We all know what someone means when they say “corporate video.” In theory, the term applies to any video made by a corporation. It used to be a neutral descriptor, but it’s not anymore. These days, many of us in B2B marketing say corporate video with a bit of a sneer.
That’s because corporate video is bland. Corporate video is made up of stock footage of overly attractive coworkers collaborating in a conference room. Corporate video features a sweaty CEO reading bullet points off a teleprompter. Corporate video is an event recap that starts with people finding their name badge on a table and ends with a clapping audience.
In short, corporate video is boring, ineffective, and a waste of your marketing budget.
Corporations are not doomed to continue making corporate videos. As a marketer, you can choose to make videos that are engaging, effective, and bring real results.
There are three key steps to follow to begin your journey away from corporate video and into effective video marketing:
- Start with strategy.
- Invest in creative.
- Trust your audience.
Step 1: Start With Strategy
Most corporate video planning starts with four simple words: We need a video. The project begins with the team having already decided that video is what’s needed and that the next step is to make the thing.
Unfortunately, jumping straight into video production skips the most important steps. Corporate videos are born out of a lack of clear, dedicated video strategy. Your marketing team won’t jump into a new social platform or event sponsorship without a strategy and clear objectives, so why is video any different?
Example: Umault – Trapped in a Corporate Video
Before diving into video production, take the time to work through a strategy for the video. At the very least, make sure you can answer the following questions:
- What is the objective of this video? Where does it fit in your customer journey? One of the biggest mistakes that leads to corporate video is not clarifying where the video lands in the sales funnel. Video serves different roles at different stages of the customer journey. An early-stage video needs to inspire the audience to continue engaging with your brand. A late-stage video needs to reassure the customer that they’re making the right decision. Attempting to combine the two leads to a mismatched mess.
- Who is the target audience for this video? If you have multiple buyer personas, try to choose just one to reach with a single video. Trying to speak to everyone leaves you speaking to no one. You can always make several versions of the video to speak to slightly different audiences.
- Where will this video be used? Is it anchoring a landing page, being sent in cold emails, opening sales meetings? Video is a big investment, and it’s understandable that stakeholders want to be able to use it in as many contexts as possible. However, a video needs to say and do very different things depending on the context it will be used in. A video on social media needs to be short, direct, and get right to the point to engage viewers to stop the scroll. A landing page video is surrounded by copy giving all the details a prospect could want.
Consider making multiple versions of the video for different uses. The biggest cost driver in creating a video is the production day(s). Extra time spent editing a different version or a targeted cutdown is a cost-effective way to get extra mileage out of your spot.
Taking the time to clarify your strategy, either with your team or with your agency, clarifies what the video needs to say and do. That alone takes the biggest step away from “corporate” territory, because you will ensure that the video has a clear message, target audience, and objective.
Step 2: Invest In Creative
Most corporate videos rehash the same tired tropes again and again. How many videos have you seen that start with the sun rising over Earth, then zoom into a busy intersection with nodes across the pedestrians, signaling connectivity? Yeah. These videos are easy to make and easy to sell up the decision-making chain, because you can point to a million examples of them. All your competitors have made them.
And that’s exactly why they’re ineffective. If all your competitors have a video in a similar style, how can you expect a prospect to remember which one was yours? These videos are forgotten immediately after being watched. Prospects are doing their due diligence and researching you and all your competitors. That means watching your video right after your competition’s. You need to create a video that makes prospects remember you.
If you’ve done your homework and created a comprehensive video strategy, you may already have an idea of an engaging way to get your message across. The great thing about a video strategy is that it eliminates creative options from contention. For example, once you know you want to make a Decision-stage video for CIOs at enterprise-level corporations, you may plan to make a testimonial video to reassure them that they’re in good company. You can eliminate any plans to make a product walkthrough video or an inspirational brand spot. Those videos would work best earlier in the customer journey.
Example: Deloitte – The Command Center
A creative idea doesn’t have to be some Christopher Nolan-level brilliance. What you want to do is find a way to speak directly to your audience in an engaging and memorable way.
Investing in creative goes beyond just the idea for the video. A strong B2B marketing video needs an engaging script and a clear vision laid out via storyboards before production begins. A “corporate” video is often a) unscripted or b) a list of talking points copied and pasted into a script format.
Unscripted videos can be powerful, depending on the story you want to tell. It works great for a testimonial or an emotional story. Unscripted is not so great for a product launch or a brand spot. When the idea for a video is interview the CEO, then you are outsourcing the creative to the CEO and the video editor who needs to piece it together into something cohesive. That typically leads to long post-production times and missed key points.
A good copywriter can do wonders for translating your talking points into the video format. Video script writing is a specialized skill that not all copywriters have. Most copywriters are, by definition, excellent at expressing content in writing. They are not necessarily great at expressing content in an audio/visual medium. Even if you have in-house copywriters on your marketing team, consider engaging an expert script writer for your videos.
Step 3: Trust Your Audience.
I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve heard a version of:
We’re selling to CIOs. We need to be literal or they won’t get it.
Excuse me? You’re saying the CIOs of major corporations need everything spelled out for them? Next, you’re going to say that people don’t like puzzles or mystery novels.
Trusting your audience means believing that they are smart. That they are good at their jobs. That they want to watch content that entertains them. Audiences know it’s a commercial. But when you have to watch ads, don’t you prefer a funny GEICO spot to a dry local car dealership ad?
If your audience is busy (and whose isn’t), give them a reason to spend time watching your video. If it simply rehashes the bullet points from your sales sheet, then they can skim that instead. A strong video gives viewers a reason to spend 90 seconds of their day on it.
A strong video is one that engages your audience, makes them think, and brings them additional value. It provides something that cannot be gleaned from a sales sheet or an infographic. Your B2B videos should not be able to be replaced with a PowerPoint.
Example: Nuance – We, The Customers
Corporate video grew out of a good place. As video became more accessible as a medium, corporations wanted to jump on the trend. Now that video is a requirement for modern marketing, make sure you are creating videos that grow sales and bring a significant ROI. Corporate video won’t get you there. A video with a clear strategy, clever creative, and that trusts its audience just might.
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