The Beagle Research Short Tale Awards 2011
This report details the reasons for recognizing video as an important emerging marketing technology. This report includes citations for individual companies and their creative work.
Over the last decade the introduction of good, fast and inexpensive video creation software such as Final Cut, Flash, After Effects and Invigorator from companies like Apple, Adobe, Zaxwerks and many others has ushered in the era of corporate marketing video. Digital video filming equipment — when it is needed — has experienced a similar price decline and functionality improvement as digital devices continue sliding down the hardware commoditization curve. More than simply tools for creating glossy adjuncts to corporate reports, today’s video technology puts the means of creation and production into the hands of marketers for day-to-day communications chores and raises the bar on what business-to-business marketing communications and content creation can be.
This evolution takes on the same significance, in our opinion, as the invention of movable type. Certainly this analogy has been used before and many would say it is tired — seemingly every time a new technology supersedes a predecessor the analogy with movable type is trotted out. But more than a simple analogy, movable type provides a good metaphor for video’s potential in the modern business world. Movable type, and the printing press, enabled a proliferation of information and a profusion sharing. It reduced the time to reproduce massive amounts of information and made information consumable for anyone with an education — a tall order in the late Middle Ages but a harbinger, nonetheless, of a more robust economic future.
Video technologies (and there are many) enable the same kind of proliferation and profusion of information and knowledge by making it more consumable. Today there is no shortage of information, just the opposite. In business, there is so much information — mostly in written form about products and processes — that individuals have a hard time keeping up with what they need to read for their jobs. Moreover, reading is an activity that requires a good deal of psychic input and with wandering attention spans and varying ability to process the input, much of the information hopefully contained in business documentation today is quickly forgotten if it is ever comprehended in the first place.
With the advent of the Internet, passing on a link to an information source has become the substitute for passing on reading material. A simple email can do the work of many pages of photocopies. Video is a superior method of communicating content in this era. Unlike a cryptic slide deck full of inscrutable graphics and bullet points, video is informationally complete. Video does not have to be actively read, it “reads itself” making it a more accessible medium. It culminates in Marshal McLuhan’s famous aphorism, “The medium is the message.”
Today, video in business represents a good value for money for many reasons. Video is economical, once it is made there is virtually no cost for distribution or long-term storage on the Internet. It is also persistent, it remains available and distributable so long as a search engine can find it or a company posts a link on its site. This year’s grand prize winner, Salesforce.com, even published a video that quantifies its video library’s impact on sales and it is significant (see below).
Purpose of the award
We at Beagle Research believe that video may be the most important new area for the front office — for delivering content, communicating knowledge and for lowering costs of common front office business processes. Appropriately, we think shining a light on this new technology and approach to the world deserves whatever encouragement we can provide in the form of this award.
In our citations, we offer our reasons to consider the importance of video technology as it begins to invade the corporate marketing and communications scheme. Beagle Research has suggested for the last two years that an escalation in the cost of transportation fuels (gasoline, diesel and jet fuel) will make business travel more expensive and that reducing this expense will be critical to corporate health in the years ahead. Our research has already shown the how important Sales 2.0 approaches — using hybrid Web and phone-based strategies — are and video is a logical adjunct to these strategies.
Also, as globalization accelerates, many vendors find themselves competing in a greatly expanded marketplace where it is not always possible to understand and communicate effectively through conventional channels. Advances in social media and analytics deliver huge amounts of information to marketers and others. In return, corporations must be able to respond quickly with specific, low cost and easily understood messages and we find video to be a very good pairing with socially based approaches.
In this context, the Beagle Research Short Tale Award is both an encouragement to future progress and adoption and a form of recognition to those intrepid early adopters — marketers and companies — that have taken leadership positions in advancing video’s use.
Video styles judging criteria
Because video is just beginning to enter the mix of tools that companies can use to communicate with their customers there are few rules, few tried and true ways to “do” video in this context. The assortment of videos receiving this year’s award is as diverse as the styles of film available in the commercial market. They range in style from animation to documentaries with customers, employees and actors. There are even thirty-second testimonials that could almost double as contemporary commercials.
We have tried to develop judging categories that reflect the diversity of styles available in the marketplace today and we welcome input from the public and especially from practitioners.
The videos considered had to comply with the following requirements. All were produced and used during 2010 and no video could run longer than six minutes. Subject matter was broadly limited to front office activities including sales, marketing, service or support and education.
Beagle Short Tale Award Winners
Grand Prize for Strategic Use of Video — Salesforce.com
Over several years Salesforce.com has developed a catalog of short videos that, as of this writing, contains over 1,500 titles on all subjects relevant to the company’s sales, products, services, strategy and market outlook. In 2010 Salesforce released a short video that details its use of video technology and offers support for employees, partners and others who want to develop their own videos. The piece also offers some compelling data on the company’s success with the medium. Perhaps the most intriguing data is this: As of this writing, Salesforce receives over 7,500 hits on its video library daily. The company estimates that with an average viewing time of two minutes, the video library is doing the work of 46 “hyper effective” inside sales people. This points out the value of video as a medium for communicating high value content and shows why video’s persistence and stickiness will make it one of the go-to technologies of the future.
Best Use of an Animated Character — Sage North America
Sage North America developed a spokesperson character, Napkin Mike, literally a figure drawn on a napkin, to represent its Sage ACT! contact manager product. Mike appears in a series of sales and educational videos designed to show off the newest features of the product as well as to teach users how to use them. Sage has done highly creative work developing inexpensive but effective characters to represent its products and Mike may be their best.
Best Story Telling and
Best Video with an Educational Theme and
Best Animation — Eloqua
This video gets a lot done in 3:41 tracing a revolution in business ideas from the agricultural age to the industrial age to the information age. The video compares earlier business improvement ideas such as total quality management, with the next big idea — revenue performance management (RPM) based analysis of marketing and sales investments. Two-thirds of the video is used to set up the a description of Eloqua’s Revenue Performance Management in which companies use Eloqua’s technologies and approaches to better manage sales and marketing and thus drive more predictable revenue. Meanwhile the animation is a continuous stream of clear and relevant visuals punctuated by consistently enlightening and interesting information.
Best Video Using People and
Best Series (multiple videos on same subject) — NetSuite
Many other companies have borrowed the Mac vs. PC format with varied success. NetSuite’s variation uses different actors in each video to better portray particular competitors. So, for example, they use an actor with a German accent when portraying SAP and a different actor with an upper mid-west dialect to portray Great Plains. The series works because it is well written and because none of the people over-act so that, despite the changes in personnel from scene to scene, the dry wit of the original Apple spots comes through enabling NetSuite to gently skewer its competition.
Best Customer Testimonial and
Best Video Under One Minute — Zuora
Various customer testimonials (Ning, Xactly, Marketo, InsideView, Codesion, Quova, AppBuddy).
Zuora shot a group of customers individually giving testimonials over the course of a single day. The shots run about thirty seconds each and they are well produced. The speakers know what they are going to say and there are no annoying pauses. The customers exude energy in a natural way that makes you want to believe their endorsements. The shots are consistent and well executed. This series shows that video need not be long or expensive to produce to achieve good results.
Best Marketing Video — SAS
Founder and CEO, James Goodnight acts as his own pitchman discussing what makes his company and products best for helping customers with BI needs. Goodnight’s comments are supplemented by additional footage to elaborate a point. This is an effective video that combines the company’s history of success with major companies and its customer orientation stressing the importance of customer satisfaction. This video shows why CEOs are often the most effective spokes people when it comes to conveying genuine customer focus.
Best Sales Video — RightNow
This may be the hardest category to judge since all videos ultimately help (or hurt) the sales process. Using an animated drawing approach, this video describes the single most important issue for RightNow and its customers, the customer experience (CX). It’s a clean and short implementation of hurt and rescue — expose a difficult truth the customer is wrestling with (the hurt) and rescue them with your product. Nicely done.
Best Customer Service Video — Salesforce.com
This video presents a clear description of how to use Salesforce’s Service Cloud application in a simple customer service setting. Using animation to describe the business process of a customer calling in and receiving agent support, it provides a clear understanding of the steps needed to achieve a result. Salesforce built a series of these videos highlighting different aspects of its products. In this way, each lesson remains short (this was just over four minutes), easily consumable and memorable.
Best Video Made from Graphics — Microsoft
This is a good example of animated stills with music but no narration. The text intensive and narrator-less presentation draws the viewer in to the video and by making the viewer do some of the work, promotes engagement. The pace is just right — neither too fast to prevent the viewer from reading when necessary nor slow enough to enable your mind to wander. This is another good example of why video no longer means lights, cameras etc.
Best Video Explaining a New Concept — Salesforce.com
Salesforce’s Chatter social CRM application is the first of its kind integrated with CRM by a CRM vendor. The metaphor is decidedly Facebook, which should be easy enough to understand. But when Chatter was first introduced it was not immediately apparent how Facebook could be so deeply implanted into CRM so there was opportunity and need for the company to describe in detail what its social application does. Salesforce does a good job of defining the business processes that Chatter helps through animation and narration. As the title states this video does double duty as both overview and demo, blurring the traditional lines between pre- and post-sales environments. We expect video will take on this dual role with regularity in the future.
Best Production — Jess3
Jess3, a creative agency, developed several of the videos in this study including Eloqua’s “Future of Revenue,” it’s own “State of the Internet,” (http://vimeo.com/9641036) and Salesforce.com’s “State of Cloud Computing” (http://www.thestateofcloudcomputing.com/). Each of these videos is unique but the production values are consistently high throughout the work. Graphics and animation are crisp, information is well researched and arranged and presented in easily consumed bits. While this award focuses on the efforts of vendors in the front office space, we acknowledge that outside firms are integral to the success of video and we salute Jess3 for its high production standards.