“We wanted to bring new life to our brand message — The Science of What’s Possible,” says Clare Hovan, Manager of Global Branding and Advertising for Waters Corporation (Milford, MA).
Clare and her team, headed up by Diane Meador, Senior Director of Worldwide Marketing Services, discussed getting client quotes or doing articles.
“We knew that testimonials had always been the golden key — but we wanted to position the campaign from the customer standpoint — why were they successful, what challenges they had. We wanted customers’ stories and this idea lead directly to doing the stories in video. Why? Because video is powerful and authentic.”
Getting people to talk “on record” proves challenging
Because Waters is in life sciences, getting customers to actually agree to do a video proved quite challenging. Customers didn’t want to endorse one vendor over another or show they might be biased.
And, legal proved to be a huge hurdle as life science companies have policies about employees talking to anyone without “permission.” This is because the employee doing the talking can accidentally let slip something about the company’s processes or tools — a minor slip can give away their competitive advantage.
“We positioned the videos as an opportunity for our customers to talk to their peers about the work they’re involved in and the achievements they’ve made,” says Clare.
“We said, ‘This video is about you, not Waters.’ They didn’t even have to mention Waters. We wanted them to answer questions such as, ‘What makes you go to work in the morning? What stories do you have about advancements in your field? What excites you?’”
Like any new tactic, shooting video comes with challenges
Waters turned to its ad agency, Allen & Gerritsen, for help. Scott Sneath, who is a Senior VP and Group Marketing Director, worked with Clare and her team to define responsibilities and goals. A&G also helped choose an experienced videographer and coordinate customers’ availability.
Says Scott, “We found this video idea quite interesting. Often in B2B, especially with life sciences, it’s ‘peer to peer’ sales. The video campaign addressed this concept perfectly as it showcased ‘rock stars’ in the various life science fields using Waters instruments.”
Clare and her team initially sat down and looked at venues where they could find lots of Waters customers — e.g. tradeshows, conferences, and customer visits to the company’s Milford, MA headquarters.
“We learned early on to plan the interviews months in advance,” says Clare. This gave the Waters team and the customer time to get approval of the questions and the interview by the various legal departments as well as setting up a meeting with the customer at a conference or in his/her office.
The Waters team also learned that it was most efficient and cost effective to set up two days where they could shoot 5 – 6 videos in one location — such as at a tradeshow.
Says Scott, “It really pays to get approvals and have conversations off camera ahead of time, otherwise you burn through lots of editing time if the person hasn’t figured out what to say.”
Waters Customers: In Their Own Words
Customers were given 7 – 8 questions tailored to their job — i.e. if he/she was a toxicologist, one of the questions would be, “Tell us about your work as a forensic toxicologist.”
The team also asked questions such as, “Give us an idea of your relationship with Waters. Why do you have our instruments? Any stories about how Waters instruments have allowed you to make advancements in your field? Where do you see your work going? Where would you like to see technology advance too?”
The videos were then divided into segments: tell us about yourself, innovation, how Waters technology has helped them in their work, what impact they’re seeing in their work, and the future. The videos were completely unscripted — customers were free to answer questions from their own perspectives.
Says Clare, “These interviews gave us huge insight into our customers, their jobs, and their passions. These were very articulate people who had no problem talking about how Waters has positively impacted their businesses. We were very excited to hear their stories.
“For example, one customer, AIT Labs, the largest toxicology lab in the world, had received a blood sample for analysis. Michael Evans, CEO of AIT Labs, explained on video how the sample had come from a farmer who had died in literally a minute while treating his animals with antibiotics. In fact, he was only able to call his wife from his cell phone in the minute before he died.
“An autopsy was done, but cause of death couldn’t be determined, so AIT Labs ran a blood sample on a Waters ACQUITY System. Because the system is so sensitive, it identified a veterinary animal antibiotic in the blood — which was a complete surprise to everyone.
“Long story short, the authorities determined that the farmer must have been running in the barnyard and had accidentally injected himself — and thus died within a minute due to the lethalness of the antibiotic. By using Waters instrumentation, AIT Labs found the cause of death, which was crucial for legal reasons (i.e. insurance) and which brought closure to law enforcement, more importantly to the farmer’s wife.
Results of video campaign
The marketing team has also been promoting the videos to sales who are now using the videos at tradeshows, conferences, and customer demos.
Says Clare, “Now a sales person can say to a prospect, ‘You have the same challenge as one of our customers — listen to his story.’”
“Everyone, from upper management on down, is thrilled with the videos,” says Clare. The next step for the Waters team is to promote the videos via social media.