Switch’s No Nonsense, Unpretentious Guide To Script-Writing. 

The Don’ts.

Writing a video script that meets all your digital marketing goals, doesn’t require a Pulitzer Prize or other big writing award. Follow our easy-to-understand guidelines and you’ll be well on your way. First off, you likely already know what NOT to do when writing a script. 

  • Avoid too many minutes of wall-to-wall, relentless talking. Viewers will drop off.
  • Don’t string together long sentences or long lists. They are hard to follow.  
  • Steer clear of too much jargon and business speak. It sounds fake. 
  • No need to include every single point. Your audience can only retain so much. 

So now you know what NOT to do. What’s desirable?

The Dos.

  • Aim for under 2 minutes. Viewers are more likely to watch right to the end. 
  • Use a variety of sentence lengths. The pacing is interesting and viewers can follow more easily.  
  • Be judicious when you use jargon and marketing talk. “Use game-changer only once moving forward to create the synergy you desire.”   
  • Stick to the most important points. You can make another video. You can have supporting information on the web or landing page where the video lives or in the body of the email containing the video.  

Those are the key tips. If you’re keen to get writing, go for it. If you want more specifics, read on.  

Word Counts (Because You’re Serious About It Being Short.)

Here’s the rule of thumb. 2.3 words per second. That means…

30 second video? Aim for 70 words.  

60 second video? Aim for 140 words. 

90 second video? Aim for 210 words. 

2 minute video? Aim for 280 words. 

Proof-Reading, Grammar and Style.

An English teacher is NOT grading your script. Of course, have one or two or people read it over to see if it flows naturally with no glaring errors. Remember people will be listening, rather than reading your script. What’s important is how your script sounds. If you feel the need to break grammar rules to achieve a certain effect, go for it. If you want to use slang, do it. We don’t live in a world where everyone rigidly adheres to grammar rules anyways. You get to decide how the script reads – not your English teacher. 

Script and Visuals Work Together 

The script and visuals support each other. When a visual image and script phrase are paired together we remember the content of videos – our sense of sight and sense of sound are stimulated at the same time with the same message. It can be tempting to leave something out of the script and say “we’ll just put the point in the visuals”. Bad idea. Content that is only in the visuals and not supported by the verbal message can be confusing and seem out of place.

Write a Great CTA.

We know people who post their videos to their website and YouTube and that’s it. We’re friends with these folks, but we really wish they would make their videos work harder. And it starts by having a strong call-to-action. Knowing what you want your viewer to do after they watch your video is so important. Do you have an idea what the desired next-step behaviour for your viewer is? Do you want them to sign-up for something? Watch another video? Download something?  Fill out a form? Reach out to learn more? Try something for free? Donate? 

Craft a strong CTA and you can measure the conversion rate. You can see what’s working with your audience. This is the powerful data that marketing and sales teams love. Video has better conversion rates than most text-only web pages and emails with text only. (Additional side benefit: Google SEO rankings love video.)  

Haven’t written a CTA? At least, think of what parting “words of inspiration” you want to leave with your viewer.

Fill Out a Creative Brief. 

We ask our clients to complete a questionnaire. By asking some basic questions you can hone in on the scope and content of a project. It never hurts to force yourself to answer pointed questions (in writing) before you start creating your script. You’ll get words on paper and have material to reference when writing the script. 

Sample Creative Brief Type Questions. 

What’s the point of the video? Why are we making this video?

What are the key take-aways for our audience?

Who is our target audience?

What problem does our offering solve?

How much prior knowledge about our offering do we expect the audience to have?

Where in the pipeline do we want to use this video?

What’s the CTA or words of inspiration we want to leave our audience with?

Is there a tagline we need to include?

How will we know the video is a success?

I Want a Formula for Writing A Script.

The blank page can be daunting. Here’s a basic script structure template to use as a guide. You can follow it. You can stray from it.  It’s just a guide. 

ProblemSpend a couple of sentences describing the problem that your offering solves. State the problem in the language of the customer. 
SolutionIn one clear sentence offer your product or service as the solution.
Features & Benefits.In 2 – 4 sentences talk about key features and benefits. Remember: people buy benefits not features. 

For example, people don’t have much interest in buying a bed (feature). What they want is a good night’s sleep (benefit). 

Remember ipod marketing? Storage for 1GB of MP3s (feature) vs one thousand songs in your pocket (benefit). 

It’s what your product can do vs. here’s what you can do with your product. 

Include the most important benefits. Features can be more important to call out if one particular feature makes you unique in a marketplace  full of almost identical products or services. 

You can use a bit of technical language or marketing chat in the F&B section. Just don’t over do it. 

ConclusionUse one or two sentences to sum everything up and tie it back to the problem you stated in the beginning.
CTAInclude a clear one sentence CTA.

The Fairy Dust of Script Writing

  1. Time. One sitting of writing is likely not enough. It’s a great start. But let your work sit for a bit and then come back and revise. 
  2. Table Reads. Read your script out loud and invite others to listen and provide feedback. 
  3. Revise, Revise, Revise. Did we say that earlier? Yes. Let your work sit and then come back to review and revise. Repeat a few more times. And then some more times.  

I Have Too Many Ideas

No such thing. Write a couple of different scripts incorporating different points and approaches. When you’re working with short scripts of less than 300 words it can be freeing to have more than one script on the go during the early phases of writing. Let others decide what works best. Blend the best from one script with the best from another. Let different folks take a crack at writing a script or parts of scripts if you are so inclined. 

The Role of Professional Script Writers

There are people who write scripts for a living. They don’t get stressed out about writing. They are comfortable and have extensive experience working with animators, graphic artists and illustrators. What’s important to remember is that you bring a wealth of knowledge about your product or service and the scriptwriter brings the “distilling it all down to less than 300 words” skill to the video-making party. Get in a collaborative groove and great scripts will happen. They do at Switch. 

Switch’s No Nonsense, Unpretentious Guide To Script-Writing.  was last modified: by

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