from the book

Marketing With Digital Video Buy The Book Here


by Hal Landen


Script Preliminaries

Great movies, television and videos all begin with great scripts. More than any other single factor, the script determines a video’s success. Look at some of the fare that comes out of Hollywood: despite spending millions of dollars, many of these films are neither entertaining nor profitable. Throw money at a mediocre script and you get an expensive— but still mediocre—movie.

Alfred Hitchcock felt that when his script was completed, his film was essentially in the can: shooting and editing the film were anticlimactic. The real work had already been completed in the script. Many of his films are considered classics. Not only were they box office hits when they were released, but they withstand the test of time. They’ll continue to be entertaining and profitable 50 years from now. Great films are made from great scripts.

Whether you’re going to write a script yourself, hire a scriptwriter, or simply hire a video production company to do it all for you, it is very much in your financial interest to learn what makes a good script. Here’s why. The script is a blueprint for both the shooting and editing of a video. These two phases, production and post production, are where most of your budget will be spent. Just as a blueprint allows you to get competitive bids for the construction of a house, the script allows the producer to get several bids for the production and post-production of a video. The same script can be produced on different budgets.

The script brings order to a complex process full of details. From it you can separate and list the various elements you’ll need for shooting, like props, actors and sets. You can also develop a schedule for acquiring and filming these elements in the most cost-effective manner. The script becomes the master plan for your video.

A script can be written with the most basic word processor — the pencil—or with a program like Script Werx (see the Appendix). While writing and rewriting allow you to experiment with script ideas without spending a dime, the most important thing to remember is that the time to rewrite is before you begin production, not after! Changing the script after the video has been photographed and edited will often require reshooting and reediting. These expenses can be avoided.


The following seven questions should be answered before any scripting begins. These answers are the first page of any business video script. They will be quite useful throughout the process of producing your video.

1. Who will watch this video? For how long?

2. In what setting will they watch it?

3. What is the goal of this video?

4. Will printed materials accompany the video?

5. How will the video be distributed?

6. Will the video be shown in other countries?

7. Will the video need to be regularly updated because of changing technology or products?

Let’s look at these questions one by one.

1. Audience

The audience is everything. They are your reason for making this business video. Their reaction to the video determines whether it’s successful. If you make the video to please only yourself, at best you are making an art film, at worst a home movie. Neither will succeed in marketing your business.

One of the most important jobs you have as the producer is to think like your audience. What kind of people are they? What do they care about? The more completely you answer these questions, the better prepared you are to direct the video toward this audience and their concerns. One of the marketing rules of thumb is to ask your customers what they want, and then to give it to them. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Yes, but it’s amazing how often producers forget this simple rule.

Large corporations spend millions to learn who their customers are, what they like and dislike and what motivates them to buy. Answering these questions about customers has become an industry in itself called market research. Although you and I don’t have the time or money to do such extensive market research, a little common sense can help determine what your audience wants.

Put yourself in the shoes of a viewer. Let’s say you’ve just requested videos from two competing companies. You suspect that the product or service they provide may save your business money. You pop the first DVD in your DVD player, noting that the box label says it is 3 minutes 45 seconds. This video begins by explaining how this company will save you money. It then demonstrates a couple of the more common ways the product/service helps people in your business. Then you see three short testimonials by people in your business. One of these is from a Fortune 500 company. The video closes by inviting you to call an 800 number for more information.

You’re just about to reach for the phone; but wait, what’s this other video? The case says it runs 16 minutes. You pop it in. It begins with the president speaking in a monotone about how his company was started by his grandfather in 1943. You listen for a few seconds and then reach for the “Fast Forward.” A minute later the president is still talking. You can’t hear what he’s saying, but you guess it’s not that interesting. The video is still fast forwarding as you start to go through your mail, but then you remember that first video. You dial their 800 number.

No matter who the audience is or what they want, short marketing videos are more effective than long marketing videos. Making long marketing videos is the most common mistake of first-time producers. Think like your audience. Would you watch a long marketing video from another company? Probably not. Remember this is not entertainment like a sitcom, feature film or talk show. The attention span in the Internet age is very short. Your audience simply won’t tolerate a long video.

TV commercials are called short form marketing videos. Consider all they can do in just 30 seconds. They make you feel that G.E. really is bringing good things to your life. They bring a tear to your eye over the reuniting of family members thanks to AT&T. They get you to pick up the phone and buy Ginsu knives. What’s that? You never buy what they’re selling? Well, someone is or they wouldn’t keep spending all that money for advertising.

The marketing video has an advantage over commercials—the audience actively chooses to watch this video. They are motivated or they wouldn’t have asked to see your video. They will give you a bit of their time IF you get to the point— show them how you can help them or address other concerns they have. But don’t overstay your welcome. If you learn nothing else from this book, remember this—short marketing videos are more effective than long ones.

Training videos are another story. Their audiences are motivated to watch a much longer video. The issue gets confused when you are demonstrating a product or training potential customers. How much training detail should you include? Should you promote benefits? One way to deal with these questions is to imagine you’re producing two different videos—one for training and one for marketing. Looking at it this way can help you decide how to approach each video. In Chapter 12 you’ll learn how to produce several kinds of training videos.

For now, let’s agree that marketing videos and training videos are very different. The audience of your marketing video won’t sit still for a long, drawn-out video. What do they want? To answer that you’ll first need to know who they are.

If they’re materials design engineers, they will have specific concerns and questions; if they’re elementary school art teachers, they’ll have very different concerns. So, occupation is a prime characteristic of the audience; others are age, gender and education. If you’ve been in business for awhile, you already have a very good idea who your prospects and customers are.

Not all videos will have a specific audience; some are intended for a general audience. But the more clearly you identify your audience, the more accurately you can target your video message to them. Write a description of your audience with as much detail as possible, including occupation, age, sex, education, how they like their coffee or any other information that will help you sell to them.

… NEXT EXCERPT Begin each script by answering these questions and you will control costs, define your video, and ensure its success. These answers stay with you throughout the entire production process. Take a moment now and write your own answers. As you begin writing your script and planning production, this one page introduction will help you stay on track.


from the book

Marketing With Digital Video Buy The Book Here