It’s hard for a business executive to compete with the latest viral cat video on Facebook, but that hasn’t stopped countless organizations from trying.
Many marketing teams have recognized, for instance, that video represents one of the most dynamic and engaging kinds of assets they can develop. It can also be packaged with blogs, spread on social media and many other channels as part of a campaign managed through marketing automation tools like Marketing Cloud. The only problem? A lot of what happens in the average business might not seem like silver screen material.
Unless you can film something really interesting about how a customer uses your products and services, for example, or show a compelling process in which a product is developed from start to finish, chances are your biggest source of content will be your subject matter experts. Even if you have the option of creating a fancy animated clip that illustrates your value proposition in some way, companies like to feature subject matter experts in videos because they can represent the key messages that matter. They are also living, breathing ambassadors for the brand.
The results, in many cases, are what’s called “talking head” videos, where viewers quickly tire of listening to something they could just as easily have read or listened to during an in-person meeting. Some talking head clips are just too long. Others just feel flat because they stick with one angle of the subject’s face the entire time.
These are things that can be fixed fairly easily, but what really matters is the substance or content of the video. One of the biggest potential pitfalls, for example, is using video as just another way of pitching your products and services. You have to ask yourself, “Why would someone watch this?” If there’s no clear answer, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Here’s a list of ideas you can use to brainstorm with your subject matter experts. See what they feel most comfortable doing, and what builds on their strengths.
Look through your best case studies. Besides the fact they chose your firm’s products and services, see if you can find something about how they use them in a strategic way, or how they made other changes that helped their organization become more successful. Create a series of short clips (of no more than two minutes) where your subject matter experts summarize the case studies by highlighting the best practices others can apply. Make sure to link to the full case study wherever the video runs.
It doesn’t matter what industry you work in -- there are bound to be all kinds of arcane terms and acronyms that are used by suppliers and vendors (possibly including your firm) that customers only pretend to understand. Have your subject matter experts break down these terms into everyday language, maybe with some B-roll that can help put them in some kind of additional context. The jargon used here doesn’t have to relate directly to what you sell, but by translating it you establish the authority and credibility of your firm, positioning your brand as a helpful resource.
So much of the branding we see in business tries to suggest a particular company is the best at what it does. Customers get sick of hearing vendors compete for how loudly they can toot their own horn. Show some humility by sharing insight from a customer that changed the way you operate, shed light on an issue you hadn’t considered before or reinforced why the work your industry is focused on really matters. This can humanize subject matter experts, whose knowledge might otherwise be a bit intimidating.
Customers can always dig deep into your white papers and ebooks to find the answers they’re looking for, but why not make it much easier by giving them more succinctly on camera? These kinds of videos will show customers they’re not alone, and that your firm is as much in the business of providing valuable education as it is a set of products and services to meet their needs.
Even when someone wants to make a purchase, they know they’re likely going to have to face someone higher-up to get the green light first. There are all kinds of reasons why they might put such a conversation off, but one of the biggest is a fear that they’ll be hit with an objection or question for which they’re unprepared. So prepare them! Again, these don’t have to be long clips, but they could almost act like having a subject matter expert whispering in their ear at just the right moment.
Generally speaking, people want to do business with organizations they like. That means they appreciate the culture as well as the quality, price point and other factors associated with its products and services. Your subject matter experts are often the kind of people you’d expect would be highly in-demand by other firms, so have them discuss the mission, vision and values of your firm that keeps them driven to continue helping customers. This doesn’t just forge a more emotional connection with your customer. It can also become a highly effective means for recruiting future candidates.
No matter which of these ideas you try -- or even if you come up with completely different concepts -- the fundamentals of video marketing continue to apply. Use good lighting. Make sure the audio is top-notch. Weave in B-roll or at least more than one camera angle to keep it visually stimulating.
You should also think about the distribution strategy for whatever clips you produce. Use Marketing Cloud to test what drives engagement best, then factor that into the content development and planning process the next time you get ready to call “Action!” Talking head videos may not always seem ideal, but when they’re done right, they offer the next best thing to talking face-to-face with your top people.