Red question mark with animated people doing different tasks around it

If you can explain something simple like how to boil water (water being a metaphor for your product or service), your B2B company may be on its way to a rich and lively content marketing presence and a wealth of brand polishing and customer appreciation. Because you know better than anyone how your complicated stuff works.

Instructional Videos

There is a video genre that can take this information and generate tens — or even hundreds of thousands — of impressions. It requires very little promotion, costs little to produce, and can make your company a hero. It’s the (sometimes perceived as) dull, pedestrian, but utterly helpful “how-to” instructional video.

Producing “how-to” videos are a no-brainer when you realize that 72% of customers prefer learning about a product or service using video. Perhaps it’s because viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it through this medium

Here’s a perfect example. While I don’t know how to change the oil in my car, I do know how to flush and recharge the air conditioning system and replace hoses and seals on the compressor and air brake system of a Class 8 Western Star 5700 tractor-trailer. Why is that knowledge trapped in my brain? Because years ago at a former job, I wrote and produced dozens of training videos showing truck drivers how to perform routine tasks correctly. Instructional videos were the bread and butter when it came to producing corporate videos.

And I made hundreds of them.

Ask Questions, Get Smart Answers

Flushing an air conditioning system is one thing. And incidentally, if you really don’t know to boil water, you’re certainly not alone. YouTube has a 1:42 tutorial called “How to Boil Water.” As of this writing, it has had 694,247 views.

That’s dwarfed by “How to Tie a Shoe, Step by Step,” which has a staggering 2,817,873 views!

Other “how-to” questions are more practical. Here’s one I’ve had to watch myself: “How Do I Open the Hood of a 2004 Acura?” It has 24,000 views. (Are there still 2,400 2004 Acuras even out there?)

Let’s look at more specific, practical and focused business-to-business “how-to” queries:

  • “How Do I Reset the Battery on an Acer Laptop?” (188,000 views in a year)
  • “How Do I Test and Troubleshoot an HVAC Capacitor?” (636,300 views)
  • “How Do You Remove and Replace Fuel Pump Air Compressor Seals on a Freightliner Cascadia Truck Engine?” (60,000 truckers have watched how it’s done)   
  • 7.7 million viewers have watched Cummins’ “How Does Your Engine Cooling System Work?” 

Given these numbers, you must assume B2B companies are cranking out scads of “how-to” videos. But they aren’t. I visited the YouTube channels of eight Fortune 500 companies in the industrial machinery sector and found only one — Westinghouse Air Brakes — that posted any “how-to” videos. (One, to be left unnamed, offered viewers 132 different self-promotional videos, all in the category of “About Us”.) 

True, many companies do file educational materials, such as filmed workshops or recorded webinars, under the “Resources” or “Documentation” navigation on their websites. Two things, though: 1) just try to search for the exact answer to your “how-to” question without downloading a manual; and 2) people don’t go to corporate websites to ask, “How do I do this?”.

They go to YouTube. For everything. From any company. 

Can you answer their questions?

“How to” Is Searchable

According to YouTube, the second-most popular type of video it hosts are the thousands and thousands of how-to videos on every topic imaginable. More than 100 million hours of “how-to” content were viewed last year, and the trend has been growing 70% per year. In short, “how-to” videos are more viral than viral videos ever were.

Given these numbers and this popularity, it’s pretty clear that “how-to” videos are valuable for your B2B company or product line; they could add a wealth of searchable, specific and useful information on any company’s content hub.  

Most companies don’t produce “how-to” videos about their own products; helpful people with cell phones do. An Italian mechanic made the Freightliner seals video mentioned above. The HVAC capacitor test video was produced by Grayfurnaceman, Inc.

Although buyers like getting recommendations from influencers, you should also ask, “Are they giving good advice about a company’s products?” Only the company would know.

When professionally produced, creating “how-to” videos is easy, fast and inexpensive. And these types of videos can give viewers advice from experts solidly connected to your brand within seconds.

For marketers thinking about creating “how-to” videos, figure out the types of questions your audience is asking about your product or your industry. Consider showing not only how your product works, but also other ways it could be used.

Answer Your Customers’ Questions

Let’s say a “how-to video” made a vital, one-to-one connection with a person by answering their question and solving a problem. That video may get a production line up and running. Or give a new employee a lifeline. Or save a customer the $200 of making a service call — or let her save thousands by recalibrating meters herself. “How-to” videos can generate thousands (and perhaps hundreds of thousands) of customer touch points, all resulting in positive experiences and interactions. 

If you need a hand in figuring out how to get started with your next (or first) “how-to” video, feel free to contact us. We’ll show you how to do it.