06 - Questions to ask the organization the testimonials are for

First Question - How do you know you need a testimonial video?

Whenever an organization asks me to go collect testimonial or case study videos for them I like to make sure that we're in the right place and I like to make sure that we're doing this for the right reasons. So I have some standard questions that I like to ask. I don't always ask them in this order and I don't always ask them formally but they always fall along. This type of question and if you'll notice a lot of times they're questions that can't be answered with a yes or no. They're definitely open-ended questions that require a more thought out response.

There is a time and place for "yes or no” closed-ended questions. This is not it. So the first question that I generally tend to ask is “How do you know that you'd like to have testimonial videos?” Another question I like to ask when I'm engaging with someone who's looking for these testimonial videos is “what outcome are you trying to achieve by creating these videos?” It's a really powerful question and a lot of times you can tell a lot about an organization by how this question is answered. Many times they have a very specific answer to it but a lot of times it‘s quite general.

When you hear the general answer it's a great opportunity to dig deeper with them and understand how they're planning to use these, not only where they're planning to display them but what the ultimate end goal is with these.

So, for example, I might want to know how they're planning to turn people who view these testimonials into customers into new subscribers into someone who let's say they are a government organization someone who subscribes to their YouTube channel or their mailing list or shows up at a research scientist next talk. That's what I want to know is how they're planning to take this video and turn it into a tangible, measurable action even if that action is a “like” on that video doesn't always have to result in a sale.

If they don't have an answer for the question: “What is your objective for this video?” that results in a measurable outcome, then we need to establish that or talk about why they don't want to have a measurable outcome.


Second Question - What have you tried in the past to achieve this outcome?

The second question that I ask is: “What have you tried in the past to achieve this outcome?” This is really powerful as well because a lot of times you'll be working with an organization who has never done something like this in the past and that will lead you down one line of questioning and then a lot of other times they'll say well we've tried these things and those things either have worked or they haven't worked?

And then going into a deeper dive about what has worked and what hasn't worked and asking them questions about why they thought certain things were successful or not successful? Very important as well. So this is a great second follow up question because it's going to send you down the road of either of these folks have never done this before or it's going to send you down the path of they have done it before. Here are the results that they've gotten from it and here's why they would like to do it differently this time.

The next question that I like to ask is Why is achieving this impact important why is achieving this outcome that they're searching for important?

And this once again they'll either have a really good answer for this or they'll be hunting for it if they're hunting for it. Help them find it because a lot of times an organization once again especially if they didn't have a good answer to the first question of what's the outcome that you'd like from this. It probably won't have a good answer to this question of why is the outcome important help them to nail this down? Help them to map it to other performance metrics that they have for instance within the government. Frequently, we‘re working within large organizations that have regulatory filing requirements. They have an annual plan. They have a published plan, and they have goals for that particular year. Those goals are generally publicly available. When you can help someone map the outcome of a series of testimonial or case study videos to their annual goals for that organization, your work becomes infinitely more powerful than just a standalone video on its own. 


Final Question - How is this important NOW?

The final question is “why is achieving this outcome important now?” This really helps drive home a lot of clarity on this because a lot of times especially with certain organizations that have budgets that go away at the end of the year they'll say well because our budget's going to go away at the end of the year and we have to spend it now or else we won't get funding next year. Is that a good answer?

I don't know. That's really not for me to decide. But I tell you what when I'm working with someone gathering testimonials I know that the amount of effort that the organization is putting into it is directly tied to that last question. So for instance, if they're just looking to burn some funds by the end of the year then that's really what their goal is to burn those funds. But on the other hand if I'm working with and with a different organization and they say we have this big trade show coming up and we need to make this impact for this particular trade show well that's a different story and their level of commitment is going to be much different than the organization that's simply looking to expand their budget by the end of the fiscal year.


Additional Discovery Phase Questions

So a lot of companies lead with a discussion of their product or service. So when you're in the discovery phase with a person or an organization who will be making these testimonial videos for or if that's yourself then this is a good section for you as well?

There are some questions that you want to know to help guide the interview process not only in the discovery phase with the organization but also in the actual sit down interview with the person you'll be gathering the testimonial from. So here are some of those.

The first question that I like to ask is from the perspective of the customer: “what does your company do and what does the customer get as a result of interacting with you?” Believe it or not, this is oftentimes a hard question for somebody to get without going into a product-centric discussion.

And this is this is part of the curse of knowledge. People from organizations have an intimate knowledge of what it is that they're talking about what it is that they do from a product level. Frequently, they don't have that same level of knowledge about what a customer perceives that product or service does.

So from the perspective of the customer, they're looking for two specific things: “what do I get as a result of interacting with you and how does that make my life better?

So when you ask a company that you'll be gathering testimonials for what does your product or service do and how does it make your customers life better? A lot of times they'll be stumped by that they are more than willing to talk about features of a product or service, but when it comes to answering those customer-focused questions, that's really where you come in and help them guide them through. That's going to help you ask the interview subject far better questions going forward.

A good way to work with a company in this regard helping them to understand what the customer gets and how it makes their life better is by asking the company representative: “what pains does your product or service help the customer avoid and what aspirations or goals does it help them to achieve?

There are several levels that this can be done at. Of course, this can be done at the organizational level. Organizations with several products or service offerings benefit from doing this on a focused, specific level and going up to the organizational level rather than try and start at the organizational level and go down.

The reason for that is a lot of times, once you go through five or six product and service offerings their core offerings and you discuss what does the customer get? How does it make their life better? What pain does it help them to avoid? And what aspirations or goals is it help them to achieve? When you get to doing the one (testimonial storyboard walkthrough) for the actual organization a lot of times it's different than what it would have been had you just started out with that one. The organization gets a lot of insight from that actually because they realize they (meaning the organization) the people in the organization come to the realization that how they impact people's lives is maybe a little bit different than what they originally thought it was.

What's even more striking than that is they come to realize that they're impacting people's lives in a much deeper way generally speaking than they thought they were from the beginning. And that's a really powerful revelation for everybody to have.

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