Beasley Direct and Online Marketing, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency based in the San Francisco Bay Area was tasked to implement a digital marketing campaign for Bindex, a Finland-based healthcare diagnostics company that produces a medical device for osteoporosis diagnostics. The digital campaign began in October 2021 with the launch of brand campaigns on Google, and digital ads on LinkedIn. The goal of the campaigns was to get doctors interested in a free trial of Bindex. A variety of product positioning messages were tested in the digital campaign to see which messages resounded the best to the doctor audience when thinking about bringing a new diagnostic tool and service into their practice. In this case study, we explain why we chose to do a video testimonial series and how we produced the series, mitigating many of the mistakes other companies make in rushing video testimonials for high price point, complex sale products out the door.
Why did we do a doctor testimonial video for Bindex in the first place?
We have learned that video, in general, performs better in digital advertising than other kinds of content. We’d already done a test for Bindex in which video performed better on LinkedIn advertising than any other kind of ad, including sponsored message ads and carousel ads. In our tests over the last couple of years for multiple clients, well-done video pulls an average of five times better than other kinds of content on digital media. And, properly optimized video is very good for SEO on a website. So it made sense to do more video.
A testimonial video made sense for this audience, because while physicians welcome being informed, they don’t like being “sold.” Physician-to-physician communication is especially effective when presenting a medical technology that’s new and unfamiliar.
Bindex founder, Dr. Ossi Riekkinen, suggested that we talk with Dr. David Soffa, a radiologist with special expertise in practice management and a member of the Bindex Board as the subject of our interview. We had a conference call with Dr. Soffa, and it was clear we didn’t need to look any further. He was knowledgeable and personable. But most important, because of his lifelong experience as both a radiologist and as an expert in practice management, and his experience working within the complex and baffling U.S. healthcare system, he was terrific at articulating how Bindex could help address the osteoporosis screening needs for U.S. physicians and practice managers. He’d been there, done that. He knew their pain points and how Bindex addressed them. That’s why he became interested in the company in the first place, so his voice was completely authentic.
A lot of companies are creating testimonial videos. What mistakes do they typically make?
We wanted to avoid mistakes we’ve seen in other poorly implemented testimonial videos, and we know that invariably disappointing results in testimonial videos come down to insufficient planning. Companies often have the expectation that they don’t have to do a lot of pre-production for scripted video, but that they can do testimonials without any planning at all. The idea is that you just show up with a camera—or ask a client or customer to film themselves on their phone—and you’ll get testimonial gold. This may work for consumer testimonials, where you’re looking for a Tik Tok video style affect, but we don’t think it works very well for high ticket sales products like medical technology.
For complex sales technology products, you need to plan for what content you want to get and what points you want to make, plan for how you’ll make the subject comfortable, and even plan your setting. We’ll never forget the client who came to us to promote testimonial videos they’d made themselves. The speakers had all agreed to give video testimonials, but they had been given no direction, guidelines, or cues—they were just parked in front of a camera and told to speak about their experience. They really liked the service they were promoting, and wanted to be helpful and complimentary, but had no idea what to say. As a result, the testimonials were vague, repetitive, and rambling, and the subjects were clearly uncomfortable. But worst of all, the service they were talking about was a program that helped patients with physical disabilities due to disease or injury restore mobility—yet the subjects were shot in a tiny corner, against a step-and-repeat backdrop, while sitting still. They couldn’t have moved if they wanted to, let alone demonstrate their improved mobility. There was no footage of what’s called “B-roll” showing the clients moving about. The videos countered the message the testimonials were intended to convey, rendering them unusable.
Another common mistake is to send a video crew without a creative director. Filmmakers are experts on all the important quality details that no one else will think about. But the creative director is the leader of the marketing creative for the project, the advocate of the client and brand, and the person who is most responsible for translating all the information about the product or service into benefits that will make the target audience want to buy. There’s a level of knowledge and nuance in that role that can’t be duplicated by anyone else in the room.
While this decision is often made to save money, it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish. While there are exceptions—for example, when you’ve been shooting a series with the same crew, and the filmmaker/director has been an integral part of the marketing team from the beginning, they can certainly go on their own to capture, say, another workplace interview in a series, or B-roll of workplace activity—however most of the time, everyone, including the client, is disappointed with the results when there is a video or photo shoot without a creative director. We even know a few world-famous, award-winning filmmakers and photographers who won’t take an advertising project unless a creative director will be on set. They know it makes them look better when their magical work also performs spectacularly for the client’s marketing goals. It’s a creative director’s job to get the best out of everyone, and to have that reflected in the end product.
Technical mistakes are common, too, but they’re easy to avoid if you think about them for five minutes. Poor sound, poor video quality, and poor lighting are the obvious ones, but another common mistake is the framing. Putting someone smack in the middle of the frame for long periods of time, for example, is static and boring. Positioning subjects a bit off-center in the frame, varying your camera angles, and changing up the visuals with other content besides a talking head, makes a video much more dynamic and interesting.
Another common mistake is only using one camera. We always use two, an “A” camera—the one that the subject is usually looking at—and a “B” camera, which captures the same action from a different angle, usually from one side. This gives you more options in editing.
Most of our videos are intended for the web, which only need a resolution of 1080p. But we shoot at a much higher resolution, 4000k. That process takes more memory cards, hard drive space, and processing power, but it gives us additional editing options in post-production. For example, by shooting at higher resolution, we can “punch in” on a subject, change the framing options, or focus in on a detail without losing quality.
What is the typical ideal length of a testimonial video?
There’s no “perfect” length. There’s a common myth that videos should be a certain length—usually very short, as little as 15 seconds long—but we’ve never seen any actual data attached to those myths, and there are never any examples of the videos that were tested. Are those recommendations based on value-added content, presented in a compelling way, that is appropriate to the audience? Or, are they based on someone standing in a backyard, holding their own phone in front of their face, yelling, “Don’t click away”? Those distinctions matter. In the first instance, two or three minutes might not feel long enough. In the second, 15 seconds might feel like an eternity.
One of our B2B clients has had great success using very long testimonial videos—45 minutes or longer—as an offer. Customers for their tech product present detailed descriptions about how they use the product in their enterprise application. Sometimes they’re interviews, and sometimes they’re solo case study slide presentations. What they have in common is that they’re lively, interesting, authentic, and filled with useful information that can help prospects decide to buy.
One guideline we use is where and when viewers will see the video. Is it an ad that they’ll see when they’re doing something else online, such as using social media, viewing YouTube, shopping, or research? In that case, shorter is better, somewhere between 30 seconds and two and a half minutes; you’re not likely to nab much more attention than when the prospect was really intending to do something else. When it’s content on your website, the video can be as long as you like, as long as you don’t bore them. Think of the shorter ads as teaser trailers for your longer testimonial “movie”.
How did we seek to avoid the mistakes others typically make with their testimonial videos, while making the Dr. Soffa video?
We did two kinds of planning: planning for the content and planning for the shoot. One decision we made right away was to film the testimonial as an interview, even though we’d be cutting out the questions and the voice of the interviewer.
Although Dr. Soffa has appeared on video before, most non-actors are quite uncomfortable on camera, and it shows. When you have a person asking questions, it becomes much easier for the subject to relax into the conversation, to become more natural, and to forget that the camera is there.
What planning for the content did we do?
We met with the client, their marketing advisors, and their sales rep to ask about points they wanted to make, and also objections they encounter. Bindex’s founder, Dr. Riekkinen, had recently attended some U.S. conferences and had fresh insights about questions that needed to be addressed with the target audiences.
We then made a list of topics we wanted to cover and wrote a script of interview questions for the client to approve.
What planning for the shoot did we do?
Before we did anything else, we addressed the most basic of production questions, which is, where are we going to shoot? The video crew was in Los Angeles and Dr. Soffa was in Northern California. In a rented studio or on location? Normally we shoot business videos in a workplace, but during COVID, like everyone else, Dr. Soffa was working from home. He sent us some cell phone video of his home, and we decided to go to Northern California and shoot there. The Soffa home is beautiful with natural light, and Dr. Soffa’s wife is a talented interior designer, so it was gorgeous and perfect.
A few days before the shoot, the videographer and creative director had a pre-production meeting. They talked about the look we wanted, which cameras and lenses to bring, and how we might address challenges related to shooting in tight spaces or unexpected lighting issues. We already had very nice B-roll footage from a Bindex training video that had a specific look and knew that we would be incorporating that into our finished product, so that was a consideration in our color decision. Since we hadn’t had a technical scout—a visit to the location where you can visually see the issues, plan for them, and make decisions about things like shooting angles—we needed contingency plans.
When we got to Dr. Soffa’s house, we did a walk-through. We’d originally intended to shoot in his home office, but when we saw the room in person, we realized that once we got lighting and two cameras in there, it would have been both cramped and hot. The large living room gave much better camera angles and the beautiful tall windows meant we didn’t need additional lighting.
It took us about an hour to set up before we were ready for Dr. Soffa. With his permission, we moved some furniture, set up our gear, and did some test shots. When we were ready for Dr. Soffa, our last step was to get him mic’d up with a lavalier and test the sound levels. Then we started rolling. The creative director was asking the questions, sitting behind the “A” camera, at eye level with Dr. Soffa as he was talking. The videographer knelt behind the “B” camera, controlling, and monitoring the “A” camera through an iPad and monitoring the audio through headphones. She also slated the takes, which is when you write info on a re-usable board and “clap” the zebra-striped wooden sticks together at the beginning of the take. We’ve all seen slating a million times on TV and in the movies, and it looks a little silly and theatrical, but it has a very useful purpose. The sharp and precise sound of that “clap” makes a visual spike on the editing software that you can use to sync sound properly in post-production.
What was the purpose and process for creating the video master?
Our first finished video product was the video master which was about 12 minutes long, and it contained the entire interview. As we said above, we know that there’s no magic length for videos, and that longer videos can be very effective when they provide value. And, since we were having Dr. Soffa speak on a variety of topics that would be released as separate short videos, we thought that some physicians and practice managers might want to see the whole conversation.
Finally, it would provide good content for both the client’s website—a visitor coming because they have interest in the product might want to watch a longer video. When properly optimized, it would also be useful on YouTube.
There’s a misconception that editing of documentary (non-scripted) footage is simply a matter of cutting out the bad takes and awkward pauses, then slapping on an intro at the beginning and a CTA (call to action) at the end. But, the editing process is really where you shape the content into a compelling and interesting story.
Sure, you’ve done as much preparation as you can with your questions and script, but there are still surprises. For example, while we were setting up, Dr. Soffa told a story about how he’d become involved with Bindex. The story conveyed a lot of insight about him, about the founder, Dr. Riekkinen, and about their shared values and dedication to excellence, even when it’s hard. Although it wasn’t in the script, the creative director asked him to repeat the story on camera. Also, whether a testimonial is being given by a true expert, like Dr. Soffa, or someone who has personal experience with a product or service, they have a unique take on answers to the questions that bring authenticity, color, life, and unexpected details to the story. The comfort level that arises out of the conversation-like interview process helps bring a lot of that added value to the surface.
Once we had our footage in the camera…and backed up in at least two places, because now it was precious and irreplaceable—the editing process began. We started by reviewing all of the footage and noting what we liked and what we didn’t. We created a transcript for the client to review. The main purpose of this was for the client to tell us anything we shouldn’t use. Did Dr. Soffa use any terminology or address any points that shouldn’t be included in the video? In this case, there wasn’t anything, but what often happens is that a subject will use jargon that isn’t familiar to the audience or discuss a detail that’s very important. In a customer testimonial video, a subject might praise an individual by name who no longer works at the company or talk about a product that the company no longer offers or wants to promote. In interviews with an organization’s team, it’s common for staffers to speak enthusiastically about a product or service that’s still in development and not yet available.
The editor does most of the heavy lifting on the next part of the process, working closely with the creative director. The editor did a first cut of the footage, re-arranging and shaping the clips into a story that had good pacing and rhythm. We had B-roll footage from a Bindex training video that we used as well. Having that footage was critical. When you have video that is just footage of one person talking—no matter how compelling they are or how well they speak—it’s hard to hold a viewer’s interest. The viewer also needs to see what the speaker is talking about. That additional footage also helps cover cuts that you don’t want to see. For example, they cover the transitions between spoken phrases from two different clips, or when the editor trims out the “ahs” and repetition that occur naturally in speech.
It’s much the same process as when a news editor shapes a story from an interview. They have an idea of what they get before they start, but they never know exactly what the subject will say until they hear it. Depending on what they capture, the story could be told from different angles or perspectives or emphasize different points. You’ll notice in news stories that the camera never lingers on the speaker for very long, and the speaker is always broken up with additional visuals. It’s the same process.
We produced a rough cut for review and approval, then did color correction and final sound editing, then added graphics and music.
How did we decide what content would be included for the five final video ad cuts?
In the master, Dr. Soffa made about a dozen different points about the Bindex product. We made a list of those points and asked the client to choose the five that he thought were most important and would best address target audience questions and objections.
The topics were introduced with opening graphics and closed with a closing graphic with call to action. There were two different audiences for the five cuts. One video was created for the Medicare provider audience. Four were intended as ads to physicians and practice managers. For the former, we chose graphics and B-roll that emphasized the ability of the product to close the gap in osteoporosis screening and raise something called HEDIS measures and STAR ratings—a primary benefit for Medicare providers. For the latter, we chose graphics and B-roll that helped physicians and practice managers visualize how Bindex would function in their practice, such as improving patient compliance with Osteoporosis screening, being able to screen easily in their practice, and adding to the practice revenue. You can view the five final video cuts below.
The five video ads:
- Spot #1—HEDIS and STAR
- Spot #2—Normal workflow
- Spot #3—Patients prefer Bindex
- Spot #4—Practice Revenue
- Spot #5—Barriers to screening
What purposes will the client use these videos?
The videos will be used as digital ads, for sharing on social media platforms, and on the client’s website and landing pages. They can also be used in emails and as part of electronic press kits to support press releases and in response to press requests.
Four of the five short cuts were intended specifically as ads. Offer testing is always key in digital advertising. The end goal was to produce these with two calls to action: a free-trial offer tied to a specific landing page, and a general “learn more” message. We also recommended that Bindex test a third CTA—an invitation to “watch the full conversation” with Dr. Soffa, which would be a link to the longer “master” video. We’re interested to see if physicians and practice managers who view one of the short topics would be intrigued enough to watch more. We’re also interested in which offer results in more trial requests and more conversions to sales. This testing will be on-going.
Since we have learned that video, in general, performs better in digital advertising than other kinds of content, we are always looking for ways to produce better, more authentic video content, and testimonials definitely fit into that category. But producing a testimonial video for complex sale items must be done with proper planning for the content and for the shoot. Finally, the editing should make it clean, with as few “ahs” and “ums”, but also add in other content, perhaps borrowed from B-roll content, all with the intent to hold interest and inspire your audience to act on your call to action.
Written by Laurie Beasley
Co-Founder and President
Beasley Direct and Online Marketing, Inc.