Establish legitimacy. Social proof. Brand elevation. FOMO.
There are more reasons than ever to produce a customer testimonial video. And we've recently seen many clients use them as a quick follow-up project to more overview or explainer video productions. Not only do they hold great value, but they also simplify the process—perfect for a final step in a video engagement.
When you are able to ditch the need for storyboards, designing every inch of every frame, casting a bunch of actors, or buying dozens of props—and focus on capturing an authentic set of answers and anecdotes from one of your customers via a one-day shoot, things often feel a lot more streamlined. The budgets may even reflect that difference depending on who you’re working with on each of these.
However, given that a client testimonial video is less-complex, that can mean that it’s more difficult to make it stand out and engage your audience.
Demo Duck has always made a pointed effort to make sure when we made a customer story video, we were finding different ways to elevate the productions.
So here are 6 tips on how you can elevate your customer testimonial video, broken down by production stage.
1. Perform a Pre-Interview
While this is a pretty standard practice in the world of late night television, it’s often overlooked for video testimonials because of scheduling or the feeling of inconveniencing the interviewees. However, this quick 30-minute meeting doesn’t need to be overly formal nor be seen as an audition.
We approach these pre-interviews with two primary goals: getting to better know the subject’s personalities and pulling out a storyline on how they use our client’s product or service.
The former is something that we are able to get relatively easily by the interviewees demeanor, level of comfort, and how they present themselves on the call. All of these factors help us hone in on the mood of the production and edit, before we even roll the camera. Also, it’s important to lean into who these people are with the approach to make everything feel more authentic. Don’t force an outgoing HR executive to focus answers solely on KPIs and don’t try to make a comedic customer story if a marketing manager is a bit more reserved in how they approach their work.
In terms of storyline, this comes together based on the content of the pre-interview answers and is something we make sure we’re aligned with our clients on after the call. It’ll help us craft questions across various value propositions of the product and how we plan to order those within the edit as well. If your customer is a remote-first organization, perhaps we focus more on the cloud-based component of the tech. If they were using a competitor before making the switch, let’s focus on the ease of onboarding and API.
2. Preparing The Interviewees
Here’s an easy two-birds-one-stone scenario. The pre-interview also allows us to better prepare our subjects and put them at ease. Rather than meeting the crew of strangers on the day of the shoot, interviewees will have already met a few of us remotely and have been given the download on what to expect for the shoot. This can include talking about the process, the shot list, how much time it’ll take for their contribution, what they should wear, and more.
This will help calm their nerves as they prepare to get in the “hot seat” and provide a more natural performance on camera. So, give them a quick rundown (or link to this post) and allow them to ask any questions (no bad ones!) during that pre interview call—it’ll be better for everyone.
Below is a video we produced that was largely informed by the pre-interview, when we realized we had a great group of characters to shoot and a fun story to bring to life. This led to us collecting more b-roll of the robots in action and asking some more outside-the-box questions about their friendships.
3. Get More B-roll…Always
This one is pretty self explanatory. When capturing b-roll on set, footage of the office, collaboration, people using the product, etc., get even more than you think you need.
If there are not a ton of options, get some of the same shots as wide, medium, and close up. Film exteriors of the facility. Film the city that it’s located in. Shoot super tight shots of someone typing on a keyboard. No bad shots here!
This will give your editor plenty of options to work with in post production and make sure we’re representing the interviewees as best we can, which may include but isn’t limited to, properly cutting out too many filler words or covering up any instances of them accidentally looking at camera.
4. Focus on Feelings
It can be easy to craft your questions so you get answers centered on how someone uses a product or how well their business is doing because of the product. These can be helpful, but you don’t want to lose the emotional component, which can often be the most compelling.
The solution for this is relatively simple—for every question you ask about process or product, include a follow up question about how that made them feel?
How did you implement the platform into your workflow?
How did it feel when you first implemented the platform into your workflow?
The video below, filmed at a barbershop in Boston, is one that includes a lot of varying b-roll and doesn't get too bogged down on process or product.
5. Skip the Self-Introduction
Though we almost always ask on set for our interviewees to state their name and title, we have begun to use it much less often in our edits. That’s because there’s usually a bottom third graphic that has that listed anyways, and we know that time is precious for viewers, so don’t get too bogged down on someone’s exact title (is the phrase “Senior Consultant - Corporate Accounts, North America” the best use of 4-5 seconds?) and let the graphic do the talking.
6. Include Bloopers
Look, I’m a sucker for bloopers so I may be biased here, but I think they go a long way to adding personality and authenticity to the piece. I know it may not feel like a fit for every client but rather than showing someone stumble over an answer, it could be more subtle of showing a few collaborators laughing during a b-roll outtake that lets their true self come through.
I’m not talking about a foul-mouthed tirade when they can’t get a certain phrase through. But being in front of a camera, can often create a slightly reserved version of someone—no matter how comfortable they were during the pre-interview. Including some authentic moments instead of leaving them on the cutting room floor can help break through that implied barrier.
Don’t get me wrong, we love writing a great video script, but the organic nature of customer testimonial videos, and the ability to really connect with your subjects so we can best tell their story really fills our cup too. So the tips above are really all connected in how to best communicate your subjects true self and experience. So, next time your gearing up for one of these productions give them a shot, and perhaps you’ll maybe even have some…
Laughs. Tears. And a video that gets results.