Working out what to show and say in a video clip, even just the key message(s) isn’t always easy.
Like any task, break it into components. Marketing 101 tells us to start with a communications objective. For example, ‘to improve the attitude of brand switchers by 10% over the next six months’. Small businesses aren’t measuring ‘attitude’, but writing a purpose of some sort does define why you are making a video.
With the purpose or objective in mind, picture your target audience as one real person, even for business to business situations. What does this person’s daily or weekly routine look like? Why do they need you, and how will your solution fit in to their routine. What do they think and feel about your offer? Where is this person in the decision process- are they aware of your product category, or are they already regular users but not always of your brand?
Visualising an audience of one makes it easier to come up with a story which fits their circumstance. What do you want to persuade them to do, and what are your arguments for doing so based on where they’re at now? Of course you will want to portray your market positioning. In other words, why are you better suited to solve their problem instead of your competition.
Picturing your client’s struggles and challenges can feed straight into a problem, solution format. I recently wrote a script for a small chain of Indian cuisine food bars located in shopping malls. I thought it would be hard to find a key message, but then I pictured an office worker looking at their boring plain white cheese sandwich at noon, and instead deciding to go to the mall for something much more tasty, but still quick and low cost. The script and imagery wrote itself from there.
Sometimes I’ll do a mind map, sometimes just a list of ideas. What I like about a skeleton plan, is you don’t have to worry about being creative, or getting your grammar right. That will come more easily once you have the bones. With the bones down, flesh them out with description, emotion and facts. But not too much. A one or two minute video only requires one or two pages of A4 text. Edit the script back to a key message with three or four supporting points. Keep it simple and don’t try to say everything, folk just won’t remember it.
An old but good source for copy ideas is “The Ultimate Sales Letter” by Dan Kennedy. Actually, Dan believes that if someone’s interested they’ll read pages and pages of sales letter. Not sure that works for video, and it depends on the complexity of the product.
Your script should have an introduction, body and conclusion. Like any presentation, “tell them what you’re gonna say, tell them, tell them what you just said”. All stories have a have an arc and a plot or ‘log line’ but this can be the subject of a future article.
There is one other trick. If you’re like me you’ll have special mental relaxation moments which are good for inspiration. It may be having a bath or going for a run or cycle ride. With a bit of mild focus around a topic, thoughts come together and you get great ideas.
The graphic below is how I generally write a script, with scenes describing the vision and filming on the left and the dialogue on the right.
by Keith Rhodes