Do you know what Hollywood blockbusters and winning marketing spots from the Cannes Lions have in common? A great script! This is the foundation on which all videos are built. In our studio at Mynd, after many years of experience in creating videos, we have learnt that creating a script is not a quick and easy process. However, in this article we share with you our tips and advice to help you write a good, strong script for your own business video.
Let's get started!
Each video consists of two main parts: content and form.
The content – or the “what” – of the video is the story itself, which contains the message you want to deliver through the video or what you want to say. The story also gives structure to the whole video and is therefore a crucial part of the video production process. Form – or the “how” – refers to the way this message will be displayed visually. The video style, the design of characters and the sound design all form part of this aspect of video creation.
The correct balance between content and form is the main ingredient behind a successful business video. An engaging story communicated through an appropriate video style will attract impressive numbers of viewers to a marketing campaign.
People don't want a six-centimetre drill
Each product offers a solution or meets a need. As the economist Professor Theodor Levitt states, people do not want a six-centimetre drill. They want or need a six-centimetre hole and a drill makes that possible. To take it further, the drill and the hole are the means to achieve a result such as putting up a shelf. Achieving this gives the individual a sense of satisfaction. Viewed this way, there are almost no products in the world that do not solve a human problem.
The video script should therefore clearly explain to the viewer how the product or service can help them. The most common mistake we see is where companies only list all the product or service features in their videos. That's fine, but your potential customer doesn't need to know all the details. He needs to feel that you care and that you're offering a product that will help solve his problem. So, product features are important and should be mentioned in the video, but first you need to get viewers' attention. To achieve this, you first start talking about their problem.
"Before you start writing a script, study your target group in detail and find out what makes them happy and what their concerns or problems are."
This principle is demonstrated in the explainer video we recently created for the company selling the book, Growing Up at Work. It contains tips to help people with low self-esteem to attain personal transformation and professional growth. From the very beginning of the video, the viewer who suffers from this problem can identify with the characters in the video.
This animated video depicts the target audience’s problem in the first minutes
Your target = the main character of the script
Animation offers amazing possibilities that allow you to create a character that accurately represents your audience. At the same time, animated characters usually generate empathy and confidence with regards to your brand.
You can describe the main character directly in the script or draw it in the subsequent storyboard. If you choose a description, you only need to dedicate one sentence to it in which you provide basic information. For example: This is Paul. He is 33 years old and the manager of the marketing department of a large corporation.
Which option you choose is up to you but in either case you must get to know your audience thoroughly before you dive into the script itself. Try to answer basic questions such as what your person looks like, how old he is, where he lives, where he works, how he dresses ... Any such information will be valuable for you in the subsequent writing of the script.
Like any good classic fairy tale or the latest movie on Netflix, the script of a corporate video must have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. This classic structure has been used for thousands of years and it captures the audience’s attention and holds it until the end.
Introduction - PROBLEM
Right at the beginning of the video you need to answer the question: "What problem does my product or service solve?"
As mentioned, offering a solution to your audience’s problem is a key component in a video's success. Focus on the audience and present its problem in the introductory part of the video but do not yet display your brand or product features at this stage.
The problem attracts the recipient who identifies with it. The Whiteboard-style animated video we created for Alptracker is a good example. The introductory part of the video lasts 20 seconds. The video speaks to farmers and addresses their concerns: the safety and health of their animals. They are constantly thinking about them and would like to have them under 24-hour monitoring.
This animated video speaks to farmers and offers them a product that will give them peace of mind
Core - SOLUTION?
After you have presented the problem to the viewer, you must explain how you can help him. In the example above, it takes only 25 seconds to show the viewer a solution to his problem: a livestock tracking system from Alptracker.
People's attention span gets shorter every year, so the core of your video must be straightforward and compelling. Include only the most important information. You can include links to other details on your website or social networks for the viewer who wants to learn more.
Conclusion - YOU
At the risk of deflating you, you need to remember that you are not the only one who can solve your viewer's problem. Your competition is also promoting their product and offers a solution for the same problem. So, when you have already gained the attention of the audience you must present the features of your product. Show your viewers all the unique features your product has so you set it apart from the competition. Your audience must be able to see why your offering is the one to select. Product features you highlight might be related to function, range, price, cost-saving, etc.
There is a thin line between the core and the conclusion, and often the way to solve this potential problem is to ensure you answer “Why?” questions: why this product and / or why is it the best? While it should be brief, the conclusion must relate to the features of your product and your brand.
Video without a call to action is like a shop that’s closed
This classic script structure usually works best, but we're not quite finished yet! Of course, you want the viewer to take the desired action after watching your video. It can be the purchase of the presented product or service, or the download of an app, or sharing something on social networks, or finding out more, or changing a behaviour. To achieve this, you need to include a compelling call to action, or CTA, at the end of the scenario. These can take several forms including, "Find out more", "Download", "Try the free version", or “Contact us”.
For example, this explainer video presents a drink for gamers and contains an extremely successful call to action: "Treat yourself to one now. LevlUp Gaming drink." This appears at the end, specifically at 01:28 into the video.
The animated video in the style of Flat Motion concludes with a concise call to action
It’s important to present only one call to action option so as not to confuse the viewer. If there are multiple options, it's better to create multiple versions of the same video and add a different CTA to each.
Can I write as much as I want?
The company video should be long enough to clearly explain the idea of the product or service and develop the story. On the other hand, it should be short enough so that viewers don't get bored and stop watching the video before they get to the conclusion and CTA. From our eight years of experience of creating thousands of animated videos, we can say with certainty that 90 seconds is the ideal length of a video explainer script.
Perhaps you are raising your eyebrows now and asking how it’s possible to measure the length of the video when you are in the process of writing the script. Well, based on our experience, one minute of video equals approximately 120 written words assuming the words will be read at an average speed. Using simple maths, you need to write a 180-word script for a 90 second video.
Hard work pays off
Are you writing the conclusion to a script and can't wait to send it to your colleagues or friends? You should apply the brakes at this point. A great video script has never been generated on the first attempt. It’s essential that you read it several times, hone it, make changes, and polish it:
- Check the structure of the script. Is any part too long or too short?
- Try to further simplify or reinforce the main ideas of the video.
- Don't be afraid to spice up your video with humour.
- Make sure the script is not too saturated with product information.
- Read it aloud to disinterested people to make sure your idea is understood.
- Sleep on it and go through the script again the next day.
And that's it!
We are sure that this article offers you enough information that you will be confident enough to start writing your first screenplay or video script. If you have any questions about screenwriting or video production in general, we'd love for you to write to us.