August 5, 2019

How to Write an Engaging Video Script for Marketing Campaigns

Brand, Marketing

Because Boring Leads to Bouncing

Video script writing for advertising and marketing often falls under the copywriter’s purview, so it can feel overwhelming. No matter how much copywriting training you’ve gotten, it’s unlikely that it included much about video script writing. We’re not TV writers or producers after all. We have clear evidence that videos in advertising are often the most effective ways to reach and entertain the target demographic, however, it’s becoming increasingly important that we learn how to incorporate videos into our marketing campaigns.

It’s not about throwing things against the wall to see what sticks, as nothing will make followers jump ship more than a poorly written and produced video. There is a process you can follow to ensure your video script will produce the best possible results, and we’ve shared some details below.

Decide on a Compelling Topic

Of course this is Common Sense 101, but you want your subject matter to be engaging, as users are busy and will bounce away quickly if they’re not going to learn something, find the video intriguing, or both. One idea is to use a recent blog post for inspiration, although you don’t want to create the script from this going word for word.

Don’t Skip the Creative Brief

If you work at an agency like mine, your creative director will insist you fill out a creative brief for your next work happy hour. Okay, okay, he’s not that strict about it, but he does insist that a creative brief come before any content is launched, and for good reason. A well-filled-out creative brief gives you direction and, without it, you are flying blind. And we know it can be tempting to skip this process. Much like putting painter’s tape up in a room before you paint it might seem like a superfluous step, it’s anything but, as it will save you hours in later fixes.

Starting with a brief allows your creative team to get on the same page about the goal of the project. When you start the video process and hit a bump along the way (which does happen), you can use the brief to remind you and your team about the original vision to keep the project on track.

Any creative brief worth its salt should answer the following questions when it comes to creating a video script and, ultimately, a video:

  • What is the goal of this video?
  • What is the topic? Make sure it’s not too broad.
  • Who is our target audience for this video?
  • What is the value-add of this video? In other words, what will the end user gain by watching it?
  • What is the CTA? A clear call-to-action should conclude every piece of content, and the video-watcher should know what he or she is supposed to do once the video ends.

Enlist the Brief to Create an Outline

Remember the painting prep analogy? It still applies, as we know that in the interest of time, it can be tempting to dive right in. We advise against that, as a thorough outline will help you organize the content of the video into main topics and sub-topics.

It’s Time to Write

You’ve got a great idea of the direction you’re headed now that you’ve written your brief and your outline, so it’s go time. Here are some tips on how to write the actual video script:

1. Create a Killer Hook

The intro is key. Just like with written content, you have to know that you only have a certain amount of time before you could lose the attention of the end user, so introducing the narrator and letting them know what the video is going to do for them in the most engaging way possible is crucial. Are you conveying the importance of accurate local listings for SEO? Are you talking about the benefits of using Bing vs. Google Ads? Or perhaps you’re teaching them how to create video content. Let them know what they’re going to gain from this up front, as people want to know what the value is for them to stick around.

2. Avoid Any Room for Winging It

With podcasts, it’s okay to use your outline and go off the cuff. With marketing video scripts, however, you want to write out every word, as you need to be as clear and concise as possible. Winging it inevitably results in the occasional tangent, and you want to avoid the re-dos that will come from this.

3. Don’t Worry About the Format

If you’ve ever taken a screenwriting class of any sort, you know that format is everything. Thankfully this isn’t the case when creating videos for marketing purposes. You simply need to make sure the “stars” of the video are able to understand the message and that they can convey the words without it sounding too canned.

4. Go For a Conversational Tone

This is probably the trickiest part, as we’ve already mentioned that you can’t let them wing it. Conversely, however, you don’t want the writing to sound forced and unnatural. Write the sentences the way you’d hear them in conversation, keeping the sentences as short and colloquial as possible. As with any copywriting, you also want to write to your demographic, whether these are teens, adults, retirees, professionals, and the like.

5. Keep in Mind You’re the Director, Too

This is another distinction between TV/movie scripts and the ones written for marketing videos, as directing is off limits in the first case. With advertising, however, you have to make note of any stage actions, wardrobe changes, and anything else that you think would be pertinent for someone reading the script. It’s a distinct possibility that you won’t be there when the video is shot, so you need to make sure that every word and action can be interpreted correctly. This also means that you’ll want to call out any cuts to B-roll footage as part of your narrative.

6. Write for the Platform

We already mentioned keeping it conversational, but you also need to consider what platform this video will appear on, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or another site. For example, if you’re posting the video to Instagram or Facebook, short, informal sentences that even include fragments are okay, but if you’re doing an instructional video for YouTube, you need to be very thorough in your writing.

7. Brevity is Your Friend

This is really more of a universal copywriting rule but probably an even more important reminder when creating video scripts. Avoid any unnecessary words and keep sentences from being clunky. As always, say more with less.

Aaaaand action! That wasn’t so hard, was it? As with all things, it becomes easier the more you have the opportunity to write video scripts. And beyond good copywriting, you should always insist that the “actors” run through the script at least one time before creating the video. Even if this isn’t a live video, this will be crucial.

If the idea of writing your own video script isn’t exactly how you’d hope to spend your day (or week), reach out to us. We can run the whole process for you, resulting in a video that will reach and/or exceed all the marketing goals you’ve set.

By: Marnie Sloan