PermissionTV Reinvents Itself as VisibleGains, Offers Interactive Video for Sales and Marketing

10/7/09Follow @wroush

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help sales teams assemble short videos (a minute or so each) into what Pollan calls “buyer-led” conversations that can go down one path or another depending on what the viewer is interested in.

Say, for example, your company makes plastic forks. After showing a site visitor a short introductory video, you can ask whether he or she is a consumer looking for the best brand of picnic ware, a restaurant buyer searching for a new supplier, or perhaps the CEO of a plastic spoon company interested in a strategic utensil alliance. The VisibleGains platform will instantly play the appropriate video, which will end either with more choices or with a form that the viewer can fill out to request more information.

A video starring Pollan on the VisibleGains home page provides a hands-on demonstration of the whole process. By the way, the company’s platform is literally integrated with SalesForce.com: form data that viewers enter into the video interface gets saved in a SalesForce database, along with information about which segments they watched.

VisibleGains designed its system to make it as easy as possible for sales and marketing staff—who, after all, rarely have training in video production or editing—to figure out which segments they’ll need in order to create an effective “conversation map,” as the company refers to a finished collection of videos.

To build the platform, “We went through a process of rethinking how video is produced and created,” says Matt Kaplan, VisibleGains’ vice president of marketing and chief strategy officer. “We help you create 60-second pieces of content and piece them together by understanding the nature of the conversation you want to have with your intended buyer.”

In the past, only the largest companies have been able to afford this kind of video-based sales material. So in a sense, VisibleGains is helping sales teams take on a creative function traditionally handled by outside marketing and advertising agencies with interactive divisions (of which there are many around Boston). Pollan says VisibleGains is targeting medium-sized companies, those with $20 million to $1 billion in annual revenues that have never worked with agencies.

But while the software helps sales teams create content, it also analyzes how viewers use it, so corporate marketing teams can continuously evaluate which parts of the conversation map are working and replace or improve the parts that seem to be sales dead-ends. The upshot can be a Web experience that’s far more powerful than a typical text-driven site, Pollan and Kaplan assert. In one three-month-long test of the new platform, an insurance company in the U.K., Blyth Valley, served up two separate websites to visitors—half saw the normal non-video site and half saw the VisibleGains videos. Only 1.7 percent of visitors to the non-video site completed a purchase, according to a VisibleGains white paper, but 4.2 percent of visitors who saw the video version did—and they spent an average of 13 percent more.

“Describing a product and being able to use sight, sound, and motion to do that creates a much more engaging experience,” says Pollan, who joined VisibleGains after a long career at push financial news provider NewsEdge, which was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2001. And it’s cheap and easy enough to shoot professional-looking video nowadays that anyone can do it, he says. “Years ago we all learned how to stand up and give PowerPoint presentations. We’ve all learned how to do webinars. The next phase of communication is video. It’s going to become a skill of people within a company, just like some people have learned to blog.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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