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If 2011 was the year that content marketing exploded onto the B2B marketing scene, then all signs point to 2012 being the year of online video. Video, with its immediacy, popularity, and viral potential, represents a unique opportunity for B2B brands to reach a receptive audience with a truly authentic and captivating message.

We recently published a whitepaper that examines why video is such a powerful storytelling tool: simultaneous use of imagery, voices, and music create an instant emotional connection between subject and viewer — a breath of fresh air in what is often a technical and complex B2B world. Video also requires little effort on the part of the audience yet delivers a huge impact. And now thanks to portable technology and social media, the ability to create, view, and share video is in everyone’s hands—literally.

Little wonder, then, that firms are increasingly using video in addition to–or even instead of–text to communicate on the Web. predicts that online video will be the fastest growing ad format in 2012, with 55% growth expected this year. They also state that nearly 87% of US brands and agencies leveraged videos for their content marketing programs due to its ‘dynamic, visual content format.’ Stats like this prove that video is quickly becoming the most popular medium in the B2B marketer’s digital toolkit.

While we are enthusiastic advocates of the power of online video, we caution B2B marketers to avoid a “jump on the bandwagon” mentality when developing their digital marketing strategy.  Just like any type of content, a video is only an effective marketing tool if it aligns with a company’s overall brand strategy. For example, we recently developed a video series for a client in the energy conservation consulting industry. Their brand is all about empowering their customers – superintendents of public schools across the U.S – through cost savings associated with energy reduction. The video series showcases testimonials directly from customers, highlighting their positive experiences with the firm and how they have been able to leverage those cost savings to improve their school district. Having the testimonials in video format allows prospects to see themselves in the shoes of their peers in a way that written testimonials could not. And, importantly, the firm’s key brand message of empowerment through savings is clearly communicated in a compelling and emotional way.

Video can also be a powerful tool for explaining a complex or confusing concept. For example, when one of our clients was having a hard time explaining their unique business model to investors, we produced a video aimed at showing how the business strategy, although unconventional, had the potential to deliver shareholder value. The corporate video gave investors an inside look at the company’s locations across the country, where they could see how economies of scale and a commitment to innovation were driving value creation. Through the video, investors were also able to “meet” the industry-experienced executives by offering a personal look at the company and its people. Investors could literally hear their voices, see their faces and have a first hand view of their commitment to the company and its goals. As a result, investors were assured that company had the infrastructure, the business strategy – and the executive talent – needed to deliver value to shareholders.

In a similar vein, Deloitte facilitated much publicity and acclaim for their employee-generated video competition, where employees were asked, “What’s Your Deloitte?” This initiative was meant to give employees an opportunity to represent on video what life is like inside Deloitte, and what their work experience meant to them, so recruitment efforts could have a more candid and personalized aspect to it. Brian Fugere, partner at Deloitte Consulting responsible for special projects relating to brand, strategy, and communication, discusses the campaign in a report from He speaks to the natural impact video has, “There’s something about video that’s so engaging to generation Y- and I felt that was something [Deloitte] could take advantage of.”

Before engaging in a video campaign, Deloitte marketers were careful in deciding exactly what approach they wanted to take, in order to be consistent with their brand message, make the content strategic, and have a viral impact not only internally but also externally, as to drive interest around their brand through their most valuable assets—their employees. Fugere explains the core mission behind the video competition; “It was a simple enough concept not to be too prescriptive or propagandist. But it was also descriptive enough to encourage people to produce the kind of things we had in mind. All that we wanted, really, was for our people to get to the heart of what Deloitte meant to them, and to show that feeling to people who might want to join us. And that’s what they did.”

As added incentive, the first prize of the video competition was a free trip to Sundance Film Festival for their team. The response was massive: over 2000 employees participated in the competition, over 30,000 people viewed and voted on the entries which generated over 400,000 hits to the internal website. For a relatively low cost, Deloitte was able to make a big (positive) impact on their brand perception.

A key factor for marketers to remember is that video is most effective when it is one component of an effective synchronized marketing initiative. The ability to connect with customers, prospects, and recruits through a variety of channels ultimately maximizes reach and emphasizes the core brand message. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon, though —develop and plan a strategic and relevant online video campaign that aligns with your brand. Doing this will ensure your marketing program is fully benefiting from the impact of this innovative, immediate, and impactful content sharing platform.

Check out Deloitte’s YouTube Channel to watch some of the employee-produced videos.