority of video content can be slightly stuffy and samey in nature.

Slack - 'So yeah, we tried Slack'

This example from Slack is not a typical case study. Rather, it tells the story of how a production company started using the product (and raving about it) during the process of making a video on the brand's behalf.

The end result appears like a genuine case of customer advocacy, with the video detailing the reasons why the company was so reluctant at first, and how it came to eventually fall in love with Slack.

Alongside this, it’s also highly effective for explaining Slack’s value, with all of its features cleverly interwoven throughout. There’s a slight bit of humour involved, too, which enhances its casual nature and non-corporate tone.

Deloitte - 'It’s what we do that makes a difference'

The majority of examples in this list take on a fictional, humorous approach to storytelling. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the only strategy that works. Deloitte takes a much more brand-centric approach to its video content, highlighting its company values and the characteristics of its real-life valued employees. 

The video is slightly earnest, but it is certainly slick. It also successfully conveys Deloitte’s internal culture as well as its outward promise to customers.

Lenovo – 'Chad & Jane'

While it also markets to everyday consumers, Lenovo creates unique B2B video content (both for SMEs and larger companies). Its ‘Chad’ and ‘Jane’ videos have been some of its most notable, telling the stories of these larger-than-life office characters.

With a humorous and over-the-top tone, the videos aim to highlight relatable scenarios for IT professionals. Regardless of profession, however, it’s not hard to relate to stereotypes like ‘power user’ Jane and the overly enthusiastic Chad.

Cleverly depicting life (and the day-to-day office-based doldrums) for the very people it is aiming to target, it makes a refreshing and entertaining change to salesy and product-focused content.

Adobe - 'Click, baby, click!'

Another brand that puts humour at the heart of its video content is Adobe, having created a number of funny and creative examples to market its Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Click, Baby, Click! is one of the most successful. The video shows a company selling printed encyclopaedias seeing a huge surge in sales. However, it turns out to be a case of a ‘tech savvy’ baby repeatedly placing orders on a tablet.

Along with the question: “Do you know what your marketing is doing? We can help” – the video succinctly highlights Adobe’s USP while conveying a less-serious attitude (than one typically displayed by large corporate companies).

While Adobe’s videos are clearly costly - with the brand able to invest big in B2B video - its ability to perfectly position its brand in just one minute is a skill that money can’t buy.

What can we learn?

Here are just a few key lessons to take away…

Define your message. While the aforementioned examples are from well-established brands, smaller companies can learn from their creativity and sense of purpose. Start with two questions: what do you want to convey and how can you make it engaging? If you begin with a muddled or convoluted message, then you’ll likely end up with an unengaging video too.

Don’t be afraid of humour. One characteristic that a lot of these videos share is self-deprecation, used to combat the age-old B2B stereotype – that of the stuffy executive in the boring explainer video. There's a reason it works too. Humour, irony, and even poking fun at the customer (with caution) can result in a hugely entertaining and impactful video.  

Tap into emotions. According to research, using features, functions, and business outcomes to target an audience typically results in a 21% increase in perceived brand benefits. In contrast, marketing that focuses on social and emotional benefits is said to result in a boost of 42%. This shows how important it is to be customer-centric - recognising pain points and pointing out how a product can solve it – rather than simply talking from a brand perspective.

Make it snappy. As is standard practice within video marketing in general - short, succinct, and surprising videos tend to reap the most rewards. They work well on social, as well as on mobile. Adding subtitles can be a valuable addition in both cases, aiding people watching on a variety of devices and channels. 

More on B2B marketing:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 18 April, 2018 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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