Generals always prepare for the previous war. Cities always build for the most recent earthquake and regulators always prepare for the last big crash. But does our past really predict our future?

Rarely, especially in marketing. Over the past two decades, we’ve evolved from snail mail and billboards to handheld supercomputers and AI ads—and the rate of change is only increasing. Any marketers planning for next year based on yesterday’s data are going to miss not only the dramatic channel changes but the demographic changes as well.

Millennials—oh yes—are about to complete their sweep. By 2025 they’ll account for 75 percent of the workforce (read: buyers) and they’re about to upend your marketing like a digital native hurricane.

The future is bright, loud, and interactive

What does the next generation of B2B buyers love? While it’s impossible to say on an individual basis (your marketing tools will have to tell you that), broadly, they’re in love with new mediums: messaging apps, social media, and of course, video. When Forrester asked whether they prefer video content, three generations responded in this fashion:

  • Millennials: 71%
  • Gen Xers: 58%
  • Baby Boomers: 54%

There are several reasons for this. Millennials spend more time on mobile and more avidly adopt new mediums than other generations; however, they’re also chasing a human connection that Baby Boomers and many Gen Xers prefer to find in-person. 

For millennials, video, be it live or asynchronous, is the next best thing to face-to-face. It offers connection but affords them the mobility they value so deeply.

While many companies are adopting video, they’re doing it carelessly and still facing poor results. Some 54 percent of B2B buyers report that much of the marketing materials that vendors give them, including video, is useless. And in a recent study, only 23 out of 60 companies got a passing score for using video to engage their audiences.

What’s the disconnect? Well, it’s that today’s marketers are preparing for yesterday’s market. 

What’s your plan for B2B video success?

To make the most of video, marketers need to unlearn what they know and get out of their own way. Millennials and the Gen Zers hot on their heels have little tolerance for video done wrong. Here are three common mistakes marketers make:

  1. They over-complicate video production

Few things say, “I don’t know what millennials want” like using costly 4k cameras and expensive lighting in late-stage funnel content. High-production value video has its place, but most marketers are mired in the past and haven’t adapted to a new world where less can be more. Lower production-value video can have a greater impact because it has much higher perceived authenticity.

  1. They create poor-performing content

Many marketers are guilty of producing a lot of content, but not necessarily the right content. They fail to target it properly to their buyer personas or adjust content types to different buying funnel stages. On the flip side, this creates an immense opportunity for those marketers who get video right and break through the noise with something targeted and differentiated.

  1. They fail to attribute video properly

How does video influence buying cycles? And what videos perform best and where? Most marketers, including those who create an ample amount of video, can’t say. That’s because it wasn’t until recently that the technologies around hosting, sharing, tracking, and analyzing video consumption became accessible. Now that they are, not all marketers are using them, and few are sure how to weigh these calculations.

Chris Gillespie