By Daniel Glick, Kings Road Media
Imagine this – two hunters go out into the woods. One bears nothing but a steak knife, and the other carries a good rifle. Who do you think has better odds?
If well-trained, the hunter with the knife can snag a deer or elk, but I think it would be hard to deny that the hunter with the rifle has the edge.
Reading this article, you might think, “Aren’t you a video professional that would benefit from us believing this video hype?” And I would admit that, which is why I interviewed marketing professionals from three of my clients in the Montana High Tech Business Alliance – Quiq (a startup), PFL (a rapidly growing medium-sized company), and FICO (a global industry giant).
It’s the same thing with video in the tech industry. You can do well without it, but in today’s world, with a few exceptions, you need video if you want to snag the big game.
Collectively, these three marketing professionals have decades of experience under their belt and if you don’t believe me about the benefits of video, maybe you’ll take their word for it. Whether you’re looking to try video for the first time or simply refine your approach to using video, their experience will be invaluable to improving your video marketing approach.
The Value of Video for Tech
There are many uses for video, but I think that the two strongest reasons to use video in the tech industry are to help boost sales efforts and to help communicate with prospective and existing clients.
Alex Johnson, Senior Manager, Solution Marketing and Sales Enablement at FICO, has been with the company for a year and a half, joining them after 12 years at Zoot Enterprises . Alex’s decade plus in the tech marketing world has taught him much about the value of video.
“I think, in the tech industry, the trick is being able to explain sometimes very complicated topics in a simple way,” Alex says. “Fundamentally, that’s the challenge that anyone who is in marketing within the tech industry struggles with is that you have really, really cool technology that is not easy to explain.”
Alex’s experience aligns with my observations over the past few years. Talking about software and hardware to people who don’t come from a computer science or tech background can often be like trying to communicate with a tree. But this challenge is one that video can easily hurdle when done right, Alex adds.
“[Your product is] complicated. It relies on computer code, analytics, big data, and all of these nebulous concepts that are extraordinarily difficult to explain, and video allows you to explain those ideas in a simple way, in a compelling way,” he says. “It can take some time [to create a video], but once you get through that process, I think you tend to end up with videos that are compelling and that are easy for people who don’t understand your products to view and to understand and that’s a pretty key thing in the technology industry.”
Danielle Wanderer, Quiq’s Chief Marketing Officer, spent 12 years as the VP of global marketing at RightNow and more than two years as CMO of Qualtrics, and agrees with Alex about the explanatory benefits of video.
“I find that video works really well as a great way to show rather than tell people what you do,” says Danielle. “It’s just more effective, it’s more engaging, and it allows people to view something instead of read it. We are inundated with emails and a lot of content comes at us every day, but we will tend to click on a link to watch a short video. And if we do this, we can better understand what a technology company does if we see it versus read it. It’s just a fact. I don’t know how else to say it.”
As you might be thinking, the practical potential of this is tremendous, and Alex from FICO has found that one place where it can be most valuable is in the sales process.
“We use video as a lead generation tool,” Alex says. “We have outbound sales reps who cold-call to prospective buyers, and video is a great tool for them because they can send it to prospects who they’re talking to as a, ‘If you can just give me 30 seconds of your time, just watch this video. This will tell you a little bit more about what we’re doing,’ so it’s a very compelling way to hook new people who aren’t overly familiar with our company or our products.”
Quiq does the same thing.
“The results [of using video] have been incredible,” says Danielle. “It’s the most popular asset we have created in the last year, both internally and externally, and I compare that to some pretty amazing assets including a Gartner report, commissioned research, infographics, and other content concepts. It is, by far, the top asset that we have put out there in terms of inbound lead traction and outbound sales success.”
And all of this is just the tip of the lucrative iceberg.
Prepping for Video – Know Your Purpose
Let’s jump forward in time. Let’s imagine that you’ve decided that you do want to explore video. Now what?
For answers, let’s return to Danielle at Quiq, who suggests that anyone using video needs to have a clear idea of their end goal.
“If you’re thinking about using video for the first time,” Danielle says, “focus on the end result — what you want to get out of it — so you can, from the beginning, clearly set up the content for who you’re targeting and what you want to say. If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish with it or how you plan to use it, don’t bother spending the time and money doing it just so you have a video. You want to think about who’s going to see it, how is it going to be shared, and the message you want to get across.”
There’s not much time in a video to communicate everything about your company or your solution. You have to distill your message down to the essentials. This isn’t easy, but if you work with an experienced team, it’s very doable.
Work with Professionals
It can be tempting to want to shoot a video yourself, given how relatively affordable prosumer cameras have become. While the iPhone camera is quite good, making a high quality, effective video requires much more than a good-looking image.
“The other piece of advice I would give about preparing for video is to work with vendors or video producers who can take the sometimes vague direction that you have and turn that into a fairly specific result,” says Alex from FICO, “It can be very difficult to convey feedback or a vision for a video to someone, especially if you don’t have any background in video. You’ll say, ‘I need this to be friendlier,’ and that’s not really good feedback at all, so what you need is you need to work with someone who has the ability to translate vague feedback like that into very tangible, specific changes that will accomplish your goal.”
There is no substitute for working with professional filmmakers, Alex says, especially when you’re just venturing into making videos.
“I think that really just comes down to working with vendors who have that capability and who have a lot of experience doing the type of video that you’re looking to do,” Alex says.
Make a Plan and Follow Through
Jumping ahead in this hypothetical journey, let’s say that now you have a video. It’s cool and exciting, and your whole team loves it, but now what? Do you put it up on YouTube and wait for the cash to flood in?
It’s not that simple, as Samantha Patterson, Marketing Manager at PFL, can tell you.
“Really know your goals and what your strategy is before you even do the video so you know how you’re going to be using the video in the end,” she says. “I think it’s easy for people to get a video and then say, ‘This is so cool. We’ll share it around in an email internally,’ and then they forget that a large portion of the work for a video is to promote it.”
She adds that you should create a clear checklist for each video you produce, with a detailed outline of your action plan. At PFL, there’s a specific thought process that goes behind marketing each video.
“[We] choose where we’re going to use it, where it’s going to live, and what ads we’re going to run that feature the video so we can actually get traffic on it,” Samantha explains. “It’s fun to make a video, but a lot of the other due diligence isn’t fun. It’s easy to forget or skip over, and then you might be disappointed with your results because you didn’t promote it in all the ways that you could have.”
A Final Word
I will readily admit that video can be daunting. It can be a hefty investment, a time-consuming process and difficult to measure in terms of ROI, but I would still contend, as would Samantha, Danielle and Alex, that if you want to grow and succeed as a tech company in today’s world, at some point you will need video.
But, all of that said, I want to get real and state another truth:
Video doesn’t always work.
Video is powerful, but it’s not a magic pill that you swallow and suddenly you’re in the Fortune 500.
“I definitely think for tech, video is useful in more ways than one when it comes to your entire sales funnel,” says Samantha from PFL. “Video can add value to each stage of the funnel, from awareness to selling a deal, even onto customer happiness and success.”
And Danielle from Quiq agrees.
“I would say for companies in Montana,” Danielle says, “particularly if you’re competing with other vendors outside the state, it’s really important to make the investment in good content and good assets sooner than later. We tend to be more pragmatic about our spending and in this case, invest. Video can be considered expensive, but I would say video really puts you a step ahead or at least keeps you up with the competition from outside the state, probably more than any other asset will.”
Until next time…!
About the Author: Daniel Glick co-founded Kings Road Media in Germany in 2013. Through this production company, Daniel has completed an array of commercial and corporate projects. These clients have ranged from local artisans to multinational corporations. A couple of years after founding the company, Daniel established the American branch of Kings Road Media in his hometown of Bozeman, Montana, where the company decided to focus on tech as a specialty.
Daniel is also an independent filmmaker who has dedicated much of his work to important and timely social issues, including conservation, indigenous rights, art as therapy, illiteracy and prison reform. His most recent film, A Place to Stand, the powerful true story of poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, has been called “inspiring” (Booklist), “gutsy” (Library Journal) and “compelling” (Santa Fe New Mexican) and will be broadcast nationwide on PBS stations next year.
About the Publisher: Launched in 2014, the Montana High Tech Business Alliance is an association of more than 320 high tech and manufacturing companies and affiliates creating high-paying jobs in Montana. For more information visit MTHighTech.org.