We all know that the strongest form of advertising is word of mouth. We teach that to all of our sales staff. Everyone knows it; as a matter of fact, mathematically it makes sense. Average closing ratio for a fresh opportunity in your dealership is about 18 to 20 percent versus a 50 percent closing ratio from a referral or a 65 percent closing ratio from a prior customer.

Customer testimonials are extremely powerful! You need to create a video library of happy customer testimonials. The best part: it’s free (or close to free)! You are going to need a video camera. There is a very powerful video camera for about $150, which you can find at Best Buy, called a “Video Flip Camera.” It is very easy to use and comes loaded with YouTube and AOL video software. It has one hour of video hard drive space (more than enough space). Now that you have the video camera, what next?

Create a standard operating procedure that when you deliver a vehicle to a special finance customer, you capture a video testimonial from them. Like when salespeople used to take pictures of clients with their new vehicles and make calendars for them.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. First, create a basic script for the testimonials or an outline for questions you want to ask. Do not just ask someone to give you a testimonial and let them freestyle! Remember, you want to keep the videos between 30 and 90 seconds. There are many reasons why people are going to your dealership to get special financing (i.e. bad credit, no credit, divorce, late pays, overdue bills, bankruptcy, etc.). You should have a testimonial about each and every scenario, but don’t try to cover everything in one video. Take your time and make each video specific to one scenario.

2. Don’t fake video testimonials. Use real customers. It is ok to “lead” a customer’s testimonial like a good trial lawyer will coach or lead his witness. The key here is to create real videos of real people who are sincere. I have dealers that tell me that they have had people in tears at their dealership because they are so grateful that they helped them get a car. We all know that there are situations when you truly help someone who has severe credit issues or who has been abused by another dealership.

3. Have your attorney create a release form that gives your dealership permission to use the testimonials any way you want (not just the actual video itself). Meaning, if a customer gives you a video testimonial you will have their permission to not only to post that video wherever you want, but also publish their quotes anywhere you want. 

4. Make sure that you create quality videos. They don’t have to be the quality of George Lucas or Disney, but they need to have some basics. For instance, make sure you have good lighting and that there isn’t a lot of background noise. It would be even better if you created a backdrop—maybe with your dealership’s logo.

5. Once the video testimonials have been shot. You need to upload them to www.YouTube.com. This is very easy to do. The idea is that you want to create a standard operating procedure at delivery that you secure as many video testimonials as possible every month so you can upload 20 to 30 video testimonials each month. In six months, you can have almost 200 video testimonials on YouTube. Think about how powerful it can be when you tell someone interested in your dealership to go to YouTube and type in “ABC Motors Testimonials,” and that person finds 200 videos of happy customers that you helped get financing! That is powerful.

6. Now that your customers are on YouTube, what do you do? Two great ideas: When a video gets uploaded into YouTube, it does a couple of things. It converts it into HTML. When the video is converted into HTML, it allows you to cut and paste the HTML wherever you want (i.e. into your Web site. Another great feature of YouTube is that every time you upload a video, it creates a URL. Once it creates a URL, you can use that for whatever you want. You can also cut and paste that URL into an e-mail to create free video e-mails! Imagine corresponding with a prospect via e-mail, now you can embed video testimonials into your e-mails for enhanced effect.

7. If you use YouTube, it’s free. There aren’t many good “free” ideas running around out there, so jump on this one. Not only is it free to use, but it can save you money. A lot of Web site companies charge your dealership money to upload and manage your video content, as well as store the videos because videos can take up a lot of bandwidth. Also remember, Web site companies traditionally don’t specialize on housing/storing video media; YouTube does. If you use YouTube, all of those costs are nonexistent.

If you have any questions about how to use YouTube or how to create video testimonials, please e-mail me for some free examples and strategies. 
Special Finance Insider Vol. 2, Issue 5