Harnessing the strength of consumer comments through interviews

interview customer testimonial, case studyWhen I worked in media research, one of our most valuable commodities, as a company that put video cameras in people’s homes, was footage of customers singing the praises of a product in a natural environment. Short of trialling the product, what could build more consumer confidence than seeing real people recommending it to friends and family, without prompt? These beautiful moments were rare and difficult to come by, trawling through the hours of video footage, and riotous celebrations would shake the office when we discovered such a scene. It was a feeling I unexpectedly recreated last week, when I happened upon the online equivalent of such a scene, by developing a thankful consumer comment into a broader interview.

My client (and friend) offers free training advice online, via YouTube and, more recently, through written articles on the website we’re developing. He was contacted by a young man who’d used that advice to better his life. On the strength of what he told us, it was clear that his attitude to the training, and his history surrounding it, summed up everything about what makes my client’s product so unique. To try and expand on this praise, we asked him for an interview, on top of his testimonial, and the result was a more accurate summary of my client’s strengths than I could’ve invented as a copywriter.

This consumer interview provided an exceptional case study because the young man in question was articulate enough to explain why our training was superior to his previous training. This puts us in a powerful position; we have no interest in lambasting the competition and want to use positive marketing, but, through the platform of a consumer interview, we can demonstrate a member of the public making the comparison for himself.

The interview itself revealed exactly why my client’s training is different to the competition, and what about it will appeal to other consumers. Which is very important to hear from a member of the public, and not from us, because my client is somewhat unconventional when it comes to training. He had knee problems since childhood, and spent the better part of a decade experimenting with different exercises to resolve these issues. He doesn’t have a medical background; his credentials come from the fact that his personal research was successful, to the degree that he is now able to train others with lasting solutions for knee pain (what the website is being developed to demonstrate).

As a copywriter, I can write elaborate posts that might make people tremble with excitement about a product or service. But you expect that from me, and will likely take it with a pinch of salt, because that’s advertising. When strangers are happy to comment on how effective a product is, though, as they are with my client’s methods, it’s the same unsolicited praise I was probing for when placing cameras in people’s homes. Comments can go unnoticed, though, and don’t necessarily tell the full story. The consumer interview is a useful device to draw more of a background to the comments, to explore exactly what works and doesn’t, and present it in a more lasting, more significant way. And we got that i this case: accurate recommendations based on exactly the principles we’re aiming for, unveiled organically without any prior connection to us as producers.

The case study does more than provide a glowing recommendation. It shows that we care about the consumer, that we’re interested in his background and attitudes to the training offered. It also strengthens the interviewee’s personal bond with the brand, because not only does he see we care, he also associates himself with the site, and will use all his social media channels to share it.

Indeed, this was all made possible through social media. By offering his advice online for free, my client gave complete strangers the chance to consume his product and form demonstratively positive opinions of it. Which they are then able to express simply through the same social media channels, recorded (and in turn promoted by us) for the whole world to see. Now, though my client started out training people in his personal UK gym, he has now taken on numerous international clients (via Skype) who started out by following his free advice online. And should, in turn, explode with business when others see how pleased his trainees are in such interviews. It’s not quite the same as seeing a video of someone sitting on their sofa saying “Hey, this does exactly what I want it to.”, but it’s not far off.

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