How to sell video to key stakeholders

August 5, 2019
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’ve identified a need for video content in your organisation, and you want to get approval from key stakeholders. Great! Just one thing… How do you actually sell a video solution to stakeholders? In this article, we’ll explore how knowing your audience, leveraging reason and emotion in your business case, and anticipating (and overcoming) resistance will move management to adopt your solution. So you can get started with powerful, effective communications that resonate, and drive real results – with video! * Note: this scenario often involves a business that’s never done video before, or whose experience is one-off, expensive marketing videos, so that’s our starting point.

Know your audience

Like most things in business, we begin with knowing who you need to communicate with and why. For some, the answer might be as simple as ‘my boss’. For others, it might be your head of department, who may need to make a business case to their boss, or your finance team, depending on the budget. Whatever the case, your organisation’s decision matrix will identify which key stakeholders you’ll need to pitch your video solution to. So who are these stakeholders and what do they care about? Or more to the point – what kind of people are they, personality-wise? What do their jobs entail; how is their performance measured and what ‘keeps them up at night’? “A key to being able to establish higher degrees of buy-in is in establishing the link between project and company goals and stakeholder values and motivations”. For example, finance professionals are typically risk-averse – it’s part of their jobs. So if finance is a stakeholder, ensure alignment with their internal compass: considered, cost-effective solutions that deliver quantifiable results.     Next, understand the challenge. What’s the #1 barrier to entry? For video, it’s usually ‘video is expensive’ (thanks to 1-2 previous creative agency projects). Or if video communication is key to digital transformation, it could simply be change; ‘this is the way we’ve always done things’, i.e. video feels new / scary. It may even be that video is seen by stakeholders as ‘marketing’, whether you’re in marketing or not, and perceived as frivolous or not ROI-driven. And if “their personal experience doesn’t include success with contemporary marketing strategies, stakeholders reject the need to do anything differently … They do not have confidence that marketing can actually improve growth or profitability”. These are important perceptions to be aware of, as you’ll need to work to undo them in your proposal’s counter-arguments.

Reason vs emotion

Data is big for a reason. When making a business case, your reasoning should be supported by quantitative data – we can’t overstate this enough. A lot of people still default to personal (and often vague or unverifiable) anecdotes, then wonder why their ideas are unsuccessful. But it’s one thing to say, “[X team] said our communications need to be more engaging”, and another entirely to state, “We piloted a video in our last email and improved average click-through by 500%.” From KPMG, one of the world’s biggest accounting organisations: “‘[You need to] keep walking in with examples of how data can save money or improve your mission.’ Showing how a solution will make a real impact on the success of missions or the bottom line can make a big difference” to securing stakeholder buy-in, particularly in times of uncertainty.

The problem with numbers, however, is: they’re boring. And at some stage, you’ll likely need to propose your solution with slides. This is where data visualisation comes in. Making your data simple and attractive using graphs and charts to communicate your numbers will make a massive difference to stakeholder engagement. And for enquiring minds (finance, we’re looking in your direction), you can always drop your source data tables into an appendix.
Looking outward, it’s also worth exploring what’s happening in your industry and competitor spheres. Is a challenger brand using video to do things your company could have spearheaded 6-12 months ago? Has a thought leader weighed in on video for internal communications, learning and development, or human resources? Bolstering your arguments with industry validation and a sense of urgency will up the stakes and highlight benefits to your business, especially if these supporting insights are statistics-based.  

The case for emotion

If you’re in marketing, appealing to people’s emotions is probably a no-brainer. For other departments, it might seem a bit weird – at first. So we’ll let Simon Sinek break it down:

(FYI, this part of the brain is called the limbic brain, and it performs all decision-making activities. Wow.) Okay, so decisions are pretty big on emotions – got it. But how are you supposed to integrate ‘feelings’ into your business case? Over to you, Nancy Duarte:
Creating desire in the audience and then showing how your ideas fill that desire moves people to adopt your perspective.
Nancy Duarte, Resonate
For the unfamiliar, Duarte’s presentation company consults for Apple (and has for the past 30 years – think product launches etc.), so she knows a thing or two about winning pitches. According to Duarte, it’s not only about communicating your ‘big idea’, but also framing it within the context of ‘what’s at stake’ on a business level (what needs to change and why), and showing the gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’ (with your 3-5 supporting arguments). It’s the ‘what could be’ that we’ll focus on here – because this aspirational future is the key to triggering stakeholder desire, and investment, for your video solution. The crux of your ‘what could be’ key point is that your solution’s reward must be worth it, and one of the easiest ways to show this is by telling a story with real people in it. This is where doing your homework, like interviewing your customers or clients and getting direct quotes (or other concrete examples) is crucial, because if you can order your messages for emotional impact to deliver a clear ‘this is how my big idea will benefit actual humans, and the business’ bottom line’ – well, it’s pretty hard to argue with that, right?

Anticipate (and overcome) resistance

You’ve got the nuts and bolts for your business case, and it’s feeling pretty solid. Excellent. Now comes the final (and hardest) part – you’re going to poke holes in it, roleplaying as your stakeholder/s. Because to quote Duarte, “to adopt your perspective, the audience has to, at a minimum, abandon what they previously held as true”. So confront potential gaps in your supporting arguments, and come armed with solves. Empathise with personal viewpoints on misgivings, comfort zones, fears, even workplace politics, and stay rational and transparent in the face of any fear of change; ultimately, you need their help to get this thing off the ground, so the onus is on you to really hear and address any stakeholder concerns, in order to secure buy-in and sign-off.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
Henry Ford,


Being a change-maker isn’t always easy, but the above scenario is incredibly common with modern organisations prioritising digital transformation – and when it’s the right thing for your business, it’s 100% worth the effort. Trust us, we know!
So, to sell video to stakeholders, communicate how video solves your challenges by:
  1. Knowing your audience
  2. Using reason and emotion in your business case, and
  3. Anticipating (and overcoming) resistance
And finally, make sure you present a call-to-action with a clear ask i.e. with a ‘yes’ / ‘no’ / ‘I’ll come back to you’. Then once you get sign-off, keep your stakeholders in the loop on goals, content progress and wins, so they can see their solution at work. Good luck, and let us know how you go!

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