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Oct '16 | SF Video Production Company’s Tips for Testimonials

As a San Francisco Video Production Company, we work with a lot of clients who want to make customer testimonial videos that both inspire and represent the work they do. Right now we’re helping Workspot create one such video so I’ve watched a lot of customer testimonials recently to see what other companies are doing. As a testimonial newbie, I hadn’t really seen these videos before and found that the approach to making them really varied, some of which worked and some of which most definitely did not.

Here are some helpful tips that I discovered along the way:

1. Make It Look Nice

While this seems an obvious tip, it is surprising how many customer testimonials you will find out there that look like they were filmed and edited on their 1990’s flip phone. While it’s tempting to think, “what’s important is the story they are telling, it doesn’t matter how it looks,” let me tell you now – it matters. Any San Francisco Video Production Company will tell you you need to make your video look as professional as possible, no matter what your budget is. Not only is it more fun to watch, it makes you look much more credible and inspires trust in potential customers.

Even with a limited budget you can have an amazing looking interview if you take the time to scout out a good spot for your subject. Ideally a place with an interesting background (not a white wall!) and soft natural lighting (not overhead fluorescents!). Also, if at all possible, do hire a make up artist, because having your interview subjects look and feel their best is half the battle.

2. Script Your Questions, And Your Answers

The questions you ask your interviewees will shape the soundbites you get, so put a lot of thought into what you want your video to say. Include questions that will elicit both the informational and emotional responses you’re looking for. We suggest that you even write up your ideal soundbites, then reverse engineer them into questions. Scripting testimonials is far better than telling your client too little — no one likes being put on the spot with no direction. On the flip side, no one likes being told what to say. So make sure you okay your questions and the type of answers you’re looking to attain with all necessary parties before the cameras start rolling.

3. Interview The Right People

Carefully choose who and how many people you want to interview. What are the different perspectives you want to use and how do you want to go about representing them? Perhaps you choose a representative from sales to talk about the product’s different use cases, or the VP of Finance to talk about the cost benefits, or the Director of IT to talk about deployment of the product. Either way, having someone with the authority to talk about the solution is key. But don’t forget about the end user, the people actually using the solution on a daily basis. They’re a incredibly valuable perspective that should be showcased.

And, of course, picking interview subjects that have a little charisma doesn’t hurt either.

4. Include A Call To Action

While this may also seem obvious, I find this important to put on the list because it is an effective tool used in every video I watched. The last thing you want to do is get people pumped for your product then leave them hanging with no link to any further information. Clearly put your website, social media sites, email, and/or any other relevant method of communication at the end of the video to give them a way to form a relationship with your business.

5. Highlight Your Customer’s Business As Well As Your Own

Praise is great, but without first knowing exactly what your customer does and how your solution helped them, then that praise has no context. And without context, it’s hard to evoke empathy or engagement. In this Nutanix testimonial by Valpack, not only do you know exactly what Valpack does, it clearly states the benefits of the Nutanix All-Flash Solution and how it differs from other options out there.

Similarly, in the featured video example highlighted at the top of this blog, Cisco focuses on the customer’s story to the point where their own name isn’t even mentioned until a minute into the video.

The video also adds in an aspirational element by weaving in a big picture statement in the beginning and end– the bigger issues the customer was facing, and what sort of solutions they found from their Cisco partnership.

This leads me to my next, and probably most important, point…

6. Determine What Story You Want To Tell Beforehand

As a Video Production Company in San Francisco that works mostly with corporates and tech companies, we are constantly promoting the importance of preparation. Before shooting, decide what kind of a story you want to tell as it will affect every decision made throughout the production process. For example, if you’re looking to tell a heart wrenching customer testimonial, there are certain cameras, lenses, and angles for that type of storytelling. Whereas those tools wouldn’t work if you’re looking to highlight a more technical matter, something that requires filming devices or computer screens.

We suggest, before starting your scripting or preproduction process, that you start by choosing your informational and emotional takeaways.

Information takeaways come from the specific soundbites that are captured– what do you want your audience to learn while watching the video?

Emotional takeaways focus on the experience you want your audience to feel while watching your video. We suggest choosing three main emotional takeaways. For example, in this HP video their three emotional takeaways, in order, are:

Empathy with the customer

Appreciation for the simplicity of the product

Compelled to move forward and buy the product

As we film Workspot’s customer testimonial in Texas, we will be keeping all these tips in mind. Tune in again at the end of the month to see the finished product and hear what this San Francisco Video Production Company learned in the process.

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K'Dee Miller is the Founder & Creative Director of Patina Pictures.

Her feature films have premiered at Sundance Film Festival, AFI Fest, Newport Beach Film Festival, among others. Her corporate video clients span from technology companies such as Microsoft, RingCentral, DocuSign and Adobe, to Bay Area nonprofits such as Team4Tech and Hamilton Families.

She's studied her industry from every angle, receiving production training from The Juilliard School, an MFA of Writing from University of San Francisco, and a BFA of Acting from Marymount Manhattan College.

She is currently in the process of writing a memoir about growing up in the wilderness of Alaska.