We recently wrote a blog on Social Proof and How to Build Yours. In this blog, we mentioned how you can put to work well-done testimonials to establish some serious street cred for your business.

Putting together a testimonial may sound like a piece of cake. Especially if you have some hardcore fans in your corner ready to shout it out to the world. In fact, you’ll find most brand advocates are more than willing to help you out. All you have to do is ask.

But what makes the perfect testimonial? First, let’s look at what we’re trying to whip up for our business. The perfect testimonial can work wonders for your business, doing things like:

  • Establish credibility online
  • Bolster your brand
  • Help demonstrate your business’s value proposition
  • Convert prospects into customers

The Recipe for a Perfect Testimonial

A lot goes into a good testimonial – pulling quotes off of Yelp just won’t cut it. You’ll need:

  • 1 Part Selectivity: Be choosy with your testimonial subjects.
  • 2 Parts Loyalty: Pick someone who’s been around a while.
  • A Pinch of All-Natural Sincerity: Don’t put words into their mouths.
  • 100% Video – No Substitutions

More about these ingredients…


Unfortunately, not every super-fan of yours is the perfect brand advocate. So you’ll have to be choosy when you pick subjects for your testimonials. Go for people who have a strong presence in public (and on camera), have a little charisma, and use descriptive terms when describing why they like your business. Someone who can’t fully describe why you’re awesome may be a great customer, but they’re not the ideal candidate for a testimonial.

Steer clear of folks who, when asked why they choose your business, respond with generic phrases such as, “You’re great!” or “I just love working with them.” We’re looking for those customers who can explain why you’re a rock star and can do so with some charm.


You want to make sure whomever you choose has enough to talk about. If they’ve had several interactions with your business, they’ll have a lot of memories to pull from and can talk for a longer period of time. This means you can pick and choose the best pieces of information they share and leave less-than-impressive comments out. Also, if they’ve been buying from you for a while, they’re less likely to give you a testimonial you’ll have to toss out later if they were to leave you for the competition.


Why shouldn’t you feed them lines? We don’t care how much you think you can simplify what your business does. If a testimonial is scripted, people will notice. You’re likely to instinctively use industry slang and talk more about your product or service’s features, and less about its benefits (a marketing no-no). Basically, you risk sounding really salesy (maybe even fake), which will turn off your audience.


Video testimonials are the best kinds of testimonials you can get. Pictures have a greater impact than words – which pains me to say, since I write for a living! But it’s still true. Videos of your happy customers are personal, and they’ll convey emotion and passion better than any written testimonial would.

If you can aim to get all your testimonials in video form, you can repurpose them from there. Not only can you post them to most of your online communications channels, you can pull quotes from them and incorporate those into other pieces of collateral and communications. Pro tip: If you just can’t get a video testimonial, ask customers for a picture of themselves you can pair next to any quotes you’re able to get. That’s the next best thing.

Putting It All Together: “How to Bake It”

1. Pick your customers.

Ensure the customers you choose aren’t camera shy. From there, use the ingredients above to home in on the ideal customers for the job. Be selective, and choose loyal customers who will be sincere in their answers. This may seem intuitive, but once you have a few people in mind, ask them to participate! Note: Avoid incentivizing participation in testimonials, or else your customers will be required to disclose that they received something in return for their public praise – there goes your credibility.

2. Get your technology in place.

Caveat: We recommend hiring a professional video team to record and produce testimonials for any local business. Making a video may not seem that difficult on the surface, or maybe it sounds too expensive. But a lot goes into making a high-quality video that will stand the test of time.

If you decide to do it yourself (DIY), we’ve got some basic advice.

  • The ideal place to post testimonials is on your website, so if that’s your goal, an iPhone or other smartphone video won’t cut it. Make sure whatever device you use can record in high definition (HD).
  • Be thoughtful about the lighting you use. Watch for any strange shadows on your subjects or around them. (Shadows can make someone look sketchy or even untrustworthy.)
  • Audio is also important. Limit background noise (record outside of business hours), and if you can use an external speaker in addition to the one on your camera, do it!

3. Prepare for the interviews.

According to Vidyard, some of the best testimonials are structured into three parts:

  • The first 30 seconds should establish who the customer is.
  • The next 30 seconds should establish the problem they face(d).
  • The final 30 seconds should demonstrate how your product solves their problem.

With this structure in mind, think of questions you can ask in each interview. Go for open-ended questions. Questions with “yes” or “no” answers won’t get you very far, and it’ll feel like you’re pulling teeth. Some examples of good open-ended questions:

  • Can you please tell us about yourself?
  • How long have you been a loyal customer with our business?
  • What made you contact our company initially?
  • How did you do things before contacting us?
  • Did you face a problem that caused you to seek us out?
  • What issues did that problem cause in your life?
  • How did you feel before solving that problem?
  • How did we help?
  • What do you like most about working with us?
  • Did we make anything easier for you?
  • What specific products or services do you use most from our business?

4. Conduct the interviews.

Schedule the interviews, set up the technology, and get rolling. Make your customer comfortable, and ask if they need anything (like water) frequently throughout the interview. Don’t stop and start the camera unless you’re taking long breaks. If someone stumbles over a sentence or a word, simply repeat the question or ask it in another way. The thing to remember here is – it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to seem human. Post-production editing can take care of any unwanted slipups.

As you’re interviewing, remember to make the conversation more about the emotion your customer feels toward your business. Avoid extensive chatter about your actual products and services (notice only one of the questions above is about these guys).

5. Produce the testimonials.

This is the toughest part for most DIYers. Taking video and editing it down to a 1:30- or 2-minute video can be really tough. Not only is it hard to choose the best moments, fitting them together into a comprehensive story can be challenging if you’re not a professional. Oh, and do you have the right software on your computer to do so? Out-of-the-box software like iMovie can work, but you need something that can splice together various clips and audio and also incorporate any images and graphics you want.

Incorporate b-roll. A common trick of the trade is to incorporate b-roll (additional video footage) to supplement the interview recording. B-roll can help camouflage any weird missteps during recording – you can layer the audio you want on top of the b-roll instead of on top of the interview footage. You can also use it to break up various segments of an interview. Typical b-roll footage includes video of a storefront or of your team performing a common service you provide.

6. Get the final approval.

Many local business owners forget this step and end up regretting it. When you have a final product you’re happy with, run it by your customer! Ensure they’re happy that everything they said is well-represented by how you put together your final piece.

7. Post away, and repurpose where able.

Post final videos in as many places as you can, including your website, social channels, sites where customers can leave online reviews, and elsewhere. Then, pull specific quotes from their transcripts, and incorporate these into your physical marketing collateral, like posters, fliers and business cards.