10 Steps to Writing Video Scripts That Work

noteOnline video has the power to reel in business in 60 seconds. When done right, a short video can be a convincing, engaging and powerful marketing tool.

But before you start thinking of the where to shoot, what to animate, or how to light your video, you have to develop a well-written, well-organized script.

Keep in mind what author and aviator, Anne M. Lindbergh, said, “Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after!” So make sure your video is a killer and not a snore-athon by starting with the same kind of preparation you do for any kind of targeted marketing: know your audience, your message and your call-to-action. (And be sure to keep your budget in mind.)

Whether you’re planning a minute-long video or a bite-sized video, it needs to tell a story,…while walking the fine line between promoting a brand and pushing too much,” Solamar’s Founder and CEO, Chelsea Berler, adds. “Keep it simple, you don’t have time for elaborate concepts. Be creative, be funny, make content whose primary purpose is to engage people’s interest.”

Beyond that, here are 10 pointers to help you write compelling scripts.

  1. Remember KISS (Keep it Short and Simple)
    It’s critical to keep your script to a manageable length.According to demoduck, 30 to 60 seconds is ideal (except for bite-sized video). Once you get above ninety seconds, you’d better have some pretty great content, or you’ll start losing viewers fast. Web surfers popping by your website tend to tune-out after a few minutes, depending how compelling your material is and how much they need your product or service. Creating a concise script depends on using short sentences and simple language and getting to the point fast…and please, please, please try to avoid industry jargon.
  2. Start with an elevator pitch in the first few seconds
    Reduce the message of your entire video to one coherent sentence and get that sentence into the first 5 to 30 seconds of your script. This tells your audience what to pay attention to in the video, says videobrewery. It’s your hook, quickly conveying your core message. A great elevator pitch can take a lot of time (here’s a quick slideshow from Businessweek with a few tips), but when you’ve nailed it, it’ll help people remember who you are and why they should listen to you. (Bonus tip: Keep in mind the acronym BLOT (bottom line on top), which will remind you to put your most salient point first.)
  3. Set the tone
    Above all be personal, conversational and human. The viewer should be able to relate to what you’re talking about. In most situations, a little humor can go a long way. Impersonal, robotic language and content make for vague, uninteresting video. You only have a very short time to get and keep people’s interest, so be specific and make sure your video is chock-full of necessary, relevant, targeted details that support your core message.
  4. Speak directly to your audience
    Make friends with your target viewers. Use personal pronouns like “you” and “your.” Engage them by showing what you deeply care about and how you can help them. Don’t waste time telling them what they already know. Instead focus on what they need to know about you that will help them trust you and take the action you want them to take.
  5. Focus on what’s in it for them
    Throughout the script continually focus on what you can do for your potential customer, what they want, and how you can help them get it.
  6. Tell a story
    Dry facts, boring statistics, endless definitions, and blah, blah, blah bragging are not good tactics for attracting loyal customers. So avoid lifeless or self-serving content whenever possible. Instead use the screen to show your audience actual people your company has helped or how your services have benefited them. Define who you are. The better your stories about yourself, the more they’ll trust you.
  7. Use humor wisely
    Humor is a great story-telling tool, but it has to support your message. The humor must fit seamlessly within the story you’re telling, not distract people with poor timing or placement.
  8. Pace yourself
    Keep in mind that a 60-second video only gives you enough time for around 125-150 words of dialog, allowing time to breathe and for viewers to absorb what you’re saying. Rapid-fire, machine-gun dialog will overwhelm viewers, causing decreased comprehension and abandonment. “Concise = Success!” advises MagnetVideo. Writing a compelling 150-word script takes a lot of hard work and practice (or experienced help like Solamar provides). But well planned and concise scripts will pay off in the end.
  9. End with a call-to-action
    Don’t forget to tell your viewers how to get started and what they need to do next. You might want to refer to our blog post on crafting the perfect call-to-action.
  10. Put it in context
    This is the one thing most marketers forget when placing the video on their website. In order for your video to succeed you have to do more than just upload it randomly to your website. The video thumbnail, the description, and the placement of the video all contribute to its context. You must pay attention to video optimization or all of your efforts are a waste of time. Carefully consider the context for your video to guarantee that your visitors will see it, be interested in it, and click the “play” arrow.

Ready to integrate online video into your marketing?  For video expertise, talk to us to bring your vision to the small screen.

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