I had an idea for the article, to talk about how a script is the foundation of everything that follows when producing a video. While I was getting my thoughts together, I came across two quotes from two very different, but great, filmmakers and, well, my job is done. Between them, they have said the important stuff.
Here’s what they said:
“To make a great film, you need three things – the script, the script, and the script.” – Alfred Hitchcock
“Scripts are what matter. If you get the foundations right, and then you get the right ingredients on top, you stand a shot… but if you get those foundations wrong, then you absolutely don’t stand a shot. It’s very rare–almost never–that a good film gets made from a bad screenplay.” – Tim Bevan
I could go home now, but that’s not what you expect so let’s use these quotations as a starting point while I stand on the shoulders of giants and go into detail about the topic.
First, let us answer the question: what is a script?
The obvious answer is that it is the words to be used by the people appearing in the video production. And that’s true – as far as it goes.
As Tim Bevan notes from his words above, the script is the foundation of the edifice that is the finished video. The scriptwriter is the architect of what will be shot by the camera. But for a script to be great, there’s something that comes before the document with the word ‘SCRIPT’ on its cover.
Behind Every Great Script Stands A Great Plan
Before starting the video have a think about what the objective of the finished video is. List out the key points that you want to cover are. If you are writing a script for a two-minute video then limit yourself to a maximum of 8 points, that will give enough time to cover, in the final video, the points without appearing to merely list them.
Assuming that your video is destined to become part of the client’s marketing process then you need to place yourself in the potential client’s shoes. Look through her eyes and consider why she would want to use the client’s product or service.
And now we are back into familiar copywriting territory because the basic structure is exactly the same as copywriters have been working with for decades:
- What is the customer’s problem?
- How does your offer solve that problem?
- How does your offering solve the customer’s problem better than the competitor’s product?
Next, you need to consider the ‘tone’ of the video. Here you should follow the client’s existing marketing materials.
- Is the current material laid back, or in your face?
- Does the client go heavy on information, or is the approach feelz oriented?
- What level does existing marketing material pitch to? Do they address knowledgeable prospects or assume that the buyer knows almost nothing about the product or the problem area it addresses?
If You Build It, They Will Come – but will they stay?
(SPOILER- half of them will!)
We all know that video is becoming a dominant medium for communication with prospects and clients. A well-produced video will garner views; yes, if you build it, they WILL come! But how long will they stay?
Wistia, a company that, among other things video related, hosts videos did some research. They had expected a steady downward curve in engagement, but with a dataset of 564,710 videos they found something else, see the chart below:
Figure 1: How Long Will Your Audience Stick With Your Video. https://wistia.com/learn/marketing/optimal-video-length
After two minutes there’s a significant drop in viewership. Almost as many people will watch a two-minute video as a 30-second one. The low-hanging fruit is clearly in videos that run for less than 2 minutes but if your content is good quality then don’t sacrifice quality and content to keep under that length.
The people who stay through your video are the ones who are more likely to convert to your client’s offers and, as the table shows, there’s a lot of those.
Choose Your Words – Carefully!
There’s so much to say and so little time to do it! The client wants to mention this and that, can you fit in this idea or that product feature. But how to fit it in? Well, that’s part of the planning, and you can’t fit everything in.
If you have a plan agreed before writing the script, then you can save a lot of expense and stress later. I think of words as being like money in a budget or a purse. In so much time can be fitted only so many words; so, you need to spend them wisely. When you know in advance what the budget is then better buying choices get made.
280 words = 120 seconds. That’s it, your budget for words. Returning to the idea that you can only fit a limited number of points into a video, well here’s the proof: if you have a budget of 280 words and you want to spend them on 8 points then that’s just 35 words per point – you’d better make each word count!
We All Love A Story!
Yes, you may be selling a company, a brand, an image and a product but we humans love to hear stories. Even though your video will often follow the classic problem-solution format try to involve the viewer’s emotions. Take him on a journey, link your problem and solution to the viewer’s emotions and you will tie him to the client’s offer.
A well-told story will encourage your viewers to react, motivate them to take actions whether it be to donate to a cause, sign up for a newsletter, share the video or buy a product.
We can all love a story, and the world loves a storyteller, even if the teller of stories is a company with a product to sell.
Here’s a great video that tells us about why storytelling is so important.
Remember, people remember stories, and they remember who told a good one!
Tell Them What To Do
The last part of the planning is what copywriters refer to as the ‘call to action’ or CTA. If you do everything else right in your video but forget to add a call to action or do it poorly, then everything else is wasted.
The call to action is where you tell the viewer what you want them to do next. If everything else is right, then every viewer is ready to take the next step. Your CTA should sum up your offer in a single line, show appropriate contact details and provide an incentive to entice viewers to take the next step (buy your product or service).
If possible, have a verbal call to action, it really helps!
But That’s Not About How Videos Start With A Great Script!
…is what you might be thinking!
But don’t you want to know how to make the script great? If you have these elements sorted out, then the script will almost write itself (OK, that’s not entirely true, but it will be a lot easier).
You have an idea of what to say
- How to say it
- How long to take saying it
- How to tell a story – and why it is so important
- And you know about asking for the sale (the CTA)
In the end, it is the planning that makes a great script, and yes, it is still a great script that makes a great video.