How-to Do Better Testimonial Videos

How-to Do BetterTestimonial VideosTestimonials are a time-tested way to inspire trust and creditability in a company, brand, product, or service. It’s the reason why I encourage our clients to create testimonial videos, and I am on a quest to help organizations do them better.

That’s because many companies do them on the cheap, without any creativity behind them. They’re uninspired.

How not to do testimonial videos

The videos I’m referring to are the simple kind you’ve seen on websites everywhere. They feature someone on-camera singing the praises of a company. That’s it… just them on-camera. A head-and-shoulders shot with no other video to support them. The testimonial typically runs for several minutes. Who wants to watch that?

Ugg… what a wasted opportunity. Some businesses run shorter versions, maybe about a minute long. That’s not bad, but even these testimonials could be so much better.

What they need… desperately need… is a story. It’s not enough to stick someone on-camera and have them give a testimonial. There has to be a story.It's not enough to stick someone on-camera and have them give a testimonial. There has to be a story. Click To Tweet

Sometimes businesses will have the person giving the testimonial tell a story about their experience with the company. Okay… that’s a start, but even in these cases the videos lack appeal. They’re boring.

The reason why is not everyone is a natural storyteller. Beyond that… someone simply telling a story on-camera is leaving out other things video can provide to enhance their story.

Producing a video means you can add additional video or images to bolster what the person is saying. You can use editing to make the story more succinct and create pacing. And maybe best of all, you can add music to set the mood. Most of the testimonials I watch online are missing all of these things.

Will producing a quality video like this that tells a good story increase your video production cost? Probably, but I’ll add probably not as much as you might expect. Ask yourself this question, is it better to spend less on a video nobody will pay attention to or to pay more for a video they’ll watch and enjoy?

Case Study

These things have been on my mind lately because we recently produced a terrific testimonial for one of our clients. It turned out so well they immediately signed-up to produce another one.

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan wanted a video to promote its open adoption program. They decided a testimonial from people who have used the program would be the best way to do it.

LSS could have taken the easy path… put the people on-camera… have them talk about how wonder LSS is, have them explain the process, talk about how helpful and encouraging everyone was… blah.

Don’t get me wrong… that’ all true… but LSS’s leaders had a better vision. They wanted to share the emotional experience of adoption, and video is all about tapping emotions.

Instead of simple praise for LSS and details on how the program works, they wanted viewers to feel how LSS is changing lives.

I won’t go into details on the story itself, you should just watch it. Instead, what I’d like to point out is how many times LSS is mentioned in the video. The organization is mentioned twice… that’s it.

There are different ways to do testimonial videos. One can focus squarely on your business. I’ve produced this type myself for T60. But the other way to create a testimonial is to center the attention on the person or organization providing the testimonial, which is exactly what we helped LSS do.

The entire video centers on the birth mother and the mother and father who adopted the baby. It’s a terrific story, and while LSS is barely mentioned the message is clear: LSS made this wonderful union happen. It’s the organization that brought these people together. It’s a powerful testimonial without at all feeling sales-y.

Testimonial Balancing Act

Maybe you’re a bit nervous about this whole approach. I mean… you might be thinking… the company receiving the testimonial only gets mentioned twice?! My boss would never go for that!

Trust me… I get it. Even if your company leaders won’t be on-board with that method, it is possible to balance telling the customer’s story with how your company helped them.

In a video we produced for Cayan, we start and end the video by focusing on Cayan’s customer, but the middle is all about Cayan and how they solved a problem.

The important thing is to at least start the story focused on the customer. You want to establish a connection between the customer being featured and the person watching the video. You want the viewer empathizing with that customer’s pain point.

Then, when your company jumps in to help, the viewer will be open to your solution… and your company.

New Testimonial videos for T60

I believe in this type of testimonial so much, I’m in the process of putting it to work for my own business. I really like our current testimonial. I think it does a great job of showing people what it’s like working with T60, but the next series of testimonials I’m working on take the other approach.

They won’t be emotional in the same way as the LSS video… nobody is going to breakdown crying or anything. Instead, the emotion I’m going for is confidence. I want people to watch our testimonials and feel confident in our ability to tell great stories and provide value to their organization.

Each of the testimonials will feature one of our clients. They’ll talk a little about what they do and how they value video. There will be a brief mention of how we’re their video partners, but we want the focus to be on them. In a way, we hope it turns out to be just as good a promotion for them and their business as it is for us.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing the testimonial on your business, but it’s not the only way to do it either. If you’re worried about your testimonial coming of too sales-y, give this customer-centered approach a try.

–Tony Gnau

FOLLOW-UP!

Well… we took our own advice. We’ve produced a pair of testimonials so far, and we already have another in the can and ready to edit. Feel free to check them out on our Home page as well as our About Us page.

One features Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich PR agency and founder of SpinSucks.com. The other is from Andy Crestodina, CMO of Orbit Media Studios.

If you’re in PR and/or marketing, these are people you should be following. They’re frequently keynotes at communications conferences all over the nation and their content is awesome!

Tony Gnau - T60 ProductionsTony Gnau is a three-time Emmy-winning journalist. He is also the founder and chief storytelling officer at T60 Productions. T60 has won 15 Telly Awards for its work.

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