How do Marketing Leaders Get Customers to do Testimonials?

Testimonial videos have become an extremely effective tool for building trust with your customers and accelerating the sales process. The best representative you can have is a happy customer.

Before capturing impactful social proof, you need to ensure your customers will participate. Finding the right way to ask your customer base to participate in advocacy can be a tricky road to navigate.

That's why we spoke with experts in the customer advocacy field to get a better understanding of the tips and tricks they use to ask for testimonial videos from their customers.

Bring it up early in the process

One tip to get customers to agree to a testimonial, a video testimonial, is to set the expectation early in the sales process. Actually approach that conversation early, and potentially even include it in the contract, in your sales agreements.

- Sam Shepler, CEO at Testimonial Hero

There is a common misconception around the idea of asking for testimonials too early in the sales process. We’ve always been told to wait until the customer has had a great experience before even mentioning reference calls or testimonial videos. 

However, as Sam Shepler points out on his podcast, bringing up this conversation early and potentially making it a part of the contract can be a big win. 

Setting early expectations for your customers will make the process much easier when asking them for a testimonial. Just because you approach the conversation at the beginning, doesn’t mean you’re forcing the customer into anything.

Including these terms within a contract, pending customer satisfaction, will ensure that you are still collecting customer stories from those who are excited about the product or service.

A great way to work these terms into sales negotiations is by offering a small discount or providing more favorable terms in exchange for customer testimonials. Working in conjunction with your sales team can help make this standard practice within your sales process.

Frame the ask as an opportunity

In almost every one of those situations, if you take a step back and think, “How can I frame this as me giving them an opportunity to do something?” There’s almost always an opportunity to do that, where you’re not asking for, ‘Hey, can I have a day of your time for filming, or 30 minutes of your time for a Zoom interview?’ Where you can say, ‘Hey, I want to give you the chance to talk to your peers about how you got so damn good at your job.’ There’s always a cool way to frame it.

- Alex Dunn, Director of Demand Generation at Levelset

Asking for testimonial videos from your customers can feel uncomfortable, almost like you’re asking them for a favor that is only benefiting you. 

It doesn't have to be this way though, since testimonial videos can be effective for both businesses involved. It’s important your customer understands this and it’s all in how you ask. 

You don’t want to come across as a taker in these conversations. It’s important to pose the question as an opportunity for your customer, because that’s exactly what it is. This is a chance for their brand to be put on a pedestal. 

Sure, they’re talking about the wonderful service that you provided to them, but they are also given a spotlight to express their own information and industry expertise. Getting a face and story attached to their brand can really stick with viewers who may need a service they provide in the future. 

However, none of this matters if you don’t say it when bringing up the testimonial video conversation. It’s crucial that you take the time to frame your question properly. You want the customer to feel like they’d be missing out on a great chance to spread awareness about their brand and mission.

You never want your customer to feel like they are just doing you a favor. You have to make sure they know they are getting a positive impact from this process as well.

Pursue case studies like a salesperson closing a deal

You should treat the pursuit of a case study like you’re a sales person trying to close a deal. This is your opportunity to multithread or speak to power. Try to get multiple people to vouch for your cause.

- Patricia Bautista, Senior Manager, Customer Advocacy Marketing at Gong

It’s widely understood that persistence is a crucial part of deals that get closed during the sales process. But this same level of persistence seems to be frowned upon once the sale is complete and the focus shifts to customer experience.

There is obviously a fear of oversaturation; you don’t want to be asking the same contact to provide feedback or video content over and over. However, there are other ways to bring the method of closing a sale together with gathering impactful pieces of customer advocacy. 

As Patricia Bautista begins to explain in Episode 9 of the State of Customer Storytelling podcast, pursuing case studies and testimonials like a salesperson is about finding multiple people within a company who have been positively impacted by your service. 

You want to have a variety of voices willing to raise their hand and say “this product rocks and here's why”. Not only does this give you more content to include in your advocacy marketing program, it also ensures none of your spokespeople will get tired of beating the drum for your business.

And of course, having more people willing to vouch for you can make asking for video content frictionless. 

Connect your brand stories

So if I come alongside as a vendor, and I am able to fulfill some of the needs of you, Sam, as an individual, and to such an extent that that is now part of my personal brand story, it is very hard at that point for me to remove that story of your brand out of my personal brand. Now you have ultimate advocacy, because our stories are connected. So the connection of stories is a very, very important aspect of advocacy and, honestly, the height of where we want to get with advocacy.

- Liz Richardson, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Captivate Collective

Connecting the story of your brand with your customers’ is a somewhat undervalued aspect of customer advocacy. Testimonial videos can feel very transactional and impersonal when viewers don’t sense the connection between brands.

Think about the different forms of advocacy you see throughout the week on TV or online. You can easily tell the difference between someone being paid to promote a product or service, and those who are passionate about what it did for them.

This same idea applies to B2B video marketing: your audience can tell when an individual has truly been affected by your product. 

This is another important distinction to make; you want to focus on the individual brand stories within a company, not the company as a whole. 

As Liz points out earlier in episode seven, it’s important that marketers remember to “Insert themselves in the need of that individual and not just making that business look great…all businesses are made up of individuals and we all are trying to succeed at something.”

You want to have such a positive impact on your customer, that the story of their personal success can’t be told without mentioning your brand. These are the most powerful customer stories you can share. 

Help build confidence in the customer

A lot of our job in the customer advocacy field is helping build their confidence so they feel they can be successful in sharing their story. I think that’s the exciting component of it, of helping them feel brave that their journey in helping to transform their organization was critical for their success to survive.

- Jeff Gabel, Customer Advocacy Lead at ServiceNow

Sometimes advocacy marketers are so familiar with sharing stories, they tend to forget customers may not feel as confident about the process. 

They might not feel like their story is interesting enough or worth sharing. Many people simply don’t realize the impact they are making and it’s easy to feel like a cog in the machine.

They could even just be nervous about getting in front of the camera and being a representative of the brand.

Regardless of the why, it is your responsibility to build confidence in your customers and ease whatever concerns they do have. Help them realize how important they are to the story, they’re the hero!

Your customer should understand that, as a primary stakeholder in this project, they are equally responsible for the benefits their business is receiving from your product or service. Remind them, none of these results are possible without the role they’re playing.

Having a confident customer who feels like they have an important story to tell will make asking for testimonial videos and case studies even easier.

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