Customer testimonial dos and don'ts

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Apriso Corp., a company that develops and sells global manufacturing software, has customers all over the world. When it's time to provide customer testimonials, it can be difficult to find someone in the same industry and on the same continent to speak with its prospects, said Veerle De Decker, the company's EMEA marketing director. Like many companies, Apriso turns to video as a way to "make the world smaller," she said. "Video has become a way to replace the customer reference call or visit," she explained. "In most cases, [new customers] are looking at huge projects with global roll-outs, and they want to hear from our largest customers." Video gives Apriso a way to let prospects hear from those customers—typically gigantic, multinational companies—without the need to "bother them over and over again," De Decker said. The strategy works because Apriso has honed its video production process using a set of best practices. Below, De Decker and Victor Bergonzoli, CEO at Dartfish, the company that provides Apriso with its video technology, lay out five of the most important. 1) Create a script with your customer—not for the customer. De Decker wants to highlight her company's software, but she doesn't want to put words in anyone's mouth, which is why, she said, she involves the customer in the actual script writing. The Apriso marketing team sits down with the customer, letting them lead the conversation about software benefits, customer service and maintenance. Together, they write a script that everyone can feel good about, she said. 2) Consider the entire sales funnel. Like most software vendors, Apriso knows it's not just selling to the IT department. "The end users, as well as the CFO, have to be comfortable with and approve the purchase," De Decker said. This is why the videos cover all the pain points along the way, from installation to support to use to ROI. 3) Let the customer's voice be heard. Apriso's customers are large manufacturers from all over the world who speak many different languages. When, for example, it was filming a testimonial with Trixell, a manufacturer of X-ray flat panel digital detectors, the interviews were done in French, the native language of the interview subjects. Instead of using an actor to translate the interviews in production, Apriso opted to subtitle the video instead. "It gives you the feeling and the tone," De Decker said. "It also shows people that we are a truly international company that enables the same production and quality standards wherever our customers are." 4) Show the solution—not screenshots or product shots. One of the biggest mistakes technology marketers make is using video in the wrong way, Bergonzoli said. "Don't show the product. Every printer looks the same," he said. "It's more important to show the benefits than to show the product. Show how someone uses it, and how it benefits them." Apriso takes this best practice very seriously, De Decker said. "We ask about how they are using the software, what the benefits are, and how it helps them in their day-to-day life." 5) Consider cross-channel uses. Videos may be designed as customer reference collateral, De Decker said, but they are also used for trade shows, during webinars, during sales calls and in other marketing materials. "You've got to make them interesting enough so anyone within a target company can view that video and get something out of it," she said. Bergonzoli suggested creating "tags" within the video so viewers can go directly to the sections that interest them most. "Let's say you're a CFO and only interested in cost or ROI," he said. "Our Dartfish Tagging lets you mark certain sections in the video, creating playlists so people can go right to the sections that interest them most."
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