The Perfect Customer Reference?
Apr 28, 2011
During a recent exploration to place ALL details surrounding the phases of producing a video customer reference into one document (still not done)—creating the guide to the perfect customer reference—it occurred to me how many I’ve been involved in. Now I can’t count them and give the exact number, as they span several project management systems (physical binders full of paper, excel spreadsheets, and more recently a browser based project management tool), but I can conservatively assume over 250.
Like the project management systems, these references span formats and styles. I remember the first customer interview I organized was as a PA was an audio interview, recorded over the phone with the person on the other end somewhere in Germany. The audio came back to us on a DAT tape, and the end result was a flash animation illustrating the customer’s audio. It was something like this more recent example on System z Software Zurich/Farmers.
But more often these days, the customer interviews take place at the customer’s location, with TWO HD camera’s, a dolly, and several hours of b-roll footage collected with the end result being a gorgeous video with an iconic motion graphics treatment. An example is this is from the IBM Leadership Series, featuring the Memphis Police Department:
On top of the realization of the massive number was this epiphany: NONE of the 250 or so customer references have been perfect.
Yes, we’ve made some great customer references but there are always things I would change, add or subtract in the end. Isn’t this always the case? But on the flip side, the medium of customer reference is, in and of itself, perfect.
When you help a customer to tell their story (notice I didn’t say the story you want them to tell), from a passionate and authentic place, it is perfect. When you can visually support the customer’s journey and vision—add to it rather than detract—it is perfect. When you can create a succinct video from an hour-long interview that will inspire and drive others customers to act, it is perfect.
What better marketing material is there than a customer who is willing to get in front of the camera (or, as it still happens, on the phone) and tell their story (which of course includes the commissioning company)?
Now back to my exploration of outlining the perfect customer reference…