As more B2B companies see the value of videos in their content marketing, many are also struggling with how to create those videos efficiently.
In a recent report from the Content Marketing Institute, for instance, 57% of marketers in the manufacturing sector said videos produced the best results for them, far outpacing any other content. Yet in another survey of marketers, this time from HubSpot, 39% said “lack of time” was their top video challenge.
The script is the engine that drives the video vehicle.
Given how vital videos are becoming, what can you do to facilitate making them? For veteran videographer Jeff Long at True Focus Media, the smartest place to start is with the video script: “The script is the engine that drives the video vehicle. It not only helps you make every word count; it can make the video process a lot more efficient.”
In the following, we’ll cover four best practices that can help you write B2B video scripts more efficiently and consistently AND can help ensure your videos have what it takes to be effective.
1. Script your videos for a speedier production process
Of course, your videos don’t have to be scripted. But if you’re serious about making them an integral part of your content marketing, then you ideally should be publishing brief but compelling videos every month.
And scripting your videos can help you do that.
“There’s a time and a place for videos derived from more free-wheeling Q&A interviews. But editing that footage down to a well-structured video can take a lot of time, even for the fastest video editors,” says video marketing expert Jeff Long.
On the other hand, Long says when you have a script to work from, it makes the video-recording process much more efficient for the person on camera. Not only that, it also simplifies the editing process and helps ensure you ultimately have a well-structured video that stays on message. (See No. 4 for more on structure.)
Choose a capable video spokesperson from your company. With a bit of coaching, they can get the hang of reading the scripts while recording the videos on their own with tools like Loom. Visuals and other effects can then be added fairly easily in final editing.
2. Avoid pre-script-writing overkill
Let’s say you’re open to writing video scripts, but you’re still not convinced it can really speed up your process. Perhaps you’re imagining all the preliminary steps that supposedly need to go into writing those scripts.
“I know there are tips out there about creating video briefs and then video outlines before you actually write a script. It’s not that those things are wrong,” says Long, “but they just add so much time to the process. And, honestly, they’re not essential.”
Instead, he suggests finding ways to lighten the script-writing lift while also keeping your content priorities straight:
Getting valuable content in front of your target audience consistently is more important than setting this unnecessarily high bar for creating a Hollywood-quality video.
So how do you write scripts with that “valuable content” Long refers to? Let’s turn to No. 3 for the answer.
3. Pluck low-hanging FAQ fruit for script topics
Your target audience will value videos that show you understand their pain and that you can help relieve it. For Long, that first means refraining from unnecessary corporate-speak about yourself.
I’ve seen so many scripts that focus way too much on the company itself, their values, their years of experience.
Long says, “You need to keep the script customer-centric with topics that are important to them.”
Yet that can apparently be difficult for some companies. In the aforementioned HubSpot survey, for example, nearly a third of marketers cited “lack of content ideas” as a top challenge for creating videos.
As a simple remedy to that, Long suggests identifying the 20 most frequently asked questions from your customers or potential customers. “That’s 20 separate video script topics right there. In fact, let’s say you work with three main industries. Find those 20 FAQs for each one and you’ve got 60 relevant, hyper-focused script ideas that could last you years!”
If you’re pouring a lot of time and money into in-depth web pages, blog posts, and white papers, don’t miss the chance to repurpose. You can conveniently distill that content into scripts for short, informative videos or for video teasers inviting your audience to read the long-form content.
4. Structure the script to grab attention and then deliver the value
When it comes to writing the actual scripts, the following tips can help facilitate a smoother writing process — and ultimately lead to more effective videos.
Let’s say you’ve taken Long’s advice and have an FAQ you’re going to answer in your video script. Set the context in the first sentence to orient your viewer and then, boom, grab their attention with a relevant but surprising statistic, a thought-provoking question, or a bold, even controversial, statement.
“Don’t delay the attention-grabber,” says Long. “If you wait beyond the first few sentences, you’re defeating its purpose because the viewer may already be gone.”
Next, immediately follow up that attention-grabber with a succinct explanation of the video’s payoff, like this, for example: In this video, we’ll explain how you can solve…
For the heart of your script, Long emphasizes the importance of simple, straightforward sentences that your spokesperson can enunciate easily and that your viewers can readily follow — regardless of how sophisticated they may be or how complex the topic seems.
Every sentence should be clear and easy to follow.
“I’ve seen too many people watch a video and either get confused or have a kind of blah response,” says Long. “Every sentence should be clear and easy to follow while providing helpful info. Anything else is just going to be fluff, which should be cut out.”
For the final section of your script, make sure you include a strategic CTA that, for example, invites viewers to have a conversation with you, sends them to related content for more in-depth info, or presents an offer that’s a perfect complement to the topic you’ve just covered.
Simplify your script-writing by using a structure based on business strategist and NYT Best Selling Author Donald Miller’s StoryBrand formula. In a nutshell, make your customer the hero in your script, make the problem they need to overcome the villain, and portray your company as the sagely guide to lead them out of the dark woods.
Explore your options: Video is too valuable to ignore
If you’re struggling with video, the script-writing insights you’ve just learned about can help jumpstart your efforts and get you producing effective marketing videos faster and more consistently.
That said, if you’re a smaller marketing department that’s already feeling stretched, take heart: Smart, efficient, and affordable video script-writing — and video production — can still be within your reach.
In fact, your videos could be part of a broader content marketing program that keeps you in front of your target audience with consistent blog posts, social media, newsletters, and ads.