PrintingForLess taps into testimonials

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Objective: Despite establishing itself as a reliable provider of commercial printing services, had been uncertain how to use social media in its marketing efforts. Therefore, several months ago, PFL's marketing team set out to integrate social media elements to increase business sales and leads.

Strategy: When the PFL marketing team started searching for potential social media campaigns, its members only had to look as far as their own e-mail inboxes. Each month, PFL receives more than 50 unsolicited “love letters” from satisfied customers thanking the company for its services. According to PFL Marketing Director Jared Tanner, the letters felt like an opportunity to explore social media and create good publicity.

“With this movement towards social media and with how huge YouTube has become, we always wondered how to leverage social media into more business for PrintingForLess,” Tanner said. “And we wanted to leverage the letters we get and use all this wonderful material our customers were providing us.”

To maximize the love letters' potential through social media, PFL launched a campaign of customer-created video testimonials. Initially, PFL purchased five Flip video cameras and sent them to five customers that had submitted letters to tape their thoughts about PFL. Besides the camera purchases and shipping (PFL let the customers keep the cameras), the only additional costs to PFL were brief follow-up phone calls to make sure the cameras were received, making the video testimonials a very cost-effective campaign.

The rest was up to the clients, who then filmed and posted their testimonials on YouTube and their personal Web sites. PFL had no say in what the customers did in the videos and chose to stand by whatever they came up with, Tanner said.

After an enthusiastic initial response, PFL expanded the scope of the campaign, eventually sending cameras and instructions to 60 clients. So far, 43 customers have filmed and posted video responses, a strong reaction even when factoring in that PFL sent cameras to an audience that had already submitted positive love letters.

Among the 43 video replies, the testimonials have all been personalized with varying levels of creativity. One features a voiced-over clip of Mr. Potato Head. Another customer, the Cottage Theatre, scripted out a tribute to PFL featuring actors in full dress from a production of “A Christmas Carol” it had been presenting at the time.

Results: To gauge the impact the video testimonial campaign had on actual sales, PFL measured the frequency with which participating customers placed orders. According to Tanner, there has been a “definite uptick” in the frequency with which those customers place orders and do business with PFL.

And while Tanner concedes the team has no metrics to measure the impact of word-of-mouth, he said companies have contacted PFL to do business after seeing their friends' video testimonials on YouTube.

Tanner also believes the campaign has strengthened PFL's relationship with its clients and made it more attractive to potential customers.

“There's definitely a comfort level when you're shopping for some kind of service and there are satisfied people with their testimonials right there,” he said.

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