Powerful, persuasive testimonials don’t come from run-of-the-mill satisfied customers. They come from “true believers.” People who have a great story to tell about your product and the difference it has made in their lives.
To find your product’s true believers, you need to start with a list of promising candidates: customers who – at least on paper– seem happy with your product.
You’re also going to need a list of well-thought out screening criteria and you’re going to need to apply those criteria through a disciplined process.
But before you do all that, you’re going to need to decide on the media to employ for your testimonial drive.
For that, you have a number of choices. One obvious method is to do an email blast to customers who live in or near the city where you’re planning to shoot your testimonial videos. In the email you simply state that you’re looking for satisfied customers who might be interested in giving an on-camera testimonial for use in advertising. Virtually overnight — and with little-to-no time and effort spent on your part — dozens of high quality testimonial candidates land in your inbox.
If only it were that easy.
Unfortunately, you’re likely to come up short if the only thing you do is an email blast.
Why? Email response rates are typically low and the commitment level from those who do respond is often low as well. Often many customers will quickly respond with a one or two-sentence reply that they are interested and then simply not reply to follow-up emails asking for more information and a photo.
Another reason: Unless you have a large production budget, you’ll likely want to limit your testimonial recruiting to candidates who live in or near the city where you’ll be shooting, so you don’t have to fly anyone in. Even if you’re shooting in a major metropolitan area, like Los Angeles or New York, your customer base in those areas is still finite.
What to do?
One of my favorite techniques is to get a list of customers who live in the shoot zone and put half a dozen or more testimonial wranglers on the phone to call into the list with what appears (to the customer) to be a brief customer satisfaction questionnaire.
As with a real customer satisfaction survey, the questions are designed to gauge the customer’s level of satisfaction — and range of experience — with the product. For example:
- How long have you been using the product?
- Why did you initially buy the product? Any other reason?
- On a scale of one to 10, how satisfied are you with the product? Why do you say that?
- Has this product made a difference in your life? If so, how?
- What do you like best about the product? Why?
- What product features do you use most often?
- Do you think this product is better than competitive products? Why?
- Is there anything you don’t like about the product? Why?
- Who should use this product? Why?
One of the advantages of calling into your customer base – vs. emailing — is that you can identify a lot of testimonial candidates very quickly. Using this technique, I’m often able to identify seventy-five to a hundred high quality testimonial candidates – in the shoot zone — in as little as two weeks.
Another advantage? During the call, your testimonial wranglers can hear each customer tell their story first-hand — in their own words and with their own voice. They can gauge their level of enthusiasm and get a sense of their energy level. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for run-of-the-mill happy customers. You’re looking for “true believers”. People who will give powerful, persuasive testimonials that will be worth the time and expense to film, then share with hundreds of thousands – or millions — of other potential customers via TV, the web or other media.
Note that the wranglers do not make testimonial “picks” at the time the calls are made. All they are trying to do at this stage is identify potential testimonial candidates and collect information.
It’s worth noting that the testimonial wranglers do not mention anything about appearing in a testimonial video until after they’ve asked the survey questions. That’s because what they’re looking for are genuine fans of the product, not someone who just wants to be on TV.
We’ll be sharing additional video testimonial tips and techniques in upcoming posts. One theme that you’ll notice throughout is integrity. Customers can spot a testiphonial a mile away. So you need to build integrity into every step of the process, beginning with the recruiting and screening stages and all the way through the shooting and editing of your testimonial videos.
Finding true believers definitely requires a carefully thought-out process and extra work. But it also results in extra quality. The kind of quality that leads to truly awesome testimonials – and the increased response rates you’re looking for.
If all of this sounds like a lot to take on… well, it can be. Which is why many infomercial producers – experts in how to use testimonial videos to boost response – usually don’t do it in-house, even when budgets are tight. Instead, they hire “testimonial wranglers”.
The name grows out of a Hollywood tradition that started with horse wranglers used in westerns. The word “wrangler” was then attached to people who had anything to do with controlling animals for a shoot. For various feature and TV commercial productions there have been bug wranglers, bee wranglers, bird wranglers — and even baby wranglers who are actually trained child care experts or RNs.
The title “testimonial wrangler” sounds like somebody who wrestles consumers to the ground and hog-ties them. But what the testimonial wrangler really does it take care of the onerous details that might otherwise have you hog-tied. Which is what my company, The Testimonial Wrangler, is all about.