• Video and the Channel: Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate

    Pre-recorded, web-based video communications are all the rage these days in the channel. In fact, I would argue that the channel is one of the hottest and best places for use of video. It’s quickly overtaking MS Office documents and PDFs as the best way to communicate.

    So why is video so hot in the channel? Most of the reasons are pretty straightforward…

    1. By mixing voice and visual, video can tell a very rich, memorable story that really makes a message sink in.
    2. Let’s face it: people working in the channel are BUSY, from channel marketing managers and CAMs to VARs and execs. Everyone in the channel is suffering from a little ADD to varying degrees these days and short videos are more likely to be viewed than pages of text.
    3. As opposed to scheduled presentations, videos can be posted online and viewed on-demand, when it works for the viewer.
    4. Video allows us to add a personal touch to our communications that a PDF can’t, and thus help partners feel more of a connection with a vendor’s team.
    5. Video communications tend to scale better than documents, enabling a small channel team to connect with hundreds or thousands of resellers by posting on places like YouTube. And they are more likely to get shared virally among partners and team members, also increasing your reach.

    Here are some examples of where we’re seeing heavy and effective use of video in the channel:

    Training – Forcing partners to fly to a central location for product training is a lot to ask in today’s economic climate. Video gives your training team the ability to scale and makes you easier to partner with. Want your partners to take advantage of everything you offer? Summing it up succinctly in a video makes it more likely that partners will “get it.”

    News – Modern video blogging tools enable anyone in your channel organization to quickly and easily announce a new product, feature enhancement, or new incentive program.

    Customer-facing sales tools – Sales videos for your resellers and distributors serve a dual purpose: they deliver a message to end-customers that is complete and undiluted by the varying expertise of your partners, AND in the process of being shared, they help train partners on how to talk about your products.

    But even with all the benefits, there are some potential limitations and risks:

    1. Sometimes videos can be expensive and time consuming to produce, depending on your expertise and corporate policies.
    2. When it comes to actual end-customer contact, the best one-way presentation cannot replace a needs-oriented, exploratory conversation with a real person.
    3. The viral nature of web-based videos means that some videos can end up in front of the wrong audience if you’re not careful. So it’s important to make sure you can control who sees them and how they will be shared by viewers.

    Here’s a very simplified rundown of video production options – spanning from a Hollywood budget to cranking it out in your cube:

    In-house studios – Many top companies have great in-house facilities for recording video. In a prior career, I was lucky to take advantage of AT&T’s great in-house video team and studios in Atlanta and Los Angeles.

    Video production firms – there are thousands of them around the country… just do a Google search. But be sure to do your homework and talk to a few firms to get the best price and quality.

    Do-it-yourself options – This is a much more viable option today with the amazing advances in video editing tools over the last five years. Brainshark offers a great cloud platform that lets literally anyone on your team create a nicely produced video themselves and share it with your channel. The Camtasia desktop solution just keeps getting better every year, and video blogging tools like Microsoft’s Windows Live Essentials and Apple iLife are powerful, easy, and dirt cheap.

    Happy recording!

    Chris Becwar is the Director of Marketing and Strategic Alliances for CCI.  His experience spans leadership roles in product, marketing, channel, and alliances, and as a veteran of both start-up and large enterprise environments, Chris brings in-depth knowledge of successful global channel engagement in the B2B and B2C arenas.  To view all CCI blogs, visit the company’s Channel Champions Blog Site.

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