Foundations: How to write potent video scripts

Welcome! It’s time for you to learn how to write a potent script for your video. Contrary to popular belief, effective video marketing is not about what camera you have, how slick your animation is or what song you choose (although these things are very important in their own right). No, the most important thing you need to focus on is content. That’s right, the meat of the video, what it is about. Not only what it’s about, but how it is structured, who it is targeting and the tone. These things all boil down to form the script. So lets get into the foundations of effective script writing.

 

Target

The first thing you need to do is define your customer. I’m sure you’ve already done this to some extent, but I’d like you to really drill down and create a profile for them. Give your customer a name, age, hobbies, where they hang out, what sort of language they use, what problems they have, what dreams they have etc. Only once you get a really good idea about who your customer is can you effectively target them, or really ‘speak’ to them. The best, most potent video scripts only resonate with the target demographic – they don’t speak to the whole world. This is why some people see very effective adverts on TV and think ‘this is rubbish, what a crappy advert’, when actually it is speaking directly to a different demographic who is LOVING it and buys their product right away. So define your customer, and get specific. This will help you out later on in writing your script (and actually with all the marketing you do for your business).

The problem is, it can be mentally difficult to do this – because by selecting a specific audience, you are cutting off the rest of the world. But you need to understand that this is a principle you need to obey. Know your audience, and speak to them and them only. By taking a “risk” and talking only to a specific niche, it will resonate with them so much more and they will thank you for it. By talking to the whole world, no one will listen (or buy). For example, if your desired audience was middle aged business owners who are struggling to come to terms with using social media to hire the best talent, speak directly to them. Empathise with their problems around not understanding social media, make jokes about it even. Yes you are cutting off a large audience who does understand it, but this is good, because now it is so much more targeted to the middle aged guys.

On a side tangent, I find it fascinating how one piece of content or marketing material acts as a micro-representation of your entire marketing strategy. Say you were writing a blog post. By thinking about who are you writing to, how to best communicate with them and how to flick the right switches in their mind, that blog post is actually your whole marketing strategy condensed into a short piece of writing. So these exercises like defining your customer are incredibly useful because they provide great clarity throughout your business strategy.

If you feel like you don’t know you ideal customer very well, there’s no better way to find out more about them than to spend time with them. Take them out for lunch, get to know them with a few revealing questions in mind. Failing that, send out a few surveys that achieve the same thing, asking hard hitting things like “what frustrates you the most?”

 

Mindset

Writing good scripts is a lot about the mindset you have – I’ve found the most effective one is of put empathy.

Let me talk about empathy for a second and why it is so important.

Empathy
[noun]
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

It is just so rare that someone takes the time to understand where you’re really coming from. When someone is grumpy, irritable and difficult, why is our first reaction to be grumpy and difficult right back at them? This destroys communication and productivity. Maybe if we took the time to try and understand where they’re coming from, ie. have empathy, then we would discover that they’re just having a bad day because they feel isolated from their friendship group. This is where it blows my mind. All we need to do is communicate that we understand where they’re coming from, then the mood blows over. All people want is to be understood. How many people do you know that can actually do that? 1? 2? It’s a rare ability because it takes conscious effort. And to most humans, conscious effort is terrifying.

So if your business shows that it understands it’s customers, in a fun and engaging way, it’s going to stand head and shoulders above it’s competition.

Back to the script. You need to put yourself in their shoes, and think about what they really want to hear. Really inhabit their world, spend a few minutes visualising yourself performing their average day. Get specific – what do they do in the mornings at home? What do they have for breakfast? Who do they talk to? Where do they work? What excites them? What annoys them? What do they buy? Why do they buy it? This takes a lot of effort doesn’t it? Well put the effort in now that 99% of people don’t, and reap the rewards that 99% of people can’t.

After ‘inhabiting’ them for a while, a great exercise is to visualise a conversation with them (an idea originally from the copywriter John Carlton). They’re sitting in a cafe one morning feeling down, and you come along and sit next to them. You ask them what is wrong and they say “well, it’s just that …[the magic happens here]”. This is the problem you need to solve. This is the line that ‘calls them out’. To proof check it, say this line to one of your prospects as a question and gauge their response. For example, if your prospects are car mechanics who want to grow their business but don’t know how, your visual conversation might have produced a line like “well it’s just that I have this dream that one day I’ll grow my business to be the biggest and best in my area, but I don’t have time and I don’t even know where to start.” So say this to a prospect: “are you a car mechanic who want’s to grow your business but don’t have the time or knowledge?” If it’s right, they’ll say something like *shocked* “well.. yes!”.

Now… What one line would you say after you’ve captured their attention, that gets them saying ‘Yes! I need that!’. That line is your magical solution. In the above example, maybe it’s something like “We provide specialist online coaching and mentoring for business owners in the mechanics industry, giving 2 hours a week of consultations and actionable steps, and easy monthly payments. Our goal is for this program to pay for itself in 3 months”. Now i’m just spitballing here but if you had done research and found there was a market for that (which is astoundingly easy with the internet), you could have a successful business.

So, I hope you can see that by using these mindsets and visualisation exercises, you can be more empathetic and therefore know how to talk to your customer on a deeper level than anyone else.

Another mindset that is not only going to be useful in writing video scripts, but also in business/life in general is that of giving value. You need to give something away to your customer, something Eben Pagen calls moving the free line. This means the more valuable the free stuff is that you give away, the more you can charge for your product/service.

So, obviously you can use this concept to give away value with a VBLOG or article, but how can this apply to a professional marketing video or explainer video? Well, by creating a slick video that talks directly to your prospects, your audience will be grateful that you made it and that your business exists for them. Every time I buy an Apple product, or watch an Apple video, I am thankful that such an innovative and high quality business exists. Just by watching their videos I feel like my consciousness is elevated and that anything is possible. And therefore I am grateful that they made the video, even just because it spiked my emotions. You need to always be thinking ‘how does this give something to my customer?’

The final mindset I’d like to share with you is that you are your customer’s friend. You can see how this links to the other mindsets of empathy and giving value. You friend has a certain problem that you happen to solve, and they are delighted to hear from you when you present them a solution. This is key, and why video is such a good tool to bridge the gap between consumers and business.

 

Structure (The Magic)

Now you’re in the right headspace, it’s time we can get into the nitty gritty and talk about the script itself.

First, call out the customer.
Within the first 5 seconds of the video, they need to be thinking ‘wow.. this was made for me!’ This is that ‘one line’ we discussed earlier that you would say to them when they’re down. This not only immediately grabs their attention, but it also positions you as the expert. This is because the best way to become the authority is to be able to explain your prospect’s problem to them better than they can explain it to themselves. It’s a strange but powerful part of psychology – if someone shows they really understand your problem, you automatically assume they have a solution.

Then, get into the problem.
This is when you introduce the problem properly and show you really understand it. The ‘call-out’ was summing up the problem concisely and powerfully, but in this part you need to flesh it out a bit and describe it in more detail. I hope you can see that by getting in their headspace, it makes this part SO much easier. You should know exactly what their problem is, how they feel about it, how it affects other parts of their life etc. Now is your chance to show you understand this.

Next, present the solution.
Now you introduce the solution. It’s powerful to introduce the general solution to the problem, that doesn’t directly relate to your business yet. This is powerful because once you get this solution in their mind and get them excited about it, they will be wanting to hear how they can acquire this solution! And this is where you…

Link the solution to your product.
Now you link the solution to your product, and position your business as the magic. In this stage what’s most powerful is if you can sell your solution as something that will change their life. This is perfectly ethical if it will genuinely make their life better. You just need to bring their pain to the forefront so they consciously look for a solution – then your present your product as the solution. This is powerful stuff.

Build trust and show ease of use.
This is a very important and very underrated section. It’s as simple as this – even if you have a magical solution that will make everyone in the world 100% happy all of the time, people just won’t move forward with it if the process of buying/signing up is even the slightest bit complex, time consuming or untrustworthy. It’s crazy but that’s just human nature. Remember when we talked about ‘conscious effort’ being terrifying for humanity? Well this applies here too. So after you present your magical solution, your job is make this a complete no brainer. You can effectively do this by showing simple and easy actionable steps to move forward. Motion graphics within explainer videos are so powerful at this because you can take even a complex subject and make it understandable and easy by showing clean, aesthetic visuals. If we want to get geeky, this is called ‘dual cognition theory’ – visuals and text combined increase retention rates by 58%.

To build trust necessary to sell something (especially high ticket items) you should consider offering a free trial or a guarantee and if you can, show the happy people/businesses you’ve already sold to – testimonial interviews within a main video are great for this.

Finally, give a strong call to action.
You need to tell your viewers to do something. This relates to the purpose of your video – what do you want your viewers to do as a result? Visit your website? Sign up to a newsletter? Enquire? Buy now? You have to explicitly tell them what you want them to do. No conscious effort is involved. As you might have guessed there is a paradox here, in that you need to respect your customer by empathising with them and being their friend, but at the same time treat them like a child that needs walking through every step.

 

Different Purposes, Different Scripts

Let’s get back to purpose. What is your video designed to do? This will drastically shape the script. Above, I covered the basic structure that works to sell anything. But you will need to put more emphasis on different sections for different videos. Let me illustrate with a couple of examples:

Say the video’s purpose was to increase conversions on your website. Following the structure above would serve you well. However, say your video was embedded in an email, designed to get on-the-edge leads more interested in buying NOW.

This is a important thing to consider, because when most people think about using video, they almost always think about how this will help them at the top of the funnel – i.e how to get people who know nothing about their business to register their interest (usually by giving an email address). But in fact, video is just as powerful if not more in the mid and end sections of your funnel.

So say you’re sending an video email to leads that are interested and would like your product/service, but who have no urgency. They don’t need it. Here you need to pump up desire by selling the dream to them, and use anticipation to get them to the next step asap.

So, as you can see the structure still applies but with different emphasis – to sell the dream you need to highlight how much better their life would be with your solution. Showing customer case studies, and how your service/product took their life to the next level is a powerful way to do this.

You would also need to change the ‘problem’ section to focus more on building anticipation (talking about why they need this now). Also what you don’t need to waste time and costs on is explaining and introducing your business – they’re already interested. You instead need to reinforce what they already know and compel them to move to the next stage now. Great ways to do this are by asking painful questions such as ‘how many potential customers are you losing because you’re not implementing this today?’

Another important thing is the language you use within your script. This is also going to differ from business to business, because guess what, you all have different customers that will respond to different things. This relates back to identifying and defining your customer. How do they talk? At what pace? You need to be almost like a friend who is helping them out. How would a friend speak to them?

For example, Crazy Egg’s video (http://www.crazyegg.com/) speaks directly to it’s target audience of internet marketers and business owners. It makes jokes such as ‘sorry google analytics..’ because it knows it’s target audience would get it. The video isn’t scared to alienate viewers who aren’t going to understand things like that, because those viewers aren’t Crazy Egg’s buyers.

 

Conclusion

So, go and write your script, have a play around and see what works. If you’re interested in a free consultation with Portal Imagery, just get in touch and we’d love to help out.

And just think, how many prospects that visit your website are you losing every day because you haven’t made a kick-ass video yet?

All the best,

Tom
(Founder, Portal Imagery)