Video Marketing: How best to tell your story?
September 17th, 2013
Please note: this article is intended for any business or organization looking to prepare an in-house script for their corporate video. Should you be interested in creative storytelling – short films, feature films or documentaries – we highly recommend reading ‘Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting’ by Robert Mckee, as we consider it to be the bible for creative storytelling. In fact, we recommend it to anyone involved in any kind of scriptwriting, for in order to truly succeed a corporate video should also be creative.
The first thing to note about scripting for a corporate video is to be absolutely clear who your target audience is, their degree of knowledge about the subject matter, and what action you intend for them to take after having watched your video. Without being absolutely clear about these three elements, you won’t be able to prepare a good, clear and concise script – the key to video marketing.
Once you have clarified those key elements, the next step is to know what kind of a video you will be writing for. Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of corporate video formats – four if you consider one of those can be divided into two sub-categories – and it is vital to know which of those formats you will be writing for. (Please read our article entitled: ‘What form of video best suits my needs?’)
Now that you have a clear idea of the kind of video you will be scripting for, what are the key points to consider about its structure? They are:
1. Clarity – be clear about what you are promoting (even if it’s not a product but an idea, such as what your business or brand stands for). Also be clear about what you would like the viewer to do with this information and how they might go about doing it. Clarity is key, especially for a marketing video.
2. Conciseness – Forget the MTV age, the YouTube generation have an even shorter attention span! Don’t digress and don’t waffle.
3. Creative – How will you set yourself apart from your competitor’s video? How will you improve upon them? Think outside the box.
4. Think visually, even when writing a script. After all, video is a visual medium. Filming the visual component will ultimately be the job of the production company and camera operator(s), but it is best to consider the kind of visuals you would want in your video whilst preparing the script, for the two elements need to complement one another. If you’re talking about x you don’t want to be seeing y.
(At Ceres Productions, for instance, we had a client who had written a script opening with the fact that one of their customers was a well-known restaurant chain. The natural visual fit would then have been to show the exterior of one of those restaurants or its logo at the front-end of their video, but that would have been crazy. The casual viewer would straight away presume it to be a video about that chain, and any potential customer they would wish to attract (such as other restaurant chains) would probably not watch it. We convinced them to alter their script accordingly so that the voice-over started by referring to their product first and the associated visual element related to them and their business.)
5. We’ve all sat through a speech where the speaker has a powerpoint presentation whose graphic elements are no more than bullet points of what he is saying, almost as if he is holding up his cue cards for all to see. And what happens? We tune out to what he is saying, preferring to read the slides ourselves, or we ignore the powerpoint presentation and listen; sometimes we tune out of both. Similarly with video, you have to be more creative about your visuals. Engage the viewer! Excite their retina!
6. If you can, get video testimonials from existing clients and customers. Of course these can’t be scripted, for they will be the words of someone else, but at the very least you should know what you would like them to say, what would fit nicely within the script you have prepared. When you know what you would like to hear, then you’re better placed to know the kind of question you should ask to elicit that answer. If you have a good working relationship, maybe even suggest the answer to them, but for them to say it in their own words. Sometimes people appreciate a little prompting when put in front of a camera. But ensure you get a full answer from them that is contextually sound so that you don’t have to include your question in the final edit.
7. Your production company will be responsible for getting the various visual cutaways that will be required to tell the rest of your story, but know what is both practical and feasible within your budget and the shooting time that has been set.
8. Check and double-check your spelling, especially with regard to names and titles. The production company may use your script to decide what title graphics will be needed in the finished edit.
9. If you finish with a call to action, ensure you give the necessary information to help the viewer take that action. So if you say: ‘Call us now’, then remember to include your phone number. Include your contact details at the end, even if you envisage your video only going on your website, where you already have all your contact details listed. Often people don’t notice that information unless it’s pointed out to them and, besides, at some later date you may want to upload the video to YouTube or another site where your details are not present.
10. Finally, if your script includes any voice-over component, be sure to read it out aloud before the shoot. Adjust the script to a clear vocal style, abbreviate words where necessary, and adjust sentences accordingly. What we write and how we say it can be subtly different, but it is worth considering before the day of the shoot so that there is no need for tweaking it on the day and delaying valuable production time that you’ve paid for.