I have been writing a lot lately about the use of video in front-office business processes. In a world gone crazy with all things social, you might think that odd, and maybe it is. But in any healthy market, there are always multiple currents, and what good would it do if everyone covered the same thing? My friends do a good job of covering social, and I keep my hand in, but video has really caught my interest.
In the last few weeks, we announced the “Beagle Short Tale Award” for video excellence in the front office. It was a fun project because we got to screen some very good work. But, you might ask, why is video so important?
The answer can be traced to the grand prize winner in our report, Salesforce.com. In “How to Use Video for B2B Marketing,” the company does something that’s usually very hard to do with a new concept. It quantifies the return on a new way of doing things -- using video as a content delivery mechanism. The video in question is a primer on some of the more salient aspects of integrating video into front-office customer communication.
According to the work, Salesforce now has a video library in excess of 1,500 titles, and the library is generating more than 7,500 hits per day. These are old numbers already; Salesforce adds to the total almost daily, and the hits keep increasing. By their simple calculation (hits times duration) the video library is equivalent to the efforts of more than 46 full-time telephone salespeople. That’s significant.
According to Anneke Seley, co-author of Sales 2.0, many organizations are moving toward hybrid sales approaches involving field and telephone salespeople. The reason for this is pure economics: Sending people into the field is expensive, so before you do that, you have to develop a higher degree of confidence that the effort and expense are worthwhile. Video is a great medium for delivering your core messaging, which effectively qualifies your prospects and helps justify the sojourn into the field.
Of course, we need to be aware of video production costs. If production costs are high and hit rates are low, the effect is simply to move overhead from one pocket to another and risk a decline in the sales effort. But our experience in judging video -- and in creating it -- shows that costs can be in line with other marketing campaign efforts. If you are interested, Jamie Grenney, vice president of social media and online video at Salesforce offers some additional ideas in this interview.
Most of the videos we reviewed for the award did not involve some of the most expensive aspects of production -- the lights, camera, action approach can drain any budget, and it is unnecessary. Today, high-quality development and editing tools can enable someone at a desktop computer to tell a good story using stills, animation, screen shots and, perhaps, a customer making a testimonial, all on a small budget.
The power of video is that it is persistent and sticky. It persists on the Internet for free, immediately available whenever a prospective customer needs information. It is sticky because it can be passed virally from one viewer to another around an organization or through social networking.
In the research that we did for the Short Tale Award we uncovered excellent video from all kinds of front-office vendors from established companies like Microsoft, Salesforce, SAS, Sage and others to emerging companies that include Eloqua, Zuora and NetSuite.
They’ve proven the validity of the concept quite conclusively, and I expect that they and others will now accelerate their investments in and use of video in sales, marketing, service and education. Others will follow suit -- who doesn’t want 46 additional hyperefficient and free salespeople?