When you hear the word "testimonial," you might think of a dry, cookie-cutter quote from a customer extolling the virtues of your product or service. Possibly, you might envision a video testimonial, but the content of that video would be similar: someone praising your product's features and benefits.

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But you can do so much better! You can create content that people can't wait to watch. You just need one thing: drama.

I actively try to avoid drama in everyday life, but "raising the stakes" is essential to creating compelling video testimonials that inspire people to take action. In MarketingProfs' upcoming Storytelling Summit for MarketersAndrew Davis will make over your video testimonials. He'll show you how to rework your case studies into actual stories.

I invited Drew to Marketing Smarts to give you select tips from his session: Video Testimonial Makeover: Tell a Story That Inspires Your Viewers to Act.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation (and sneak peeks from our upcoming Storytelling Summit):

When planning your video content, don't just copy a competitor's approach (05:19): "You should be using video if you know of a way to show people that you're different.... It's a really important element that people forget. They very quickly look at what a competitor is doing or what someone else has done and go, 'We could do that.' And, yes, you can! It's not that hard to shoot another how-to video just like your competitor. But can you challenge yourself to show what you do—in a way no one else has. That's what really stands out."

Storytelling might sound like a fun pastime, but make no mistake, it generates marketing revenue (07:33): "Ensure that people (at your company) understand that [storytelling] can lead to more business. I get it. Sitting around a campfire and telling stories is fun. It's this sort of mythical practice that's been around for centuries that we can all grasp hold of and use to our advantage. It sounds like we're waving a magic wand and fun things are going to happen. That's not how I see it.

"For me, any kind of content—video, audio, written, image, infographics—the goal is to ensure that you can tie the content you're creating to its ability to generate revenue. Case studies and testimonials always stand out to me as...types of content that people feel obligated to create and invest in. But I don't think they know how it fits into the buying process or how they could tie it to revenue better. It's one of the lowest targets for opportunity when it comes to really thinking about what the value of storytelling is."

Video testimonials should drive sales, not just validate an existing customer's purchase decision (11:02): "Everybody thinks they need a video to tell a customer case study to help validate a purchase, but, honestly, the best kind of case studies and testimonials should be way earlier in the purchase process. Imagine if you could tell a story that inspired someone to buy your product for a problem they didn't know they had, before they started watching your video: that you can tie to revenue."

Effective video testimonials show you what you want, then show all the obstacles standing in your way (15:30): "You've gotta raise the stakes immediately. Show me what the audience desires, get them to agree with it. You want to imagine the person launching this video nodding their head, saying, 'Yeah, we all want to lose some weight,' or, 'We all want to ensure that our bank is safe for our depositors every single day and we don't want to be hit with a scandal.' 'Yeah, I'm with you.'

"And then, you want to threaten it. Show me what gets in the way. What goes wrong? What are all the obstacles.... You want to see those threats.... All the while you're saying, 'Oh my gosh, I see this happening to me.' You need to get them emotionally involved by seeing what they desire threatened by what's coming down the pike."

To learn more, register for the Storytelling Summit for Marketers, and follow Drew on Twitter, at @DrewDavisHere, and on his website, akaDrewDavis.com.

Drew and I talked about much more, including his secret formula for creating video testimonials that drive action (including the "Mystery Box"), and why B2B companies often underestimate how many obstacles there are in the minds of their prospective customers.

Listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by GoToWebinar:

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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