When engineers or purchasing managers don’t know how to solve a problem or know anyone who could, they open a web browser. They’re usually not looking for a specific company website; they’re looking for a solution. Quite often they begin learning about it not by reading, but by watching.
That’s according to Robert Weiss, president of New York-based MultiVision Digital, a B2B video marketing company. Weiss presented as part of FABTECH 2021’s on-demand conference—via online video, appropriately enough. During his talk, Weiss walked conference attendees through the ins and outs of video marketing. What makes a video effective, he said, is how well it addresses the viewers’ problems. Most important, machines don’t solve problems, people do.
Why Online Video?
“Most manufacturing companies have technical buyers,” Weiss said, “and they want to watch video. We’re all watching more video in our personal lives, and that’s driving our business behavior.
“Imagine you’re a buyer in the early stages of the buying cycle,” Weiss continued. “What would you rather do, watch a two-minute video that gives you a lot of the information you need or sift through a bunch of white papers, web pages, or PDFs of brochures?” He added, however, that the video shouldn’t focus solely on promotion. Too much company cheerleading can lead viewers to see the video as just another ad of someone trying to sell me stuff. “The video needs to give you the people behind the machines and technology. And it needs to convey the most information in the least amount of time. That’s what buyers want.”
Such videos might be short, but because they’re packed with information, people will tend to spend more time viewing them. “And if you care about SEO
Those in manufacturing know the typical marketing video. “Traditionally it’s been a shop’s machines with dance music behind, no people,” Weiss said. “But there’s a big shift going on now. Smart manufacturing companies are realizing that video plays a role in the sales process, and it doesn’t take away from the human relationships they aim to build every day. They’re starting to build sales videos showcasing all the machines they have, but they support that machine content with technical people answering common questions in the sales process.”
Weiss said to imagine a tradeshow experience, with sales and technical teams talking to prospective customers. “That’s the methodology manufacturing companies are using for their video content.”
Core to it all is education. Weiss showed a sales and marketing video from an inspection service provider, with the technical expert in front of the camera saying, “When you do a test, you want to be able to produce it repetitively, quickly, and efficiently. If you’re not doing it quickly and efficiently, the test is costing you money instead of making you money.” The expert stood next to the machine, pointed to the applicable mechanisms, and brought the viewer through the entire process—all in a few minutes.
“Don’t forget to have a call to action in your videos,” Weiss added. “It’s about information, educating, and building trust.”
How to Start
“The first thing to do when you start to think about video is to forget about video,” Weiss said, adding that the process really starts with a manufacturer’s business objective. “Are they trying to rank on search engines, launch a new product, or maybe recruit new talent?
An expert in this video brings viewers through the basics of hardness testing. MultiVision Digital
“Once you decide on the business strategy, you then need to decide on the distribution channel of that video in order to allocate the right budget to get the right video content,” Weiss continued. “For example, if awareness is your goal, you probably need one video produced that you will then pay to have shown to your target audience.”
He added that the same planning that goes for nonvideo content applies to video content. Think of paid advertising in a magazine. “Would you ever use that ad to drive SEO results or recruit engineers? No.”
Similar to other marketing material like emails, sales sheets, and white papers, video content usually falls in at least one of several categories. Some videos give a factory overview. Others support the launch of a particular product or (for custom fabricators) service, such as a new powder coating line. One might bring viewers through a customer case study. Others focus on education and conversations with experts, and still others cover thought leadership by addressing broad industry issues—the labor shortage, for instance—or issues specific to a targeted sector.
Recruitment is another increasingly popular video content category. As with other content categories, Weiss said, the same strategy applies. The recruitment videos should focus on the intangible aspects of the company, such as the culture and the meritocracy of the work environment, along with tangible elements like employee benefits, work hours, competitive pay, and learning and career opportunities. The exact content depends on the company and recruitment goals. But as Weiss described, such videos should “show and tell with emotion and information.”
Whether covering thought leadership, educational topics, case studies, or anything else, a video needs to focus on a target audience’s pain points. Sales videos that promote the company, such as those showing new machines or processes that differentiate the company, do play a role in building trust. But as Weiss explained, without connecting that content to the challenges prospects face—and the people who can solve them—viewers are more likely to click away. Problem-solving content spurs people to act.
From DIY to Professional
“Can you do a video yourself? Yes, you can,” Weiss said. “And you should. You should have both DIY and professional-grade content, and after doing both over time, you’ll figure out the best cadence (frequency) for both types of videos.”
These days, doing some DIY videos is a given. Someone with the latest smartphone can now record and produce surprisingly polished videos. “We see companies shooting up to 4K video content on their phones,” Weiss said.
At the other end of the spectrum, a company can hire professionals who can help people who need coaching in front of the camera. And these days the coaching doesn’t always need to take place in person. For instance, Weiss described clients who use video-capture apps on their smartphones that allow professional video companies to offer their directing, coaching, and editing services remotely.
Most business professionals aren’t trained actors. Life isn’t scripted, and neither are many of the best B2B marketing videos. Weiss suggested that, while on camera, people stay relaxed, conversational, and use bulleted notes to keep the content on track.
Once the videos are produced, it’s time to post them online. YouTube is the default site, of course. It doesn’t necessarily make the video easier to discover—the site’s algorithms change continually—but housing videos there puts them in a place that’s easily shared. The site has quality metrics, too, Weiss said, but for even better metrics, a fabricator might consider an alternative hosting site.
B2B marketing videos have several key cost drivers, including production and pre-production time as well as the video team’s experience. MultiVision Digital
How Much Does It Cost?
“This of course is the No. 1 question we get,” Weiss said. “Every project is different.”
The DIY approach incurs internal costs, including people’s time as they learn to record and edit videos. On the professional side, Weiss explained several main areas that drive up the cost of video: production time, the types of cameras and equipment, the number of locations and the amount of time spent at each, motion graphics, color correction, and the experience of the video production team.
Fabricators can choose to invest in some combination of DIY and various levels of professional videos—from a monitored remote session (which can work well for talking heads and expert-driven content) to on-site productions showing the entire factory floor. “The idea is to budget for the mix that makes the most sense for you and gets you the most value out of your investment,” Weiss said.
The Trunk of Online Content
A video’s longevity is another factor to consider. The best B2B marketing videos last for at least several years, especially if the technology or business strategy hasn’t changed significantly.
A video’s staying power increases the return on investment and helps build the foundation of online, written content. Many people in manufacturing find it easy to talk about what they do, but they find it time-consuming to write about it. Videos change that.
Say a fabricator records a video of a press brake supervisor describing the fundamentals of sheet metal bending along with some of the shop’s approaches to certain bending challenges. The person who records it can edit it and post it online. Then later that same person (or someone else) transcribes the video and turns it into a blog or other form of written content, which further drives SEO for the shop’s website and provides fodder for e-newsletters and other marketing material, both printed and online.
Think of video as the trunk of a tree, rooted in problem-solving content. That trunk then feeds branches of other marketing material, all of which support sales as they grow the fabricator’s top line, which in turn leads to more growth and more investment in machinery and people, not to mention more marketing investment to grow deeper roots—that is, more problem-solving content. And so the virtuous cycle continues.