UNDERSTANDING VIDEO COSTS
IMPORTANCE OF A VIDEO SCRIPT
Updated 5th March 2021
The script is the most important part of any voiceover-led corporate video, or explainer video or any business video, including training and safety videos.
It's crucial because the script is the engine that drives the program.
The way to evaluate any corporate video that you see is like this:
> if you have a well written script that engages your audience, then it's odds-on that video will be good - even if the visuals are relatively weak.
> On the other hand, if you have a video programme that is visually very strong, but it's got a thin script, then it probably won't work - in spite of the strong visuals.
We've all seen television adverts where they've spent half a million pounds on the production, but the script and the message just aren't right. It doesn't hang together, and the ad doesn't work.
Which basically means a pile of money has gone down the drain because somebody didn't put their scripting hat on straight and got carried away with visual or concept euphoria (more on this later down the page).
We've also seen very cheap TV adverts where there's a powerful message that's extremely fluently told, and yet the visuals are not strong - and yet the program really works. It's a winner.
It's the same with your corporate video. The script counts the most. It's important to have a perfect script.
What is a perfect script?
Here’s a simple definition:
The perfect script is where your target audience starts to listen at the beginning
- because their attention is engaged,
- and there is an inherently smooth flow in the script that just keeps them listening and listening and listening,
- right until they get to the end.
Anything that breaks that smooth flow of the script and makes the viewer become distracted is wrong.
An example of this is when making a claim that isn’t substantiated enough in the program, or when passing a comment that isn’t explained fully. This is when you distract the audience. Your script mistake makes the audience become distracted, thinking about something they feel is wrong, instead of staying with the message you’re trying to tell.
This distraction could last 5 seconds, or 10 seconds, or a minute, and that means you’ve wasted 5 seconds or 10 seconds or even a half minute of precious runtime.
I call these distractions Dead Spots.
Another example is when the script starts boasting, using self serving phrases, or talking about “we” instead of “you”.
People have heard all the puff & stuff. They tend to cancel it out in their minds. Instant Dead Spot recognition.
You can easily avoid this trap by ensuring the ratio of “you” to “we” is 5:1, ie, one “we” for every 5 “you’s”.
Yet another example of a Dead Spot is saying endless lists of what you do, or markets you serve, or points to remember. People start to switch off here. Keep lists short and to the point. If you need long lists in your video then it’s very likely you need another video to cover these topics.
A script that flows, that really means something, is what will compel the viewer to listen. This is the most important single element in any corporate video.
This is why developing the script is always the start of the video production process.
Developing your important script
From the original topics - the bullet points that comprise the content of your video - you need to sit together with your video production company as a team, and together creatively work out what your script is going to say.
You'll need to research your market and your customers (or your workforce) first to make sure you're starting from current information, and not from what you remember from maybe 6-12 months ago. Too many managers skip the discovery stage, and their video companies follow suit. Writing evidence-driven, relevant copy is still a mystery to many.
Next, the script outline should be drafted up for you as a 1st Draft and sent to you for approval. You can then make amendments and changes that help perfect it.
It's also likely that you'll have a body of colleague you have to satisfy, to make sure they're happy with what you're saying on your video. You need agreement from these people too.
A video is a very public production, a lot of people are going to see it and it must be absolutely word perfect in every respect.
Typically script writing goes through three levels of draft and amendment, but it's no surprise if it takes 6 drafts. This isn't an admission of failure. It's simply a show of unparalleled determination to get it perfect, whether it's a video ad or a longer marketing video, or training video.
And when the script is complete, and fully approved, you have the perfect words for the production that you want.
Whether you're writing a script for a video on your website, youtube, learning centre or social media, it has to be perfect.
A great video script is all part of making a promotional video that wins customers.
WRITING AN EXPLAINER VIDEO SCRIPT THAT'S RELEVANT TO YOUR AUDIENCE
As mentioned, detailed research is central to any effective explainer video scripting. It's how you begin.
The key point is that If you research like an amateur you'll get amateur results.
So how does a professional research a great script? Well, not by starting with a video script template.
I'd suggest there are 3 main elements to consider when developing the outline to a good script.
1: Have accurate and up to date customer personas. If you don’t have a clear picture in your mind of who you’re talking to I can guarantee you’ll get Dead Spots in your video, moments when the message quite unexpectedly becomes irrelevant to the audience and they abandon your video.
Remember: Most B2B explainer videos get abandoned around 55% of the way through. It’s a chilling thought, but one you can remedy by writing a more relevant script, full of relevant talking points your personas are vitally interested in.
2: Know the questions customers are asking which is not always the same as the questions you think they’re asking.
You can get a list of of search terms that your traffic's using from Google Analytics under Search Console / Queries.
Study this for clues, as the search terms shown aren’t always as obvious as they seem at first glance.
For example, ask yourself: “What does this search term mean? What's their question? What’s their real intent?”
Some questions will be top of funnel, early awareness questions, while other questions will be late funnel, ie, purchasing considerations, so consider what position your video will occupy in your particular sales funnel.
Similarly, you can gain further insight from Google Ads data. Go to Tools & Settings on the top menu and pick Keyword Planner.
It’ll give you a list of related keywords for your page or topic.
None of the above is a magic formula for knowing the exact questions clients are asking, but they’ll help frame your mind for video script writing, without falling back on the same age old assumptions your company may often make.
Remember: If they ask, you have to answer.
Know your client intent, and let your video content, your story reflect this.
3: Review your competitor videos. If you know what competitors are saying in their videos, then you can differentiate your content so your script doesn’t sound like the six other videos your client has also watched.
Whether you say something completely different to competitors, or whether you go the opposite way and broadly align with the overall message in the marketplace, is your judgement call.
Either way, it affects how you pitch your important explainer video script. Just don't ignore what competitors are saying.
Dealing with the Elephant in the Room
Every product, service or solution has an Elephant in the Room, an obvious disadvantage to your solution that you never mention.
It may be
- high price,
- or failure to cover 100% of user needs,
- or simply that you're new and have no track record to fall back on.
Whatever your Elephant is, don't ignore it. Your clients won't.
They'll quietly think: "It's good what you're telling me, but you're ducking an important issue." The last thing you want is to provoke quiet sniggers from viewers.
The message is clear - you must tackle the elephant if your video script is going to be effective and relevant. And it's better to tackle it now, in the script, where you can deal with it correctly, and not leave viewers to form their own, possibly negative opinions.
Here are three practical examples of how to tackle the Elephant in the Room:
1: You're a startup: You have little track record to proclaim. So win your Early Adopters first, the 15% of buyers who are prepared to take a chance with your new game-changing solution. These Early Adopters are less concerned with track record as they are with the effectiveness of your solution. Discover their urgent needs, particularly one single urgent need and promote this message strongly in your script. The only caveat is to be careful with the pain point. Don't sound too pushy or dismal.
You can always make another video when you're more established, and chasing after the later, follow-on Early Majority marketplace, who represent a lucrative 35% of your market.
If you want to understand this Early Adopter / Early Majority video marketing strategy better I recommend reading the latest version of Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm. He spells it all out clearly. I was spellbound from page one when I first read it.
2: You're high priced: This is always a big elephant, so you need to be bold. Don't simply list added-value points in your video script to mitigate your high price. You have to tell your target audience how they can achieve their business goal by using your solution. Back this up with real facts and figures. Quantify their gain for them.
For example, if your target audience is primarily Production Managers, and your solution reduces manufacturing downtime, then ram this home. In the back of your mind visualise this client persona and talk aloud to them, telling them exactly how much they'll save, then prove it, then write it - in a conversational tone if possible. It's always good to speak aloud and capture it quickly on a notepad. If they're 100% convinced your claim is true and it's completely relevant to them, price will become far less important.
3: Your solution has a missing component: In this instance, there's something your solution lacks compared to competitors. Don't shy away from this point or be weak about it. Hammer home the main point your solution delivers. Say this core message in such a way that the "missing component" somehow seems irrelevant compared to the other great benefits you do offer. Make the missing component seem trivial when surrounded by a panoply of meaningful, highly relevant benefit.
If your solution is a good one, there'll be plenty of buyers who'll still spring for you. You'll never win them all. Or at least not yet. Just be realistic and win the ones you know you can.
Why intuition can wreck a video script
What does this mean? Let me tell you.
I've spent a career meeting marketing managers, some brilliant, some not so brilliant. But they all start out a video project with one thing uppermost on their minds.
They all have dreams as to how their video will look as part of the new marketing campaign.
They can see the video visuals, storyboarding as they think, hearing what is almost an imaginary screenplay with a voiceover accompanying their vision. They can't wait to hand out a creative brief or story outline.
This is often the first mistake. Why?
Because the awesome intuitional vision of their video completely overshadows the importance of the script.
In their imaginations, the familiar bullet points all roll off the tongue as imaginary words, supporting the powerful visual imagination.
I recommend the opposite approach.
Do your research first. Scriptwriting is a science. Spend a lot of time researching all the points made in this article until you've gathered enough data to make certain you're matching the intent of your target audience.
This approach has sometimes led me to scrap great visual ideas because the evidence was to the contrary.
Writing an effective video script asks for a lot of Open-Mindedness, and far less on preconceived certainties.
Be prepared to change your mind a few times until you're certain you understand your customers, their intents, their questions, your competitors, and the all important elephant-in-the-room.
This is how you avoid getting your video script ever so slightly wrong.
This is how you hit target with your compelling story.