The dominance of video is undeniable. With four times as many consumers preferring to watch video about a product than to read about it, video is clearly consumers' preferred medium to learn about new services or offerings. And not only is it preferred, but video is impactful. Research shows 46 percent of viewers take action after watching a video, and shoppers who view a product video are 1.81 times more likely to purchase the item compared to non-viewers.
One of the easiest ways for businesses to harness the power of video is through animated “explainer” videos, which quickly grab an audience’s attention and tell compelling stories in as little as 60 seconds. Though these videos have been around for more than a decade, the industry’s understanding of how they work and a set of data-driven best practices for creating them have only been established recently. Here are five tips for creating video scripts that get real results and stand out from the crowd.
Tell a story instead of listing benefits.
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when creating an explainer video is that the final product becomes a 60-second elevator pitch listing benefit after benefit. This type of video is boring, and viewers tend to retain little information from what they’ve seen. In fact, consumers are so tired of content that sells to them that 92 percent of internet users said they’d consider using ad blocking software.
Stories are what resonate with people. If you're creating an explainer video, come up with an interesting story arch that entertains while simultaneously educating the audience about a product or idea. Build benefits into the story, but most importantly, illustrate how the product or idea works to solve a problem or achieve an objective. People automatically associate stories with personal experiences, so if an explainer video is done right, target audiences should relate to the content and retain key messaging longer.
Design the story around a simple takeaway.
When it comes to explainer videos, less is more. Make it easy for viewers and don’t overwhelm them with too much information. If someone watches a 60-second video and remembers seven things when it’s finished playing, it’s highly likely that they will have forgotten everything they learned within 10 minutes.
Instead, determine a key takeaway for audiences to glean from the explainer video and build the overarching story around this one point. Tie the takeaway to memorable illustrations, and craft the story arch so its climax aligns with the most important takeaway for the audience. If the takeaway is singular and strong, the viewer will be able to use it as a marker to remember other points that are dependent on the takeaway.
Adopt the consumer’s perspective, not the company’s.
Rather than sharing the story from the company’s perspective, think about the consumer’s perspective. An explainer video should enable the audience’s own “discovery” of a product or idea, rather than telling them how good it is. For example, does the video highlight how the audience can use the solution in their life and/or business? Does it explain why they should care to do so?
One of the best ways to do this is to tell the story from a third-party perspective, transforming the company into a valuable resource instead of a salesperson. Eighty percent of consumers say a video showing how a product or service works is important, so remember it’s not about the company or brand, it’s about the consumer and how they benefit.
Use inclusive metaphors viewers are familiar with.
When introducing a new topic, one of the quickest ways to help someone understand it is to create a metaphor relating the topic to something the audience is familiar with. Incorporating metaphors into an explainer video will help clarify complicated ideas while also creating visuals in the minds of the audience that help them remember the key points. No matter the subject matter, metaphors bring subject matter to life, and if done creatively, will help distinguish a company’s video from the rest of the pack.
Learn the “Art of Explanation.”
If a company doesn’t have the time or resources to hire a dedicated explanation agency, it’s vital to be grounded in the art and science of “explainer” videos before writing a script. There are a lot of resources out there to learn from, but one of the best is Lee LeFever’s book called The Art of Explanation. Lee is half of the duo behind Common Craft and a godfather of the explainer video industry. A decade ago, his simple yet artful explanation of something called Twitter started a video revolution. His book gives away many of the secrets of the trade and will help companies learn to package ideas in a creative yet simple manner.
Coming up with the next big idea is challenging enough, but making people understand why it’s the next big idea can be just as difficult. After all, an idea is only as strong as its explanation.