Why Technology Businesses Are Failing At Video

What is it about tech companies? They employ some of the brightest minds on the planet and spend countless hours and squillions of dollars developing their products. Yet so often when they bring them to the market, they fail to promote them successfully.

Some of the biggest flops come with their video marketing. This is a huge mistake, especially since 75% of business executives now watch work-related videos at least weekly (Hubspot).

Smaller companies may be able to blame their failures on a lack of budget, though we are not sure this excuses this bewildering video by Putty Apps. It seems to require an ability to speed read while being distracted by grating music and flying graphics.

A lack of budget can’t explain away this shocker from Microsoft for Cortana featuring British electronic group Clean Bandit. It’s so awkward we can only assume the band decided to sell their soul, lay back and think of the money.

(Microsoft Cortana – Clean Bandit Brit Awards)

Tech companies are by definition forward-thinking and willing to embrace new ideas, so they should be ideal clients. Whether they are or not depends largely on the battle we see played out time and again between their c-suite executives and techies. Each has a different view of the product and how it should be promoted.

For techies, it’s all about the product. They want to put across exactly what it does and how it does it, though funnily enough they can be anxious about over promising what it can deliver. By contrast, the c-suite execs are only interested in how a video can help them sell more of the product.

The result of this conflict is that tech companies often fall into the same traps when making videos for their product. Here are five of the worst:

1. They sell features over benefits

We are lucky enough to live in a technologically accelerated world with dizzying advances being made seemingly every day. Consumers are only interested in new tech though if it has real world relevance. The questions running through their mind are always the same. Why should I care about this product? How does it improve my life? It’s the ability to answer these questions that makes a video effective.

For me, the defining video that does this is the iPod 1000 Songs in Your Pocket advert. I’m sure the technical people at Apple would love to have been given the chance to explain all the iPod’s features and how clever it was. Instead, the video shows an endless array of album covers being squeezed into a tiny machine, the iPod. It signs off with a single benefit – ‘1000 songs in your pocket’. Brilliant.

(Apple’s iPod 1000 Songs In Your Pocket)

2. They use inaccessible technical jargon

Every industry has its own shorthand vocabulary and the tech industry is no exception.

‘In the wild’, anyone? How about ‘sticky’, ‘apportunity’ or ‘growth hacking’? They may be everyday words and phrases you use as second nature but they are probably meaningless to your audience. Nothing alienates viewers quicker than the feeling they are excluded from the gang and aren’t in with the cool kids.

3. Their videos are dry and lack personality

This is usually for one of two reasons. One, the company wants to tell you technical details about the product. The video becomes about the product rather than what it does for the customer.

The second is that the company has tried to add personality but has failed because the video is badly made. We would put this video for Synaptop firmly in this category. It tries to be fun and quirky but the script is so lame and the acting so appalling it comes across like a school project. As Jonathan Sand said in a YouTube comment under the video: “It makes me want to stab myself with a lamp.” Quite.

4. They forget their audience is human

This is a big issue in B2B videos, as we highlighted in our blog, Emotion. The Crucial Element Of Your B2B Video. Just like consumers, business people make purchasing decisions based on how something makes them feel not on hard evidence (despite what they tell you).

Salesforce is one company that has figured this out. Its Welcome to the Age of the Customer video uses powerful imagery and an upbeat narrative that makes the customer the hero rather than the product. It is also a beautifully produced video with high production values that entice you to keep watching.

(Salesforce – Welcome to The Age of The Customer)

5. They play it safe

Despite being naturally innovative, tech companies can be cautious when they go outside their comfort zone. They are usually content to do more or less what the competition is doing (although hopefully slightly better) rather than leave them trailing in their rear view mirror.

We encourage tech businesses to embrace their creativity. They should consider positioning content in interesting spaces such as in apps or real world locations. The Internet of Things is opening up all sorts of new possibilities here, such as Savortex putting videos on hand dryers in public restrooms.

Video offers incredible opportunities for tech companies. Element 26’s Product 100 videos are ideal for ones who want to promote their products effectively and do them the justice they deserve. Please call us to discuss.


About the Author

Nathan Haines

Nathan is the managing director of Element 26 and an expert in video production and video marketing. Nathan enjoys supporting companies to grow their businesses using video. Get in touch on Twitter @element26uk

Like what you've seen? Get started with video today.