Corporate Video 101: for Financial Firms

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Growing your financial firm with corporate video starts with juicy buyer insight. We offer here eight simple steps.

A Benchmark report from the reliable Vidyard revealed this year a huge leap in business use of video among high-tec and professional services firms, especially on landing pages and in email, with explainers and demos being the most popular formats. Hard to believe, but 89% of their audiences watch on desktops not mobile, during midweek mornings. In other words, business buyers learn with video at their desks.

For financial services firms, that means video is becoming essential for connecting with investors, institutions, entrepreneurs, IFA's, brokers, end-clients, lenders, banks and others. With business development a permanent concern for financial firms, how can lead-gen, origination, sales or networking exploit video to help with biz-dev directly? As video producers, we tend to use eight thinking steps with financial videos.

1. Pair Audiences with Messages

It's good to start with the audience. Procurers and logicians differ. Prospects and clients, brokers and end-users - they all have different prejudices, needs, hopes. And that means different messages or at least different emphases. So if we want to reach say 4 audiences for a client - we'd usually grid up the needs, expectations or priorities of each, and build distinct tailored messages. It's impossible to stretch one production to meet the needs of all audiences, and be effective. And don't worry about costs - the incremental budget for video variants is generally small if the planning's tight. So there's good value-for-money here.

2. Get Competitive at Each Buying Stage

The second step is to think through the 'buying' stages, because they offer good moments for videos to boost your engagement. A typical B2B buying process might include:

3. Don't Struggle with USP's - You ARE the USP

Next thoughts: banish your fears over USP's, advantages and distinctiveness. Even if you have well researched and well defined key selling points (and many financial firms struggle with this), this one's actually much easier than it looks. The simplest way to be distinctive is to stop hiding. Just reveal your character and culture. Because it's unique, fascinating and entertaining; every firm's culture is. But many of us in the workplace think that when a camera turns up, we need to hide that, be someone else, or to 'behave'. Actually the opposite is true. All the best videos capture authenticity, because it's what the audience wants: the unadorned truth. That's why DIY, in-house and glossy videos generally don't work - the audience can smell BS a mile off. On our shoots, I've seen media-trained execs forget their crafted lines, politicians struggle, and seasoned presenters forget their words - and all for nothing. You simply can't beat an unrehearsed, deeply believed and lived answer to a big question. It's that directness, that conviction, that energy that wins hearts and minds. And that directly helps lead-gen.

4. Use this Helpful Budget Formula

By now in the process, you're hopefully thinking something like 'We want to raise gross margin (GM) by £x through this video campaign'. If not, you're really making branding and awareness videos. Nothing wrong there, but their budgets are harder to quantify. With lead-gen videos, you can easily define a GM Target, plan for an ROI of say 300-500% and then, allow for a risk factor of say 200-300%. So your budget might be Target GM / 500% / 300%=one fifteenth of the boost in GM. Obviously adjust till you're happy (most firms in our experience would be happy with one tenth or fifteenth of GM boost). Now you have a budget, it will inform how tight or comfortable you can be creatively. That means how many finished pieces, what duration, how many audiences and messages you can afford, which steps in the buying process you can prioritise, what sort of tone and style, how ambitious your lead-gen videos are really going to be.

5. Explain Through Narrative

Narrative matters because it's a means of holding attention. Narratives are just carefully timed story sequences which fulfill a purpose. For example a demo video's purpose is to show the service is useful. That requires explaining the pain - the problem and its user implications, showing the service in use, revealing its benefits and features and finally proving it solves the original problem. Like a remedy. And rule of thumb - half your budget's going here, so it helps to think big. Here are some common and easy narratives for sub-2-minute videos:

Getting the timing right is important - lingering too long on negatives turns people off, yet empathising with the buyer's pain turns viewer on, so it takes a bit of know-how. There are many more of these - we've developed over 40 formats for differing purposes.

6. Tone, Tone, Tone

The other half of your budget is going here. Tone isn't fluffy or arty - in our view, it's hardcore. Tone connects your audience visually and emotionally and I'd say it comprises over half the received message. Tonal elements include interview style, lighting, location, clothing, cutting frequency, action, visual symbology, camera moves, music and sound effects and graphics. For example, if your video's tone is 'approachable' you might deploy ten filming and editing techniques:

  1. move your cameras slowly forward during filming, literally and metaphorically, to approach
  2. put every interviewee in informal clothing
  3. light them in a daylight style, nothing dark or dramatic
  4. have them lean comfortably on machinery or benches, posing them with hands in pockets
  5. record in quiet, private spaces to encourage gentle, calmer and more confident answers
  6. interview them to elicit casual and friendly behaviour
  7. warm up the colours in post-production
  8. cut all their jargon to keep things simple
  9. and perhaps allow a little humour
Defining a visual tone is easy - pulling it off imaginatively is the task of the video firm. And because tone is emotional and a huge distinguisher, it's important for lead-gen. None of these components is fluffy or arty - they're all part of your audience's visual vocabulary which they've learned from a lifetime in front of film and TV. Anything less and you're probably disappointing viewers.

7. Bricks and Feathers

We try to encourage firms to use a 'bricks and feathers' strategy - which I think originated from a wonderful company called Valuable Content. Simply put, a heavyweight brick video endures for a year or more, lightweight short feathers blow in the wind on social media. Feathers should all link to bricks. So they're traffic drivers, and quantity matters. Examples of 15-second feathers might include:

  1. 'Thank you' videos from your team to new customers
  2. Demos of your product.
  3. Animated GIF of a service feature, with a clear end benefit
  4. Testimonials from real customers and evangelists
  5. Snippet from a 3-minute use cases
  6. Product demonstrations with recognisable members of the company
  7. Vox-pop of staff introducing the company and its vision
  8. Convert your best 20 blog posts into short how-to videos
  9. Interview snippets from experts and directors of the company
  10. Elevator pitches performed by company members
  11. Action videos for each contact method - 'call us,' 'sign up for a free trial,' 'tell colleagues', 'download pack', 'order trials'

8. Test, Retest, Re-retest

And finally, when you've got reasonable results coming in, and there's cash to re-invest, try getting your video firm to produce alternatives and A/B split-test those to learn. The more you know, the more you grow. And it IS all about the growth.




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