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The easy way to make your B2B video ads more engaging and human

Want to make a more engaging marketing video? Follow two simple rules:

  1. Don’t base your ad in your own workplace (office, factory, warehouse, etc.)
  2. Put your customers (either real or actors) in the spot.

Yeah, it really is that simple. However, it’s easier said than done. Let’s break each element down.

Rule 1: Don’t base your ad in your workplace

The #1 common element I see in most boring “corporate” videos is that they are based and filmed in the company’s workplace. That could be an office conference room, the warehouse, a shop floor or a retail store. (And yes, stock footage of people walking through server racks counts as your workplace.)

This is usually done for convenience and/or to save money.

“Well, we need the ad next Monday and we don’t have any money for a location, let’s just shoot in our conference room.”

Heard it a million times.

But what’s the subliminal message when you base everything in your place of work? It tends to be: We are the most important thing about this ad, not the customer.

Let’s say you sell enterprise project management software. Does your customer care more about your office or theirs?

“But we’re just interviewing our CEO about the new cloud initiative!” you say?

The rule still applies. Get out of your workplace. Instead of interviewing the CEO in a boardroom, how about that nice park outside? Or what about renting a fun space from Peerspace or Giggster and shooting there? Or how about shooting in an environment that looks like your typical client’s workplace? Also, is interviewing your CEO the best way to market a new product anyway?

When you take the video out of your workplace, you instantaneously make your spot more relatable because you’re not in your workplace.

Also, unless you’re Google, odds are your workplace is full of grey and neutral tones. By getting out of the workplace, you’re going to get visually appealing colors and shapes in your environment that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

This rule doesn’t apply for recruiting ads and any time your workplace was critical to the story. For example, if your warehouse is open 24/7 to make sure customers get their orders on time, then showing the warehouse is showing the customer a true benefit of your services. Other than these exceptions, stop filming in your workplace.

Rule 2: Put your customers in your spot

When you are forced to put your customers (either real or actors) in your ad, it forces an essential shift: seeing things from their perspective. And isn’t that the point of advertising? Relating to your audience: your customer.

We see this rule violated all of the time...

If a brand is marketing their cloud computing services, they’ll typically show infographics and motion graphics illustrating how it works. And if they show people, it’s stock footage of folks looking and pointing at server racks (also violates the first rule).

If the company sells financial solutions, they’ll show their people talking to each other in a conference room (yep, also violates the first rule).

And on and on.

By using either real customers or actors portraying your customer, you’ll need to give them something to do. And that thing to do will probably be to show how they use your product or service and how it benefits them.

Let’s turn those two examples above into better spots by applying the two rules:

The ad for the cloud computing services brand features a pharmaceutical research division using the environment to run simulations on drug reactions, which helps them get a new product to market faster.

The financial solutions spot takes place on a boat at sunset. A high net-worth individual uses the company’s portal to approve a recommendation for a trade from the advisor, all without sacrificing his lifestyle.

See how simple that was?

Constraints power creativity

By forcing ourselves to get out of our workplace and to use our customers, we developed two pretty unique spots with visually appealing settings and memorable scenarios.

They’re memorable because they are more relatable to your actual customer. Think of it from their point of view. They have just watched five videos in a row from your competitors all taking place in office hallways or factories... and then your ad comes up and shows them. Or simply shows a different background - with different colors. You stick out because you contrast with everyone else, not conform.

So the next time you find yourself settling for another interview in a conference room, think about these simple tips: Don’t base your ad in your own workplace (office, factory, warehouse, etc.) and put your customers (either real or actors) in the spot.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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