When it comes to writing and developing a script for your video, or “brand film” you need to acknowledge that writing well is difficult. Writing well for a script is even harder. And the 2 are not the same. If you force your talking head to read from a script that’s written like an encyclopedia entry, you’ll turn people off to your message, and you don’t want to give them any more reason to do that, especially since they’re probably looking for a reason.
So let’s get started.
I’m not going to dignify this with a number on the list, but first, Identify your target viewer. I’m only listing this because everyone else does, but it’s a little redundant, right? You already know who that is… if you search for “best pracitices for video script writing” you’ll find this as the first thing to do, and then 1000 words on the topic and how to determine their demographics, behaviors and interests, goals, pain points… blah blah blah. You know who your customers are… don’t spend more than 5 minutes on this.
Which brings me to the 5 most important things to remember when writing a script for a video.
1. Speak to the Story Your Clients are Telling Themselves
Speak to the story you know they’re telling themselves. What is their main frustration? If you’re a CPA, the main thing all your clients are looking for from you is “reduction of complexity… and keep my money away from the IRS.”
If you’re a lawyer, you’re gonna fight for your client.. who’s been victimized… bring justice… you’ve done it before… you’ll do it again! You only know how to win… you’re confident – knowledgeable, etc.” You are their Yoda, and you fit nicely into their style.
If you have no imagination, tell an actual story about a client you’d created a lot of value for, but keep it short because everyone is selfish, and they don’t wanna hear a life story.
2. Communicate 1 Standard Deviation Higher in Abstraction
Communicate 1 degree more abstractly than what they’re expecting from you. Say if you’re a remodeler, if you come at your viewers with a standard – “we’re on time, on budget, we won’t destroy your house, and deliver the highest quality end product” – it’s like “yeah, no kidding, everyone says that and about 87% of them are lying.”
BUT, if you explain to your viewer that “we understand you want to come home to a beautifully designed kitchen that’s an expression of your personality, so it feels like YOUR home, where you’re gonna gather with family and friends… you want to be surrounded by a work of art. There’s a part of you that wants to impress other people… we get that… and we can do that for you. Trust us to show the world how refined and tasteful you are.”
All that crap about “on budget, on time, highest quality”… that’s not aspirational for your customer… that’s just bad copy. Everyone wants to look good, and that sort of personal “brand positioning” comes in many forms.
If someone shops at thrift stores, it’s not really because they’re cheap. It’s because they want to be associated with the bohemian type of people that do such a thing. And they’ll lie to you and tell you they don’t want to fit in – but they do. Everyone wants love and attention. So help them get it.
3. Obey the Secret Melody
Obey the secret melody of language. This is something I come across at least once per work – BADLY written scripts from clients. If you’re my client, I promise I’m not talking to you. Hand to God.
Sure, it’s been through compliance, everyone’s reviewed it, the boss thinks it’s great. Great, right? Wrong. 9 times out of 9… it’s not great. Because it’s written the way people write, not the way they speak.
Take that last line from the last section… “we understand you want to come home to a beautifully designed kitchen that’s an expression of your personality, so it feels like YOUR home, where you’re gonna gather with family… you want to be surrounded by a work of art.” You or your marketing director will want to write it this way.
“We at XYY Builders, SWFL’s premier luxury remodeler, know that you want to come home to a beautifully designed kitchen that is an expression of your personality. It will feel like your home. This is a place where you are going to gather with your family.”
NO! People speak informally. They speak in contractions. There is a poetry to spoken language that – when it’s violated – grates on the ears. So write each line like each line is its own little work of art – and then repeat it back to yourself out loud. If you’re writing for a teleprompter or a voice actor, don’t be afraid to use a “gonna” or a “wanna” because that’s how they’re “gonna wanna” say it.
4. Use Stats. Be Memorable.
Fun facts, tell a story, but use some stats! First, it will give you a chance to show off your motion graphic design skills, and motion graphics are an effective way to drive your point home and move your story along.
But secondly, numbers stick in the head – at least they do for men. That’s why my dad can tell you the batting averages of every Yankee from the 1950s… and he hated the Yankees.
So yes, use fun statistics that are literally remarkable, to engage your male viewers. I honestly have no clue how women think. I’ll just admit that right now. But I’m sure if I’m wrong about any of this, they’ll let me know.
5. Do NOT Mail it In
And finally, don’t mail it in! There’s a lot of cool AI tools for writing blogs and SEO content. I admit I have started using them for certain things. It’s a fast, efficient way to not plagiarize. But, it’s generally lazy, especially in a circumstance where intellectual engagement is at a premium. But when it comes to a video that’s gonna hit someone in the gut… write it yourself… be authentic… be original.
If you’re feeling stuck and need inspiration, I like to listen to audiobooks by authors I deem “poetic.” Authors that write in an eloquent and heady voice. I like David Brooks or Scott Adams. But maybe you like someone else. Your writing needs to aspire to something greater too, so challenge yourself to think big, write in the secret melody, and don’t be too pretentious.