Testimonials, the convincing stories told by your company’s clients, partners, vendors and network of colleagues and followers carry tons of credibility with your prospects. One of my colleagues, Ava Seavey, a direct response television producer with considerable chops, gave me permission to republish “Testimonial Tips”. If you are posting on YouTube, podcasting, writing a blog and selling anything, her years of wisdom is worth the read. I think you will find this applicable, interesting and insightful.
Testimonial Tips by Ava Seavey
“Whether you want testimonials for digital, social, retail or direct response TV, they are a powerful tool to have in your marketing tool kit and authenticity is key.
years, many people have commented on how real our testimonials are. It took
some years to perfect.
But there is a formula that we (at Avalanche) follow and I am hoping it will be helpful to share my tips with you.
So here we go.
- “Test” your candidates in advance. Whether it’s putting them on camera and meeting in person (best option) or interviewing them via Facebook or Skype, or even having them send in videos, it is important not to leave anything to chance on your shoot day.
- Look for passion, not perfection. The beauty of testimonials is the reality factor. Don’t select people who are so slick that they come off like actors.
- Be sure you have a good mix of ages, types, ethnicities, etc. Over recruit. If you need 8 people, be sure you have 3 times that many in your pool.
- Stick to your target demographic when recruiting. If you are targeting people over 60, don’t use 30-year-olds.
- Preparing before the shoot is of maximum importance. I generally develop a relationship with the candidates for the weeks leading up to the shoot, so that they feel comfortable and trust me. And, therefore, feel more comfortable confiding and telling their stories. Know their stories, take notes. Be personal with them on set. It will enhance the performance many times over.
- Don’t expect testimonials to vamp off the cuff. It is important to prepare questions to ask them in. I generally prepare 8 to 9 questions. Too many questions can overwhelm. It is also important not to let them know the questions in advance as you don’t want them memorizing or rehearsing their answers, as they won’t be as real.
- When possible, allow testimonials to wear their own clothing and jewelry and don’t go for an overly made up look.
- If someone is terrified on set, I have a few tricks to calm them down. One is to clear set of anyone not essential and it’s less intimidating. The other is to “trick them” by saying let’s rehearse and then secretly be rolling. Additionally, I generally have testimonials speak directly to me and not into the camera lens.
- There is no rule saying testimonials are all drama and serious demeanor. If they have some light-hearted and fun responses, encourage that. Sometimes they will come out with something so fresh, so funny, so original that you never could have written something that good yourself.
- When possible, get “b roll” which is footage with no sound of the people doing something to indicate a happiness with the product. It can be done in the same environment as the testimonial or a different location, budget and time permitting.
I hope that you will find these tips useful in building your library of testimonial footage. And if you need help, you know who to reach out to.
BTW: I am not an affiliate of Ava’s. I just really admire and respect her work and business philosophy. She shares by penchant to share what she knows.