Office of Strategic Marketing & Branding







Using testimonials to create compelling videos

March 11, 2021
Video & photography

When it comes to social media marketing, video is king. Most of us are visual learners (around 65% of the population, according to Social Science Research Network), so videos are a great way to get your messages across.

One trap I see many brands fall into is creating videos that feel scripted or inauthentic. At the U of I, we want our audiences to know how amazing our brand is, but we want the brand to be communicated in a way that's authentic and engaging. So how do we do that?

According to Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand, a great way to build an authentic voice in your videos is through testimonials (he actually calls them "stories of transformation", which is a great way to think about it). Testimonials allow the audience to hear first-hand stories that, if outlined and edited appropriately, can communicate some of your key messages while building an authentic voice for your unit. It can even reinforce the tailored experience we offer students, which is one of our brand pillars!

According to Donald Miller, there are three reasons why testimonials work:

• You’ll create trust. Seeing is believing. If a member of your audience sees someone succeeding as a result of something you offer, it will lead them to think they can, too.

• You’ll establish your authority. Testimonials help demonstrate your unit's accomplishments and reinforce the U of I as a guiding light of power and innovation.

• You’ll qualify potential customers. Allow students to speak to students, and faculty to speak to faculty. If done correctly, prospects will identify with who is speaking and feel that your messaging was tailored to them.

A key to great testimonials is asking the right questions. Here's a list that Donald Millers suggests can help you get at a larger story. Customize them to suit your unit and messaging goals.

1. What was your absolute biggest challenge prior to engaging with [the offering]?

2. How did that challenge make you feel?

3. What changed after [purchasing/joining/attending]?

4. What specific results can you share?

5. What would you say to somebody on the fence about [purchasing / joining / attending]?

6. Anything else to add?

7. Do you grant permission for us to feature your testimonial in our marketing materials?

As our office has explored ways to share the Power of I, we found testimonial videos to be a great strategy. In addition to asking our version of the questions above, we wrapped up with this: What does "The Power of I" mean to you? By editing together stylized b-roll and some responses to the questions we asked, we came up with the video below.

Just remember that you can keep it simple, and you can make an effective video even if you just have a phone as your camera. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.