Three common B2B video mistakes (and how to correct them)

Avoid these clichés and channel your inner Troy McClure

Lots of clients are turned on by the idea of producing video content, and it’s not hard to see why.

Research from the Content Marketing Association (CMA) shows that 92% of respondents in business and agencies said video content was either important or very important to their content marketing strategy. There are compelling arguments for video as an SEO tool, brand force-multiplier and cross-platform engagement engine.

The problem? Many brands are just doing it wrong. Here are three video tropes that work in some cases, but all-too-often waste everyone’s time.

The interview

Secured a slot in the CEO’s diary? Got a client willing to endorse your high-level strategic nous? The quick win is an interview, usually with the interviewer (who are they?!) edited out. Cheap, respectful of status and simple to get signed off.

The problem? Play it too straight and it can be deadly boring. It’s a throwback to the BBC Face-to-Face interviews broadcast between 1959 and 1962. Now, if you have Martin Luther King, you can get away with this simple style. Your CEO? You might need to think more imaginatively…

The animated vision

Want to get across your company’s bold imagining of a world where its ideas and products have revolutionised the landscape? The problem is that Blade Runner-style sets (envisaging the dystopian future of… 2019) are expensive. The solution? Hire an animation team to produce quirky cartoons of the way things will be. It also works for complicated animated infographics. Make those charts move!

The problem? While this at least makes your vision affordable, all too often the result can look cheap. But when it’s done well, these moving illustrations can be excellent. (This one on Second World War deaths is 18 minutes long and worth every second; this one on the credit crunch is also best-of-breed.)

But if you treat animation as a shortcut, it will look lousy.

The long and the short

We’re all time-poor these days, especially senior decision-makers. The risk is producing B2B video content that takes this as its defining factor. The result is two or three-minute productions that reduce their subject down to the blandest edits – especially when the topic is complex and the talking head needs to explain it before getting to the point.

The problem is that while it is tough to get people looking at a longer video, a short video that doesn’t say anything important in the first few seconds is never going to grab attention either.

Grab the viewer’s attention fast, then go as long as you can while keeping it interesting. That might end up being a lot longer than three minutes… (Or go super short – that’s fine too, especially for social media.)

Enough problems. What about solutions? After checking out our recent advice for shareable videos, here are three other things to consider:

Go super-practical

Everyone wants to know how stuff works. Time and again clients are reluctant to talk about how they do what they do. But that can be effective when you’re trying to make someone feel confident in their decision to work with you.

Take a leaf out of the B2C market – go instructional. Look how mouldable glue company Sugru puts its video content front and centre to inspire buyers. Or how AO uses its YouTube channel to simplify home appliance choices.

Work alongside text

Sure, video is different and interesting; it’s also very shareable if done right. But it’s not always the answer. Sometimes the points raised would be more easily consumed as text (especially the talking head stuff).

Why not put up a short article and partner it with a punchy video containing the best moments of the interview; or a context-setting film that packs in interesting visuals or data? Oh, and every video today should have subtitles. People watching on smartphones on the bus/in the office want to follow without scrabbling for headphones.

Channel your Troy McClure

The Simpsons’ instructional video frontman (“You might remember me from such self-help videos as ‘Smoke Yourself Thin’, and ‘Get Confident, Stupid’”) was a long-running joke. But the challenge with a lot of B2B video content is that it’s simply too staid.

B2B brands, for good reason, want to project sobriety and reliability. That does not need to mean dullness and conformity. Creating a mini video brand with a little more life – that matches the medium, after all – is a great way to lift otherwise dull video content towards being watchable.

Your audience might be time-poor. But they’re not stupid, dull or convinced by flat corporate spin. Video content must respect that.

Editor's pick

Most popular