A Complete Guide to Understanding, Planning, and Creating B2B Videos
To make effective B2B videos, you have to think differently than B2C.
This is a guide to making B2B videos, or videos that sell from one business to another.
Is there a difference? Put simply, the B2B audience is small and practical. They are company decision-makers, managers and CEOs. They have strict budgets, stakeholders to please, and employee jobs to protect.
B2C markets don’t have to be so methodical. While a B2B software company may have 10,000 real-world prospects, a B2C software company may have 10 million or more. And their purchase habits can be guided by logic - but they can also be for curiosity or comfort.
Therefore, while all advertising requires emotion to sell, B2B depends heavily on concrete data to close a sale. Statistics, industry knowledge, and proven results are required.
Sounds daunting, right? Well, in a lot of ways, we’ve found that B2B video can actually be easier than B2C, because if you know the industry, you know precisely what the players need. And creating videos to position yourself as an indispensable guide can actually be fun.
|Slow Clap Productions is a San Francisco-based creative video production company that helps B2B brands like GitHub, Slack, Blue Shield of California, Capital One Small Business, and Insightly use video to its full potential.|
This article will show you:
- How B2B video is different.
- The best types of B2B content to make.
- How to choose which content to make.
- And where to deploy your videos for maximum results.
So let’s get started.
Great B2B video starts with B2B marketing fundamentals
B2B video follows the same principles as any great marketing, but differs in the where and how the message is delivered.
Start by thinking about who buys. Are they the director of marketing? Purchasing director? Or field supervisor?
Next, what does this person want? They may have a large budget, but misspending can damage the company and possibly cost them their job. A B2C customer can suffer a broken hair dryer, but a B2B customer may not be able to survive faulty software.
Your customer’s first desire is safety (not to lose), but their hopes are pinned on products that go beyond “staying the same.” They do want software that really does save them an hour a day.
Because these are the stakes, the goal of B2B marketing is first and foremost to build trust.
To build trust, We suggest you demonstrate five things:
- You understand their industry. You know their operations and supply chain. You speak their language, including industry-specific lingo. Our testimonial video collaboration with GitHub, for instance, targets a very specific audience interested in cutting edge cloud computing, featuring Spotify, Google, and the Apache Foundation.
- You can prove your results. You gather testimonials from other customers - ideally recognizable brands, but at least companies in the same industries as your prospective customers. The video we made for NewVoiceMedia (now Vonage) about DoorDash does a great job of laying down the concrete benefits of their product.
- You can show relevant data. This includes test data, like “our drills lasted 40% longer in an independent study.” And related data, like “tungsten has shown to outlast other metals by as much as 90%” Our animated videos for States Title, for instance, use data points to make a strong case for their solutions.
- You know the culture of the industry. Like CRM, where sarcasm and color are encouraged. Or IT, where being efficient and correct are virtues. Or law, where reputation and power matter most. Stampli’s audience is Accounts Payable, one of the least sexy silos in a business. But they know their audience and know that AP teams love a good sense of humor. We made sure that shined through in our Stampli brand videos.
- You have a clear message that wraps the first four together. “Suppliers who use HoverTruck pay half as much in mileage costs, and it’s trusted by brands like FedEx.” Blue Shield of California did a great job of this when discussing new emerging technology, Virtual Consults, in our animated video series Health Reimagined.
How to use this knowledge in your B2B video best practices
Video is arguably the most powerful marketing short of a friend’s referral, but it faces the same problems as every other type of online marketing, including:
- How will we get them to find it?
- How will we get them to click on it?
- How will it resonate with the audience?
- How will it persuade the audience?
To tackle these, answer the following questions.
Who is the hero of the video?
More specifically, who is your customer “avatar?” What are their demographics and gender? How do they dress? How do they talk? If using actors or animated characters, you’ll need to make these decisions so you can include characters with whom your audience can identify.
“To be good at sales, you have to be good at basically duplicating and mirroring the person you’re selling to and giving them the personality they need to feel comfortable to buy,” says Benjamin Denehy, CEO of The UK’s Most Hated Sales Trainer.
What story does your customer need to hear?
It’s a simple formula - your customer has a problem (X), so they obtain your product/service (Y), and get a specific outcome (Z).
Even in B2B video, most of your storytelling should be about your customer. This means skipping the office tour video unless it’s relevant - for instance, if you want to show that your employees all share a background in the same industry as your clients.
How is your customer searching for answers?
You solve a problem. Your customer asks about how to solve that problem in different and sometimes unexpected ways.
Promising these answers is the key to being found, being watched, and (eventually) being purchased.
This is first a problem of defining the answer, and then using keyword research to find out exactly how your audience is really asking it. For example, if you run a SaaS company, a frequent search is “software as a service vs. subscription.”
Source: Answer The Public
One way to begin is by using Answer the Public, which is sort of a reversed search engine. You type in a topic, and you’ll get questions and queries most frequently searched in Google that includes that search phrase. Be sure to try different search phrases - and consider comparing them in Google Trends to see which one(s) are searched most overall.
What proof do they need to hear and see?
According to Harvard Business Review, emotional purchase decisions are still rational - but in a complex way, where the intuition processes data faster than conscious logic, and then offers up its judgment as an emotion.
So maybe we don’t exactly “buy with emotion and justify with logic.” But either way, data is necessary to sell. Here are four easy-to-use forms of data for your B2B videos:
- Before & after: Whenever possible, show the problem, action, and result
- Testimonials: “I’m director of marketing at TechCorp, and video helped us grow tremendously.”
- Primary data: “In our tests, video had a 20% higher conversion rate than email.”
- Secondary data: “According to X, 90% of marketers say video brings them success”
During planning and scripting, consider adding every credible form of proof to your video. Rank them by how impactful they are to your avatar. Safety is always the first concern, with success coming second.
Where will they watch this video?
The last consideration in this set is choosing where to launch your video for best results. This involves some knowledge of platforms.
Start with these questions:
- What platforms will you use?
- Is that platform’s culture best for this content?
- What are their size limits?
- What are their runtime limits?
- Should you upload the video natively on the platform, or embed it from another platform (e.g. Wistia, YouTube, or Vimeo)?
If you’re hoping to be found organically, ask these:
- What keywords would bring your customers there?
- Are the keywords found in the video? Or the video’s description?
- Is your thumbnail eye-catching to your customer avatar?
And if you’re using advertisements, consider these:
- Which platforms have the most professionals?
- What keywords would target them best?
The best formats for B2B videos
A customer’s success story is worth… well, don’t tell them how much it’s worth, or they may invoice you. All the data in the world still doesn’t compare to a trustworthy recommendation. Even better: a human from a brand recognized in your industry.
For instance, our case study video of how Asana’s legal operations pros use Ironclad is worth its weight in gold. It describes a story of a company department (legal ops) on the cutting edge of an industry (business contracting) all powered by Ironclad.
To create a great testimonial:
- Ask an outspoken customer who loves your product for help.
- Film them in their native environment, using a professional production team.
- Have them speak to an interviewer. It’s easier than talking to the camera.
And for basic interview questions:
- Who are they, and what does their business do?
- What was their problem?
- How did they know that your product had the answer?
- What was the result?
- Do they recommend you?
Explainer videos aren’t always about animated characters facing abstract problems. They can be live action, too, with a company representative talking about their methods. The common element is that they sell by explaining their unique solution to a problem.
You’ve seen a million of them - but they don’t need a million views. They only need to be seen by the right people. So targeting and promoting is just as important as creating a clear message.
To create a great explainer video:
- Use an avatar that is familiar to your customer like Tony in our Stampli videos.
- Start with the problem. And really make them feel it.
- Explain the advantages of your solution.
- Show results with your strongest data.
- Target your audience with ads - be it through Google search, or through ads on specific problems.
Webinars and Live Streams
As an alternative to meeting in person, video conferencing is still rising. There are big advantages, too, beyond safety and lack of travel.
- It’s friendly. You’re not some faraway company in a tower nobody can enter.
- Customers get to learn and learn about your brand at the same time.
- You can answer specific questions. B2B video marketing is largely about concrete answers, and you probably won’t be able to answer all of them in your other marketing.
- You get content you never knew you needed. Customers will raise concerns you never thought about.
Webinars live or die on audience participation, so we recommend you devote a large portion of time to answering questions. Lecturing through a pitch deck is boring. Keep your presentation short and open up the mic as soon as possible.
Besides planning, spend time promoting your webinars. Use your email list and your social media. And offer value. Your webinar should be worth skipping lunch. Two great methods include offering answers customers can’t get elsewhere, and offering discounts on your product.
Lastly, make sure you partner with an event production agency, or have an internal event producer, who knows the ins and outs of attendee registration, and how to turn registrants into high quality vetted sales leads.
Interviews with Experts
Often in B2B marketing, the word of an expert can be as good as a testimonial. If you make medical-grade masks, talk to a microbiologist who can verify that some masks - like yours - can stop even the tiniest of viruses from passing through.
People understand that experts are busy and often live far away, so they don’t expect a full-scale production. Their first concern is getting answers. So your two priorities in expert interviews are good audio and good questions.
To create great expert interviews:
- Contact the expert with full disclosure about who you are and your intentions
- If they’re unwilling to host a film crew, ask them to record in a quiet area, preferably with good lighting
- Send them your questions in advance
- Set up your space for high-quality recording
- Respect the expert’s time and thank them
Educational videos naturally include teaching your customer how to use your product or service. If you don’t show them how, somebody else will, and you don’t know what they’ll get wrong, let alone what they’ll say about you.
But beyond that, educational video can add value to your brand by creating industry-specific content. For example, SEO juggernaut Moz creates how-to videos on every aspect of SEO and search. And RepairPal collaborated with us to create content about commonly asked car maintenance questions.
How to choose what videos to create
If you have no video content whatsoever, this is the B2B video marketing strategy we recommend:
- A great explainer video. Your customer must first understand how you help them through a problem.
- Testimonials. Even when filmed on a phone, testimonials can build trust. But capturing them professionally demonstrates your success and reliability.
- Webinars. These help you build email lists, meet people interested in your product, and find out more about what they value. It’s win-win stuff.
- Educational videos. First, create some on how to use your product (if necessary), and second on heavily-searched topics related to your business. If you recorded a great Webinar, it can easily become an educational video.
- Interviews with experts. They’re essentially more educational videos, but it’s harder to predict if the content will answer specific questions your audience has. Sometimes, though, you need somebody with more authority to prove your own credibility.
Choosing the right platforms
As always, go where your audience goes. But in B2B, that’s a somewhat predictable breakdown:
If you’re starting from scratch, build your presence in the top four platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube). You can use programs like Hootsuite to post to every platform on an automated schedule.
Remember that total views and total subscribers are nice, but they’re not the metrics you want. Your goal is engagement with actual customers. It doesn’t matter if you only get 25 views in a month if one of them is a major customer.
Tips for better videos and better outcomes
Start with a script. It’s a lot easier to change paths on paper than it is mid-filming or in post-production.
Add captions. Captions make your content friendly to hard-of-hearing and increase engagement from users scrolling down feeds. Some platforms offer them for free. Rev.com offers them at just over $1/minute.
Hire a top-notch production company if the video is going to directly impact your sales. Reach out to us to start the conversation.
Follow the 80/20 rule. Spend 20% of your time on creation, and 80% on promotion. Use it in ads. Put it on a social media schedule.
Building a Brand Voice with Video (Slow Clap)
A Complete B2B SEO Strategy for 2021 (Backlinko)
Understanding the Differences Between B2B and B2C Marketing (The Balance - Small Business)
2016 B2B Benchmarks Report (Content Marketing Institute)
Four Best Practices for B2B Marketing (Uberflip)
Six type of B2B video and when to use them (LinkedIn)