There are plenty of articles out there detailing the best way to write. Structure, content, grammar: these are all essential tools to build a script. But the thing that makes it unique and perform the way you want it to, is something a little different. Balance.
Too many cooks
With any project, there are four competing voices: client, audience, message and platform. And as the mediator between them all, it’s our job to perform a bit of a balancing act. Because every single one of them has to be legitimately considered. Each have their own set of demands and priorities, many of which will overlap, while others will directly contradict.
So for example, you could easily be torn between the client pointing out their new product’s abundance of amazing features but the message is that this is a simple solution. It’s subtle but if we write a script that claims the answer to your problem is singular, only to then list off tens of ways to solve that problem, we’ve created a bit of a contradiction. Sort of like saying, “I’ll fix you up a light snack”, only to then slap down 50 dishes, heaving with food. It’s too much and can put you off.
Getting to know you
The client is our first port of call. They are the gateway to everything. Through a detailed Discovery call, we soak up as much information and insight as we can. Because without this, our script is pure speculation.
Who are they, what do they want to say and what do they do that makes the product or service they offer so exceptional? But we also go deeper, challenging the carefully constructed image that a business presents – in order to get to the heart of what they stand for. We then dive into the technical aspects. In essence, becoming mini-experts in this one field.
But – and we hope you’ll forgive us for saying this – clients have their own agendas and preferences that can be a little obstructive. Now, before you click away in a rage, we’re talking about people acknowledging instincts that have served them well in the past. These aren’t necessarily wrong but in order to guarantee the explainer video is strong, sometimes we need to push back. And the best clients understand this, actively wanting to collaborate and remaining open to our advice, based on expertise and experience.
Ladies and gentlemen, step right up!
Having armed ourselves with an understanding of the client, we need the same level of detail about the people being communicated to: the audience. It’s all well and good claiming your company’s switch panels will increase network performance but if the person you’re speaking to has no idea what those words mean, you might as well be speaking another language.
The client knows their stuff inside and out. But that leads to a familiarity and assumption that everyone else will know too. In order to write a good script, one that harnesses all the key information we’ve collected, we need to know the audience.
Do they have an understanding of what your business does? Are there in fact misconceptions surrounding this? What problems have they been experiencing that your company can fix? It’s about getting into the headspace of the viewer. Because, as a writer, when you empathise with and understand their pressures, you can create a sense of trust and credibility.
We find that the strongest way to do this, is through emotional appeal. I can logically understand that my oven is getting on a bit and probably needs to be replaced. But flatly telling me this, doesn’t inspire me to do anything about it. Whereas a video outlining the frustrations of ageing appliances rattling away in the kitchen, undercooking food and potentially being a fire hazard, means I’m suddenly much more motivated to upgrade.
Message in a bottle
Throughout this article, you’ll have noticed that I, as a writer, will dip into analogy and allegory. This is because humans love a story. Facts and figures are so important but they often pale when compared to a relatable connection. Advertisers and marketers know this all too well – because they’re not selling you a new car or a dress, they’re selling you luxury, comfort, progress, happiness, etc.
At this stage, we have all the details we could need about what the client is bringing to the table, as well as who they are trying to appeal to and connect with. But if the message isn’t strong enough, the whole effort will fall flat.
The way we look at it, we need to take the viewer from Point A to Point B. “I need a new phone but they all seem complicated” to “I now understand this brand is intuitive and easy to use.” Or “I have difficulty tracking my staffing levels” to “This software will make my company run much more efficiently.” And this message absolutely needs to be clear.
It can take a lot of digging and reworking to find. But when you crack that code, the worst thing you can do is convolute or smother that message. So no matter what you may want to say, it’s important to remember exactly what needs to be said.
Where do you want this?
The final voice is the platform. This is because you need to understand where this video is being shown. It’s no good having a powerful, captivating video that is heavily reliant on sound, if it’s being broadcast on the side of a building in a busy street.
Social media, internal circulation, landing pages on websites – each will have their own nuance and requirements that need to be factored into your script. This voice may not shout as loudly as the other three but it is just as integral.
So what does this look like in practical terms? Probably the biggest consideration is if the words you’re writing are being said aloud or will be represented as text on-screen. This is a huge guiding component, as it determines sentence length, flow between lines and overall tone.
If you’ve taken all of this on board, your mind will be swimming with ideas. So many voices and opinions jostling for dominance. And it’s your job to whittle it all down to just two hundred words that will somehow appease everyone.
Platform is important but not at the expense of what works best for the audience. Similarly, your message can be entertaining but if it doesn’t reflect what the client does, it’s toothless.
It’s an honestly daunting task. And one which we readily throw ourselves into with every new project. But by listening to each voice and filtering what needs to be heard as much as what each voice wants to say, you can create something that not only explains but engages.
For specific examples, check our industry case studies page, wherein we outline real client challenges and how we addressed them in our scripts.