People are often self-conscious for a variety of reasons ranging from fearing a bad hair day to disliking the sound of their recorded voice. They have to look natural — and calm — for the testimonial to be effective.
"Technical expertise is important," Tedford says. "It can damage credibility if the finished product looks shoddy."
Jennifer Silverberg, vice president of marketing and customer experience for the EasyCare brand of service contract vendor Automobile Protection Corp. in Norcross, Ga., says dealers also must feature a customer with a story to tell.
"It shouldn't just be someone who bought a service contract but someone who has used it," Silverberg says. "The ideal candidate is someone who has had a big claim paid."
Here are 10 tips to make the most of testimonials:
1. Recruit a converted skeptic. The best subjects for testimonials begin their story with, "I was skeptical about buying a service contract, but today I'm glad I did," Silverberg says. "The people watching the video are probably going to be skeptical."
2. Have customers dress for the camera. Customers should bring a few changes of clothing to ensure they wear a good color for the lighting and for their complexions. Solid colors are best. Patterns can create the optical illusion of movement, Tedford says.
3. Use scripts. The scripts are for the interviewer, not the subject. Customers should appear natural and speak in their own words. It's important for the interviewer to have a script because it often takes multiple questions to get a customer to relax. Keep a list of questions to keep the conversation moving.
4. Have a chat. Use the setup time to make conversation and joke a little, Tedford says. It usually takes several minutes to clip on a microphone and adjust the lights and camera.
5. Appeal to emotions. People buy these contracts to protect themselves. For example, get customers to talk about their fear of paying a huge repair bill or driving an unsafe car, Silverberg says. They can contrast that with the peace of mind the contract gives them.
6. Involve family. Getting family -- a spouse or children -- involved in the testimonial also appeals to the emotions, Silverberg says. A mom with kids generally gets the best reaction from viewers, she says.
7. Choose the right setting. The dealership can be a good place to film testimonials. The customer's vehicle makes a good backdrop, too.
8. Use prompt cards. Prompt cards with information such as the name of the dealership and the make, model and price of the vehicle can help keep nervous customers on track. "It only takes a few seconds to scratch out some information on a piece of poster board," Tedford says. "It keeps the subjects focused and saves time."
9. Get specific. Have customers share the specific dollar amount saved, Silverberg says. For example, the customer faced a $4,000 engine job but only paid a $100 deductible.
10. Get more than enough video. It might take a half hour to get a few minutes of usable video. Tedford suggests that each customer's camera time be limited to 30 seconds on a finished, edited video.