Forget the industry you’re in for a moment and think about the last time you made an important purchase. Whether it’s booking a holiday, choosing a new car, buying a mobile phone or deciding what to watch at the cinema what do you always take the time to do? Chances are you read the reviews, sought opinions or checked the ratings.
That’s because the experience of others is always going to hold significant sway over our final decision, and rightly so. As both social creatures and consumers we are naturally influenced by the opinions of others. The internet hasn’t affected our need for third party affirmation over our purchasing decisions but it has empowered us to have other people’s testimonials and reviews on pretty much anything, from lawnmowers to life insurance, accessible whenever we need to call on them.
A lack of B2B testimonials
In the consumer market the desire for reviews is well established, but this culture rarely translates into the world of B2B, where even multi-million pound businesses often struggle to make good use of platforms as ubiquitous as Google reviews. Which is quite concerning, when you consider your next B2B client is quite likely to come via a recommendation from someone who has had a positive experience with your brand.
New clients will always be looking for peace of mind before committing and customer testimonials provide the best way to deliver this.
You may already have written testimonials on your website, and if so, you’ve made a great start. However, to take it up a level, you can’t do much better than a video testimonial. It’s one thing having your customer’s waxing lyrical about your company or services in print, but by putting them in front of a camera you can create one of the most effective sales tool you’ll ever have in your marketing toolbox.
Implementing an effective video testimonial strategy requires careful planning and consideration, which is why I’ve brought together The Marketing Café’s seven steps to producing truly convincing testimonial videos.
1. Select the right customers
There are a few things to think about when selecting the right customers to speak on your behalf. Firstly, and most obviously, which of them will genuinely have nice things to say about you? Unless your business has a very poor product offering and customer service record then there should be plenty to choose from.
Remove those clients who don’t feel comfortable going on record in front of a camera or have a policy of not endorsing suppliers, and you will have a workable shortlist.
Think about the content of the testimonial too. This isn’t just about getting customers to say how wonderful you are. The video should be informative for the viewer, as well as promotional, and the best way to do that is through relevant case study material. You should therefore be looking to select clients that have an interesting backstory about how they came to use your services or products and how they view the benefits delivered.
When you approach clients, it’s a good idea to make an effort and pick up the phone. It’s often tempting to ping a quick email request, but a phone call is more personal and shows greater effort on your part. This will be your chance to explain the format and put them at ease in case they have any immediate concerns or misgivings. It’s also a good opportunity to engage with your client and keep the relationship warm.
2. Hire a professional video production company
Unless you’re a seasoned videographer with good editing skills, we think the production of your video testimonials is probably best left to the pros. No doubt you have the ability to record a client testimonial on your iPhone, but is this the message you want your brand to convey? Developing a corporate website or brochure is almost always trusted to the best agencies, so why should your promotional videos be any different?
A good video production company will bring ideas and above all experience to the table. Also, if you want your clients to appear natural and honest on camera it’s best that you remove your company from the production process.
A good video agency will have the skills to put your client at ease and ask the right questions to extract those golden nuggets required for a powerful video testimonial. What’s more the video production company will be able to work out what cutaway footage is needed and how best to get it. They will have the in-house post-production skills required to develop a highly polished and professional final edit.
Assuming clients are based in close proximity to each other, it should be possible to cover three client interviews in one day. Make sure you select video production companies with experience in testimonials and ask to see examples. In terms of cost you should be expecting to pay at least £2,500 ($3,300 USD) for the production of three short videos shot over the course of one day. If distributed and promoted in the right way though, the ROI you can expect will vastly outstrip this.
3. Avoid scripting (go for natural Q&A)
Probably the biggest mistake brands make when producing promotional videos is over rehearsing or scripting. You should certainly avoid putting words into the mouths of your clients.
Ask the client to answer the questions as openly and honestly as possible keeping the responses short and to the point. The client might not find this easy if you are in the room, which is why it’s best that you aren’t there. Let the video production company take care of it and you’ll see a big difference. The result might not be well polished brochure copy (thank goodness) but it will be natural, authentic and engaging. You need to let go and let fly. The key to a video testimonial’s success is that it comes across as genuine.
4. Testimonial interview setup and techniques
Whilst trying to be as hands off as possible you should work with the production company to prepare the questions. If the testimonial is based around a case study or particular service, make sure you properly brief the agency so they know what you are looking to get out of it. This means when they ask the questions they can keep probing to get the responses and information as highlighted in your brief.
The production company will supply an interviewer, who will ask the questions which should be answered off to the right or left of camera. You can ask for questions to be answered in a way that makes it look as though they are being delivered directly down the lens. Using the Interrotron technique developed by filmmaker Errol Morris the interviewee continues to talk to the interviewer, but the answers are in fact being delivered directly to the camera. This is highly effective in certain situations, but is something you should discuss and consider carefully with the video agency.
Locations for interviews should be varied and interesting. In an office or behind a desk is obvious and often works fine, but a little creativity can go a long way. Think about filming in other more natural or interesting locations such as in a local café, standing outside with an iconic landmark in the background or somewhere related to the subject matter.
5. Make it visually stimulating (good cutaways)
Even a short testimonial interview will be far more watchable if there is visual stimulus. The best way to achieve this is with cutaway or b-roll footage. Typically this will include shots of the client in their office environment: arriving at the office, meetings, chatting to staff, sat in front of the computer, on the phone or walking through the office.
In addition, you may want to highlight certain key points with graphics and animations. Think about the content that is likely to be discussed at the interview. If it is about a particular service or product then find ways to represent this on screen. This will add weight to what the client is discussing as well as making the video more interesting. You should discuss the cutaways with the video production company before the shoot. It will be their job to look out for opportunities and think on their feet, but they will need some guidance from you.
6. Keep it short and sweet
I’m not against long form video content, but if you want your entire message to be taken in by as large an audience as possible then it’s best to keep it short and sweet. By this I mean around 30-60 seconds. When viewing online via websites and social media it’s particularly hard to keep the attention of the user. If they think a video is going to run for minutes rather than seconds they will be likely to click away earlier, unless it’s of particular interest.
If your testimonials are headed up, “Here’s what some of our customers said in 30 seconds” the engagement level will be so much higher. The temptation will always be to cram more information in (you’ve got a lot to shout about at the end of the day) but what would you rather – the viewer watches 30 seconds of a three minute video and misses the message or watches 30 seconds of a 30 second video and gets the entire message?
Longer form videos do have a place. There might be an opportunity on your website or in your sit down presentations for more in-depth case studies. Think about where this type of case study content may be better appreciated, and include it as part of the brief for your video agency. There’s no harm in using your testimonials to direct people to ‘the complete interview’ or more ‘in-depth case studies’ but the prime purpose of your testimonials is to create a succinct and easily consumable endorsement of your company and get it seen by as many people as possible.
7. Shouting about your video testimonial
Once your testimonial videos are ready you will of course want to share them with the world. That’s the beauty of video; it’s a highly shareable medium and one that is proven to get the best responses in email and social postings. I firmly believe that a testimonial video on your website is the most powerful voice you can have. So, place it front and centre of the website and give your potential clients and customers exactly what they are looking for – peace of mind that you are tried, tested and very much appreciated.
Don’t just wait for website visitors to find your videos. Get them out into the world via social media posts on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. You can even create shorter versions for social media running at 10 seconds for faster and more immediate impacts. Remember, that some platforms like Facebook auto-play video is muted, so think about including subtitles if you’re promoting your content on platforms that do this.
Also, when your sales team are meeting new clients, and you are putting together new business proposals, make sure the videos are utilised. There are many cloud based proposal solutions available such as Proposify, which allow you to embed videos. What better video could you embed in a new business proposal document than a customer saying great things about you? Solutions such as this provide analytics that tell you which pages of the proposal document have been read the most. Evidence shows that large pages of text are not well read, but short videos are more frequently watched.
So, there you have it, how to create your first testimonial videos in seven straightforward steps. Like any form or marketing, getting started is the biggest step. However, once a good video production company is on board you’ll have an experienced partner supporting you all the way.
Testimonials are rewarding for both you and the client involved and will help to strengthen your business relationships as well as delivering an incredible return on investment. I hope this guide has helped clarify what’s involved as you set out on the path to creating amazing testimonial videos and reaping the benefits.