Marketing & Sales Videos, Sales Enablement

Video >= Images + Stories

People don’t read. Isn’t that a terrible thing to say? As a blogger, it’s especially disturbing but I have to admit that people simply don’t read. Emails, websites, blogs, whitepapers, press releases, functional requirements, acceptance agreements, terms of service, creative commons…. no one reads them.

We’re busy – we just want to get to the answer and don’t want to waste time. We honestly don’t have time.

This week was a marathon week for me in writing some marketing material, answering emails, writing requirement documents for developers, and setting expectations with prospects on what we can deliver… but most of it has not been accurately consumed. I’m beginning to recognize how much more impactful images and stories are to the sales cycle, the development cycle and the implementation cycle.

It’s become evident that diagrams are necessary to create a physical imprint in peoples’ memory. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons why Common Craft is so successful with their videos.

This last month, we’ve spent day and night on a RFP where we answered dozens of questions about our product and its capabilities. We poured over the wording, built great diagrams and had several meetings with the company, both in person and via phone. We even distributed an interactive CD that was an overview of our business and services.

At the end of the process, we’re finding ourselves #2 in the running.

Why?

In all honesty, all of the voice conversations, marketing material and documentation we spent hours on still didn’t clarify a concise image to the client that we had the key feature that they required. We did… but in all the piles of documentation, meetings, messaging, etc., that message was lost.

It’s no irony that the company in the #1 position has had the opportunity to fully demonstrate (in an in-house lab) with the client on the deliverable. We were introduced into the process at a much later date and didn’t push for an in-house demonstration. We were confident that we had fully communicated the solutions they required.

We were wrong.

Feedback from the client was that our demonstration was too technical and lacked the meat of what the client required. I don’t disagree – we definitely targeted our entire presentation on the technical aspects of our system given that the company had a miserable failure with their previous vendor. We knew our application stood on its own, so we wanted to hit home on how our technology was the differentiation that they needed.

They didn’t know that.

Looking back on it, I think we probably could have dropped a ton of the calls, documentation and even the diagrams and simply put together a video of how the application worked and exceeded their expectations. I know I’m writing a lot about video lately on my blog – but I’m really becoming a believer on the medium.

7 Comments

  1. 1

    Doug,
    I talked to Mark about this today at Basketball, and the first thing I asked him was “did you draw pictures with the client?” In my experience, nothing brings business and technical discussions together better than a live “white board” discussion where you get all the linkages, systems, reasons, users, etc. out on the board in a live discussion with the customer. I agree with you that no one reads anything. If I write something, I like to read with with the customer word for word – so that demands that the documents be short.

    Sorry for the long comment, but you hit a hot button with me, and I got pulled into the conversation today…
    -scott

    • 2

      Hey Scott,

      Your conversation with Mark definitely encouraged this blog post and I agree with you. Given the volume of material we needed to push to this particular prospect in a short period, I even think going beyond images would have been necessary – perhaps a mix of images, recorded demonstrations and live demonstrations.

      We were definitely put at a disadvantage from the start – the other company already being embedded without our knowledge – but the fact that we have the better product would have stuck out much more had we left all of the participants with the vivid memory of our products’ better capabilities.

      Thanks for the inspiration!
      Doug

  2. 3

    Sorry to hear you didn’t make the sale. Your honesty is very much appreciated. It’s a humbling experience to be 2nd on something important. It sounds like you have hit the nail on the head with your insight on the video medium. If you think of a sales presentation as an educational experience for the customer, you will remember that people learn in different ways. Teachers know that some people process learning by listening, some people process learning by reading, some people process learning by doing. If you can provide a variety of learning experiences, you’ll reach your goals of educating. You can always have multiple presentations with different styles prepared in advance, and gauge your audience during the presentation. If they give you little clues like saying “I hear you, Doug”, or “I’m not seeing where whe’re going here”, you can gain a little insight into their learning style….. and then go in that direction. Good luck with the next presentation. And thanks for the cool little video on Blogs on the Commoncraft site! That was so fresh! And also thanks for the backlinks from a previous comment… I am placing your blog on my list of blogs with the no-nofollow on my site!

    • 4

      Thanks Penny! Your comment hits on something very important – that our goal was to educate the client. Had that been a classroom, our students would have flunked. We need to be better teachers!

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    There are two basic rules that any marketer should follow:

    Rule #1 (from journalism) — The average person has the reading level AND attention span of a 6th grader. Use short sentences and small words. The important information goes first, the less important goes last.

    Rule #2 (from marketing) — We are bombarded by more than 30,000 persuasive messages per day (this is more than just advertisements). To cut through the clutter, even for smarter people, you need to follow Rule #1.

    A good RFP is only a couple of pages and will only address that particular need the client has, not talk about the responding company, their process, or include lots and lots of materials. If you do, include them in an index, but only include the materials you absolutely must have.

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