Video Testimonials: Put Your Best Foot forward

c-sharp-videoIn recent times, video testimonials have emerged as a powerful marketing tool. They help marketers establish their credentials with ease, by showcasing real users in real-life situations, who endorse their products. Prospects view with suspicion text testimonials or sound-bites. But they perceive a video testimonial as a more genuine endorsement of a product; this is because the customer’s identity is shared, and it creates an instant connect with the audience.

History and evolution of video testimonials

Interestingly, video testimonials have an over-a-century history, and their origin can be traced back to the silent-movie era. In short, 30-second pantomimes

or dramatized endorsements of a product had been shown before, or during a break in the movie, in the 1910s and 20s. With the advent of talkies, these endorsements turned into musicals or high-pitched conversations. Television has today given a big boost to video testimonials; viewers are no longer glued to their seats, and are open to frequent ads.

The website boom of the 1990s, and the ever-increasing global use of the Internet have transformed video testimonials into to a new medium. Given the low cost of production of a video and of hosting it online, marketers have suddenly discovered a cost-effective method of generating leads. Companies can now entice prospective customers, and get them to engage with the company proactively; they hope to build a reliable customer base by adopting the ‘pull’ strategy.

Industries most suited for video testimonials

While video testimonials can be leveraged practically by any industry, they are ideally suited to products or services:

a.    which have several points of decision, requiring umpteen clarifications: eg. Real Estate
b.    when there are a handful of similar options that have their own merits and drawbacks, and making an objective decision is difficult: eg. automobiles
c.    when the user has little knowledge of the product: eg. high-tech products
d.    when the customer seeks assurance or peace of mind, and has an emotional stake in the product: eg. education (choosing a school or college)
e.    when the product is costly, or has a brand equity that elevates the user’s identity: eg. Fashion (apparel, leather, accessories), Interiors and Architecture
f.    when the product is of high utility or used all the time, and there are multiple competing brands: eg. Home Appliances, and Airlines

Essential features of effective video testimonials

•    The speaker: Choose a customer who is articulate, with a pleasant voice and tone, and a regular accent. People with thick, gruff or hoarse voices, shrill tone and heavy accents must be avoided.
•    The interviewer: Instead of a monologue, an interviewer should ask intelligent questions, elicit relevant and clear answers and make witty remarks; such a person would ensure a natural and engaging testimonial.
•    The script: A casual, conversational and simple style of language would make an immediate connet with the audience. The speaker must be allowed to articulate in his/her own spontaneous words, and should not appear rehearsed, or give the impression of repeating a memorized script.
•    The footage: The footage should be a lively and healthy mix of the speaker’s close-ups, bits of the location, shots of the product concerned, and any other relevant detail.
•    The location: Unless there is a clear reason, keep the location as relevant as possible. No doubt, an exotic location maybe soothing to the eyes; but a video testimonial of an SUV would be more convincing when shot on a highway or a dirt track.
•    The audio: Allow a mix of natural background noise in low tone, pleasant low-volume canned musical clips, and the speakers’ clear and prominent conversation; that would make the testimonial effective.

Creating a winning video testimonial goes beyond just having a willing customer. Engage an agency that specializes in this art; you can be sure of eliciting the best viewer responses, and thereby creating a loyal customer base.

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