The Pros and Cons of On Location Vs. Trade Show Customer Testimonials

By Gabe Gerzon

“I know our company needs some video customer testimonials to better communicate our value to prospects. But should we capture as many as possible at our annual trade show, or should we focus on shooting just a few on-site at our clients’ offices? What are the tradeoffs and considerations?  What’s the best way to go about it?”

We receive questions to this scenario a lot — and  surprise — there’s no one right answer. Only the right answer for your situation. First, take a look at the cheat sheet below and then we’ll quickly cover the two main variables you should consider: the nature of the client relationship and your budget.

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<h2><b>The Nature of the Client Relationship</b></h2>
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Broadly speaking, shooting on location at one of your clients’ offices allows for a more fully-formed, authentic and exciting story. On the other hand, you can capture a significant number of customer voices at your trade show. One of our clients makes a helpful distinction to help you choose depending on the type of client:

“I prefer to shoot conference testimonials with lower-impact customers and shoot full scale, on location videos with our premiere clients; they’re expecting high production value to properly represent their brand, and it’s a brand that we want to leverage across our channels.”

If you have the opportunity to capture a Customer Success Story (our preferred term) with one of your premier clients, it’s worth going the extra mile (often literally) to film on location. On site, your video producers can show your customers using your product in unique, diverse and meaningful ways within their natural environment. Your interviewees are also more likely to be relaxed and prepared for their interview. And in the end, they’ll be slack-jawed when they see just how well your video works as a polished marketing piece for them, too.

There’s no denying that shooting trade show testimonials maximizes your production day spend — in fact, it’s worth celebrating! There’s no more cost effective way to capture a ton of diverse perspectives when so many of your clients are in the same place at the same time. It’s a great way to rapidly accumulate a large library of customer content at an unbeatable price point, and therefore a strategy clients of all stripes smartly return to again and again.

Just don’t forget that video is a fundamentally visual medium. It can be difficult to capture enough visual variety and interest at trade shows in relation to your customers’ stories. Since repeated cutaways to miscellaneous event networking and signage become monotonous for the viewer, we always recommend asking for any media or B-Roll packages your customer might already have in the quiver that can be reused. 

Another excellent strategy is to wait and see which of your customers deliver the most compelling interviews and send a videographer to their office to thoughtfully capture supplemental B-Roll. Because even if you’re able to capture a shot or two of your customer talking or attending a lecture, it pales in comparison to the quantity and quality of authentic shots possible when shooting on location. Therefore, it’s not a sure thing that you and your client will be as wowed by the resulting content. If filming on-location is off the table for whatever reason, you should still of course capture an interview with them at your trade show — any testimonial is more persuasive and impactful than none at all. A talented video team like ours is also always willing and able to work creatively around your constraints.

Above all, remember that you can’t go wrong either way —  any video with a compelling customer voice is going to be a worthwhile investment, regardless of the filming location. Ideally, over time you’ll be able to shoot a healthy and effective mix of trade show and on location testimonials now that you’re well informed about the benefits and tradeoffs of each. Because with their authentic social proof, Customer Success Stories are a surefire a way to connect with prospects and meaningfully impact their decision-making process. In a modern marketing landscape oversaturated with self promotion, half truths and hot air — genuine client endorsements are one of the few tools that actually help you stand out from others.

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