In Part 1 of this series, we highlighted 12 things necessary for the development of effective client testimonials. One of the key challenges is how to bring your client to deliver the right set of words on video, and most naturally. An obvious, prepared sales pitch or statement from a talking head lacks credibility, defeats the purpose of a true client testimonial and can damage your public perception and sales.
The answer, besides of course filming a true, satisfied client, is in the questions you ask the client during the recording.
Here is a set of sample questions that generally lend to desirable messaging and credible videos. Do make it a point to practice with a colleague or member of your family before the actual client shoot, and adjust the questions where needed, to get desired results. But under no circumstance should you have your client read from a prepared text.
Scenario 1: Continuous Scene
Q: Ken, in 60 seconds, more or less, please tell us how you heard of John and why you chose him to be your REALTOR® to sell/buy your home. If negotiation skills or neighborhood knowledge were important to you (replace these with what you’d ideally like to hear), feel free to mention them. At the end, please tell us the biggest reason why you’d recommend John to others.
This type of testimonial is relatively easier to produce and edit, but multiple recordings / retakes are more likely to be required. Remember to check for bloopers and adequate sound and video quality (tested ahead of official filming as well), before you call the session a success. Watch the final video and check if the speaker’s eyes wander away from the interviewer. For example, most people tend to want to look at the camera lens from time to time, instead of focusing on the interviewer. No matter how confident the speaker, one cannot help but question the sincerity of the message. At best, one’s mind would wander away and risk missing the message, trying to figure who at or why the speaker was looking away quite often. For all we know, there may have been a second person in the room and the speaker was trying to be polite by addressing them too. But the damage is done irrespective.
If you have access to two exactly similar cameras (consistency in picture quality is critical for the final film), set one up to take a close up on the speaker’s face, while the other takes a slightly wider view. While not totally necessary, this gives you options to work with in your final edit. Otherwise, select the version you think creates a closer, more natural ‘connection’ with viewers.
Scenario 2: Storyboard
Q1: Ken, please tell me how you know John and why you decided to choose him as your REALTOR® in selling/buying your home.
Q2: What are one or two key things you look for in a REALTOR®, and did John offer them?
Q3: What impressed you most about John during the buying or selling process?
Q4: Anything else you’d like to say about John or his real estate service?
Q5: Please tell me if you would recommend John to your family or friends, and why.
With two cameras capturing your interviewee’s answers, the possibilities to get creative with your final edit are significant. Imagine a short 60-180 second clip that starts with a full screen with the name and city/state of your client, and your name/brand/organization/web address at the bottom right let’s say, appearing elegantly on the screen with soft, non-distracting music in the background.
The next shot is of your client, in a close up on their face, saying they’ve known you for 5 years now, that you’ve helped them buy and sell homes twice so far, and that there was no question that’s who they wanted to work with again on their last transaction because they trusted you.
The scene fades out to another blank screen and the word “reliability and trust’ pans in the middle.
Then the next scene appears, in a slightly wider angle, with your client responding to question number 2, talking about how they look for reliability and fast service, and based on a neighbor’s recommendation and their ultimate experience with you, they’re happy they made the right choice……
You get the picture. Each scene break is an opportunity to switch between close up and wide angle, and allows you to deliver key messages about your service in a memorable way.
The sky is the limit in terms of what you can do with such footage.
Good videos make for a more engaging website and enhance its search engine ranking potential. For example, Google’s algorithms today seek and prioritize good video content.
You can leverage your testimonial videos by republishing them elsewhere, much like you would an article. You can do so automatically and free of charge through oneload. Once uploaded to the site, a click of the mouse posts your video to top video and social networking sites, also for free.
Other video ideas include well-made, short property and neighborhood video tours. Sites such as ListedBy.com and others allow you to upload videos with your listings, for free. Re-use the clips through oneload.com, with link backs to your real estate listings on the site to attract buyers looking for homes for sale in your area.
Video has clearly become one of the most effective ways to engage people. It taps into more than just a single sense such as the auditory in the case of a podcast, or the visual in still photography. Well executed, video can also touch prospects where it matters most. Their emotions.
Among other uses, REALTORS® can use video to highlight unique services and abilities that clients can talk to. These may include promoting an early and effective adoption of new technologies such as social media or the latest trend, online offer/bidding and auction technology that is now being used to optimize asset value and reach finance-ready buyers globally, with ease.
One of the most highly effective and convincing uses of video in real estate can be found in client testimonials. They can be invaluable, influencing prospective clients to pick up the phone or write. Done wrong however, they can not only fail to deliver their intended objective, but in fact harm your image and business over the long term.
Banking on extensive experience in advertising, including the management of a major true testimonial campaign for a multinational brand, here are some dos and don’ts for video testimonials.
ALWAYS feature real clients. The credibility this lends cannot be stressed enough.
Ensure viewers understand that the testimonial is of a real client. A full screen caption ahead of the actual testimonial, or a small caption that appears during the recording should do it. Some clients may not wish to use their name on the video, so their initials as well as their city and state would do.
Shoot the video where your client can be naturally happy about the subject being discussed. Their satisfaction would project in their voice and attitude. Inside or just outside the home you helped them buy are good options. A nice backyard with the client’s kids happily playing, or with a spouse smiling at their side are genuine and convincing. If all options are on the table, pick the one with the least noise interference potential (cars, sirens, air conditioner, yelling).
Prepare and use questions during your interview with the client that naturally lead them to discuss specific benefits you would like to promote. For example, “tell me how important negotiating the deal on your terms was to you, and how you feel your agent was able to assist you in that area.”
Keep the testimonials short. 10 to 15 second bites are effective and not boring. Your viewers do not want a dissertation about you but, rather, they want to garner a sense of confidence in you before they make their decision on which Realtor® to choose.
Film the footage at a slight angle so the subject is facing you and not looking directly at the camera. A tripod would make this task fairly straightforward. When editing or selecting the clips that will be used online, under no circumstance should you use material where the client flips between you and the camera lens.
Mix into your final edit some close up shots on the subject’s face, to create an instant connection with your viewers. Add slightly wider shots to bring life to the video and incorporate some of the background such as a part of the home or kids playing on a swing or enjoying a board or video game. The camera’s focus should however remain on your subject at all times.
Lighting and overall quality are key. If you are not confident with your own videography skills, invest in someone who does. Film school students may be a great resource and may do your projects for you for free, to build their portfolios.
Do not use ANY footage that sounds like a sales pitch. Viewers connect with real people sharing their true feelings, and are repelled by sales spiels. Tell your subjects to be themselves and when necessary, ask if you could re-take a scene. A camera play back on location is a good way to decide if a retake of a scene is in order.
Audio is just as important as video resolution. Use a good quality microphone and test it beforehand.
Capture important sentences and use them in other online and offline marketing materials such as listing presentations, ads and flyers or postcards.
Prepare and get a release form signed by your client, allowing you to use the footage and content in your marketing, royalty free.
In Part 2 of this series we’ll cover actual filming techniques and how to extract the right testimonials from your clients.