Just before the first big tech bubble burst in the early 2000s, my co-founder, Bill Wittenberg of Humongous Media, started a different business, one that had an unintended side-effect: whenever he described his new enterprise, it made everybody laugh. To be fair, sometimes they’d frown. Or shake their head. Or kick him out of their office.

“Seriously,” he’d say to stone-faced bankers and dubious retailers as the door swung shut behind him: “People will want to watch video on the Internet! I swear, they’ll even buy things on the Internet. It’s going to happen!”

Just 15 years later – and after my partner sold his business to Yahoo for more than $150 million — any B2B marketer knows that marketing without video is like milk without chocolate. Consider the lowly email. As a digital vehicle, B2B marketers throw a party when the engagement needle rises 5%. But according to Forrester Research, adding a video to an email marketing campaign lifts click-through rates 200-300%.

Or the humble tweet – yes, it can be 140 characters of crushing, Kardashianesque meringue. But it can also move a ton of product, if there’s video involved. In a recent Amazon @deals promotion, one electronics manufacturer added a video to their previously text-only tweet, and unit sales of the promoted product shot up 297%. In three days.

In fact, here’s what’s new: strategically speaking, whether it’s B2C promotion or B2B outreach, video has become the great marketing lever-arm — the preferred medium of consumption for all consumers, whether you’re buying a bar of soap for your kids, or software-as-a-service for your 100,000 employees. According to Forbes Magazine, after viewing a video, 65% of executives visit a marketer’s website, and almost 40% call a vendor.

So if the value of video is so clear to so many, why do some marketers still resist creating it? Simple: video can be hard to make. It can be time-consuming to develop. It can be really expensive. And that’s before you hire your ad agency. But after making over 3000 eCommerce, employee-training, change-management, and B2B education videos for marketers as diverse as Laddawn Packaging and Comcast Communications, I’ve learned a number of cool, even vital rules that I’ll share with you so you can maximize the chances of your video success.

1. Just because it’s Amazon doesn’t mean it’s Amazon

While many B2B marketers imagine that they’ll only reach their customers through effective CRM management or travel-heavy sales campaigns, they don’t realize that lots of B2B sales are made…on Amazon. Yes, just as thousands of general contractors now regularly drive to the B2C retail giant Home Depot to pick up needed business tools and supplies (hello big box, goodbye Fred’s Plumbing Supply), Amazon now sells directly to businesses. So what does that have to do with video? It turns out Amazon’s search engine has begun to weigh marketers’ product Detail pages more heavily if the page has a video on it. In other words, if your business customer’s search terms call for your page, and you don’t offer them something to watch, you could find yourself on page 9 (or 30) of the search results.

Conclusion: lots of your enterprise-sized B2B customers go to traditional, B2C eCommerce channels, social media timelines, and custom-content news sites, and when they get there, they want to watch a video.

2. Tone matters

One of the most important variables in the marketing equation is ‘tone.’ Specifically, most customers believe a company is telling the truth when it makes marketing claims. But the closer you get to the point of purchase, the less a customer wants to hear your sales message. They just want a little help. They want to understand what your offering. Remember: business customers come to eCommerce sites or a company’s product site because of effective marketing. They just don’t want to see more marketing when they get there. So if they want a video but they don’t want you to market to them, what do you say in the video? Facts, expressed quickly. B2B customers crave good information, in under 1 minute. They don’t want more claims. They want a video that offers proof. The key: gradually shift your tone from ‘sell’ to ‘tell’ the closer you (and your customer) gets to the point of sale.

3. Time matters

Time is of the essence. Why? Surprise: most B2B customers… are at work. They don’t believe they have even one extra minute. Video marketing has to be brief. Fact: by 1 minute and 20 seconds into your marketing video, you’ll have lost about 80% of your audience. By 1 minute and 40 seconds, you’ll have lost 90% of them. If you do create a marketing video, here is what we always tell our customers: “Brevity is the soul of commerce.” If you keep your video under 1:00, you’re more likely to get your entire message to your viewer. Be bold, be brave, and be brief – remove all but the most important marketing points, and you’ll keep your customer around for the sale.

4. Technique matters

OK, so you know you have to be quick about it, but how quick? Very: there are 3 critical video-abandonment points where customers are more likely to leave your otherwise excellent marketing video – at 0:03 seconds, 0:09 seconds and at 0:59 seconds. So what do you do to keep them with you, and watching? Offer them something – a product benefit, a surprise, a fact – at those key moments.

5. Buying is a journey, not an act

There are powerful, proven, repeatable techniques – some expressed above – that almost always guide a company’s customers to a purchase decision. But almost no customer goes from interest to purchase in a single moment. So any video marketing you create has to reflect where in the sales funnel your video will be seen. Will your message be consumed at the top of the sales funnel? Have fun. Sell key benefits. Attract interest. Salve customer pain points. But above all, keep it short (around 15 seconds). As your customer works their way closer to you and farther down the sales funnel, take a little more time – maybe 40 seconds. But just as you take more time, take fewer liberties – sell less. Tell more. Explain. Guide your customer through a buyer’s journey by offering them something, not asking them for something.

6. Repetition is OK.

7. Repetition is OK.

Our clients have found that their story has to be repeated — across multiple digital venues — to gain real market awareness and sales lift. The reason: customers get hazy quickly about terms and claims. The more technical or complex your product is, the more true that becomes. So you have to simplify and demystify in multiple places, on multiple platforms. To be sure, there has been a rise in category acceptance around the idea of technical products or features, but there has also been a swell of jargon associated with those claims. Problem: jargon is the enemy. Glaze is nice on a cupcake, but not in the eyes of your customer. So repeat the simple, simplified truth of your benefit across multiple platforms, all at once… Seriously. Repeat it. Across multiple platforms. Again and again. Repeatedly.

8. Science seems sexy, but it’s not

To manufacturers, jargon is tempting — legal departments find jargon reassuringly specific. Marketing departments believe jargon equals authenticity. But especially when the message is in a video, we’ve found the opposite: scientific jargon intimidates. It reinforces customers’ belief that they don’t know enough to be educated customers. So they back away — wondering if they really know enough to make a smart purchase. If your marketing video is successful, it’s often (in part) because it reassures your customer of their competence, not of yours.

Solution: Customers need the product story told simply, repeatedly, and without jargon. (Wait. Did I already say that? Good!) One reason for the repetition: if you sell a technical or complex product (software, cars, really good paper cups), you’re making a value proposition that’s often literally microscopic. Your microchip is faster. Your software is more efficient. Your car uses less gas. Well, guess what: your customer can’t see any of that. And with that literal lack of visibility comes a subtle disbelief in your brand’s claims. The opposite is true, too — if a brand repeats the simple, practical reasons for their claim and they use a video to (literally) magnify a product benefit, customers will flock to that simple story, and to that product.

The short of it all: Selling happens when a story gets told well, fast

Explanation and education are the new gold standards for marketing. And many B2B customers now want their learning delivered in video form, because video is on their time, it’s on their device, and it’s where they are. So make a video. Help your customer. Train your employees. Give everybody confidence. And whatever you do, make it snappy.

Okay, these rules won’t actually self-destruct, but they will help you outsmart and outperform other B2B marketers who aren’t in the know! Share your useful video marketing insights, tips, and tricks below!

Paul Hochman