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5 Strategies for Collecting, Creating and Circulating Customer Testimonials

By Sean Gordon
Aug 14, 2018 12:03 PM PT
videos of authentic customer testimonials are of critical importance in a company's marketing plan

Most of us understand how overwhelming it can be moving to a new city. Surrounded by a host of options for dining, shopping, daycare, leisure time, auto mechanics and everything else under the sun, making an educated decision on where to go involves some groundwork. So what is there to do?

While many of us will start by going online and checking out reviews for businesses on popular aggregate sites, our choices more likely may stem from a conversation with a new coworker or neighbor for recommendations ranging from a great dentist to the best gelato in the area.

The fact is that we hold social proof from our friends, family and even complete strangers with incredibly high regard.

Based on a Nielsen research poll, "92 percent of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and a remarkable 70 percent of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don't even know."

The words of a peer are understandable; there's an unspoken social contract involved. When you make a recommendation to a friend, you're doing it based on trust in your relationship and with the implication that you will see each other again, so a poor recommendation inevitably will resurface in future meetings.

Why do we value the personal opinions of relative strangers so highly? A big part of it is visual evidence, which takes social proof one step further. Customers place far more trust in a review when they can see another customer speak, feel the emotion and sincerity in their words, and determine from body language and context clues the extent to which they're being genuine.

This is what makes video testimonials such a critical facet of any business marketing plan. There's incredible brand value to be found in sharing real customer documentation of an experience with your product and service. With the explosion of social media branding, quick testimonials that clock in at under a minute are ready-made for sharing on social media platforms and can attract a wide audience of potential customers.

So how do you manage to find customers that are willing to sit down and record a video of them selling your product for you? Sure there's greater finesse to it, but ultimately for this to work you need passionate customers that really are willing to preach the virtues of your brand.

Fortunately, it's not quite as big of marketing hill to climb as it may seem. Following are five awesome strategies to take advantage of when obtaining and circulating real-life, genuine customer testimonials.

1. Find the Faithful

Before you can think about creating or distributing customer testimonials, you have to find customers who are loyal to the brand. This won't be as hard as you think. One option is through creating social media contests, which are a great way to get customer-created content on the fly through the use of an entire campaign -- more on that below.

If you're looking to create a testimonial to display on the front page of your site, producing in-house is a great way to go.

Reach out to large-scale buyers of your products and send a request asking if they'd like to take part in testing an upcoming product, or if they'd like to tour your facilities. Offer a discount on their next purchase in exchange for them coming to a lunch at your office and having a quick on-video conversation about your products.

Be up front about creating the testimonial and try to find a customer that really would appreciate you taking notice of them. (This can lead to both a great testimonial and to your sales team being thrilled with the stronger connection.)

Remember to have all the technical side set up beforehand. Do a quick trial run with a colleague to make sure your camera, memory and mics are good to go. If everything goes to plan, all it should take is a lunch meeting to get a fantastic, shareable customer testimonial for your business.

2. Skip the Scripting

Once it's time to record, it's completely OK to have some semblance of a plan in place. Maybe you want to touch on a few points of concern, like price versus competitors or quality. Maybe there are a few things you don't want to talk about, like mentioning specific competitor names or special rates that are negotiated on a per-contract basis. These are all completely acceptable terms to run through prior to shooting the video.

With that said, don't play director too much during the recording process. If you create a script, or specify lines or phrases to include, you risk calling into question the sincerity of the video. This defeats the whole purpose of a testimonial, which is meant to demonstrate a customer's genuine satisfaction and feelings about a product.

Have a general plan for how you'd like the meeting to go. Don't start with the video. Give a tour of your offices, chat for a while. Warm up your customer, both to you and to your product line. Then, when the time seems right, invite your customer to sit down for the interview portion.

Make it a conversation. You're not running this live and can edit afterward (though you want to be up front about what you edit, and consider sending a copy of the final product to the customer before sharing it publicly).

You can prepare a few questions to guide things along a narrative path in an interview format, but don't fret about time or direction. What's most important is to capture genuine thoughts and reactions to your brand.

Customers viewing a testimonial know in a matter of seconds when something feels contrived and immediately will tune out. Grab the genuine moments of excitement that occurred during your recording. Don't create a script or checklist and just check your way down.

Keep things relaxed and conversational and you'll be delighted with your results; sometimes a 5-second frame is all it takes to put your video over.

3. Keep It Short and Sweet, but Recordů Recordů Recordů

Piggybacking off the idea of maintaining a free-flow conversation, keep the camera running. In all likelihood, 30 minutes of recording will produce 5 minutes or less of content. That's just how it goes, and it's not a bad thing.

Statistics show you have 10 seconds to grab a viewer's attention, and you'll lose one-third of your viewers by the 30-second mark. This number continues to climb to 60 percent of viewers tuning out by the 2-minute mark, meaning that delivering testimonials in short spurts of minute-long clips can be the most effective way to share your content. Put another way, you will be doing some editing.

With that said, don't rush the interviewee! Record everything. If you have the capability, even consider recording the whole day, including the tour of your facility. Capture the moments of your customer meeting team members or viewing your manufacturing process. There are gems of content to be found around every corner!

Let your customer elaborate on thoughts in the video. Don't worry about the good and the bad, all of that can be taken care of later on. Just keep it moving and remember: Everything can be edited, but authenticity cannot be created.

4. Use Social Media Contests to Generate Testimonials

Call it killing two birds with one stone. Using social media to generate testimonials is an easy way to connect directly with your customers, improve your brand image, and generate content for pennies on the dollar.

The simplest format for a social media testimonial contest is to create a call to action on your social media platform, announcing a giveaway for a free product to the customer who posts a video using one of your products or services, espousing love for your product, whatever you want! You can have fun with it by asking your customers to post a video of the most creative way to use your product beyond its intended purpose. Run with it!

On the surface, you're getting testimonial videos from actual customers or would-be customers from a minimal cost and time investment. However, these contests run much deeper than that by creating followers. For instance, asking your customers to include a specific hashtag in their post has the potential to get your brand trending on social media before a whole new set of eyes.

By posting the video content, your customers are not only getting your attention, but also that of their own followers. Think about it this way: Let's say you're a growing company with just 1,000 followers on social media, but looking to grow. You create a social media testimonial contest and only 10 of your followers post a video. You might have some content to reuse, but you also might feel discouraged. Well, don't be.

The average Facebook user has about 338 friends. The median number of Instagram followers is just shy of 200. If just 10 users post a video testimonial for your contest, you've suddenly reached a potential audience of between 2,000-3,000 users, depending on the platform! For a company with 1,000 followers, these are hardly numbers to scoff at and can lead to real growth.

Add another layer by creating a raffle-based contest. For one week, post the best testimonial as it pertains to a theme. Then, at the end of the week, either enter the entrants into a raffle or have a vote on your platform for the best overall video.

This will create an entire week's worth of content and a ton of back-and-forth via social media engagements, possibly with customers creating their own calls to action to get their friends to vote for them. It's a low-cost way to run an engaging campaign that, in the end, will produce a ton of genuine, customer-created content.

5. Unboxing: The Christmas of Testimonials

This last strategy for collecting customer testimonials is a whole lot of fun for everyone. In recent years, "unboxing" videos have trended on YouTube, taking the video marketing industry by storm. After all, doesn't everyone remember that feeling of complete joy at the holiday season when you sit down and get ready to tear into your presents? Why not harness that youthful exuberance inside all of us?

The concept is really pretty simple: Reach out to a few of your most valued customers, or maybe even your most lively customers. Offer to send them a free package with one of your products in exchange for sitting in front of their webcam and recording a video opening the product and testing it out. It's low-effort for everyone involved, but creates some spot-on content.

Many customers will be thrilled to participate, and knowing that they're in front of a camera by themselves, they're likely to get into the spirit of things. These videos are awesome at accomplishing a few different marketing goals.

One of the reasons viewers enjoy unboxing videos so much is that they elicit nostalgia and a general feeling of wanting to share in the experience. It also is bound to generate a natural excitement, as your customer will be narrating the experience throughout the video.

The process also pushes you to think about your product from the customer experience point of view. You want the video to be great; you want to avoid any awkward moments during the unboxing. You'll work to make sure the packaging is easy and that getting started is a piece of cake.

In the end, you'll have yet another trusted outlet of customer testimonials that will create buzz about your business. Work with all of these approaches and experiment with your own tactics and strategies along the way! The key to this process is staying creative and exploring new ways to capture the thrill of your customers on video. So what are you waiting for?


Sean Gordon is chief executive officer of HireNami. His experience recruiting, hiring, training and building teams inspired him to found HireNami to convert these challenges from painful, inefficient and time consuming to quick and effective.


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