Behind every video is a scriptwriter…at least there should be. But making a video is like venturing into the Wild West and it’s hard to know where or who to turn to.
It’s not uncommon to turn to your trusted copy or content writer for a video script. They already wrote you great stuff, so surely they can write great video copy, right? And scriptwriters only work on film and TV projects. What would they know about scripting marketing videos?
These are reasonable assumptions might cost you thousands in sales. Copywriters excel at a verbal message, but that’s only half of your message. But how can you know what you don’t know (you can’t)?
I was reading Sharon Hurley Hall’s post, 21 Things You Get When You Hire a Professional Writer, and thought, “I should write something similar about scriptwriters”. And here it is.
This post breakdown 7 things you get when you hire a scriptwriter for your marketing video.
1. Thorough Research
Research is the “leg day” of your video production process–you never want to skip it. All high-converting video scripts must start with research because you can’t write a compelling message if you don’t know what you’re talking about. I always ask 14 questions before I write any video script so I can get all the juicy details. .
I break up my research stage into 3 stages.
- Getting to Know My Client
- Competitor Research
- Customer Research
Detailed research covers the basics like your brand, your product/service, your target audience and how you will change their lives. It also includes your budget, goals, style preferences, and distribution plans. Professional scriptwriters dive deeper by scoping out your competition so we can see what they’re doing right, and where you can have an edge. Then we hit the treasure trove of information–customer research. Your customers tell us everything they need to hear and we listen.
A scriptwriter knows that every stage of video production depends on our research, which is why we’re thorough.
2. A “Big Idea”
It took me awhile to wrap my head around the concept of a “big idea”. But once I got it, my video scripts went from mediocre to better. The big idea is a film principle that refers to how you carry an idea visually through an entire video.
For example, if I want to show growth, I could use plants (because they grow). If I need to show the flow of data, I could use water (because it flows). If this sounds abstract, you’re right.
A video script that sells uses the problem, solution, benefits, call-to-action format in the narration. The big idea will move that narration along visually.
3. A Detailed Briefing
After getting to know the who, what, when, where, and why, a professional scriptwriter delivers a detailed brief. Why is this matter if you as the client know your business already?
Well, the briefing helps you, the scriptwriter and the production team stay on the same page. It’s important that everyone working on or with the video understands it’s purpose, style, and audience so they can deliver a unified message to the right people.
4. A Complete Script (Not Just Narration)
Have you ever gotten a video script that looks like this?
(I used to write scripts like this 🤫)
You can get away with this if your plan is to stare down the camera and talk. But, this kind of script won’t cut it with a production team because it’s incomplete.
What is missing you ask? The visuals.
A production-ready script must have both the narration and visual direction. Visual direction in a script is not the same as a storyboard though. The main difference is a script plans the visuals with words and a storyboard uses sketches (you can read about how to make an explainer video storyboard here).
Most marketing video scripts use a two-column format (also called an AV script). The visual column contains scene descriptions detailing the images we see, character descriptions (if you have any), and where the visuals change. This paints a clear picture for you and the production team.
Check out my comprehensive guide on how to write a video script to learn more about writing a complete script.
Like all writing, scriptwriting is a process.
Professional scriptwriters won’t just take your money and leave you with a mediocre script. They work with you to revise the script until it is perfect. Within reason of course.
6. Pushback When We Think You’re Wrong
At first, you’ll probably see this as your scriptwriter being difficult or lazy. Trust me–a scriptwriter knows what they’re talking about.
Some of the best videos out there have only 130-247(ish) words. That’s not a lot of words to work with. And the visuals need time to breathe, which means less is more.
A professional scriptwriter will ask you why you want to include certain details and push back if they think they won’t help your overall message. We know your goal is to sell your service or product, but listing every single detail isn’t going to do that.
Your selling video doesn’t need to give a detailed overview; save that for your service/product page copy or even a product demonstration video. The goal of your selling video is to sell. So, your scriptwriter will prioritize that goal over a description of your 5 product modes.
Saying “Our 5 different product modes give you the flexibility you need to…” is more effective than “we offer A,B,C, D and they do X,Y,Z if you click on option 1, 2, 3…”
Your scriptwriter wants you to have a successful video too and we’ll (politely) tell you if we think you’re getting bogged down in the details.
7. The Perfect Call to Action
All good marketing videos end with a call to action (CTA). No matter how moving, or beautiful the video is, it will fall flatter than a pancake if you don’t end with the right CTA.
What is the perfect CTA? It matches your customer’s level of awareness, the platform your video is on, your goal, and the content around your video. Asking people to sign up for something is great…unless they’re watching your video on Instagram and you don’t share the sign up link. Or you’re offering a one-time discount…to people who are newly problem aware.
Your scriptwriter dabbles into marketing strategy to help you choose the perfect call to action.
Ready to Hire a Scriptwriter?
I’ll help you turn your fumbling scripts into high-converting, persuasive messages. Schedule a call with me now to talk about your next project!