The Ultimate Guide to Recording Video Testimonials That Grow Your Contracting Business

Victor Adascalitei • November 9, 2018

 

 

If you want homeowners to trust you with their next home improvement project, then you need to show them you can be trusted.

And while sprinkling written reviews all over your website, Google and Facebook business pages is a great place to start, it’ll only get you so far.

What you need are video testimonials that are so good, homeowners choose you before even looking elsewhere for help.

And the best part is—good doesn’t have to mean expensive, time-consuming, OR complicated!

In fact, by the end of this blog post, you’ll be able to gather kick-ass video testimonials to help grow your home improvement business using only your iPhone.

I’ll teach you things like:

  • How to prepare your customers so they can deliver convincing testimonials
  • How to stage your scene so it looks professional (in two quick minutes)
  • How to quickly edit your final video to make it worth your audience’s attention
  • How to publish your final video to your social networks directly from your smartphone
  • And much more.

Let’s get to it!

1. How to prepare your customer for a video testimonial

First, let’s talk about when and how to ask for video reviews.

It’s important to prepare yourself and your customers. They aren’t always well-spoken or comfortable in front of the camera and because of that, you’ll need to bring up the subject rather early in the job.

This should be asked for verbally before the job is started so that the customer is at ease with the idea when it comes time to record.

For example, you could say:

“Sir/Mam, we’re going to do an excellent job for you and we’d like to know if, when we’re done and you’re 100% satisfied, you would be open to sharing a short 30-second video testimonial about your experience working with us.”

Not only will most people say yes, but it’ll allow them to think of what to say in advance, which will lead to a far better testimonial video than if you put them on the spot.

On the day of the job, remind them personally that they agreed to record a video testimonial once your team wraps up, and reassure them everything will be quick and easy.

Then, right after the job is completed and your customer confirms they’re satisfied, it’s time to record the testimonial while everything is still fresh in their mind.

Questions to ask during a video testimonial

When it comes to powerful video testimonials, there are 3 questions you want to ask your happy customers:

  • BEFORE: Ask your customer what their problems, fears, and concerns were before requesting your services (allows the audience to identify with your customer), and why they hired you in the first place.
  • DURING: Ask them how they felt your crew performed while doing the work (probe about their professionalism, cleanliness, promptness, etc.), as well as if they’re satisfied with the end result.
  • AFTER: Finally, ask them what they liked most, and if they would recommend your company to friends and family.

Then, simply end by asking the client if they have anything else to add.

Notice how all questions are open-ended. No one likes boring videos where you hear someone ask a question that can simply be answered by yes or no.

I don’t want you to have boring content, so I’ve got some more tricks up my sleeve to help you gather great answers from your customers.

How to get testimonial-worthy answers

First, reassure them that it’s ok if they make mistakes and that they can restart as many times as they like.

Second, tell them you’ll be editing the video and cutting out any hiccups, so all they have to do is pause 1-2 seconds after they make a mistake, and then simply start again.

Side note: You should give yourself 2-3 seconds after you press record and before you start asking questions, as well as after the last question is answered and before you press stop so that you can easily edit afterward.

Third, ask them to begin each answer by repeating the question that was asked. This way, you’ll be able to cut yourself out and only have footage of your customer, and whoever is watching will still understand what’s going on.

And finally, right before you begin filming, tell your customer to take a deep breath and smile. Nothing will make your video testimonial more trustworthy than a genuine smile!

From there, all that’s left is to get their written permission to use their video testimonial as marketing material by getting them to sign a simple release form.

Release Form Template

2. Tools & Equipment Needed

Recording video

Now that you know how to prepare your customer for an awesome video testimonial, let’s look at what tools you’ll need to get the job done.

As I mentioned earlier, you won’t need expensive video gear to have quality testimonials. Your smartphone is a great tool when it comes to capturing video!

I know what you’re thinking…how is that professional?!

Well, modern-day smartphones have great cameras allowing them to film in high definition, and when paired with the right accessories, they become very powerful video rigs!

 

So if you’ve got a smartphone, you’re good to go for this step.

Capturing Sound

Quality sound is crucial when it comes to a compelling video testimonial.

The last thing you want is for the sound of the wind or your crew working in the background ruin your video.

To solve this, you need to pick up the sound right at the source: your customer!

That’s why you’ll need a lavalier microphone (or lav mic for short).

You’ve probably seen these before (they’re used in interviews and reality TV shows), and they can easily be fixed to any shirt or directly to your customer’s skin with a small piece of tape.

The microphone connects to your smartphone’s headphone jack, and when you begin recording, it’ill be used to pick up the sound instead of your phone’s built-in microphone (which is great for phone calls, but not-so-great for video production).

Lav mics vary in quality and can be quite expensive, but for the kind of customer testimonials you’ll be shooting on-site, you won’t need studio grade equipment.

I recommend you chose between the very affordable Audio-Technica ATR-3350IS which retails for only $29 USD or the higher quality Rode smartLav+ Lavalier Microphone for iPhone and Smartphones, which is a tad more costly at around $90 USD.

The ATR-3350IS is a battery-powered (included) microphone made for DSLR cameras but the seller includes an adapter for cellphone use.

The Rode mic doesn’t need a battery and it’s developed for smartphones (both Apple and Android) but will require an adapter if ever you plan using it with a DSLR camera.

I personally use the ATR-3350IS since we record our content with DSLR cameras most of the time.

Maintaining Stability

With video and audio taken care of, there’s one more piece of equipment that will make your video testimonial that much better.

Still can’t put your finger on it? Let me help you…

Stable video!

You don’t want shaky, handheld footage like you see on America’s Funniest Videos, and there’s no better way to achieve stable video than with a tripod.

Tripods are very affordable and you can get them with a smartphone mount which allows you to set it up out of the box and go get those video testimonials.

I recommend buying the Manfrotto MKCOMPACTACN-BK Compact Action Tripod ($78.00) and the Manfrotto Mount for Universal Cell Phone ($9.99), which will give you the best bang for your buck and that will last—even when thrown in the back of your truck.

Alternatively, you can get the DIGIANT Aluminum Phone Tripod which retails for only $12 USD and includes the smartphone mount.

In the end, videos filmed on a tripod show your audience that you care about your work and that you invest your time to deliver quality results.

Don’t go it without a tripod!

Managing Storage

So we have our video recording device (your smartphone), our sound recording accessory (the lav mic) and a fixed stabilizer (the tripod).

All that’s left is to make sure you have enough storage!

And no, not the warehouse or shed type of storage…I’m talking digital storage for your phone to hold all these valuable video testimonials you’ll be shooting.

If you’re an Android cellphone owner, you’re in luck—most of them include a Micro SD card slot that allows you to increase your device’s storage, and should be more than enough for filming a few customer testimonials on the go.

You can grab a 64GB MicroSD at your local tech shop or simply order the Sandisk Ultra 64GB Micro SDXC from Amazon for only $25 USD.

Check your phone compatibility and SD card location and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the new memory extension.

Tip: the Micro SD card usually goes in the same “card tray” as your SIM card.

Unfortunately, some Apple devices (and a few Android devices as well) don’t have this function, which means you’ll need external storage.

The SanDisk iXpand Flash Drive will be your best solution if you have an Apple device. It’s compact, lightweight, and costs only $39 USD for 64GB of storage.

The iXpand works just like the MicroSD cards for Android phones and it can also be connected directly to your computer’s USB to let you transfer files.

With either of these options, you’ll have enough room to store for up to 200 videos!

Next up…

3. Staging Setup and Environment

With gear & equipment out of the way, it’s time to talk about setting the stage for awesome video testimonials.

Begin by thinking about the environment in which you’ll be filming. More precisely, the lighting, location, and positioning of things.

Lighting & Location

Whether you’ll be filming indoors or outdoors, make sure you film at a time when you can leverage natural light.

When filming outdoors, avoid filming in dark or windy locations, as your audience will have a hard time both seeing and hearing your valuable video testimonial.

If filming indoors, try to film mid-day so that natural light is at its peak. If your customers aren’t around during the day, then try to take advantage of natural light during the weekend.

If weekends are a no-go, then settle for mornings as you’ll still get some natural light. For obvious reasons, evenings should be avoided.

That said, you should also avoid filming in artificial light environments like basements which have incandescent light bulbs or fluorescent lights, since they greatly affect the colors of your video.

If you’re a basement remodeler and have no other choice, consider bringing a spotlight with you and place it behind the camera while pointing it towards your customer to better illuminate their face.

In all situations, keep in mind that your source of light should be behind you, so that when the customer is looking towards the camera, his face is brightened by it.

Indoor Aerial View

Outdoor Aerial View

Framing

Now that you’ve set the time of day and location for your video testimonial, it’s time to understand how everything and everyone should be positioned inside (and outside) of your video frame.

Start by mounting your phone on your tripod in a horizontal position. This will give you what’s called a “landscape video” and you should always (99% of the time) film your videos this way.

Recording landscape videos allows you to have enough content in the frame and still lets you crop a vertical version in case you need to share it on social platforms that prefer portrait videos, such as Instagram.

To understand element arrangement, let me introduce you to the “Rule of Thirds.”

The Rule of Thirds

This is a simple guideline for perfect positioning of a subject inside a photo (or in our case, a video).

Think of your frame as a rectangle split into 3 equal parts, both horizontal and vertical. To help you out, all camera apps have a feature which lets you enable this grid (I recommend turning this on).

Rivertree thirds md.gif

Following this grid, position your camera so that the horizon line sits on one of the two horizontal guidelines on your screen.

Then, your subject should be positioned along one of the two vertical guidelines, preferably on the right side.
Decide how much of the subject you want to see (hips up, waist up, lower chest up or mid-chest up).

Adjust this by getting closer or further away from the subject. Don’t use the zoom functionality as this drops video quality significantly.

The most important thing is to have their eyes sit on the top line of the horizontal grid.

It’ll take some practice to your positioning right the first time, but it’ll eventually become natural once you’ve got a few video testimonials under your belt.

Other than that, you’ll want to make sure you capture your finished project on the left side of your frame (or on the right if you’ve placed your customer on the left)

For example, if you installed a new kitchen countertop for your customer, make sure you can clearly see it in the background or next to your customer.

The same applies to an outdoor job where you’ve replaced the walkway, windows, siding, etc.

Have your customer stand in front of the house and position your camera so you can see both the job site and your customer.

Pro Tip: These techniques can be applied every time you grab a camera. Master them and your friends will think you took photography classes!

4. Recording your video testimonial

If you’ve followed through carefully, you should have a position similar to the one in the aerial view above.

Pro!

Now, you probably noticed in the image about that I’ve placed you next to the camera instead of right behind the camera.

There’s a reason for that!

When you’re ready to film, let your customer know that you’ll be pressing play, and that you will then take two steps to the left of the camera to get into the “interviewer position.”

Asking your questions from this spot instead of behind the camera helps your customers relax and give better answers (which is what will make or break your video testimonial).

This also makes it look like your customer is simply having a conversation with someone off camera instead of staring deep into the souls of viewers (that can be creepy sometimes).

Before asking any questions, remind your customer that they should begin every answer by repeating your question, and then take their time to answer each question as best they can.

Give your customer the lav mic and ask them to run the cable inside their shirt, then clip the microphone on the collar of their shirt (they can also stick it to their skin with a small piece of tape if you would rather not show in the shot).

From there, double-check to make sure the microphone and its cable aren’t visible in the camera’s shot.

Then, before pressing the record button, tap your phone on the area where your customer’s face is in the video frame to focus and adjust brightness levels.

To help ensure everything is right the first time, do a test recording then play it back to check sound levels and frame positioning.

How does it look?

Good?

Great! You’ve followed the instructions correctly, and now you’re ready to rock!

5. Making Your Video Testimonial Even Better

If you’ve followed this ultimate guide up until this point, then pat yourself on the back—you now have a video testimonial that can help grow your contracting business!

But if you want to take it a step further and make your videos look more professional (without having to hire an expensive crew), then adding in b-roll is your answer.

Simply put, b-roll is supplemental footage intercut with your main shots—in your case, it’ll be footage of the work you just completed for your customer.

B-roll footage is:

  • short
  • filmed slowly
  • contains slight camera movement from left to right (also known as panning).

As an example, good b-roll to use while your customer talks about his experience with your company would be to have some panning footage of what the kitchen looked like before you installed the countertop, or how hideous the old windows were before they were replaced.

Recording b-roll video is as easy as setting up your tripod so that your camera focuses on a specific element of your project (like the fruit bowl on the new countertop, or the bay window of a house), and then using the tripod head to slowly move the camera from left to right to create a slight movement effect.

Do this for two or three elements before you start the project so that you have some b-roll footage to show before & after shots (which are extremely powerful in the home improvement business for obvious reasons)

Then, once you’ve finished recording your customer’s testimonial, focus on capturing b-roll footage that reinforces the information your customer shared during their testimonial.

For instance, if they spoke about your team, get some b-roll footage of your team. Obviously, you’ll want to get some b-roll footage of the finished product as well.

In the next section, I’ll teach you how to mix this b-roll footage in with the footage you captured from your customer to make beautiful, polished finish product.

Editing your video

Now let’s turn this footage into something awesome.

Before you get all worried, I want you to know that editing doesn’t have to be complicated.

In fact, you can do it all directly from your smartphone with the help of an app called Adobe Premiere Clip, free for iOS and Android devices.

First, download the app and create your free account to being editing.

Then, create your new project by clicking on the plus symbol, and then add your video to the timeline.

Here’s where you’ll need to remove the parts where you ask questions from your footage.

To do this, start by trimming the beginning and end, then make cuts before and after each question you ask (this is where the 2-second gap I told you to leverage comes in handy).

Since Adobe Premiere Clip shows you the audio waveform when you edit a clip, you can visually cut and trim your video by looking at the silence between your customer’s answers. You only want to keep his/her answers in the final video, not yours.

Now, add your b-roll videos and trim them to approximately 3 seconds each, just enough to give a glimpse of what your customer is talking about.

Adobe Premiere Clip allows you to overlay videos on top of each other so you don’t have to cut the testimonial in order to add b-roll on top of it.  In other words, b-roll can be shown while the customer is speaking.

Additionally, you can experiment with simple fade or swipe transitions to change from testimonial to b-roll and back.

Just play around with it and get creative. You’ll see that it’s a lot simpler than it looks!

Once you’re happy with the look & feel of your video, save your project to your smartphone.

Tip: If you want more help with editing your videos with Adobe Premiere Clip, check out this video tutorial.

6. Getting your video out to the world

If you made it this far, congrats are in order—you’ve filmed your first video testimonial and edited it to perfection!

The last step is to make sure you’re actually able to use your video as marketing collateral.

If your customer agreed to a video testimonial in the first place, odds are there won’t be any pushback after the fact, but you should get them to sign a release form anyways so that you’re protected.

To make this step as easy as possible, I’ve created a generic release form that you can personalize with your own logo and company information:

Release Form Template

Have your customer sign the release form, and then keep the signed copy for your records.

Where to publish your video

With your video complete, it’s time to upload it to your video hosting platform of choice. YouTube or Vimeo will do the trick, and both have free accounts you can take advantage of.

Once that’s done, mark your video as public (so people can view it) and give it a simple title. It helps to establish a name format that you can carry on to all future testimonials.

From here, you can ask your customer to share it on Facebook, and you can also embed the video on your website.

Tip: It’s best to have a few videos before you make a dedicated “testimonials” section on your website. If you only have one or two, consider placing them on service pages rather than in their own section to add social proof and back some of the claims you make.

Conclusion

A great video testimonial with quality sound, no shaky footage, and a well put-together scene will put you miles ahead of your competition—that’s for sure.

But more importantly, your new video testimonial will help you turn leads into customers at a much higher rate because your customers will be doing the selling FOR you, which is extremely powerful.

And the best part of it all is that now you have the know-how and tools to bang these video testimonials out after each job without having to rely on a professional video team!

There’s no excuse. Fire up your smartphone, follow this guide, and capture great footage that will help grow your contracting business!

Once you’ve got that figured out, you can start leveraging your videos more aggressively as retargeting ads on YouTube, Google, Facebook, and Instagram to really jumpstart your marketing efforts!

Happy filming!

 

HVAC marketing plan

Victor is our in-house production designer & video expert responsible for the implementation and maintenance of our client sites and their video support. When he’s not working on client projects, he likes to share his filmmaking knowledge to help contractors improve their online visibility.