By Andrew Angus on January 27, 2015

B2B Marketing, Switch Video

There’s a misconception out there that B2B marketing can’t be fun. It’s true that selling to businesses is different than selling to consumers, but the difference is less than you might think. Yes, buying teams are interested in value, but that doesn’t mean the message needs to be dull. While you’re selling to a team rather than one person, that team is made up of people, and people respond to engaging content. That’s one reason video is so successful as a marketing tool: It’s capable of transforming dry material into content that’s not only interesting, but emotional, and memorable.

The first key to creating engaging marketing is to understand your audience. Each industry has unique pain points and topics that interest people in that field. If you work in manufacturing, you’re going to encounter different situations than someone who works in retail. If you address issues that are appropriate for your audience, the content will be interesting. All content will be boring to someone. War and Peace may be a masterpiece, but there are plenty of readers out there that just don’t enjoy it. On the other hand, there are ways you can make your marketing more engaging.

Here are three ideas to make your content more fun for your audience:

Develop a Unique Voice

Having an engaging brand voice is the first step toward making your marketing initiatives interesting. Potential customers are just as likely to engage with a brand on social media as they are to communicate via email. This means brands need to work especially hard to maintain a voice that’s not too formal. Now that customers interact with businesses on LinkedIn and Twitter, they are accustomed to one-to-one communication. Often this means even B2B companies are toning down the formality and aiming for a voice that’s more approachable and down to earth in all of their communications.

Take marketing automation platform Marketo, for example. Marketo’s voice is fun, upbeat and creative. The company’s blog is full of insight with a witty and entertaining edge. Near Halloween the company premiered a post called “Marketing Horror Stories” that detailed a number of terrifying scenarios that many marketers can empathize with. Their bloggers frequently reference popular culture and contemplate how current trends like online quizzes can impact marketers. Their content is down-to-earth, funny, and it helps readers see that Marketo is a fun company to work with.

Use Simple Storytelling

Stories engage us and they help us understand material better. In fact, it’s one of the concepts we base explainer videos on. This video for DynAdmic creates a simple story by introducing John, a digital marketer, as a stand-in for the audience.

John represents the buyer persona for DynAdmic. Companies should personify the type of individual that makes up their customer base and integrate this persona into their storytelling. Brands will connect with the audience in a more personal way because the viewer will identify with the character they see on screen. Neuroscientists have found that when we watch an action, our motor cortex fires as though we are experiencing the actions too. In addition, when more experienced athletes watch sports events, their brains are more engaged than less experienced fans, according to Grantland. In the same regard, digital marketers will be more engaged when watching a story about a character whose actions they can identify with, like John.

In DynAdmic’s video, John has a problem – despite the fact that 21 billion videos are watched online every month, he can’t target consumers the way he wants to. DynAdmic is the solution. It’s a very simple scenario, but it’s far more interesting than providing a rundown of exactly what DynAdmic does and how. Luckily, every company has stories they can tell. You can develop a story around a pain point, as the DynAdmic video does with John, or like the Vidyard video below.

This video from Vidyard speaks to specific challenges many B2B marketers face. In the scenario, a supervisor compliments Sarah, a marketer, on her awesome video. All we know about the video in question is that it featured a talking turkey, and a colleague’s mom liked it on Facebook. Apparently, that’s all Sarah knows too, because when questioned on the video’s performance, she goes to great lengths to avoid talking about it. She even mentions running the numbers through the Flux Capacitor – that’s the high-tech gadget that makes time travel possible in “Back to the Future.”

The video is fun and relatable. Who hasn’t been in the position of needing to report on the performance of a piece of marketing collateral, and not having the data you need to do that? It can be awkward. And awkward situations can be funny, at least in retrospect. Vidyard’s marketing and analytics platform provides a solution to this familiar situation.

Use Unexpected Metaphor

Metaphor helps us internalize new information by comparing something new to something we are already familiar with. But there’s no reason to just go with the first comparison that makes sense; go with something that will make your audience chuckle. Something unexpected will be more memorable.

Kapost, a company that makes content marketing software, also has a clever approach to marketing. For its blog, the company put together an infographic that compares content marketing to brewing craft beer. This is a perfect example of reaching out to buyers as people as opposed to as part of a business team. Kapost recognizes that marketers have needs when it comes to organizing their content marketing campaigns, but also understands that they have other interests outside of work.

Here’s another example: Asset management may not seem like a thrilling topic to most people. However, use the right combination of metaphor and wit, and it can be interesting. When we created a video for Altrius, a Capital Management firm, we used animal metaphors in a way that not only gets the point across, but makes you want to keep watching. We compared Altrius to an aardvark, going after smaller companies with high-growth potential (ants). Ants are a safe bet and they’re easy to catch. We compared Altrius’ competitors to lions, who go after large game and often come back empty-handed as a result. You want to keep watching the video because the animal comparison is novel. By the end, you’re realize that what the company is saying makes a lot of sense because the useful metaphor drives the point home. Altrius may play it safe in its business model, but the company certainly isn’t afraid to be innovative with its content.

Check out their video:

B2B marketing can and should be interesting. Your customers are people with a lot of demands on their attention. They see a lot of dry, data-filled content. If you were in their position, would you want to watch an animated video that made you laugh, or a slideshow filled with bullet points? Instead, take the information in that slideshow and repackage it in a way that tells a story or makes people laugh. Consider the tone you take in your messages, and incorporate character and metaphor to you give your messages more of an impact on your specific audience. These strategies help get your message across, not just because they are engaging, but because they help to paint a picture of who you are as a company.

 

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