Picture this: you have an incredibly important goal, something that will change the course of your business. A big part of your strategy rides on it, and it’s up to you to make it happen. Oh, and as an added bonus, you have very little budget to make it happen. Sound familiar? Chances are if you’re on a startup team – whether it’s a tech company or a restaurant – this will be familiar territory.

Sangram Vajre, CMO and Co-Founder of Atlanta account-based marketing startup Terminus, faced this problem when his team decided to turn marketing on its head, literally. They created #FlipMyFunnel, a community and event series based around ABM strategies, and had the daunting task of promoting it to the world. Lacking in the resources to make a big impact in a crowded space, Vajre and his team got scrappy – and started with everyone’s favorite medium: video.

I had the opportunity to hear all about Terminus’ video strategy during Vajre’s talk at Viewtopia® 2016, The Video Marketing Summit, and here are the four big lessons I walked away with.

1. Startup Videos Don’t Have to be Perfect

The first video Vajre and his team put together was to promote the idea behind #FlipMyFunnel. Vajre admits the video was never intended for public consumption, and that he may or may not have been a bit drunk at the time. “Videos are really cool because it puts that human element out there,” Vajre said at the start of his talk. “We made this video to explain #FlipMyFunnel to our designer, and it wasn’t supposed to go out to people.”

But the video proved to be such a powerful and succinct message that they decided to send it out to customers and see what they thought. The response was unpredictable, and overwhelming. “We thought ‘Let’s just get an idea out there!’ and now we use this video to send out to prospects to help them figure out what account-based marketing and the concept of flipping your funnel really is. They watch, learn, laugh, and it puts a smile on their face. ”

Creating a new market isn’t easy, even for big brands. So Terminus’ success at creating such a great community around their funnel-flipping concept really stands out. “It’s a scrappy video, taken on an iPhone that started a movement for us that is now 3000+ people that come to the conferences in cities all over North America,” said Vajre. And it kicked-off a series of video-led campaigns that would end up putting Terminus on the map very quickly.

For me, the biggest take-away from the first portion of Vajre’s talk is simple – as a startup, you don’t always have a big budget to make things happen. But video lets you show off new concepts or ideas to your prospects, and drive emotion in a way that you simply can’t do with text. Sometimes low-budget marketing falls flat, but if you use your assets wisely, and put your passion into words, sometimes you’ll find yourself with a runaway hit like Terminus.

2. Personalization Isn’t Just for Prospects

We’re big believers in personalized video at Vidyard, and we have many customers (including Terminus) that use our Personalized Video platform to add really immersive and engaging details to their prospect campaigns. But Terminus was confronted with a different problem when planning their first #FlipMyFunnel conference – how does a relatively unknown company assemble a high-profile team of speakers to talk account-based marketing at an event they have never heard of in Atlanta?

Vajre looked again to video, but this time, he made it personal:

His team didn’t use any fancy personalization tools – they simply created a video for each person on their A-list and fired away. And because of this technique, they didn’t have to dip into their B-list even once. “There are people that you normally wouldn’t be able to ever reach – and not only do they open this kind of video, but they share it with their entire organization, and tell their team that this is how they should be talking to their customers. And they spoke at our conference.”

Vajre and his team realized that they needed to go way outside the box if they were going to land big-name speakers for #FlipMyFunnel. So rather than pushing resources towards polished marketing assets or trying to secure third-party introductions, Vajre turned back to the same video technique that made #FlipMyFunnel successful in the first place. Scrappy video – albeit with a tripod this time – and hard work. Putting together a video for every speaker they wanted to target wasn’t an instant, easy to do process, but the results speak for themselves.

How can your team apply this kind of thinking to your KPIs? Every person on your sales team probably has a camera on their smartphone sitting in their pocket or purse. Most laptops have cameras now as well. Get them using it, and sending out personal messages to key prospects. You may not get everyone to watch, but you’ll have way more luck than trying to cold email everyone.

3. Don’t Tell Your Own Story

While Vajre shared a ton of great video tips during his talk, this one stood to me the most. It’s easy for marketers to fall into the trap of always creating content that is self-promotional, but when they do this, they miss out on the best promotion tool they have: customers.

“No matter how many product demos, white papers, or all the other marketing stuff that we could create, nobody tells our story better than our customers,” said Vajre. “Nowhere on our website do we have product videos. We only have customer videos. When they tell it, they’re going to tell it as practitioners, and the people who faced the problem that we solve. It’s not going to be about Terminus. And that’s really what our goal is.”

Vajre shared a video he produced with Joe Chernov, which was so successful at telling the Terminus story that people started reaching out to Chernov directly for more information. “The video doesn’t talk about Terminus directly – there’s no technology or features. Only pain points we’re solving. And we actually tried creating a bit of product-focused content to test against this video. Chernov’s video generated the most engagement, the most conversation, and even got us a few tweets to Joe about it.”

For Terminus, customer content created conversations (and conversions) in a way that no product-focused video ever could. And to me this really speaks to the power of video – giving your prospects the opportunity to put themselves in your customers’ shoes is key, and when you can show your customers expressing how big of an impact your business has on theirs, you’re doing the hard work for them. The best part? Any department in your funnel – marketing or sales – can use these assets effectively. And it’s cross promo for your amazing customers too.

4. Scrappy Startup Videos Succeed

Terminus has grown from 3 people to 70 in just a few short years, and has customers like NetSuite, PGi and Tata. Vajre and his team have built a massive following for #FlipMyFunnel and the events continue to draw in huge crowds in every city they are held. Ask Vajre what the key to success has been, and he will sum it all up in one word: video.

“Videos have been, by far, the most interesting and important asset that we have used at all of these events to promote our conferences, get people to the event, and actually really tell the story of what #FlipmyFunnel is and what Terminus is.” Vajre said this near the start of his talk, and every example he shared built upon the power of video to drive interest in events, explain complex topics, and showcase how Terminus helps their customers succeed.

But the biggest takeaway from this talk wasn’t that video is powerful. Viewtopia® wouldn’t exist if people weren’t seeing benefits from their video campaigns. Video works – but sometimes scrappy, fast videos are just as effective as polished content. And between the first, slightly-tipsy explanation of #FlipMyFunnel to the polished, customer-focused videos Terminus features everywhere on their site, Vajre and his team have been reaping the benefits of video from day one. That effort paid off at this year’s Video Marketing Awards, where the Terminus team walked away with a VMA for Small Business, Big Bang.

So, you have a smartphone in your hand and a product to sell. What’s next for your business?


Jon Spenceley