Software technology developers are fast waking up to the fact that:
> videos need planning far more than they previously thought
> up to an hour of runtime video may be required to cover everything you’ll need
This is a major task, and a major spend. So let’s take a closer look and see how it’s done.
Why you need a strategy and the problems/risks you face
While you’re probably full of evangelism for your new technology platform as it outperforms all existing and legacy systems, it’ll pay you to keep in mind that you’re asking an individual, a senior level executive, VP or CXO, to put their career on the line for you, at an age when they’ve got their own life security in the back of their minds.
It’s easier for a senior middle aged decision maker to say “no for now”, or “wait another 6 months, just to be sure” or demand some “impossible feature” as an excuse for backing out of the deal today. The problem is that you haven’t got 6 months to wait, as your backers & investors are expecting you to follow an agreed cash flow plan.
So while your technology platform may be flawless, your buyers aren’t. And this audience factor needs to be tailored into your video marketing plan.
What is a video strategy
A video strategy is a series of video modules – or high profile customer touch points – that are aimed at covering every shade and nuance of uncertainty your prospective clients may have, and resolving their issues – both personal, technical & professional – confidently & quickly through the medium of video.
Uncertainty needs to be resolved at every level in target client companies, ie,
> The CFO, who need reassurance as to the profitability and the speed of return on their investment, your ROI proposition.
> The CIO, as they are the one with their job on on the line, and needs to be certain your specification is as good as you say it is.
> The CEO, as a dip in profits due to a poor or patchy implementation means facing angry shareholders. Additionally, CEOs need to feel your package gives them more control over their organization – not less. In effect, they need to like your CEO Dashboard – preferably fall in love with it.
> The COO matters too as the Chief Operating Officer has the job of running the business at a practical day to day level, and the successful adoption of new workflows are central to this.
> The Middle Managers who probably discovered you in the first place, and now champion you with their bosses. Apart from resolving technical issues managers are often the easiest to overall convince as they’re eager for change. It’s their bosses who can be more difficult, though you often don’t get told this by eager champions.
Resolving uncertainties at all levels of management is how you’ll make sales, especially over long sales cycle times.
4 key elements to your software video strategy
1: Brand style: How your brand looks & feels is important whether you’re a business startup or an established brand fighting in a tightly competitive marketplace, as your brand tells the customer there’s more to your company than just a well specified package. Your brand is your sales edge when your tendering against competition. Your videos should intimately reflect your powerful-looking and appealing brand.
2: Visual language: This is more than brand or corporate style. It’s about the use of icons & graphics to explain what your offer. Well designed, animated icons explain a lot with just a little. They keep audiences interested, as they make you look more original than your competition. The main rule is to design icons flat, simple & immediate. Don’t make clever or pretty icons. Your storyboard should be richly illustrated with icons, so your video might almost work with the sound turned off.
3: The language & tone: High value software packages need to develop a language of their own, somewhere between corporate high seriousness and plain speech. If the tone of your video scripts is too “corporate high seriousness” you’ll alienate people with pomposity. But if your style is too “plain speech” then you might look a bit cheap & dodgy. The main thing is to know you’re making a video, and not giving a lecture. So keep a picture of the audience in your mind’s eye always. Imagine how you’d feel if someone spoke to you in the way your video speaks!
4: Feature /benefits as workflows: Customers aren’t buying software from you. They’re buying a new way of working that’ll take them through the next 10 years and beyond. What they need to see – besides obvious feature/benefit points – is a new way of working they feel they can live with – without tears. While you may think you’re selling brilliant software, they may think they’re buying a series of new & potentially disruptive workflows. This issue is often central to positive late stage sales cycle discussions.
In a practical sense, this means that when you show screenshots of your app, you should show enough detail to make people feel empowered, that they feel they can do it too. But don’t overdetail and start demonstrating, except in tutorials. Sell the workflow advantage at a high level, but not too high.
Paying attention to your brand, visual language, verbal language and workflows is what will give you the extra edge, by dissolving uncertainty, and instilling confidence at all levels of your clients’ buying cycle.
The 8 promotional videos that make your software strategy
The following is a list of videos that every software house needs to consider. You may not need them all, but you’ll definitely need some. And you can probably think of others too.
1: Intro teaser: This is the 60-90 second home page promo video trailer of your platform and what it delivers. It will grab the attention of new visitors and make them keen to explore your site. It should be designed work equally well for Facebook and social media.
2: A 3 minute deeper dive: Customers want to see more than a Teaser video. This 3 minute Explainer video is your main video, that you’ll show all customers. It can be longer if needs be. Customers who are thinking of adopting your platform, or similar, will watch as much as you can show them. If they like it, they’ll think about enquiring.
3: Major function videos: New technology platforms often embrace many different areas of a client’s organisation. You need to make a video explaining the detail of each of these areas, or major functions. You can also include special vertical market versions here as well, if vertical specialisation matters to you.
4: C-level video: This is a video dedicated to C-level buyers (CFO, CEO, CIO, COO, CXO etc), who are the people who’ll sign off your deal. You need to explain to each of these CXOs what’s in it for them. They’ll feel much more comfortable if you do.
5: Differentiator video: Late in the sales cycle, perhaps in your final tender presentation, you’ll need to put clear blue water between you and competitors, avoiding situations, eg, where the client thinks “you’re all the same so buy the cheapest”. A Differentiator video is quite an aggressive sales video, pulling no punches, spelling out loud & clear why you’re best, while subtly damning the competition with every sentence.
6: Case studies: Assuming no one believes quite what you tell them (even if they appear to do), you need to show case study example videos. At a stroke this will open doors for you, as clients believe other clients, and will definitely be interested in their stories. Typically this is an interview video with support graphics.
7: Trust video: When you can’t produce a case study video, a Trust video will do instead. This is a short video, maybe 60-90 seconds, quickly covering why you can be trusted, eg, your number of users & clients, your backers & investors, your technology & partners, your development history & background, and whatever else will make a middle aged, wary CXO trust you more than the other guy. Show images of “trustworthy” people in this video, and not just graphics.
8: Implementation video: The last stumbling block can be uncertainty that the implementation will work as well as you say, and that everyone will come happily on board with your solution. Anyone who’s been involved with a large data migration before will know how error-prone this process can be. An implementation video is a short graphic explainer video that shows all the steps to onboarding, putting customers minds at ease, that you’re competent & effective.
Takehome: To overcome uncertainty, you’ll need to plan for 30-60 minutes of runtime video, which is a big job for any platform developer.
A word about tutorial videos
Tutorials are often neglected, almost seen as a necessary support evil. And when you look around youtube at other firms’ software tutorials, you’ll quickly see how dull they are to watch, and how they’re not always that good at explaining. Some are positively demotivating as either hard to follow, don’t match real life workflow, or plain look cheap and tacky (inconsistent with your brand image).
Yet a series of good software tutorials can make the sale for you, especially when you show them to clients pre-sale. Publish them openly on your website to be really seen. Or if your platform is a secret, then offer tutorial video links to qualified prospects at the earliest opportunity.
The trick with tutorials is to make them match the client’s workflows. Don’t make a video of line-by-line menu descriptions. Instead show how daily tasks are accomplished in a quick easy manner. Show common workflows, which clients will relate to. You’ll win trust from this, as well as confound doubters.
Costs are – to a point – are anybody’s guess, as the level of video production available varies a great deal.
You can buy software video for as little as a Fiver on one site, while I know of one banking sector client who paid £40,000 for a single introductory video. I guess you pay your money and take your choice.
As a guide you can expect to pay £1,000 – £1,500 GBP per runtime minute for quality work, designed to impress at C level in a large organisation. If you’re not sure then take a look at some of your clients’ videos to get an idea of the video standard they expect.
Tutorials will cost a half this, maybe up to a quarter.
And to go the distance you’ll need 30-60 minutes of video, excluding tutorials.
With this in mind you can probably plan your video budget accordingly.
Quick tip: You’ll get a better contract price ordering, say, 6 videos at once, than by buying one video to “suck it and see” with a promise of more to come. All video production companies have stories where they’ve been taken in with “big video contract promises” before 🙂
Plan which videos you’ll need
Estimate a likely budget
Find a video production partner with specific skills in all the areas of the software videos you need
Allow at least 3 months to produce them.
Your software technology platform is a big deal to your clients. It needs a video strategy that proactively banishes uncertainty. Then you’ll win more.