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3 Simple Ways to Prepare Your Customer for a Video Testimonial

Few things are more powerful in the sales process than an effective testimonial. Hearing about a product or service from someone who has used it before helps ease those buying nerves and provides a measure of legitimacy to the seller. And what better way to deliver a testimonial than through video? Video puts viewers face-to-face with your customer and gives them a glimpse into their experience that text and photos simply cannot do.

When done well, a video testimonial can be one of your best sales and marketing investments. So here are three essential preparation steps you should be taking to ensure you create a genuine, engaging testimonial video.

1. Identify the right customer to interview

One of the biggest challenges you’ll encounter when producing a video customer testimonial video is finding the right customer to be on camera. For starters, it helps to have a solid existing relationship with the customer you’re going to work with. They need to be your champion and invested in your success. If they’re “doing you a favor” or begrudgingly agree to be in “your little video” it’s probably not a good fit. Your customer should be genuinely excited about being part of what you’re building.

Once you’ve found your champion, you need to make sure they can tell their story on camera. If you’ve met them in person before, or seen other videos they’ve been in, this can be relatively easy to assess. However, if you’ve never seen them before, you need to do a little sleuthing to figure out if it’s worth the time and expense to put them in your video. An in-person meeting is ideal, but a video chat, or even a phone call, can get you a decent feel for how they’ll perform under the big lights. In general, you’re looking to see how well spoken they are, if they can improvise on the fly, how confident they seem, and how much energy they have.

Here’s a video testimonial we made for a online payroll service called SurePayroll. SurePayroll chose Kelly because of her experience with the product, her confidence (and willingness to be) on camera, and the fact that she’s local.

And keep in mind, sometimes champions come from unexpected places. Take this testimonial video for Google Apps. It features Yeti, a cooler company based in Austin, Texas. That’s right, Google and coolers. But it works!

2. Figure out what story you want to tell

The problem with most testimonials, and more specifically customer testimonial videos, is that they’re all about the product. “Rightly so!” you might say. And to that, I would say, “No! You’re wrong.” A customer testimonial video should be about your customer and their story. It should focus on who they are, what they do, and the problems they were facing before being introduced to your solution. Everyone loves a good story, and your testimonial video (or customer story video) should be no different. Of course you should introduce your company, product, or service eventually, but it should by no means be the center of attention.

Take Squarespace for example. They’re one company doing customer story videos very well. Check out this one about climber Alex Honnold. In a three minute video, outside of the logo towards the beginning, the product isn’t even mentioned until the last 20 seconds. Counter-intuitive for most marketers to be sure, but look at the results. Squarespace has over 570,000 views on their customer story videos alone and the Alex Honnold (Climber’s Cut) video has nearly 300,000 views.

Levi’s has been doing a similar campaign for their Commuter series, jeans “designed for cyclists, by cyclists” (sounds familiar). Same type of format. A longer form story up-front followed by some subtle branding at the end.

We typically provide B2B customers with eight questions ahead of time to help them prepare their thoughts and start thinking about their story. Here they are:

  1. Who are you (name, role), where are you, and who do you work for?
  2. What does your company do? Tell a story about your work.
  3. What problem were you having that led to [COMPANY]?
  4. What did [COMPANY] do for you to help solve the problem?
  5. How has [COMPANY] helped you (e.g. sell more, improve your brand)?
  6. Why did you choose [COMPANY]?
  7. What has been your experience working with [COMPANY]?
  8. What’s the best part about working with [COMPANY]?

Not every company is going to have an Alex Honnold to profile, but everyone has a story to tell, you may just have to do a little digging to find it.

3. Set expectations for shoot day

In order to get the most authentic story and testimonial out of your customer, you need make sure they know exactly what to expect and when to expect it. The more stress-free you can make this process, the better result you’re going to end up with. A few days or a week before the shoot, get your customer on the phone, or send them an email, and walk them through these four things:

  • Who – Who’s going to be there and what their roles will be. For example, who is going to be asking the questions, how many people are part of the crew, and who needs to be around from their team.
  • Where – Where the customer testimonial shoot is going to take place. The exact room or setting you’ll be filming in, the chair they’ll be sitting in (if they’re sitting), and any additional details you can provide about the location.
  • What – What they should wear, bring, and prepare for shoot day. Also let them know what you’ll be providing (e.g. water, snacks, any props) and what they don’t need to worry about.
  • When – When the shoot is taking place and exactly when they’ll be needed on set. Oftentimes we try to use a small crew and be as disruptive as possible, only bringing the customer on set when we’re ready to press record. Don’t waste their time by having them in place while you’re framing the shot, adjusting lights, or testing sound equipment.

Whether you’re making a customer testimonial video yourself or hiring a professional video production company, these three pointers should help you set the foundation for a powerful video. Have you seen other companies out there using customer video testimonials well? Please let us know in the comments!

Written by Andrew Follett
Andrew is the Founder of Demo Duck, a video production agency. He lives in Chicago, loves startups, and enjoys traveling. You can follow him on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.