Summit 2018: Through the Video Lens
This past week, the always-impressive research and consulting team from TOPO took center stage in San Francisco at the annual TOPO Summit. A two-day affair filled with exceptional content and interesting perspectives, it brought to light some seismic shifts that are occurring in how we approach B2B marketing and why there’s never been a better time to be in sales. What do the latest trends in B2B marketing and sales tell us about the future of video? Let’s rewind and replay what we saw at TOPO Summit through the video lens.
We are in the Golden Age of Revenue
Can it be true? It was a bold statement to kick off the event, but a sentiment that we all needed to hear. While the B2B world gets more complex and competitive, the tools we have at our disposal to build high-performance businesses are nothing short of incredible. They open up radical opportunities for how we go to market, but what is critical at this time is how we choose to embrace these tools as agents of revenue and efficient growth.
The key is to use these tools in a way that enables your people – your marketers and sellers – to do what humans do exceptionally well. To connect, engage, empathize and relate to customers in ways that win their hearts and minds. We’re in the golden age of revenue not because “the bots” will take over and automate your sales funnel, but because they will free up your most valuable assets to get back to truly marketing and selling, and to do it at massive scale while preserving the personal touch.
Enter automation for handling common tasks, A.I. for better decision-making, machine learning for continuous optimization, social tools and chatbots for conversational marketing, and video for personalized last-mile communications. That’s the new revenue stack that we should all be excited about.
Marketing Gets Turned Inside Out
The TOPO team made it crystal clear that B2B marketing is getting turned inside out. The old world of lead generation where we over-rotated on forms and gates to “get to know” our prospects is transforming into conversational marketing. Clicks and likes are metrics of the past, being replaced by measures of engagement and intent. And static, text-based content is being superseded by interactive content, visual experiences and video-based storytelling.
I think of this as an inversion of the traditional value exchange with buyers. The old way of marketing was to ask them for something of value first (like their name, email, next of kin) and to then reciprocate with valuable content like eBooks and product demonstrations. In the new world, the value exchange is flipped – we need to offer value to our audiences first before we ask them for something in return. If we don’t, we lose them to someone else that will. In this new paradigm, video content is a premium currency. We need to stop worrying about how to get people’s names and focus on how to deliver them exceptional value that connects both rationally and emotionally. Something that video is particularly good at.
A Dire Prediction for Sales
Automation and A.I. will put nearly every sales rep out of a job in 5 years. Please don’t tweet that. This prediction was actually made by other, unnamed sources several years ago and it’s most certainly not going to come true. In fact, the TOPO analysts are bullish on the opposite viewpoint stating in no uncertain terms that there’s no better time to be a sales person. And I whole-heartedly support this sentiment, at least as it relates to sales reps that are open to embracing technology to help them succeed.
The core message for B2B sales teams was that technology is now at a point where it’s helping us automate routine tasks and to enhance our uniquely human sales skills. It’s about helping us identify the right buyers to connect with and to deliver the most relevant and timely message (or ‘story’, but I’ll get to that next). And at a time when we’ve oversaturated audiences with templated, impersonal text-based content, using video as a medium to deliver that message seems like a no-brainer.
This is exactly why our team at Vidyard is putting so much effort into our GoVideo product, making it simple for sales reps to deliver a powerful, stand-out message via video with the click of a button.
Storytelling is the New Messaging
A third major trend that TOPO called out was the continued movement towards storytelling as a way of engaging buyers. Given the previous two topics, this should come as no surprise. Their advice was to move away from “product sheets” and “the demo” as the primary ways of communicating value to prospects. Instead, move to a storytelling approach that centers around use-cases and customer stories – one that follows the traditional formula of a protagonist, challenges, solution and payoff.
Weave in personal and human elements to make it more relatable to the individuals evaluating your solution. Use real people, real customers and real employees to bring your stories to life in genuine and authentic ways. And this doesn’t just pertain to your website, it needs to underpin how you approach the entire customer journey. Storytelling can manifest itself in many different ways and content mediums, but you can bet that video will have an immense role to play.
Putting it All in Focus
It’s both inspiring and intimidating to see how significantly B2B marketing and sales are changing, and how quickly the pace of change truly is. But as many things change, one thing will remain constant: that your greatest asset is your people. The real power in marketing and sales technology lies in its ability to help your people be the best version of themselves. To focus their time on being creative, personal, relevant and empathetic. Video, among other key tools and technologies, will thrive in this next era as we make business personal again.
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