How to Ask for Video Testimonials and Case Studies

BY Holly Yoos
October 14, 2021

How do you ask clients for a video testimonial?

If you’re nervous about asking customers to be in a video testimonial—congratulations, you’re normal.

Whether it’s worrying about the inconvenience or just not knowing what to say, asking for video testimonials can be nerve-wracking.

But with a little planning, you can take the pressure off for both you, and your customer.

Here’s how to get a “yes” the next time you ask a client for a video testimonial:

  1. Map out your pitch
  2. Be ready for questions
  3. Choose your timing carefully
  4. Consider the medium
  5. Sweeten the deal (maybe)

At the end of the piece, we’ll also share some ‘bonus’ insights that will improve your odds and may work well depending on your scenario.

1. Map out your pitch

Before you get a customer on the phone or send them an email to ask for a video testimonial, you need to map out what you (or your team) are going to say.

To anticipate and counter objections around being in a video testimonial, your pitch should…

Be specific about them and their story

When making the ask, you want the customer to understand why you’re asking them, specifically, and what parts of their story you’re hoping to have them discuss.

Depending on your relationship with the customer, you may know a lot—or very little—about their pains, goals, and outcomes so far.

If it’s a client you’ve worked closely with, coming with specific data points and peppering in details of the story to be discussed can disambiguate the ask, giving them clarity and comfort over what will be shared.

Clearly establish the ‘why’ 

Why them, and why now? The specifics you share will establish that first bit, but giving the customer a sense of why you’re getting testimonials put together can help them see the value in taking part—and the great outcomes they’ll be making possible for you.

Set clear expectations

Your client is going to wonder:

  • How long will this take?
  • What all is involved?
  • How will the video testimonial be used?
  • What is the end product going to be like?

And while you don’t need to answer all of those in excruciating depth, proactively giving some basic clarity will go a long way to getting a ‘yes.’

Give the ask a deadline

When there’s a final ‘due date’ on participation (even a made up or flexible one), your client is motivated to give you a clear answer instead of waffling back and forth. You needn’t make this crushingly urgent, but putting a reasonable timeline on things helps keep everyone on track.

It’s at very least worth testing.

Keep the testimonial request short

Longwinded emails are nervous emails, and the customer can smell when you’re scared. Honor their time by keeping your ask succinct.

As an example, your video case study request email might look like this:

“Hey [Customer],

I was reviewing the work we’ve done together; it’s amazing to see [specific result].
I’d love to showcase the great work you’re doing and [specific part of the relationship] in a video testimonial.

If you’re open-minded to it…

1. We’d send you some gear (to keep!) so you look and sound great
2. You’d have total control over what was shared
3. The process would be quick—just 45 to 60 minutes all-in.

We’d like to get this video testimonial complete by the end of next month. Can we count you in?”

Your goal with this first ask is just to get a response so that you can navigate the “yes” or “no” from there.

2. Be ready for questions

Whether asking in person, on a call, or in an email, your customer is likely to have some deeper questions about participating.

Be ready to articulate the most critical details, such as…

  • Order of operations: what *exactly* happens, and when? With who?
  • Timing: When will a cut of the video arrive for them to approve? When will it go live?
  • Equipment: What do they need? What will you send?
  • Sample questions: What types of things will they be asked?

However, while it’s important to have these details available, you should NOT include them in your initial ask.
They’ll only overwhelm the customer.

So keep your initial ask clean—and save the details for when the customer expresses interest.

3. Choose your timing carefully

The timing of WHEN to ask a customer for a video testimonial is tricky.

Clearly, you don’t want…

  • To ask if you’re currently going through a challenging time with the customer
  • To wait until the experience of working together no longer feels fresh and details have been forgotten
  • To scare a new customer or make them feel unfairly obligated
  • To make the ask feel like it came from a stranger looking for a favor

With that in mind:

Consider building the ask into your onboarding

When viable, getting client buy-in for customer video case studies can be MUCH easier if you build it into your onboarding.

This tends to work best when you have a formal advocacy program to invite clients into or objective proof that this sort of thing is normal for your clients.

Whether it’s baking this into the language in your agreements or simply planting the seed during initial calls (e.g. “We frequently share customer stories with our audience; provided we deliver the value you’re expecting, you may be asked to participate.”), getting this handled early can eliminate ambiguity and set clear expectations.

If you go this road, be extremely careful about the language and conditions you outline, and be ready to remove the clauses from your contracts if asked.

Ask at or after the “attribution” point in the customer journey

Generally, this has been the strongest, easiest-to-implement approach for most companies.

The attribution point is that point in time where the customer has had sufficient time to weigh up the results of your work.

For a home contractor, for example, the attribution point is when the customer has lived with their kitchen renovation for 30 days. They’ve moved past first impressions of the space and can now speak to the beauty and functionality of their new kitchen and the positive impact it’s having on their daily lives. Ask before this, and you’d miss all of that context. Ask too late, and they’ve largely forgotten about the experience.

For a SaaS company, the attribution point might be a full nine to 12 months after solution implementation, when it can compare current results to the previous time period.

Customers will (generally) deny requests to participate in video case studies if they haven’t reached the attribution point yet, or be extremely limited in the details they can share. They’ll feel like they’re still ramping up and/or haven’t fully implemented all parts of the solution yet.

You’ll generally need to give customers enough time to progress naturally through the before/during/after stages of their story and let them soak in the results of your offering and the experience of working with you.

Ask immediately at the point of positive feedback

Another viable approach is to ask for a video case study at the moment a customer gives you positive feedback, because of course you want to ask at a point in time when the customer is happy.

But waiting passively to receive this type of feedback before making an ask isn’t a systematic, strategic, or scalable way of doing things. For this to work well ongoing, you need to be intentionally creating opportunities for this kind of feedback.

Which brings us to the biggest point in this section:

Ask within scheduled and intentional feedback loops.

In our view, this is the single most important piece of things.

Building out systemized feedback solicitation loops means mapping out natural touchpoints with clients and making ROI an planned part of the conversation.

You can create or leverage touchpoints with customers such as…

  • NPS score surveys
  • Customer feedback surveys
  • Scheduled check-in calls
  • Reporting periods
  • Renewal dates

To discuss their ROI and make the ask. Your goal should be to make talking about KPIs and progress a normal, expected occurrence.

Then, you can strike with your ask when enough time has passed that the client can speak to the relationship and results AND they continue to rate you highly.

Moreover, you may have already built in requests for other types of social proof into your onboarding process, such as providing written testimonials. In those cases, you can piggyback your video case study ask onto that process.

5. Consider the medium

Opinion is divided on whether it’s better to make the ask over email or phone. Depending on the touchpoint you’re asking in, that decision may already be made for you.

When asking on the phone:

Be aware that your customer may feel like they’ve been put on the spot. It’s harder for customers to decline your request when you put it to them live, and they may agree to take part right then and there.

Great! Except… they may have just been saying what you wanted to hear, and will ghost you later.

To deal with this…

  • Keep the ask extremely light.
    Your goal is to see if they are interested and open to it—not try to pressure them into a hard commitment they will resent you for.
  • Secure a chance to follow up.
    Instead of going for a hard commitment, ask if you can send them some information about what’s involved.

When asking via email:

All the tips we shared earlier apply. Be specific, establish the why, set clear expectations, give it a deadline, and keep it short.

Also, be sure the person sending that email is someone familiar and trusted. If the customer has never heard of you before, it can be jarring to be asked for a favor.

5. Sweeten the deal (maybe)

Offering an incentive to participate in a video case study may (or may not) be appropriate.

Incentives could be in the form of a reduced fee for a future project or an expanded level of service. If you go this route, make sure the agreement is contractually binding. You don’t want to offer incentives and then get nothing in return.

The benefit of this kind of arrangement is that it shows your customer you have skin in the game. You want a good case study, and you’ll work hard to get it.

HOWEVER, offering monetary-based incentives can also backfire.

For starters, the customer may worry that they won’t have results worth sharing. It puts them under pressure.

Further, you might accidentally kick off a round of negotiations about how big the incentive should be—opening a can of worms.

Things can get complicated quickly. The relationship could go south or legal might back out.

And the whole situation can quickly sour a good relationship.

Usually, it’s best to save incentives for contract renewals (instead of new contracts) where you have a standing relationship and foundation of trust.

Alternatively, offering “soft” incentives may be a better choice, such as shipping equipment to the customer that they can use for the shoot and keep (such as a ring light or microphone).

Sending a gift card as a thank you is a nice touch that can facilitate a customer participating in additional case studies down the road.

Two bonus tips and ideas for getting buy-in on video testimonials

#1 Share examples!

If you’ve already completed one or more video case studies, sharing them with customers can help convince them to participate.

Seeing video case studies in action—and seeing how you’ve made your other customers look great—can help assuage their fears and show that this is an opportunity to feature THEM and THEIR success.

#2 Don’t give up if the answer is “no.”

Even when you make the perfect pitch, some customers will still decline to participate. That’s okay. “No” now doesn’t necessarily mean “no” forever.

Sometimes customers just need more time to get comfortable with you. Or maybe the timing just isn’t right for them at the moment. Rather than giving up entirely, try reducing the ask to something that’s a lower commitment, such as a written testimonial or case study.

Once a customer has provided something in writing, committing the same sentiments to video may seem less daunting.

(And hey—if you’ve got the audio from the interview and the release to use it, you can still create audiograms or animated videos out of it! Check out some samples here.)

Keep checking in and asking in a non-pressured way at different milestones and checkpoints in your relationship.

And if you’re not sure why they’re saying no, ask.

Every great video case study starts with a simple question

All of this preparation to ask your customers for a video testimonial may seem like overkill.

But getting the ask right—and getting an enthusiastic “yes!” in response—will make the effort well worth it.

Because at the end of this process, you’ll walk away with THE most valuable and flexible asset you can have in your sales and marketing arsenal: the video case study.

Need expert guidance in getting an enthusiastic “yes” to your video case study ask?

Contact us to start the conversation.

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