Video as an internal and external enterprise tool

I’ve been involved with video at the commercial broadcast or enterprise level for over 30 years. I’ve seen it evolve from an expensive, elite marketing media to an accessible everyday tool with multiple applications.  What is worth noting is that video should be not only part of a communication strategy, but also part of the content creation strategy.

I did an interview in early December with Paul Ritter of Business Video Today. The topic was how video is being used by enterprises as an internal and external content and marketing resource.

Internally, the typical uses most people consider remain. Training and internal communications are common, desktop video is becoming a tool for some, but not yet pervasive.  New tools such as application sharing and interactive whiteboards have emerged but are limited by many other factors.

Externally, video has become a great method to capture thought leadership from subject matter experts, customer testimonials continue to have impact on potential buyers, and even product demos offer scalability for prospects deep in the buying cycle.  Some companies are investing in short, creative video to stimulate awareness and feed the prospect funnel.

During the interview, Paul raised the issue of how video producers should think about producing video in an extensible and intelligent way, seeing is as bigger than just one video.  This is a point he and I have talked about many times.

A shift needs to occur at the planning level.  Business must think long-term big picture, versus a line item checklist.  Video? Done, check.  Next?

Most producers and companies think in terms of “I want to do a video so that it will bring traffic to my site,” or perhaps promote a product.

Isolated, it is a narrow, short-term view.  It can and should be bigger. Video needs to be part of the overall content and communication strategy.  This statement applies to both development and distribution.

At a minimum, it needs to be looked at from the perspective of ‘what am I trying to accomplish?’  How does it fit into the larger communication or marketing programs and that I’ve got? How can it either lead, supplement, or do both for those activities?  How can I leverage that video to build and augment other programs that may be totally non-video related? My experience has taught me it can affect and influence all of those things in very positive ways, but you have to see that from the beginning. It must be part of the plan.

Video is a tool.  It is both content source and finished media.  Creativity needs to be applied not only to the creation of video, but to the planning process to recognize how it will serve and support the entire content process and journey.

Video has remarkable scale if used strategically. Combined with complimentary technologies that have emerged over the years, video is the killer app, and it’s right in front of us.

Old Habits are Hard to Break

Change is hard.  “An A+ for stating the obvious” you are thinking to yourself?

B2B marketing is stuck in “old ways”.   Like any generalization, there are exceptions, but they remain the minority.   I’ll explain.

Business thrives on process.  From process comes efficiency, which is a critical element of success.  Consider FedEx and the UPS.  Process is their competitive advantage and they have embraced new techniques, structures and core processes to capitalize on fundamental shifts in technology, audience needs and service models. They are winning big because of it.

Process is key to efficiency but a process based on an old set of rules is disaster.  In many ways this is the status of B2B marketing.

Marketing is about message, content and audience reach.  B2B is adapting to the audience reach part of the model.  But it needs deeper analysis.  Marketing has not adapted to the message and content processes required to truly capitalize on new distribution models and audience consumption preferences.

The Internet and “digital” has forever changed how buyers evaluate and make purchase decisions.  In response, Marketing no longer prints collateral but publishes PDF’s on their websites. Many have adopted “marketing automation” tools to leverage their database.  Some discovered video, audio podcasts, eBooks.   The list goes on.

Communications teams are blogging and tweeting all day long to capitalize on the power of social media.  Many new tools, formats and media are being used, all powerful and with tremendous reach.

But here’s the thing.  Few marketing and communications teams are working together to consider the synergy of each effort, or the content required to support each channel.  The  activities are related and inter-dependent upon each other, though they are often not executed as such.

Engagement is the new buzzword in marketing. Engage with customers, prospects, and partners.  “We need to engage online.  Establish a conversation.”  But for many organizations the teams responsible for customer engagement are not truly engaged with each other.  They talk, have meetings and conference calls, but they are not engaged.  Why?

Old habits. The approach to content creation, communication, and the structure of organizations has not evolved. B2B has historically undervalued creative, message and content, and they have not yet recognized the need to adapt the process of creating content.  One team creates collateral, another press and media communications, and a third owns marketing automation. Other teams own the web, video, and training.  Each is focused set of deliverables but not the coordination or relationships of the messages they are delivering.

Unless co-developed, creating a PDF whitepaper to publish on the web and writing a blog post for LinkedIn, without a strategy to leverage their inter-dependencies is not a new approach, just a new distribution method.

Would love to hear your own opinions on this.

Video is a Disruptive Force

Video has been an important advertising content format for business since the dawn of television.  While remarkably powerful, the reach of video as a business communication tool was limited however to broadcast advertising, infomercials and internal training until the mid 1990’s.

Like the impact to the music industry, news and other business models, the Internet is a disruptive force that will forever change how we use and consume video, including  “traditional” broadcast television.

YouTube, while the most visible example of the shift in video creation and distribution, is also an important illustration of the shift in the content itself.  Like most other content forms delivered via the Internet, it reflects the extreme ADD (attention deficit disorder) of the audience.  Do you glance to the timeline once you click to see how long the video is, thus making a decision to watch or close?  It is also an important barometer of the growing micro-segmentation of content.

Why this observation is important is because most B2B video content creators don’t really understand how to adapt to this shift.  They have the tools and the desire to leverage it, and every marketing VP wishes they could produce a “viral hit”, but they see video creation with an “old school” perspective.  Create a script, read and record the script, edit and publish.  But like your website, just because you build it does not mean your audience will find it or even consume it.

This is the foundation of what I will write about in the video section of The-Content-Strategist. Video is a business tool that is far more powerful than anyone realizes and not just in the role of advertising, training or marketing.  Video will change how we perceive, create, define and manage “content”. It will become a positive yet disruptive force within the business world.

The shift that we are about to witness in video creation and consumption models, including traditional broadcast television will be as dramatic as iTunes and the mp3 format was to the music industry.