One of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, once said:
“To make a great film explainer video, you need three things: the script, the script, and the script.“*
And, as a writer, I very humbly agree.
*quote may have been slightly amended!
The backbone of any great video is a meticulously planned script that is concise, interesting, and effective. In this article, we’re going to share 5 secrets that will help you write an amazing script that will no doubt result in an amazing explainer video!
1. Create a Solid Plan
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Ideally, you shouldn’t start any marketing project without a clear plan in front of you. This is particularly true for creating an explainer video, because failing to plan at the script stage could lead to unexpected costs further down the line.
If you want to change something at the script stage, it’s as simple as hitting ‘backspace’. But if you want to make changes once your video has been illustrated, animated or had the voiceover recorded, the changes take more time and effort, and therefore cost money.
Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), make a list of the key points that you want to talk about. For a 60 second video, you should be looking to focus on a maximum of 4 key points.
An explainer video should be the hook, not the manual.
Keep it simple and to the point. Your main aim is enticing the viewer to want to find out more, not telling them the entire history of your brand including every single client you’ve worked for – there should be a place on your website for that.
After you’ve got your key points down, it’s time to focus on your storyline. Most traditional explainer videos follow this formula:
So it’s a good idea to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about why they should want to use your product or service.
What problems do they have?
How does your product, brand or service directly solve those problems?
And how do you solve them better than your competitors can?
This is a lot easier than it sounds. When you’re so close to your business, it can be difficult to step back and see it from an outsider’s point of view.
By working with a video marketing agency, you can talk to people who may have never heard of your product before and inject some fresh blood into your marketing strategy. Not only fresh blood – fresh, creative blood. I’ll stop saying blood now…
In addition to that, most agencies will have a brief template that they will ask you to fill out which is basically a glorified script plan. It will help them to understand everything they need to know to create the perfect explainer video for your brand.
2. Think about Tone
Once you have your plan nailed down, it’s time to think about the tone of your video and how you want the story to be delivered.
It’s important for all of your marketing collateral to match your brand voice. Therefore, if your brand communicates in a formal or corporate tone, then your video should too. However, that’s not to say you can’t have fun with it. If the topic you’re explaining is particularly dry, then you should always try to make it interesting by adding a small amount of humour here and there. This will engage viewers and keep them watching until the end. It may even encourage them to share your video!
Take a look at this video for Erase the Ink MD, a tattoo removal service:
When creating a video about medical treatment, it is important to be clear about the process, and sometimes you need to use medical jargon to explain your service. This can quickly turn a lot of viewers off. However, Erase the Ink MD made their video more engaging by adding a little bit of humour with the choice of the character’s tattoo.
If your brand is already quite laid back: awesome! You can have lots of fun with your video, like this:
This video by photography company, Dynamite Studios, uses a conversational voiceover and fun, real-life scenatios to show viewers the people behind the brand.
When thinking about the tone of your video, it’s also important to consider what type of voiceover would best suit your brand. If you’re appealing to customers in your surrounding area, then choosing a voiceover artist with a local accent with help you to connect with viewers. It’s also important to think about the voiceover delivery here. Do you want your script to be read in a lively, upbeat manner? Or a serious and calm tone?
The most important piece of advice we can give when it comes to choosing a voiceover artist is, make sure you work with a professional. Yes, anyone can grab a mic and record from their basement, but only a professional voiceover can successfully alter the pitch and tone of their voice to deliver the emotions that are laid out in your script. Take a look at this short video we made to help you choose the right voiceover for your video:
If you are really struggling to figure out what kind of tone you should choose for your video script, watch a couple of competitors’ videos and take some inspiration from them. It’s NOT okay to copy your competitors, but it’s fine to take inspiration and learn from what others have done before you.
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The key takeaway from this point is to match the tone of your video to the tone that your brand already has. It’s important for your video to be instantly recognisable as belonging to your brand, and this extends past the tone of voice and into design. Click here to find out more about the design process.
3. Carefully Consider the Length
As you research the process of creating an explainer video for your company, you are likely to see the topic of length pop up a lot.
Human attention spans are notoriously short, and getting shorter. This is making marketers focus more and more on short-form content. But don’t be tempted to choose short-form content over quality content.
Take a look at this graph by Wistia showing average engagement vs. video length:
As you can see, engagement is best between 1 and 2 minutes. Most people see this and think that their video needs to be under 120 seconds. But if you take a look at the 7 minute mark to the 13 minute mark, although the engagement is a lot less (around 50%), it remains consistent. So if you have a topic that requires a longer amount of time to cover, then you shouldn’t lose many viewers by stretching your video to 11 minutes instead of 10, for example.
It also depends on your audience. If you have an opt-in audience, meaning you’re showing the video to an audience that are prepared to engage (e.g. at a conference) then you can let your video run on a little longer, safe in the knowledge that people are going to watch the video until the end and see your call to action.
Take a look at this 9 minute video by United Nations:
This video has one clear motive: to educate. When presenting and explaining comprehensive and delicate matters, such as the Conventions on the Rights of the Child, it’s important not to cut any corners.
However, if you don’t have an opt-in audience (e.g. an ad) then shorter is usually better because it gives you more of a chance to engage viewers and keep them watching all the way to the end.
Take a look at this example of a pre-roll ad:
This ad by Burger King, part of a wider campaign of YouTube ads, uses self-awareness to create humour and spark curiosity in viewers. The real kernel of the video is the deal that they are advertising, and because the video is only a couple of seconds long, the chances that viewers see this deal are heightened.
It’s important to think about length at the script stage because your script is what will largely determine the overall length of your video. To give you a bit or perspective:
A standard industry voiceover recording of one minute is equal to approximately 140 words of text.
140 words = 60 seconds
More often than not, explainer videos act like an introduction to your brand for new customers. So it can be difficult to condense all of the great things you do into just a couple of minutes. That’s why you should have a clear, solid plan that you can follow to make sure you include your USPs in your video, no more and no less.
4. Tell a Story
Humans are hard-wired to react to stories. Even people who recoil at the sight of books consume stories in one way or another: TV shows, films, podcasts, and even gossip are all forms of story.
So, while it is important to present viewers with a problem-solution scenario, and the odd statistic here and there, it’s equally as important to make sure your script tells a story.
Stories connect with us on an emotional level. They can make us laugh, give us a sense of empowerment, and tug at our heartstrings. This makes them engaging and, crucially for brands, memorable.
Below is an amazing video that explains the true power of story:
Although stories, on the surface, seem to be a form of entertainment, the true value is in how they encourage viewers to react. A well-told story with a powerful message can motivate people to take actions, such as purchasing your product, sharing your video, or donating to your cause.
5. Don’t Forget the Call to Action!
The call to action is the most essential part of your video. Without a call to action, viewers won’t know what to do next. A call to action appears at the end of a video and remains on screen for a few seconds so that users can take in the important information.
Here, you can sum up your product in one line:
List your contact details:
And include an offer code to further entice viewers to buy your product or service:
It also helps to have a verbal call to action to match the visual. Here are a few that you can’t go wrong with
- “Visit our website to find out more!”
- “Contact us today!”
- “Interested? Get in touch to learn more.
On most video hosting sites, you can even add a clickable call to action to your video, making it easier for viewers to convert. I won’t go into that here, but there are lots of articles online that explain how to add clickable CTA buttons on different video hosting platforms.
Hopefully, the tips in this article have given you some positive inspiration for writing an explainer video script that sells.
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