A successful marketing video starts with an effective script. Whether you want to produce an advertisement, explainer or product video, there are several elements that need to be considered. If you haven’t written a script before, worry not, as the following guide details each step of the process so that you’re on the right track from the beginning.
First, you should avoid diving straight into writing, or even drafting an outline. Those tasks are best approached with an established set of objectives. Your goals will influence your story and provide a foundation that you can turn to when you’re not sure how to go about any of the steps that follow. To determine the way forward, ask these questions:
- What is my angle? (Informational, personal opinion, etc.)
- Who will be watching this video?
- What should they learn from it?
- Why do I want to tell this story?
- Why will viewers care about the story?
- How does the video provide value?
From here, you can put together a rough list of what you plan on covering in your content. This is more to identify your needs instead of your wants. With this in place, you can move on to fleshing out your narrative.
A key weakness in marketing videos is the absence of a story. This often stems from writers essentially turning the outline into a script, losing the narrative along the way. While the purpose of a video is to accomplish a certain goal, you can only do so if you’re engaging your viewers, and it’s stories that get their attention and make them think.
The only potential exceptions are with explainer videos and product spotlights, which entail a slightly different approach. In any case, some form of storytelling is present among winning videos.
So, what exactly should you do here? Focus on drafting an outline that ties into a narrative arc – something that generates interest and satisfies our innate desire to know what happens next.
To aid in this process, you can try distilling your core story into a few sentences, just as you built a foundation in the step above. You can then flesh this out as follows.
Here’s where the fun begins. To build your story, you need to compile the necessary details and make it cohesive.
An Emotional Hook
The first few seconds of your video are the most important, so it’s vital that you grab the viewer’s attention with a hook. This can come in the form of a moving story, fascinating anecdote, unique perspective or surprising statistic. You want to give your audience a reason to care, so make this part count.
Keep it Simple
Your outline is a crucial tool because it helps you focus on a central theme or idea. Be sure to stick to your narrative so as to not confuse your viewers with too many details. It might appear basic on paper, but you’ll be able to reinforce your story with audio, data and visuals further down the line.
When working with more complex ideas or large statistics, context is vital to understanding the relevance of the data or information you present in the real world. It’s best not to assume that your audience will know why it all matters, so connect the dots and offer insight where it’s needed.
A story is only satisfying if you know where it goes next. In this case, you should offer a solid takeaway that makes your viewer feel invested. A basic example is a touching story about an individual dealing with hardship. There needs to be an outcome, such as how they overcame the difficulty they were facing. Without that, your story has no effect.
There’s more to the end of your video than the aforementioned outcome. If you don’t “close” it correctly, that impact and momentum you’ve been building leads to a dead end. Fortunately, a great ending is basically just a well-crafted call to action.
Of course, this doesn’t mean merely showing your logo and a link for viewers to follow. This, especially when there’s a story, can come off as salesy and in some cases, insensitive. Instead, your closer should ideally comprise what you want your viewer to walk away with as it pertains to the narrative. Do you want them to:
- Download a report with more relevant information?
- Share the video with others who might care?
- Subscribe to your newsletter for more content?
Note that not every story has to be sealed up at the end. There are cases where intrigue and suspense can bring your audience to take action. For instance, your video might hint at an upcoming product without revealing it, and then at the end suggest that viewers should follow you on social media for updates so that they can be the first to know.
With the elements we’ve discussed in place, take a moment to review your script from the perspective of someone from your target audience. The goal of your production might be to promote your brand or product, but that can only be achieved if those who view the video feel connected to it.
So, adopt the knowledge level of a viewer and question whether you understand the ideas that are presented. It might not seem like a particularly sophisticated approach, but it’s important to ensure that you aren’t either alienating your viewers with needlessly complicated concepts or simplifying the content to an intellectually insulting degree.
You should also ask if the story feels relevant to you. This is more likely the case when the subject is interesting. When that might not always be the case, you can rely on the emotional hook to get people to care. Pay attention to the word choice as well, and make sure to adjust any industry terms or concepts that might be unfamiliar to your audience.
From here, it’s largely a matter of refining your script and cutting down on any unnecessary elements. Also, make sure to pitch your script to others for feedback before sending it off for production.