Sep 15, 2021

Innovative Ways B2B Brands Can Use Video to Shorten the Sales Cycle

With high-dollar investments on the line and lots of decision-makers in the mix, the B2B sales cycle can be long and quite complex. Marketers need to be prepared to deploy tactics at every stage of the buyer’s journey simultaneously to accommodate circumstances that fluctuate along the way to a customer conversion. Video is one of the tools you can use to help shorten the sales cycle by providing important information about a product or service on demand.

According to Hootsuite, half of B2B decision-makers (50.9%) use YouTube to research purchases, followed closely by Facebook (48.5%) and LinkedIn (33%)—and according to Wyzowl, 66% of people would prefer to learn about a product or service via a short video. Some more stats from Wyzowl’s “The State of Video Marketing 2020” report:

  • 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service
  • 87% of video marketers say video has increased traffic to their website
  • 83% say it has helped them generate leads

Here are a few ways B2B brands can use video effectively.

Create a library of videos, not just one

Decision makers will likely have varying levels of familiarity with your solution. With this in mind, shorter videos should be produced alongside longer versions so that people get the information they need without leaving something out or, conversely, forcing them to wade through what they already know. Either one is an invitation to stop the video and move on to a competitor. It’s more cost-effective to produce the shorter version at the same time you do the longer version—but that’s not to say that the short one is just a choppy, jump-cut rendition. Make sure each tells the story effectively with the same production sensibilities. This entrepreneurship video from Shopify could easily be edited into shorter forms suitable for different platforms without losing any of its powerful storytelling. If you plan to post video online, check in with the sites themselves for length recommendations. “Short” and “long” mean different things to different platforms and the people who frequent them. Many popular social platforms, including TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, offer research-backed tips on the best ways to reach business audiences on their sites using video advertising.

Tailor video style, tone and length to the platform and the audience

The Wyzowl report also noted 69% of people would prefer to learn about a product or service via a short video. But where to post? With so many platforms available to buyers, it pays to know which ones they pay attention to. Don’t get too hung up on generational norms; instead, do your customer research and post appropriately. Stay abreast of the changes the platforms themselves are making, too—TikTok videos have gotten longer, and Instagram is throwing its hat in the video ring. And be aware of the tone and style of the videos that are trending on the platform; an influencer video with a casual vibe on TikTok may not fly on the more buttoned-down LinkedIn. Producing a library of videos on key subjects in different styles and lengths that address your prospects’ level of familiarity with your offering and where they are in the buyer’s journey is a good approach. It gives you the freedom to test videos across platforms to find out exactly what works (check out this social media video marketing cheat sheet from WordStream). Shortening the sales cycle means giving people the information they need when they need it—and where they’ll go looking for it.

People are people first: be engaging 

It’s tempting to think of prospects solely in business terms, but it’s best to take a more well-rounded view. After all, if someone has five minutes to spare, they could chat with a coworker, check in with a client, eat a snack, daydream—or watch your video. No matter how dry you think the subject is, it’s your job as a marketer to provide the info they need in an engaging way. One way to shorten the sales cycle with video is to serve up relevant information to people in a memorable way. While some subjects require a certain level of expertise and gravitas, that doesn’t mean they have to be devoid of personality. Talk like a real person talks in that field. Embrace individual quirks. Break out the props. Bring in a whiteboard for on-the-fly schematics. Use your most engaging storyteller, not just the person with the most prestigious job title. In short, present the type of person you’d most like to watch—and trust—given the subject at hand, like this incredibly cheeky “about us” video from Risual.

Be trendy, but not over-the-top

While influencer videos are all the rage, they’re not always appropriate. For example, a technically detailed “explainer” video targeting those in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey may be better received if it’s coming from someone perceived as technically proficient. That said, technically proficient doesn’t mean staid and boring, case in point: NetworkChuck (1.38 million YouTube subscribers thus far). He’s affable, enthusiastic and uses plain language to discuss a pretty tech-heavy topic, yet he still comes across as knowledgeable and believable. Videos can be stylistically compelling without compromising integrity. Choose music, images, graphics, voice actors and video clips outside of the standard corporate video comfort zone. Also, consider the video intro/outro. They’re your opportunity to set the stage and leave a lasting impression, and they can enhance brand awareness while setting the tone for the subject, no matter what is sandwiched in the middle. Give people the information they need to make a confident decision faster without putting them to sleep or coming across as glib, inexperienced or untrustworthy.

Look at rooms as three-dimensional video canvases

Video screens come in hundreds of sizes, shapes and materials, and they can be customized in many more. Projection can be adjusted to accommodate just about anything. Laptops with preloaded videos are easy to tuck in here and there. In a room, the walls, ceilings and floors are all fair game. So are objects placed within them. Move beyond the flat-screen-behind-the-speaker mentality and get creative with presentation and placement. Think of the space as one giant (or tiny, as the case may be) art installation and position videos where they’ll have the most impact. Present a series of videos that address a particular challenge in bite-size lengths along the path people take toward your booth at a trade show so you can have a more substantive conversation with them once they’re there. Project information that is central to the buying decision right where it matters most—onto an engine hood if you’re selling something that enhances vehicle performance, for example.

Use video to showcase what’s behind the scenes

While you can (and should) showcase what you sell, how it’s made or delivered is video-worthy, too, especially in terms of building trust. If safety is important in your industry, don’t just talk about your safety practices, walk people through them. If it’s security, give prospects a behind-the-scenes look at your product or service in action. Manufacturing facilities are ideal for “how it’s made” videos, which can be used to focus on supply chains, sustainability, materials strength, design expertise—whatever the customer deems integral to their decision. Make testimonial videos featuring customers talking about how you helped them solve a challenge common to your target audience, preferably shot on site where people can see what they’re talking about. With smartphone video getting more sophisticated and editing software more intuitive, and with people’s hunger for authenticity (vs. ultra-slick productions) unabated, these videos are more doable than ever. This example, called “Nina’s Story,” was shot by the business owner and one of his friends.

Video is a powerful sales tool

Video is one of the most powerful and creative tools in the marketing toolkit. In a visually driven world, it makes sense to consider them essential investments, not nice-to-haves. By providing the information people need, when they need it—in an enticing, informative and visually compelling way—marketers can move people from prospect to customer faster.

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