A 60-second video is only 180 words. Yet, churning out a video script (that isn’t a waste of time and money) is hard.
Writing a high-converting video script is more than knowing the format. More than the style you choose. And definitely more than the number of jokes you throw in.
You need the right information to craft the right message. That means getting the right answers. Answers that tell you the exact information you need to write a script people respond to (the way you planned).
In this episode, I share the exact 14 questions I ask before I write any video script so you can ask the right questions too.
Let’s dive in!
Read the Transcript
Thanks for joining me on this rainy day as you can probably hear in the background. And my burning question of the day is what questions to ask before you write a video script, and I’m going to share with you the 14 questions I always ask at the start of every project.
Don’t Walk into Copywriting Blind
Great copy is founded in research. Before you write any type of copy, you need to do your research.
What exactly are you looking for though in this research? The key information you need to know before you write any video script or really any copy is you need to know and understand deeply who your target audience is. And it’s not just knowing their demographics, like where they live or how old they are.
You have to really know them so deeply that you know their favorite toothpaste brand. Maybe not actually that deep, but you do need to understand more than just surface level detail.
The Customer Journey
Where are they on their customer journey? What problems are they experiencing and why are they experiencing these problems? Because when you understand that, and you understand what your offer is, you can then connect the dots of how your offer is going to help your target audience solve their problem and not just solve their problem, how it’s going to transform their lives.
Nobody is looking for a Band-Aid fix. They want a complete lasting transformation. One of my favorite examples of this is in health and wellness and that’s because my focus is health and wellness. So probably a bit biased in this example, but hear me out. So, a lot of people say they want a meal plan.
Are they really looking for a meal plan though? No. What they want is the confidence and reassurance that whatever they’re eating is going to help them reach their nutritional and fitness goals. The meal plan is a tool, but what they’re really after is the results.
So, when you understand your target audience and you really understand what their problem is, you can connect your offer to their transformation. And that’s really powerful to do in copy.
You also need to understand what objectives your target audience will have to using your product or service. Because if you can address these upfront, it’s a lot harder for someone to say no to you.
Be Your Target Audience’s Mirror
It’s also important to know how your audience thinks and how they talk. If you’re familiar with the six principles of persuasion, one of them is liking. We like people who are like us because they have similar ideas to us and similar values. And one way we assess how similar someone is, is by the way that they talk.
So, in your marketing videos, you want to try and find out how your target audience is communicating and reflect that language back to them, because they’re going to be a lot more receptive to your message.
When you understand your target audience, you can also reflect their story back to them. One of the biggest mistakes that companies make in copy as they place themselves as the company in the hero’s position. But at the end of the day, as a customer at the story that I want to see in someone’s video is my story.
Is that selfish probably? But it’s true. I want to see my struggle, my solution and my transformation. We all love a feel, good story, but we don’t want to buy someone else’s story. We want to buy our own because that means we’re buying our own success.
In a marketing video, you can’t sell someone their success, if you don’t understand them. So, it’s really important to know your target audience and know them deeply. And more importantly, know the reasons why people buy.
Asking the Right Questions Before You Write a Video Script
I mentioned, I would share the 14 questions that I always ask at the start of a project. Whenever someone hires me to write a video script for them, I like to start off with a discovery call and this helps me get to know who they are as a person and as a business.
It also helps me get a feel for their expectations for the video. After that I send them a 14-question questionnaire. Now my questionnaire is a mixture of my own questions and some questions I got from Jacob McMillen. I took his copywriting course about a year ago, and I must say it was fantastic. I was trying to improve the other types of copy that I write, like web copy and email copy.
And his course was just so thorough. It had a lot of actionable information. And I really like to see that.
I used to teach ESL, which is English as a second language. And one of the key things that we learn is you have to apply what you’re doing, and you have to practice it. A lot of online courses out there, they have really good information, but they don’t have a practical application.
I feel that the real benefit of having a teacher is having someone to guide you through the content and then helping you apply the concepts. If you can’t apply a concept, you don’t really know it. All right, I’m going off on a tangent here. Let me get back on track.
So, through Jacob’s course, he shared his, I think it was a 20-question questionnaire. And this is something he uses with his copy clients. I thought they were just fantastic questions because they just get the information that you really need to know before you start writing any copy.
This is a good time to say, thank you, Jacob.
As I said, the questions are a mix of my own questions, and then I borrowed some of Jacobs.
It’s Not Only About the Target Audience
Now what are those questions you ask? I like to ask a couple types of questions. Some of my questions are so I can understand my clients’ expectations and some of them are so I can understand my client’s target audience. And then other questions give me an idea of the strategy for the video.
And it’s important to get all of this information because you want the video to be successful and you need these things in order for a video to be successful.
Question #1: What is the Number One Goal the Video?
The very first question I like to ask is what is the number one goal of the video? Is it to educate? Is it to sell? Is it to do something else? This is important because the way you write a video script for one goal is going to be different than it is for a different goal. If you’re selling and you need a direct response. You’re not going to write that script the same way you would a video that’s more informative.
A video can accomplish more than one goal. Like it can educate and do some soft selling, but I want to know what the number one goal is for the video. And I’m going to keep that in mind as I write the script.
Question #2: What’s the Main Priority?
My second question is what is the main priority for the video? And this question, lets me know what my client’s expectations are.
As the script writer, I have my own ideas and expectations for what the video script should look like, but my client does as well. And in order to have a successful project, I need to meet my client’s expectations. At the end of the day, this is going to be their video. It’s their copy, their brand, their message. If I’m not meeting their expectations, it doesn’t matter what I wrote because they’re not going to be happy with it.
Question #3: How and Where Are You Using This Video?
The third question that I ask on my questionnaire is how and where the video is going to be used. A video can be powerful if you have the right strategy for it. I want to know what the plan is for the video and where it’s going to be. This gives me an idea of what kind of audience is going to be watching the video and their level of awareness, as well as the strategy my client has in place for the video.
On that note of levels of awareness. When a potential customer is watching a video on a company website, chances are they’re already problem aware. They might even be solution aware. But if someone is watching this video on Instagram or Facebook or some sort of social media, they may not be that far into your funnel. In order to write an effective video, you need to write for the right level of awareness. Knowing the platform that someone’s going to watch the video on can also give you insight into habits that people have for these specific platforms. The way that we use Facebook is not the same as the way we use Instagram or Tik Tok. So, you need to tailor your video for the specific platform.
Question #4: How Long Should This Video Be?
The next question on my questionnaire that I like to ask is how long someone expects the video to be, and this is just an estimate of how many minutes they’re looking for. This is important for me to understand and negotiate client expectations.
I often see that people want to pack as much detail as possible into a single video, but then they also want to have a 60 second video. You can’t have it both ways. So, if my client has thought about how long they want the video to be, it’s very easy to go back and then negotiate the amount of detail that we’re putting into the script.
Know Your Priorities
Because if they want to have eight different concepts in a video, but have a 60 second video, then I can go back to them and ask them, okay, we can’t fit all of this into 60 seconds. So, which of these is the most important to you and which is going to be the most important to your target audience?
I personally think that a video should be as long as it needs to be, but videos do not need to have every single detail in existence about your business, about your product or your service. You need to hit the highlights and you need to sell the transformation so you can get an emotional response.
But you also have your web page, your newsletters, your discovery calls and all of those extra things that can expand on what you’ve mentioned in your marketing video.
As I mentioned before, some of my questions are about getting a feel for my client’s expectations and what their goals are. Just as it’s important for me to understand my client’s target audience, I, as the script writer also need to understand my own client. So, these types of questions will give me insight into who they are.
Question #5: Who is Your Target Audience?
Speaking of my client’s target audience, I also ask questions like, who is your target audience? And here, I just want an idea of who these people are, you know, who is going to be watching the video.
You can’t make a video for someone is you don’t know who they are.
Question #6: What Makes You the Choice in Your Niche?
And then I followed that up with a question about my client’s primary value proposition. What makes them the choice in their niche? This was one of the questions that I adopted from Jacob’s questionnaire because it gets straight to the point. What makes you different from everyone else out there?
With so much marketing material out there, people are just constantly bombarded with content and marketing material all the time. So, you want to get to the point as quickly as possible and say, hey, I’m the company or service for you because I can offer you this thing that no one else can.
I ask this question to get an idea of what makes the person I’m working with unique. And then I take their answer and I work that into the video.
Question #7: What’s Your Core Offer?
Then I ask about the core offer. For me, I see asking about the value proposition and the core offer is different because the primary value proposition, it’s what value are you giving to them that they’re not going to get elsewhere?
Asking about the core offer tells me what the product or service is that you’re offering to someone and how it’s going to change their life.
Question #8: What Problem Do you Solve and How Does Your Target Audience Feel About That Problem?
On my questionnaire, I also like to ask about problems. To write a strong video script, especially if the purpose of the video is to sell, you need to know what emotions people will resonate with and that includes knowing how they feel about their problem. Great copy always starts with a problem, and it’ll also make use of storytelling.
Using stories in marketing content has become popular because people can relate to stories and when they can relate to the story, then they can relate to your message. Think about a movie, for example.
People get emotionally invested in stories. And very often they’ll become more invested in the story when they feel that the main character is relatable. A lot of times people will see themselves as the main character in some way. And then they become invested in the main character succeeding. Cause in a way it’s like they’re succeeding too or something they value is succeeding.
So, if you can depict a problem and create your customer story, that is persuasive. People are more willing to buy something or take action if they can relate to what’s going on.
Question #9: What Should We Know By the End of the Video?
Another question I ask on my questionnaire is what do you want your target audience to know by the end of the video? And the reason I asked this question is because it gives me a little more detail about my client’s expectations, and it also tells me what they think about their target audience.
I do my research on my client’s target audience, but I’m also coming in as an outsider.
My client has so much more experience with their own clients than I will ever have. So, it’s good to get their perspective on their own clientele.
Question #10: What Content/Ideas MUST Be in The Video?
I follow that up with what content or ideas must be in the video. The non-negotiables. Again, this type of question is so I can understand my client’s expectations. They have an idea of what they want to see in this video and what they think is important for their business. So, I need to know what that is in order to deliver on it.
Question #11: What Should We Do??
I also ask what action my client wants their target audience to take by the end of the video. This question serves two purposes. It gets my client thinking about how they’re going to move people through their funnel. And it also tells me about the goal of the video and where it fits in the greater marketing strategy.
Question #12: Is There Anyone You Want To Outperform?
I ask if there are any direct competitors that my client wants to outperform as well. And this was another question that I adopted from Jacob’s questionnaire.
A client comes to you as the copywriter or the script writer to help them solve a problem. This is probably to get more sales or to get more leads. And there are other people in their niche who are probably being successful. If I’m going to get my client to stand out, I need to understand what their competitors are doing well.
Then I need to find a gap to see what we can do differently. And that’s, what’s going to make my client’s message stand out.
Question #13: What Brand Tone and Image Do You Want To Project?
As the script writer, I also need to know what tone and brand image my client is trying to project.
The narration and the visual descriptions that I’m writing have to match the company. I’m not writing this video script for my own brand. So, I need to understand what tone my client’s brand has, and then I need to make sure that whatever I’m writing matches that.
Question #14: What Video Style Do You Have in Mind?
I ask about the video style too. You have to know the video style before you start writing the visuals. There are things that can be done in one style that can’t easily be done in the others. When I script animated videos, I don’t have to worry so much about physical limitations or how available certain environments are.
If I’m scripting a live action video, I’m not going to put someone in a desert if I know they live in, I don’t know, Florida, for example. Because there’s no desert in Florida.
And if you’re trying to adapt your visuals between the two styles, it’s kind of just a waste of time and money because you’re basically going to have to write a new script.
Testimonials = Treasure Chests
One thing I like to do is I like to ask my clients to send me any testimonials that they’ve received from their own clients. People will tell you what they liked about your service and how they felt about working with you. I like to dig into that. And I like to find their words and their ideas and use that in the video script.
People are receptive to messages that they can relate to. Most people’s clientele is pretty similar in the sense of, you know, they have the same problems, they have the same goals. So, if you can craft a message for someone who’s not a client yet, and you can target the right emotions for the problems and for the solution, then you can create a much more targeted message.
All right. Let me go ahead and summarize. Great copy is founded in research. You need to understand who the target audience is, the problems they’re experiencing, how you’re going to help them solve their problem. What your offer is, any objections they’re going to have to using your product or service. And you also want to understand how your target audience feels and communicates about these things.
And of course, you need to know their level of awareness.
As the script writer, you also need to understand your own client’s expectations, and then you need to take the information you got from your questionnaire plus any research that you’ve done, and you need to marry them together to create a beautiful video script that people cannot wait to watch.
If you’re new to script writing, this can feel a little overwhelming. On my website, I have a free planning guide for writing high converting video scripts that you can download. I’ll put the link to the guide in the episode description.
Download your free planning guide here!