Sam Shepler says competitors may be able to copy your product, but they can't do the same with your customers' stories.
Listen to the complete interview of Sam Shepler with Adam Torres of Mission Matters Marketing Podcast.
What mission matters to you?
Shepler says his mission is to help marketing leaders use customer stories to their competitive advantage to help them grow. In today's cluttered world, he explains, marketing content alone is no longer enough; the smartest companies are leveraging customer stories to make acquisitions more quickly. Competitors can copy your product or your strategy, he says, but they can't copy your customer stories. His company, Testimonial Hero, produces high-quality video testimonials effortlessly, which brands can then use to their own competitive advantage.
How'd you get started?
As a film major in college, Shepler started earning money by making what he calls "little videos for local businesses in the city." By the time he was out of school, he'd started his own business. In four years or so, he'd made hundreds of videos; his favorite type, he says, was customer testimonial videos "because there's something so powerful about putting an actual customer on camera and just letting them tell you the truth about you, your product, or your service."
"Text quotes or a case study can't drive the same effect, as you can't see the person's face, judge their enthusiasm, or their tone,' he notes. Realizing the power of video testimonials, he knew he needed to start another company focusing specifically on those, and that's how Testimonial Hero was founded.
The power of customer stories
When you plan a customer story program, he says, you should consider the company's priorities and strategies, and then align your customer stories with them.
You can build it into a matrix like your brand's buyer personas, noting exactly who you're selling to, what sort of industry you're talking about, the company's identities, and any fears, doubts or assumptions about the product or service.
The biggest thing to ask, he says, is how to make it a two-way exchange of value. The customer can and should be the hero of the story in a way, which can also lend itself well to a larger strategy of good PR.
"We have a global network of videographers that enables us to create the absolute highest quality on-site customer testimonial videos at flat rates anywhere in the world," he says, mentioning that the videos can be produced in multiple languages and filmed all over the globe by its fully-remote team.
Meeting modern needs
A significant shift that's taking place, Shepler notes, is the fact that marketing content alone is no longer enough on its own. "The best companies prioritize customer stories," he says. "People are a bit more skeptical. There's a trust gap. The old game is talking about the brand itself. Though there's always a place for traditional marketing, the new game is about involving customers. Help them and communicate value directly through (them)," he says, if you want to break through and make an impact in the marketplace.
From the stories it gathers, Testimonial Hero creates social media ads of various lengths, short YouTube ads, and more. One of the fringe benefits of customer testimonials, he brought up, is how they can actually help with employee recruitment, because people want to work for companies that have happy customers.
What's next for Testimonial Hero?
Shepler says he wants to focus more on employee testimonials in the future, spending more time on recruitment marketing services. "Our vision is taking the best practices of what we've achieved in customer testimonials and doing the same thing for employee testimonials," he says, "with the end goal of helping recruitment, marketing, and talent acquisition leaders find, attract and hire best-fit candidates faster."
Although Testimonial Hero works with clients in multiple industries, the bulk are B2B software companies with more than 50 employees.
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