Video customer testimonials have been used for years to sell products, but they are an especially good tool for marketers in today’s renewable energy space. There are three main reasons for this:
#1: Credibility. There are large sections of the public who think that wind and solar don’t work, or that they are just part of some “big government” subsidized boondoggle. You can try to counter these impressions by placing ads, but unfortunately advertising doesn’t work as well as it used to: your audience knows you’re trying to sell them something, so they flip or click off the page, or zip past your commercial. A better solution is the online video customer testimonial. Having real people on camera who have had a great experience with your brand of clean energy lends unassailable credibility to your message. In fact, your customers are your very best salespeople. They are the ones who can honestly and credibly explain to potential customers that their solar panels are producing real energy that’s cutting their electric bill, or that the wind farm in their town looks cool and lowers their taxes.
#2. Your website is a TV channel. Make sure it has good content people want to watch. In the Mad Men era, ad guys returned from their two martini lunches and made commercials that aired during TV shows, interrupting the audience’s entertainment experience. Today, video on the web has come of age. The video player technology from companies like Vimeo and Brightcove is first rate (and free or cheap), making it easy to post videos on your site and ensure they play properly. Your web TV channel is on 24/7. And the best part is, since you’re not paying a network to air your commercial, your media costs are zero. All of this simplifies the process of having customer testimonials on your website.
#3. More referrals. Customers are honored to go on camera and praise your business. They know that what they say matters, and that you value their opinion. It’s a source of pride. And what do proud people do? They talk about what they’ve done with their friends. They become, in effect, a more motivated ambassador for your brand. This often results in more qualified sales leads, and a lower cost for customer acquisition – a critical factor for solar energy companies who have narrow profit margins.
Now that I’ve outlined WHY video testimonials are a perfect fit for renewable energy companies, here’s six tips for HOW to make them more effective.
#1. Tell a story. Before you interview people, think about what story you want to tell. For example, do you want to get across the fact that wind farms benefit local economies? Or that solar energy increases energy independence? Once you know what story you want to get across, develop a list of questions that are likely to inspire the interviewee to tell the story you’re looking for. If you are planning to have multiple people in a single video, you can edit the piece so that the various responses string together to create a compelling narrative. Here are some examples of video storytelling we created for First Wind:
#2. Make your videos “snackable”. Keep each video less than four minutes, and ideally 1-2 minutes long – or less. People hunt for information and prefer to nibble short videos. You can aggregate lots of shorter videos in a single place, like this online media center we created for Alteris: http://www.alterisinc.com/videos/homeowner-al-anderson-how-alteris-helped-end-a-30-year-wait-for-solar/.
#3. Guide viewers into your online sales funnel. Picture someone at their computer, watching your company’s videos. They’ve watched three or four, and now they’re ready to take the next step, perhaps to request an estimate. The layout of your web page that’s displaying the videos should clearly show your offer and encourage viewers to click. Think of your videos as cups of delicious Starbucks coffee in the Barnes & Nobles. The longer people hang around, the more likely they are to buy. Just make it easy for them to take action when they’re done sipping, or you’ll lose them.
#4. Encourage absolute honesty. When you interview customers, encourage them to tell the unvarnished truth and not to gild the lily just because they’re on camera. People see right through BS, and recognize the truth when they see it. You might even want to have a customer talk about a situation where, for example, a problem occurred with the renewable energy system installed at their home or business, and how your company recognized their error and fixed it. This gets to the heart of credibility, and your customers will appreciate it far more than canned expressions of delight.
#5. Optimize your videos for search. Do some research to see what search terms your target audience is using to find clean energy solutions like yours. Then give your videos titles that include those search terms. In addition, when you post the videos to your web page, include some text that’s relevant and searchable. The reason this is important is that search engines like Google and quickly locate text, but not the video files themselves. In addition, when you publish your videos on sites such as YouTube, add “tags” to each video that put them in easily searchable categories (i.e. solar power, wind energy, etc).
#6. Make your videos easy to retweet. Add a retweet button on your video display page so it’s easy for people who like the video to tweet about it and spread the word.
In the age of big oil, they ran ads that promised to put a tiger in our tank. They relied on “additives” to differentiate themselves from other purveyors of polluting fossil fuels. Today, your clean energy additive — the thing that will set you apart — is the honest, credible voices of your satisfied customers.
For more how-to’s, from logo and web design to video testimonial production, download this free e-book – Branding & Marketing for Renewable Energy Companies.
Ted Page is co-founder and Creative Director of Captains of Industry, a marketing agency and video production company with renewable energy expertise. Ted oversees the creative development of websites, logos, videos and interactive web marketing campaigns on a range of clean tech and renewable energy companies such as First Wind and Alteris Renewables. His non-fiction articles have been published in Boston Magazine and Marketingsherpa.com.