A 2021 practical practical and idea-packed guide to the most suitable types of video for prospecting buyers
By Tim Cumming and Helen Pain, updated 14 Oct 2021
In marketing, we don't like to admit that occasionally, we've no clue what to say. We may have loose ideas, messages, short fragments, sentences, straplines, or a clear sense of the big picture. Yet, we lack the weekly, monthly, or daily narratives that are required to communicate a simple message.
There's a very good reason for this: it is fabulously complex. Without some kind of map, or orientation to guide us through the maze of the different occasions customers might be searching, browsing, interrogating, or comparing, we haven't got a chance to nail down the exact format or message, or level of daring in terms of asking for the business.
This article will help you see beyond Google's somewhat vague 'Help, Hub, Hero' model into a more practical way of using video to prospect for new business
Good prospecting supercharges sales
Google's search-orientated approach
Google likes to see moments as a three category system: Hero, Hub and Help moments.
This is for when a customer is prepared to be impressed, to sit back and absorb your positive sales messages at a light or high level. The videos you might use would be proposition, services or product explainers, tasters, or stories revealing features and benefits. Hero pieces are usually more glamorous, high budget and make a more showy statement.
Google argues that customers are willing to journey inwards, into your website or social media, to discover or learn. These are distinct from Hero because the customer is looking for something - the known, or unknown, information. These video types are interactive, explainers, testimonials, case studies, or videos about your specialisms, events or insights into markets, sectors, processes or other forms of narrowed down content.
These are about how to use the service or product you are selling and include demos, how-to films, tutorials, client or staff trainers. Google, being Google, looks beyond the classification of the content into how advertising can be sold around these types of content and the usefulness and volume of searches performed by users.
You might take all or this with a certain pinch of salt, or you might not. If you're a search-orientated company, i.e., if your customers tend to find you via search engines, this kind of model is more helpful for you. Videos that fit into these categories will be useful and match the kinds of journeys your customers go on in order to discover you.
If your business is not a predominantly search-driven business, like most small and medium sized firms, the Hero/Hub/Help pieces will have some utility, but will fall short in a number of real world customer moments. A different approach which reflects nine different groups of moments, is less dependent on search and more likely to represent the varied ways the customers find you. These can include not just search, but social, blogging, email, and offline forms of communication such as networking, events, and snail mail.
- Land and Expand
The nine levels of interest are:
These moments typically reflect the various levels of interest, purpose or intention that your customer might bring to their search for a solution to their problem.
Let's get one thing clear: prospecting is not spamming.
Prospecting is permitted by GDPR, and is a profoundly useful and absolutely vital activity for any company in the B2B sector. Your business cannot survive without prospecting - no business can - but most of the fear around it, of being seen or blacklisted as a spammer, has dented the willpower and creative capabilities of many UK and world-wide organisations.
GDPR permits your business to contact other businesses cold and direct, provided you can argue that it's in their financial or commercial interests to do so. To put it bluntly: what the hell are you doing contacting them if you're not offering them value?p
On top of this, the search and email giants of the world (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.) are intent on blocking your attempts to reach people directly using mass marketing methods. This looks like an impediment for most of us, but this is simply untrue. It is your duty, your right and your purpose to reach out to prospective customers directly, on a one-to-one basis, with a message that brings opportunity and value to them and you - this is the basis of trade.
How can it be done?
If you're familiar with using large mailing systems like MailChimp or MailShake, you'll know that you can send mass mails, and these tools will help you to avoid language in your emails that trigger the mailing giants alerts to prevent mass mailing. While this is helpful, it doesn't solve all problems, especially the problem regarding your mass outreach.
The practical truth is, if you have a marketplace of thousands, you simply cannot write individual emails to each one. Some element of repetition and consistency will be necessary. Otherwise, your activity becomes unprofitable. Unproductive.
The same goes for LinkedIn and, to a lesser extent, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media, where you might find businesses. Fortunately, LinkedIn will permit you to write a limited number of messages to people you don't know or haven't connected with. This is only a temporary path, and it has its constraints and conversion numbers, for example, a free account will let you have 100 messages per week, a paid account 200 per week, and a sales navigator account 300 per week through the messaging system inside LinkedIn.
Everywhere you go, you're going to encounter throttles, limits and caps, and your first duty as a marketer in prospecting is to recognise the importance of making every message you send count within those limits. One of the easiest ways of doing this is to increase the valuable content and the appeal of that content inside your message. We call this visual prospecting.
When you send a message, try to send something visual with it, or at least a link to something visual with it, whether that be a GIF, a cinegraph, or a video. Moving images add warmth, tone, and character to outreach messages. And for now, (because there's no telling what further constraints will be imposed by the giants that control messaging) these tend to have considerably higher response rates than simple text on their own.
And, just to get a bit dark for a moment (only a moment), it is in the interests of the giants to continue to throttle this line of communication because it's unpaid and is non monetizable for them. They would much rather you pursued inbound marketing because of their ability to earn from your activity. For now, direct outbound marketing is probably still the most effective and cost-effective method of reaching your target market.
How can prospecting be made visual?
Prospecting communication and messaging has its own set of guidelines and principles. Much has been written about this by many of the mass mailing companies on the internet including HubSpot, MailChimp, Alfred, and MailShake. These systems will all provide you with a means of reaching your customers cold.
What most of them lack (perhaps with the exception of Alfred) is the ability to identify and data research lists of email leads. Alfred will let you interrogate LinkedIn on an automated basis in order to build target lists, as will Sales Navigator. And, if you're reaching larger sized accounts, and taking a very one-to-one approach, you'll find Sales Navigator is probably the best tool for the job.
So, how can you make your prospecting more visual, more impactful, yet without overstepping the mark on what's acceptable for an opening connection? With email, it's simply about a short written message containing a link to, or an embedded GIF, cinegraph, or video. The latter will give you more opportunity for a compelling and storytelling approach to your proposition, and you can easily insert a thumbnail of the video inside the outbound email.
The same applies for messages in LinkedIn and direct messaging in Twitter where you have an opportunity to include visual material, whether that's a GIF, a cinegraph, or a video. And, generally speaking, the more informal and warm your copy that surrounds the visual material, the more effective the response rates will become. That's a general rule; it may not specifically apply in your precise circumstances. Some professional services and advisory firms often feel that a more formal tone is appropriate. Fear can drive a preference for formality, but it's understandable that many firms feel it's safer to adopt this approach.
What kind of video is most appropriate for prospecting?
There are two broad paths here. The first is towards a general opener; the kind of video content at the start of the article in the attracting moment. Ultimately, of course, your email is performing an 'attracting' function, so similar kinds of videos are appropriate (proposition films services explainers, tasters, and hero material, including teasers and snippets).
The second approach is to hone in on a particular topic, and produce content which either asserts thought-leadership or a strong opinion, and clear advice on that topic. This approach will probably give you a smaller response, but a higher desire level - the prospective customers whose bell you've just rung are more likely to be keen on a specific topic.
A good example of this could be in the wealth management field, to work towards the end of the tax year where prospective clients have been notified by their existing wealth management's partners of impending reports and analysis. The tax year itself may be front of mind amongst prospective buyers, and your wealth management proposition may be best expressed through the lens of a financial year, or taxation, or an annual review.
- Visual content: When emailing, sending a GIF, a cinegraph, or a video inside it or via a visual link, adds warmth, tone, and character to outreach messages
- Choice of video: discuss with your video agency whether a general opener or a topic-specific video will give you more ROI.
Already got this covered?
If you already have business videos and they're not generating response, there's much above that will help you improve their performance. But what would be even better than your current business videos?
- Cross-check all your business videos largely follow the above suggestions, or deviate for good reasons
- Ensure you've used on-site CTAs which match your buyer journey moments
- Ensure your social videos, articles and posts have off-site CTA's that match your buyer journey
- Check your business videos match the messaging your audience needs to hear
- Check viewing behaviours - if audiences aren't watching to the end, revise your video
What's at Risk here? A one-minute test
The risk of doing something wrong always hinders us as decision makers. And equally, the risk of doing nothing lurks behind that too. Both carry the risk of failure. So why not delay - deferring looks safer. Like a Whitehall mandarin. Is that the kind of decision maker you want to be? Thought not. So here's a helpful checklist for wise decision maker inside you that's aching to be heard.
The One-minute Decision Checklist
- Do buyers want to know what you're like?
- Do buyers want proof of your success?
- Should you provide buyers with the information they want?
- Do buyers want a sense of what will happen to them if they buy from you?
- Do buyers need to find you easily via search and social media?
- Do you need to be seen as relevant and modern?
- Goal setting: choose a video agency that can offer you all levels of interest
- Understanding: realise the full potential of videos, and implement into your project
- Strategy: choose your effective performance measures of your video
- Implement: choose an agency that can capture sentiment
- Achieve: use key moments to track response and increase audience capture
If the answer to any three of these is yes, you should almost certainly proceed with this. Or at least be questioning why you have so many no's.
By defining moments in a client's journey, you hugely increase their discovery of you and their connection with you, securing the prospect of future business:
The very process of considering what your video content should say will generate more ambitious thinking. This way, your marketing will have greater attention and conversion.
So, now you've considered using a Prospecting video in the buyer journey, you've moved closer to your goal. Time for a chat about success with video?