5 Tips for writing killer scripts for marketing videos
Video is visual. Through a series of images, whether moving or static, you're trying to convey a feeling that resonates with a target audience. But video marketing isn’t all about what you're audience is seeing. Often times you'll find that words can make or break your video.
Hundreds of ads run everyday with poor messaging, boring voiceovers or campy dialogue that have a profound influence on their effectiveness.
We've been there too when it comes to scripting marketing videos. We’ve thought we were really clever when we weren't, minimalistic when we had to go deeper, and well spoken when we had to scale back. Learning that words matter is an important step to developing better content. Here's 5 tips to keep in mind the next time you're writing or reviewing a video marketing script.
TIP 1: Concise Copy
Compound sentences need not apply here. This isn’t a creative writing exercise where you’re trying to use the most flowery language possible. Remember, your audience isn’t going to sit down and read your script like a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. They’re going to hear and see it. It’s a different form of comprehension with a shorter attention span in today’s rapid paced media market.
Keep your focus on the reason for the video in the first place. You’re trying to articulate a specific message for a company in an engaging way. So be specific. Keep it simple. Keep it sharp. Thinking this way will leave room for entertaining visuals and save you from making a ridiculously long video no one will see the end of.
TIP 2: Time Yourself Reading The Script
It's easy to say you're aiming for a 60 second video. But have you ever thought to put a stopwatch to that scrabble killing script you wrote? Every written word you expect to make the final cut costs time. Time is everything in video marketing. If you haven't captivated your audience by the first 10 seconds of your video, you lose.
Time your script. You don't even need to buy a stopwatch anymore. If you're smart there's one on your phone already. And don't play that game where you read the script faster than humanly possible to say it can be read in 30 seconds or less. Voice it like a normal person. Better yet, time your script as if you're having a deep conversation with somebody you're trying to connect with. You're pattern of speech will have a more natural pace. Knowing how long your script reads will not only give your editor less grief, it’ll help you trim the fat around the most important thing you write.
Tip 3: The Brand Message Is Most Important
What is your client's message? If you can't sum this up in one sentence you’re not ready to make a video.
A brand's message should be clearly defined. It’s the thesis statement of your entire video. It's the reason you're making one!
If the audience misses the point of the video you might as well hang up your call to action.
Sure, one sentence may seem like a tall task. But this is the part of a video marketing script you should spend the most time on. What is that one identifiable take away you want your audience to remember? If you can narrow that down you’re one step closer to crafting an effective message.
Think of it the same way you would define a film or TV show logline. That one little blurb intrigues people enough to tune in. Video marketing is no different. Except you may not always have that sick CGI robot battle or A list actor to carry the load. Staying on message while finding an entertaining way to present it is another challenge.
Tip 4: Be Careful With Comedy
It’s hard to write comedy and not everybody can do it. What's funny to you may not be funny to somebody else. When it comes to your video marketing script, that can make or break your campaign.
Inside jokes are the worst. We’ve all seen those company videos where you know they’re trying too hard. It’s cringeworthy. You have to accept that most people will not understand your inside jokes because they’re based on your personalities and experience. You have context you can't possibly convey to others. And if you have that writer or employee that thinks they’re the next Judd Apatow or Tina Fey, chances are they aren't. Don't hedge your business's bets on them.
Yes you want to make an entertaining video. But laughs might not always be the way to go.
It’s not the only form of entertainment. Sometimes “funny” is misconstrued for entertaining. Define what funny is for your video. Is funny laugh out loud? Is it a light chuckle? Or is it being clever and engaging? Identifying the reaction you’re trying to achieve will pave the way for a clearer writing path. You may just find a joke or two along the way.
Tip 5: Visualize While Writing
Descriptions may seem like a formality to finish your script. In film or TV scripts descriptions are kept pretty light so the director and other department heads can explore and create their vision. But you’re not selling your video marketing script to JJ Abrams. You’re selling it to a client.
Some people just can’t visualize a scene after reading it. Of course this is where storyboards and visual references are helpful. But it’s also important to be clear when you’re describing a scene on paper. You know what you mean, but will others? Will the client? Don’t assume that those words on the page mean the same thing to everybody. Focus on what the scene looks like in your head and take the time to write it down in detail. If you see…
“shafts of sunlight pouring through the open window of a Victorian style bedroom”
… don’t just write…
“An old school bedroom is well lit”
There’s a bit of a difference isn’t there?
Video marketing scripts have a very specific purpose. Every line is conveying important information to various groups of people whether it be the crew, the client, or the target audience. The actual video content still has to look amazing. But from the early stages of pre production, the words you choose to use in the script, matter.Have a question or need consulting on this topic?
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