By Jay Pinkert
I can't stress this enough: A testimonial is not a customer story. It's your story told by a customer. So the typical video testimonial comes across like an ad—maybe even a paid ad—and doesn't connect with audiences as strongly as personal customer success stories where the storyteller, not your company or product, is the star.
In 2012, Infusionsoft marked National Small Business Week with a series of customer story videos under the heading "What's Your Story?" In the process of capturing dozens of videos for the series, we've learned a lot about how to create customer stories that connect with audiences. Here are a few tips.
Get subjects excited to share their story
When we ask our small business customers if they'd like to share their story with us, the typical response is "What would you like me to say?"
We make it clear up front that we're not looking for a testimonial for Infusionsoft. Instead, we'd like to hear their own story in their own words—topics like when, why and how they started their business, what they love about being an entrepreneur and what makes them passionate about their product or service. In this way, the "testimonial" aspects become organic and emerge naturally in the conversation.
With the camera on, begin the conversation with brief, basic questions that will help the subject get comfortable being interviewed:
- How long have you been a customer?
- Have you done a customer story video before?
- Do you have any questions or concerns?
Reassure them that they shouldn't get flustered by little flubs, pauses, and stammers and should keep going. Everything will be fixed in editing. But they are free to stop and restart or repeat/rephrase whenever they'd like.
When you feel the subject is ready to begin, walk him/her through the standard self-intro:
“My name is ___________ and I’m from ___________. I am [TITLE] [COMPANY] [COMPANY DESCRIPTION].
In order to provide consistency among the interviews but still elicit a range of comments, we’ve developed an ordered list of questions to follow in each interview. The interview starts with general questions about the subject and his/her business and then progresses toward more specific product and business problem/solution questions.
Based on the subject’s demeanor and responses to the early questions, we identify at least one line of inquiry to focus on:
- Inspirational (e.g. stories about entrepreneurial passions and aspirations)
- Instructional (e.g. stories about how the they solved a specific business problem with the product/service)
- Case study (e.g. specific product/service experiences, results and overall impressions)
Our interview script includes questions like:
- Tell us about your business. Why did you start it? What makes it unique?
- What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
- When you think about success, what do you see? More time? More income? Early retirement? Building a legacy for your family? Going public?
- How did you make the decision to invest in an all-in-one sales and marketing system? Was it a gradual process, or was there a specific tipping point or “Ah ha!” moment?
- How did you hear about Infusionsoft? What motivated you to make that first contact?
- How has Infusionsoft helped you succeed?
- Which capabilities stand out in your mind?
- What would you tell a friend about Infusionsoft?