Welcome to the new era of B2B video

Ask a consumer to name their favorite brand video, and any number of great entries spring to mind: Dove’s Real Beauty sketches, Chipotle’s The Scarecrow, Evian’s Roller Babies – which in 2013 set a Guinness World Record for most viral video.

But, ask a business decision maker to name their preferred B2B video, and you’ll most likely get a blank stare.

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That will soon change.

In recent years, we’ve seen an uptick in the creativity and quality of B2B videos. Companies have gifted decision makers across industries and verticals with video content worth remembering. The B2B video of the future has only begun to crop up in the recent past, but it’s making up for lost time by rivaling – and even surpassing – many of its B2C counterparts.

Just consider this epic content from Volvo Trucks.

A recent study conducted by demand generation company Ascend2 found that 87 percent of B2B marketers are seeing an increase the effectiveness of their video marketing campaigns. Its Video Marketing Strategy Survey Summary Report reveals that B2B marketers are now using video more often to boost brand awareness and online engagement, as well as to educate customers and generate leads.

When asked about the challenges associated with B2B video marketing, respondents named a lack of compelling content as one of the problem areas tripping them up. There’s a world of opportunity beyond the explainer videos and customer testimonials of old. Let’s take a look at two companies that are making this invaluable format a central part of their promotional strategy online.

Schneider Electric

Last year, The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs disclosed in their B2B Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report that 76 percent of B2B marketers now publish video content on YouTube. Global energy management and automation company Schneider Electric is among them. As part of its new cross-channel Life is On campaign, the brand created a series of viral videos to post on YouTube.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in video consumption across all types of platforms and customer segments,” says Tony Wells, senior vice president of marketing for North America at Schneider Electric.” Whether educational, informative or humorous, video is playing an increasing role in the marketing mix.”

On top of its YouTube channel, the company maintains a site section called Schneider Electric TV, which provides its customers with access to dozens of useful original videos.

Life is On includes two “butterfly effect” stories that use humor to make a convincing statement about Schneider Electric’s services and their positive impact on businesses and corporate decision makers. Both have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times since their launch in mid-September.

In another video uploaded to YouTube, the company enlists the help of the director of grounds for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, to explain how Schneider Electric’s weather forecasting technology plays an integral role in player and fan safety and enjoyment.

Says Wells, “Our customer stories bring to light our products and services in a compelling and innovative way.”

According to Wells, Schneider Electric’s objective for video marketing is threefold: 

  1. To increase brand awareness
  2. To humanize the company
  3. To “articulate and define” the brand overall

“The majority of our customers know and understand the role that Schneider Electric plays in their everyday operations, but we still have a tremendous opportunity to increase our brand awareness among general consumers and other stakeholders,” he says. “The videos in this campaign allow us to shift the perception of Schneider Electric from a large, industrial brand to a humorous and more approachable one.”

Wells notes that the campaign was, in part, inspired by the success of a playful video that Schneider Electric released last year.

Raccoon Dance Party! has been viewed more than 3.8 million times.

It’s been about a month since the Life is On videos went live, but Wells and his company are pleased with the results so far. “As the campaign ramps up in North America and around the globe, videos will continue to be a key element of the campaign,” he says.

Squarespace

Online publishing tool Squarespace caters to both consumers and businesses, so its newly launched collection of short films includes two videos that are distinctly B2B.

How to Launch Your New Collection tells the story of a fashion designer’s promotional strategy, with a step-by-step visual guide that concludes with the creation of a website that generates sales. How to Reinvent a Classic does the same for a restaurant business that’s about to open its doors for the first time. In addition to YouTube, these videos are also running on Hulu.

As with Schneider Electric ‘s Boston Red Sox narrative, both of Squarespace’s videos – created in conjunction with creative agency B-Reel – feature actual customers.

“The most important factor to creating a successful piece of content is to tell a good story,” a spokesperson for B-Reel said. “In the case of our Squarespace work, it’s the stories of burgeoning businesses.”

By following a “How-to” format, the videos “showcase a product journey step-by-step.” They present the product in a real world context that demonstrates the brand’s value, along with the passion its customers feel toward their work. The resulting message isn’t one that would-be customers are likely to forget.

If you haven’t already prioritized video in your B2B marketing strategy, you’re missing out on a chance to benefit from the same high level of engagement enjoyed by consumer brands. Who’s to say the next great viral video can’t be made for a business decision maker?

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