Don’t want to pay a fortune to get video testimonials on your website? Here are ten top tips on producing your own company video testimonials. Follow these and the end result will be every bit as good as those that could cost you thousands (well almost!)
The biggest deal clincher
What’s the most influential aspect of your website? Is it carefully crafted copy, a slick corporate video, a personal message from you or beautiful digital photography? Actually it’s none of those, it is in fact something very simple that human nature is pre-conditioned to seek out and trust. The most persuasive and influential element of any website is someone impartial speaking in positive terms about their dealings with you. In other words it’s the satisfied customer telling the world about your product or service. The marketing people call it social proof, you probably know it as customer testimonials, and they’re worth their weight in gold.
Seeing is believing
There are two ways testimonials can appear. Either as text or as a series of short videos. While the second option is by far the most powerful, the issue will of course be one of cost. Your best customers are likely to be spread far and wide so getting a video production crew around just half a dozen could take several days and end up costing a fortune. The alternative is to do them yourself and get them for free.
10 top tips to guarantee video testimonial success
Here are 10 top tips on of producing your own company video testimonials. Follow these and the end result will be every bit as good as those that could cost you thousands.
1 Dust off that camera
You probably already have a good quality digital video camera so this is a good time to make it pay for itself. If you’re one of the few that doesn’t, then either borrow one or hire one from a local AV company. You can get them either by the day or by the week. You’ll be amazed at how cheap they are.
2 Your best company spokesperson
Contact your best and most loyal customers and explain that you’d like them to do a short video testimonial. You’ll be amazed at just how co-operative most people are and a refusal is almost unheard of. Like you they’re in business and they will almost certainly understand its importance to you. More likely than not they’ll be quietly flattered to have been asked. The fact that you’re not turning up with a huge video crew will certainly help, especially if they’re very busy or a little camera shy. Explain it as a short chat between the two of you about their experience of working with you or your company. It’s very important to give them a clear idea of how long it’s likely to take – ideally it shouldn’t be more than half an hour.
3 Time is money
On the day arrive in good time and allow an hour or so to find the best spot to set up your camera. Ideally somewhere quiet with good, even light. If possible get some visual reference to their business in the shot. If all else fails go for the company name style above the door. If it’s someone senior you’ll be shooting they won’t be happy kept hanging around, so get everything set up before you get him or her involved. It’s a good idea to use someone whose time isn’t quite so precious as a stand in while you get ready.
4 Do your homework
Have a short list of questions already prepared. You need to give these some careful consideration and choose questions that will get your subject talking about things you know are important to your prospective customers. How you ask those questions will also dictate the answers you get. Most important of all don’t ask questions that beg a yes or no answer. For example, ‘are you happy with our delivery performance?’ Should be phrased as, ‘how would you describe our delivery performance?’ Also asking someone how they ‘feel’ about an issue is always a good way of getting him or her to expand on a topic.
5 Tripod, tripod, tripod.
Put your camera on a tripod. No if’s buts or maybe’s about this, you have to use one to get a rock steady camera. This is so important that if you’re not prepared to use one then forget the entire thing because as well as wasting your time you’ll be wasting your customers too. More than just giving you nice steady footage, it will leave you free to talk directly to your subject without a camera coming between you.
6 Get ready for the big close up
Don’t have the subject looking directly into the camera, that’s hard work for anyone. Instead, stand just slightly to the side of the camera and get them to look at you. This gives you a three-quarter view of their face which is far more flattering. Making sure your subjects head fills at least half the frame is equally important. Hopefully they’ll be saying nice things about you so the viewer needs to see the sincerity in their expression. When you’re framing them in the viewfinder offset them slightly and leave more clear space on the side of the frame that they’re looking into. If you want to see some examples then watch the BBC News tonight.
7 Plan the end before you begin
Before you begin, explain to your subject that when they’ve finished speaking you want them to simply stop and hold their position. The problem is that as you’re not responding verbally to what they’re saying it’s human nature for them to fill the silence by carrying on speaking – the last thing you want. By getting them to finish what they intend to say and then stopping gives what video editors call a natural ‘out’ point. Starting a video piece is easy; getting a good clear ending is always the difficult part. Remember, many a good piece to camera has been spoilt by the subject finishing then suddenly asking,’ was that ok?’
8 Keep quiet and let them do the talking
Ask your question and then keep quiet – leave them to answer. The idea is that your voice will be cut out completely in the edit stage leaving them to apparently speak unprompted e.g. ‘for us your delivery record is one of the…’. Again, watch the TV to see how effective this simple technique is for making people look and sound confident and authoritative.
9 Smiles and nods reassure the speaker
Don’t get tempted to enter into a conversation; the viewer doesn’t want to hear the voice of an unidentified person coming from somewhere off camera. That said it’s very important to give them some silent support when they are speaking. A smile and some nods are very reassuring, especially when they cover a significant point.
10 Editing…child’s play literally
There are some very good free video editing programmes around and the edit doesn’t have to be any more complicated than chopping out a few ‘umms’ and ‘errs’ and the bits of you asking the questions. If you’re not confident enough to do that or you simply don’t have time, then a local video production company should be able to do it for you in a couple of hours for a relatively small fee. Failing that your neighbours fifteen-year-old son or daughter will probably do it in half that time on their iPad and charge a lot less. As part of the deal they’ll probably upload it to You Tube for you as well.
Final point, make sure you display the subjects name, position and company, otherwise they don’t have the credibility the viewer will be looking for. This is usually done on screen with what is known in the business as a lower third. Failing that it can always be done alongside the video in the form of a caption.
Of course in the world of global business I can already hear someone saying they can’t do this because their customers are scattered across the world. In that case the answer is to record it on Skype. After all, if it’s good enough for the BBC it’s good enough for your website.
In a nutshell you now have enough information to go out shoot some professional looking video testimonials that don’t cost a fortune or turn out looking something from a horror movie.
Why not send me a link to your results and I’ll be happy to provide some feedback.