The best person to sell your product or service is not you. In fact, they probably don’t even work for you. Your best generator of new sales is likely an existing customer who has been wowed with a great customer experience and an outstanding product.
People trust their friends. They even trust friends-of-friends. They want to hear or read good reviews from existing customers. To a cynical ear, “You’ll be so happy with us!” can sound self-serving and fake when it’s an inside salesperson saying it. So, what’s a marketer to do?
Let customers say it for you!
There are a number of ways to have current fans advocate for you when reaching new audiences. User-driven marketing can be as simple as using a quote from them on your website or retweeting something positive they said about you. Today, however, let’s talk about one of the bigger-ticket items you should consider: a Customer Story video.
If you’re considering hiring a professional video crew to do this for you, skip to step five.
First time creating a video? TechSmith Academy is available to watch free of charge. It walks you through everything you need, from scripting and storyboarding, through mics, lighting, setup, and editing, and even comes with helpful downloads. You might find this series useful if you’re nervous about creating your first videos.
Otherwise, here are 5 (relatively) easy steps to set up your customer story for success:
1. Prep (Do that due diligence!)
Start with those clients we already discussed, who love what you do and rave about you online. Before selecting them as your subject, research who they are, what they do, where they work, and how long they’ve been a fan of yours. Get to know your customer before asking them to appear in a video for you.
2. Script/Outline (Even reality shows have a plan!)
Once you know they’ll make a good fit, then you’ll want to come up with some questions directed at their specific experience. Remember, the focus of this really is the client, but your product plays a prominent role in their success.
Ask them for a quick, one or two sentence elevator pitch, to explain who they are and what their company does (if that’s where they’re using your product). One or two sentences can be tough, so they may need your help boiling it all down.
For example, you’d rather hear “We manufacture the best hiking gear in the northwest,” than have them go into detail about every type of coat, backpack, and accessory they sell. Keeping it short, and direct will move the interview forward.
Question to ask should aim at summarizing what they struggled with before being introduced to you or your product, so you can quickly show how you helped solve it for them. Show how they’re working more efficiently now, and how your product played a part in that.
3. Film (An important facet of any video!)
Without a large crew, here are some tips to consider as best practices:
If you don’t have professional film gear, produce your video on your smartphone. Most smartphones take high-resolution videos. You can find tutorials online showing how to get the most out of yours.
If you go this route, I still recommend having a tripod, or propping your phone on a steady surface. You don’t want to hold your phone while also trying to have a conversation with your interview subject; it’s distracting and you’ll end up with shaky footage.
Find a well-lit area. There should be windows nearby to let light in on your subject and background, but avoid showing windows in your shot so they don’t wash-out your image, or distract our focus.
Make them comfortable, but not too comfortable. Slouching in couches or overstuffed chairs doesn’t make anyone look good. You and your talent should face each other, on stools or solid chairs, with your camera/phone next to you (hopefully on that aforementioned tripod), pointed at them. You need to be able to see to make sure it continues recording, but it can come off as rude to stare at your camera. Instead, focus on having an engaging conversation with your interviewee, as if the camera isn’t even there.
If you have a microphone, use it. If you don’t have an external mic, definitely think about getting one. Good audio doesn’t necessarily guarantee your video will be better, but bad audio does make for a bad video, every time.
Have a conversation! Use your script as a guide, but let the conversation flow naturally so if something unplanned and interesting is brought up, you can explore it more deeply.
Gather B-Roll (additional footage).
(Examples of B-Roll from TechSmith Academy)
Now that you have your interview as the “A-Roll” or main video, you still need b-roll. We don’t want to watch a talking head for your entire video. Film your customer at work, using your product. Show them doing the things they talked about in your interview. Show their office, giving context to where they work, and the building from outside. Get creative with your shots. Make sure to get plenty.
4. Edit (Re-shape what they said, without changing it!)
First-time editor? We recommend TechSmith Camtasia, but whatever you use, the best way to get started is by diving in and trying it! There are, of course, some editing best practices to consider, but in principle you want to shorten a long interview into a digestible shorter video.
Just because you spoke with your client for 45 minutes, doesn’t mean you’re going to make a 45-minute video. Not even 30 or 15. Select the best of what they said, and reorder it to tell a story. A good way to structure it is “Who they are” as your beginning, “what their problem was and how you solved it” in the middle, and end with “our solution made their life better.”
5. Share (Let the world know!)
A customer story video is most likely going to fall within the Solution Aware and/or Product Aware stages of your marketing awareness funnel. Make sure you get it in front of the right set of eyes, whether you’re paying to advertise it on Facebook or YouTube, sharing it on your website, or another avenue to get it out to the audience it would most benefit.
However you approach it, remember: this video may seem like it’s about you, but it’s about your customers, both old and new. The best thing you can do is to step aside, and let potential clients empathize with a voice they are likely to trust.