Credibility and trust is key to B2B marketing and communications and video offers great potential to capture the true essence of a company’s biggest assets – its employees. Experienced business leaders, grizzled industry veterans, subject matter experts and engineers all look great on video if captured in the right way, and their authentic appearance can actually enhance forward-thinking B2B marketing efforts. Using video in marketing with the aim of giving employees a voice of their own requires patience and skill. However, the rewards are big for all involved – here are 7 tips to help you help subject matter experts and other employees to shine on video.
As I write this, I’m traveling back from the part of Denmark known as Jutland, having completed two days shooting video at a B2B client’s headquarters. This particular client is involved in the energy industry, and has been wildly successful over the past decade. A subsidiary of two much larger industrial companies, the company has had the foresight to revamp all aspects of its marketing, bringing itself fully up-to-date with some of the best B2B marketing practices in any industry. As you might gather an engaging client to work with, and a good place to discuss and refine my own thoughts on how to do B2B marketing – particularly when it comes to the use and abuse of subject matter expert videos in marketing and communications.
Engineers on film – how bad is that?
We’ve been working to design and implement all the elements of the company’s new marketing system for over a year now, and my task on this trip was to capture on video the thoughts of management and employees in relation to their own work. The idea was to ask six simple questions, starting with the person’s name and job title. Since I didn’t have to take care of the camera, lighting or sound personally, you might imagine this task to be a walk in the park. Let me assure you, it’s not.
You see, this particular company is engineering-based. So the kind of people who choose to work for it are especially serious about their work. They’re mostly task- or project-oriented. And few have any experience of speaking directly to a camera under bright lights. An added challenge, it seems, is the fact that they mostly come from the area of Jutland in Denmark which, while it is riddled with successful small-to-medium-sized businesses, has a long farming tradition, and inhabitants who tend to prize modesty and look down their noses at flamboyancy and talkativeness. To top it all off, we were asking them to speak English rather than their native Danish – on camera!
Capturing B2B clients on video – credibility in the making
Of course, for me as a B2B marketer interested in removing the falseness of corporate branding campaigns and, instead, leveraging the marketing power of credibility, this was a great opportunity to document The Real Thing: dedicated, knowledgeable people who just want to do their jobs well. But it ain’t easy. No one was actually comfortable in front of a camera – and most arrived stating either that they had by now regretted saying yes to the project, or that they were certain they would put in a poor appearance. This is a challenge I suspect many B2B marketers practicing video marketing have met, but while it’s a challenging task, engineers and subject matter experts also bring an energy and determination of their own.
While admittedly, as a group, their video deliveries tended to be somewhat wooden, their gazes fixed and their arms locked by their sides, I was impressed by the way that all but a few arrived highly prepared – and how they were ready to go through take after take until not only my team but the employees themselves were satisfied with their performance. While language skills varied, and a few buckets of sweat were generated, all had immense credibility off camera, and much of this authenticity was retained, shining through their on-camera presentations.
This goes to show that involving even the shyest of employees in video marketing efforts isn’t impossible and I’m sure that the resulting videos, which will appear on the company’s website in a few weeks’ time, will not only reflect credibility and authenticity, but will also effectively portray the company’s essential empathy – recently pointed out by SAP’s Michael Brenner, as likely to be a major marketing (and, I would add, recruitment) asset for companies aiming to become social businesses.
Below are 7 practical tips and tricks to get started with credible B2B video marketing.
7 tips for creating credible video
1) Start small, work out an effective system, then scale. Begin by working with just a few passionate and open-minded experts (be sure to bring their manager on board as well) and expand the program when your formats and systems are perfected and have proven their worth.
2) Make it easy to take part. Frame the interview, pre-arrange questions, and keep it simple and focused on one topic at a time. Whatever you do, leave the technical asides surrounding publication and sharing to others. subject matter experts have enough to do without figuring out the back end of a video CMS on top of their day-to-day tasks.
3) Ask them to prepare beforehand. This will help them prepare mentally and you’ll find they like to prepare themselves as it makes them feel more confident and in control. Send them, for example, as short list of the questions they are likely to be asked.
4) Avoid following scripts word for word. Instead aim for capturing the message in the subjects own words. If they are not actors (and they’re not because that’s the point) scripts become obvious and will serve to kill on-screen presence, personality and credibility. Prepare them properly immediately before – tell them it’s credibility we want, allow them to scratch their heads, pause between statements, look around if they need to rather than try to deliver a presentation worthy of an actor
5) Let them run through their prepared statements on camera. While waiting for them to relax and find the right tone and words, get them in front of the camera for “practice runs”. Get the camera rolling for these, as it might just provide your best take of them all. During this process your suggestions should help them refine what they need to say, remember it, and then deliver it brilliantly in the end.
6) Be aware of tempo. This is simple but crucial advice. Movements and speech appear faster on film. Flapping arms and hurried speech hardly add to credibility, deliberate movements and relaxed delivery does. With engineers, you generally don’t have to worry too much about movements, unless it’s rocking back and forth on their heels (or assuming the fetal position).
7) Share praise and rewards. In addition to the positive feedback and praise necessary for coaxing people through the recording session, provide views and comments back to subject matter experts afterward and be sure to make the contributors visible within your company as well. Remember that what motivates these people is most likely deep personal interest in a field mixed with professional ambition, and not the implications for marketing and sales.
Do you know anyone, a company, agency or small business owner, thinking about using video in B2B marketing? forward these tips to them to help them get it right the first time.Like this post? Subscribe now and get notified about new content!