IBM Uses "Do It Yourself" Video to Communicate and Market
IBM uses the vzaar video platform because of the power and features of the video player, as well as its overall simplicity, ease of use and the cost effectiveness
"No more long, cumbersome marketing documents - no more boring presentations. Video is how companies and business should communicate," says Mark Leaser, Worldwide Offerings Manager, IBM Software Services for Lotus. "You can do it yourself and save thousands of dollars.
IBM Software Services for Lotus is using video in a wide variety of ways - for internal education and communications as well as for external marketing and customer relations.
Internally, Mr. Leaser and his department are using video for sales training, communication where they want to propose a particular course of action, and to provide training of their technical solution architects and solution specialists. They also are doing internal case studies - talking head interviews and lots of screen capture using their own LotusLive web conference solution and mixing it with live video.
IBM is also using video externally to promote and market their assets and solutions worldwide. The video messages are designed to help customers select, purchase and use the appropriate business solutions.
To speed up the production process, and to ensure a consistent look and feel, Mr. Leaser has developed an effective standardized format to deliver these external messages. These external communication videos usually start with a short teaser - essentially a one to two minute video introduction to a business solution then followed by an action step that is designed to steer viewers to specific online IBM landing pages with much more detail.
Combining the best practices from successful eCommerce and eTailing sites, these landing pages use even more video to further educate and market products and services. A typical video landing page will include links to additional content including additional video and product information. The landing page can also include "infomercial" type videos, as well as videos on how the products work and where to go for more info.
"We use video as a means of attracting interest in something that we are doing," says Mark Leaser. "The video segments have to be more than a commercial - we have to offer content with value, information of how our solutions will help our customer's business, and tips for using particular solutions."
IBM Saves Money by Producing In House
Currently IBM uses outside production services as well as internal teams to create their videos. The customer case studies and/or reference videos are usually produced by an external company but increasingly, a larger percentage of the videos are being produced internally. Many of the videos are shot at tradeshows and events where IBM's various technical and product experts are in attendance. According to Mark, "Rather than hiring an outsider who charges $10K to $15K to produce a video, we can do it ourselves, single camera, for a small fraction of the price, and it is just as effective. Over a year, we can save hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Some case study videos are shot multi-camera but 90% of all productions are single camera. Most of the videos are captured using standard HD prosumer camcorders (recording onto 16 gigabyte SD cards) with flat lighting from a single large lightbox. For capturing audio, Mark uses professional Sony lavaliere microphones and Audio Technica shotgun microphones. Mark says, "Simple works. One of the most important technical details is to make sure we have clean audio."
To improve the efficiency of the video editing and production process, the video is captured in a native Quicktime format and then inputted into Mac computers running Final Cut Studio. Mark has settled on h.264 and DVKitchen for compression and distribution over the company's intranet as well as over the Internet. Mark usually compresses at the standard Apple TV settings (h.264 at 1280x720 with a 4800 kbps data rate) but DV Kitchen makes it simple to provide a variety of compression templates for various viewing and distribution options.
"In many ways our video production process is just like producing a document using Microsoft word," comments Mark. "We use standardized formats and templates, and standardized technical specifications that allow a "producer" to easily cut and assemble a video without having to know a lot of technical details."
Once the video is done, the IBM team can share it in a variety of ways. For internal videos, they often use their own internal media servers or YouTube where the videos can be viewed using the standard YouTube video player.
However, for their external marketing videos, they were not satisfied with embedding YouTube in their public facing pages because there was too much clutter and not enough brand control. To give them more control and present a more professional look, they use outside video hosting companies and video platforms that can be customized.
"For some video, we have been using the Vzaar video platform because of the power and features of their video player, as well as its overall simplicity, ease of use and the cost effectiveness," explained Mark. "I am a very busy guy with worldwide management and communication responsibilities - I don't have time to fiddle with video compression settings and options. Vzaar makes my job easier."
"Authoring video in house works for us," Mark says, “Our current generation IT decision makers understand the video language and often don't have the patience to wade through a white paper or technical presentation. To properly reach them, information needs to be presented in a lively, colorful and high-energy mode that can only be conveyed via video."
Mark Leaser's three reasons your business should use video to communicate
1. Use video – it works. The impact is phenomenal. Following the lead of the direct marketing industry which claims a 4x improvement in response in video versus text, Mark says that short videos with links is the most effective way for establishing powerful outward bound communications and building brand equity. Your audience expects video and you need to give it to them. An effective business presents information in a manner that is most receptive by their target audience.
2. Learn how to do it yourself. Modern video technology and solutions are easy to learn and very affordable. In many ways similar to cut and paste word processing, DIY video production has become the baseline for business communications and marketing. It is similar to the past evolution to word processing from executives relying on secretaries. The stratified and inefficient business architecture of the "Mad Men" TV show is long gone. Similarly, a new business communication paradigm is occurring now with video. Word processing is being supplanted by video. Long documents and boring powerpoint presentations are being replaced by video. Because DIY video is so efficient as a communications tool, it should be an integral part of your business.
3. Video is easier than people think. It is no longer some mystical technology. Yes, 20 years ago, video was complicated, expensive and required an advanced degree. However, with the advent of simple to use video nonlinear "cut and paste" editing programs and affordable high definition digital camcorders, high quality production is now attainable by almost anyone. You can hire someone out of high school who has all the skills. Remember - for business, simple works best. It is all about communicating ideas and information, not fancy effects or 3D explosions.