By Steve Wheen, Founder & CEO, distillery
With customers typically going through 70 – 90% of their purchase journey before contacting the vendor, customer advocacy videos are a really powerful way of influencing the decision making process before conversations start.
Unfortunately, in B2B marketing, too many videos are boring, too technical, in dull formats and simply not engaging or persuasive. They lack the humanity of business and the human stories behind the businesses.With a very affordable investment and insightful surfacing ofauthentic, meaningful storytelling and strategy,companies can really drive positive results with customer videos.
Put simply, advocacy is about getting customers to share their positive experiencesof abrand, its products and services. The content then becomes both the fuel and the catalyst for customer marketing – pushing potential customers down the marketing funnel – and the feeder and amplifier for broader activities across marketing, sales and PR.
Marketing effectiveness is increased by around 54% when advocacy is employed (Social Toast) and is now an essential strategy for many businesses – Gartner discovered that 75% of B2B buyers consult three or more sources of advocacy before they make a purchase decision.
There are many different approaches that can be used within customer advocacy programmes to harness the voice and experience of your customers: quotes, references, social sharing, case studies, product reviews, referrals, and speaking engagements. But, I believe there is nothing more powerful in this space than great video.
Video has the power to go beyond other advocacy formats. Yes, you are conveying positive information about the business, but far more than that you are telling human stories.Storytelling is the critical part of advocacy marketing. People are hard-wired to love stories, stories are memorable, stories start conversations, and stories build trust and credibility. A human story builds relatability and relevancy, and hearing a story froma realcustomer substantiates the brand and the product benefits.
And with video, you have the power of audio visual storytelling: immersion in the story, a deeper understanding, and the psychology of seeing is believing. Video is close to marketing’s highly prized word-of-mouth, but offers far greater scale. And when people are willing to put their face and testimony to a brand it really says a lot.
In order to leverage the power of customer advocacy, companies need to adopt a consumer-centric approach – ideally across the whole business, but certainly in sales and marketing. A customer advocacy program only works if it has genuine customer empathy at its core. There must be a clear understanding of customer problems and the desire to solve them.
Building out from a deep understanding of customer needs, you need to find clear insights into the different types of customers you are currently selling to and looking to attract. The needs of a CEO are very different from say a CTO, and outside of C-suite the experiences and perceived benefits will also vary – for the same product or service that is touching all of their daily lives.
Careful thought must be given to the advocates you are recruiting and the types of stories they are telling. And how you recruit and identify advocates requires just as much thought and investment. You might be doing this through CRM-related incentives and competitions, working closely with the sales team, or working with your content studio to identify success stories and storytellers. Whichever route you are taking, identifying the right people who can tell stories in the most impactful way is fundamental to video-based customer advocacy.
And with your advocates in place, there is a whole world of opportunity in terms of the types and formats of video that you produce. Powerful pieces to camera; multiple voices filmed in different locations; short documentary style; high production cases with b-roll, graphics, VR – there are many different creative possibilities.
In order to get the most from customer advocacy videos, we have identified five key areas of focus that take you from brief to production:
- Identify the key message(s) that needs to be conveyed and then work out the best way to do this
- Search for the human story to bring the message to life. Focus on human impact and audience relevancy. Carefully identify and approach your storytellers.
- Really listen to the advocates experiencesto bring out the elements of the storytelling that authentically support the key message(s)
- Tailor the script and craft the execution. Remember that simple stories are the most powerful – don’t overload it!
- Keep listening to those involved and watchand focus on what’s working so you can adapt and fine tune for positive impact.
In essence, it’s about making a video that is truly authentic and accessible. You can’t force people to tell stories or embellish their narratives. And while you may be talking to an expert audience, you are still telling human stories, so avoid jargon andkeep statistics to a minimum.
For companies that invest in customer advocacy marketing and bring this to life through videos, the benefits are significant. You can drive retention and loyalty; scale-up product feedback and development; boost referrals, create upselling opportunities, and shorten sales cycles. But, ultimately with customer advocacy you will be able to use powerful, human stories to drive business growth.