If you’re wondering how to produce a testimonial video, you’ve come to the right place. For over ten years we’ve produced videos for countless companies that by and large have focused on testimonials. Why are testimonials so important? Think of them as customer reviews for your business or product.
But the dirty little secret is…
You get to control what the customer says. No, it’s not manipulation, it’s just more control over what you want your audience to hear. I’ll give you examples in the main article. You ready? Here we go.
How to Produce a Testimonial Video
Okay, so with Google reviews people go to your site and put up a review without your input. Maybe they didn’t have your intended experience? Or maybe they didn’t use the product as you had expected? Or maybe they were just in a bad mood that day. In any case, the effect is the same. You just got a bad review, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
When you produce testimonials, on the other hand, you’re there every step of the way with your production company to make sure your message is what you want it to be. For example, say someone gets a little off topic or is mentioning things that are outside the scope of your testimonial video while you’re recording. You can just stop them and refocus their train of thought back on the right path. This happens all the time with testimonial videos and it’s a big part of how to produce a testimonial video. The producer is crucial for keeping the content on topic so don’t hesitate to step in and refocus the subject.
Say the subject is nervous and you don’t want to interrupt them in the middle of a question. This happens often as well. We see plenty of first-time video subjects that are just too nervous to take direction. Not a problem. We let it go and cut it out later. With editing tools we can easily get rid of the unwanted content later on down the line.
How does this work?
We shoot with ultra-high-resolution cameras so we’re able to have both a wide angle and a closeup in the same shot. When it comes time to cut some content, we just go to the other shot.
Another option is B roll. We can layer B roll (the footage we take of the subject after the interview is over in their natural environment) over the testimonial footage and cover up the cut from the deleted footage like it was never even there.
Another option still is to use multiple cameras. Typically there will be one camera straight ahead that the subject looks into, then there will be another at an angle that shows more of the side of the subject’s face. When it comes time to cut out some of the unwanted content, we just switch from one camera to the other and the audience never knows the difference.
See what I mean? We can control the message.
The next critical step in how to produce a testimonial video is developing solid questions ahead of time.
There are producers who do this on the fly but they hardly ever do it well. Most producers will research the subject ahead of time and get some relevant background information that they can turn into questions. Usually a producer will start out with some generic questions and then lead into the more detailed questions. For example, we do plenty of marketing for online MBA programs and their questions look something like this:
- Why did you choose (insert university here)?
- How was the admissions process at (insert university here)?
- Did the course work directly apply to your current profession at (insert university here)?
- What would you say to someone who is on the fence about enrolling at (insert university here)?
- How did the online environment affect learning at (insert university here)?
The questions will typically follow this flow until the more detailed or personal questions, which happen next and look something like this:
- I know this is hard to talk about but your mom was sick when you attended (insert university here), can you tell us what it was like to go to school online while this was happening?
- I know you’re a full-time mom and you work full-time on top of that, how did you manage the work/life balance while you attended (insert university here)?
The questions, as you can see, all follow a similar format and encourage the subject to repeat the name of the product/university. This brings us to our next points, and these are very important.
Another point is that you should never pose yes/no questions. These lead the subject (who is already nervous) to sometimes shut down and not offer up the information. Here are two examples:
The Wrong Way
Producer: “Did you like your experience with Colgate toothpaste?”
Nervous Subject: “Yes.”
The Right Way
Producer: “Tell me about your experience with Colgate toothpaste.”
Nervous Subject: “Well I have to say it was very positive. I found it gave me more minty freshness than Colgate in the blind test…”
Make sense? It probably seems obvious now but I’ve seen many producers make this mistake.
And finally, be bold. The best producers I’ve worked with are not afraid to shut it down when things are going off topic or to even feed lines when the subject is struggling. This typically won’t happen with amateurs but with pros you can absolutely do these things. If the subject is doing great you’ll never have to pull these tricks out, but if they’re not you’re going to have to get them back on track. The fact is, some subjects actually want you to tell them what to say. If I ever do this I always structure it in a very specific way. Here’s an example:
“How about we try, ‘I’ve had a great experience with Stay-Dry Roofing because their customer service was top-notch from start to finish,’ if that’s something you believe.”
So the sentence is always a suggestion and never a command, and it always ends with “if that’s something you really believe.” We’re not trying to put words in anyone’s mouth, we are just trying to get their original message across in a more polished and simple way.
Here are a few other resources you can look at if you would like to dive further into producing.