Let’s watch some Powerpoint tonight… said no one ever!

Little could Philo Farnsmouth have realised just how much he was about to change the world forever. It was September 7th 1927 and Philo was in his lab. He flipped the switch on his ‘image dissector’ and transmitted… a straight line – the equivalent of writing ‘hello world’ in a modern computer program. He’d demonstrated what was to become the first modern electronic television. Fast forward 93 years and we watch, on average, over four hours of TV a day! And that’s not including phones, computers, tablets and smart watches. Along with the electric lightbulb, cars and running water, it’s hard to imagine life without TV. But unlike light, transport and water – all necessary and transformational, TV is just flat out cool! Our little gray cells just can’t get enough of it so that phrases like ‘bingewatching’ have entered our lexicon. By 1957 our brains were so addicted that Edward R. Murrow requoted Marx to say:

“Television is the opiate of the people”

It’s little wonder that TV has conquered the world – our brains are hard wired for it:

  • We’re attuned to watch for movement to avoid danger. Try holding a conversation with someone when there’s a TV behind you.
  • We love stories, and storytelling is at the heart of almost all forms of entertainment in some way – even sports.
  • We’re particularly attracted to striking images and ideas that capture our attention. It’s hard to forget them.

So… when we’re trying to sell huge proposals and we need to get our message across in a way that’s hard to forget, video is our go-to strategy? Even if it’s tough, we find a way to use it because we instinctively know how powerful it is?

Hmmm…

In the world of bids and proposals the use of video is still dramatically underused some 93 years after the invention of the TV and is still seen as somewhat ‘innovative’. I know this because I’ve stood on a trade stand at a number of APMP events around the world and been told this time and again. This, despite it being obviously the best and most used way known to mankind (remember we watch over 4h a day of it!) to capture attention and deliver key messages – something advertisers have known for a long time! The great thing is that because it’s underused, if you bother to use it it’s very easy to stand out from your competition! There’s a huge gap in the market! I’ve worked on billions of dollars of deals with 100s of executives and once they realise the power of video they come back time and time again when each deal comes along.

There are a number of benefits to using video for bids and proposals. Let’s focus on two of them:

1. The Window of Listening

Video is a fantastic way to quickly and deliberately begin a presentation and open what best-selling author and business coach, Daniel Priestly calls, ’The Window of Listening’. He describes a number of key things that need to be in place before your audience is primed to listen to what you have to say. Video helps massively with two of these:

  • Building rapport
  • Demonstrating relevance

The brutal truth is that your team could your audience’s third team to present that morning and they’re standing between your audience and lunch. Your audience are not looking forward to another round of mediocre Powerpoint and are probably wishing this day would end and wondering how they are going to pick the kids up, get dinner, and make it to their appointment this evening on time. Phew! It’s vital that you get them back ‘in the room’, and ready and eager to listen to what you have to say. A short, customized video, tailored to this deal, will get your prospect’s attention and build rapport with them. If your story is well scripted and tells a compelling story that demonstrates that you understand them and have a solution to their problem, then they will quickly see how your solution is relevant to them.

The window of listening is now wide open!

Even if you are ‘not allowed’ to use video in your RFP submission or there is no final presentation where you could play a video, there are still plenty of ways video can be used in the sales cycle. It can really help underline your message and shape the impending RFP. Alternatively, you could use video on Linked-In to influence your contacts indirectly to name just two.

2. The Trojan Horse

Some people are not so keen on video, preferring to rely on being great story tellers, presenters etc. They start with a quote, or a provocative question. IF you’re REALLY good at this, this can indeed be effective, and I certainly don’t advocate being over-reliant on any presentation aid. It’s always all about the customer and about telling an effective story first. However… the problem with this approach is that usually the presentation is not the end of the story. The people in the room are not necessarily the decision makers. Even if they are they may want input from others who are not at the meeting. Now, you’re at their mercy to retell the story of your solution when you’re not there. Remember, you’re the expert at telling your story, not them. So they may miss the key bits out and end up talking about cost not value (NOOOOO!)

Now… if you started with a video, and then provide them the video afterwards, you’ve just given them a wonderful piece of top class sales collateral that will tell your story time and again inside their organisation when you’re not there. You get to keep control of how your message is delivered and received and it can be seen time and time again.

To deliver your Trojan Horse you don’t have to dismantle a wooden boat and put your video in it. But you can use the modern equivalent…

You can put it on a video brochure.

These two words could literally transform your life by making your presentations far more effective. Video brochures are physical ‘books’ that have a video screen inside and when opened automatically play your video – a bit like those birthday cards that play the tune to ‘Happy Birthday To You’. These are awesome and will amplify the benefit of your customised video hugely. When opened, most people still say ‘WOW!’ as they are not expecting a video with sound to play. To see a video of me explaining these in more detail see here.

So.. it’s the 21st century. Stop just putting bits of (e)paper in your prospect’s hands. Make Philo happy, tap into 93 years of psychological proof about the incredible benefits of video, and put a TV in their hands – with your attention-grabbing message on it.


If you’d like to learn more about how video can help you, I’d be happy to present 1 hour of training to your team, free of charge. I’ve delivered this mini-course ‘How video can help your team win more bids and proposals’ to teams all over the world: (via video call of course!). Just contact me an email: [email protected]

I’ve also produced a knowledge bank of short videos on my company’s website that answer many of the questions people ask about video for bids and proposals. You can access it here. You can also download my ebook ’Stop Sabotaging Your Pitch’.