Imagine you are on a high-speed rail, traveling 155 mph. This train is different, it’s an open-air train, powered by your mind and you have to dip and dive to avoid hazards as you zoom by. You can see your final destination in the distance and, while it seems like a straight shot, you will have to make quick decisions to make it there alive.
This situation, while fictitious, represents what it can feel like to be a consumer today. Individuals are just trying to make decisions but are constantly inundated with marketing ploys. We’ve learned to adjust our paths to avoid aggressive campaigns. Branded communications have become the enemy and are seen as deceitful marketing gimmicks to undermine purchase intent – especially online!
We’ve developed banner blindness, inbox filters, and an innate ability to ignore all sponsored content. As a whole, we have become desensitized to anything that even begins to resemble marketing. Yet more than ever, we seek information to help make decisions. So, whom do consumers trust? The answer is simple…each other. Over 70% of Americans look to online testimonials and reviews before making a purchase decision.
Testimonials are powerful sales tools and marketers are slowly beginning to realize the potential but, just as with every other marketing tactic, eventually consumers will put up an invisible wall to limit exposure. So what can you do to reach your audience? Well, to start…something different than everyone else. But before you do, consider this: you are targeting humans, not robots.
Whereas robots might understand simple statements of product benefits or spewed lists of data, humans are drawn to stories. It’s in our very basic nature. It is why prehistoric man took the time to paint images on walls of caves, why we get nostalgic thinking about tales around campfires, and why masses flock to theaters on opening night.
So, if humans trust each other and are intrigued by stories, why not capture and share the experiential “story” of an individual’s brand interaction. A testimonial typically consists of an expression of satisfaction but stories compel, they are much more in depth, with descriptions of how the individual felt before, during, and after their brand interaction. A story has depth. A story is captivating. A story will keep the intended audience intrigued. Best of all, stories are remembered.
It may seem like a subtle difference between a story and a testimonial, but it’s one that could leave a lasting impact. Here’s how you can get started combating marketing invisibility…
Don’t wait for inbound reviews on YouTube or sites like Yelp and Amazon. Request them! By doing so, you get the bonus effect of feeding the customer’s ego. You are essentially (if not directly) telling them you respect their opinion and genuinely care about their experience.
Ask the right questions…and few of them.
Questions like “What are your favorite product features?” and “Would you recommend this product?” are safe, but I would only recommend asking them if you are looking for a canned response. If it’s a story you want, simply ask customers to tell their story. If they need guidance, keep it conversational. “Tell me about your experience?,” “Oooh, what was that like?,” “How did that make you feel?” If you see promise in something said, but it just doesn’t seem powerful enough, request they expand on their response.
Move them with a variety of post-production elements.
What is the mood surrounding your customer’s story? How should it make your audience feel? It could be an intriguing piece on its own, but experts have the capability to build upon these emotions through a host of post-production elements. A customer story is a historical reflection, it is in the past and can’t be recaptured but it can be expressed using more than words alone. There are a myriad of techniques artists use to give depth, strength, and life to video. We’ve all experienced the power of music in film. Imagine a horror flick without a suspenseful score – not nearly the same reactionary scenes, right? Music empowers creators to psychologically impact our audiences, affecting the unconscious mind, and it isn’t the only component of post-production that possesses influencing power. Aspects such as sound design, animation, motion graphics, composting and color grading all play a part in eliciting emotions, allowing companies to capitalize on a seemingly unintentional persuasion.