“And the Best Scriptwriting for a Marketing Video Award Goes To…”

Dear House Rules,

I keep hearing about video and how it’s increasingly used in marketing. I have several reliable copywriters on staff, but they’re promotional writers who develop brochures and website copy. Do we need to adjust our writing style for writing video marketing scripts?? 


 Are All Words Created Equal?

Dear Words:

You say you have several reliable copywriters on staff, and that’s great! Writers are always looking for ways to expand their skill sets, and will eagerly take on the challenge of writing video scripts. Just make sure they follow a few cardinal rules for writing scripts for marketing videos, and you should get stellar results. 

 1) Focus on your goals, audience, and key takeaways (1)

As with all marketing projects, start by having the account “owner” write a brief. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy – just be sure to cover these key points:  

  • What’s the main goal of your video? Where does it fit into your digital marketing strategy?  
  • Who’s your audience? Describe them for the writer. Patients or doctors? Age range? Education level? 
  • What’s your video’s main message and narrative through-line?  
  • Finally, think about what you want to accomplish with this video. Is it designed to increase awareness? Perhaps generate sales? Or increase traffic? Spell out the call to action (CTA) for the writer. 

2) Write conversationally 

Writers who specialize in medical content are used to writing with a certain formality, but video requires a different touch. Think of it as the “casual Friday” of marketing messages. Keeping your viewers in mind is vital for getting it right. Speak to the viewer directly, rather than as a collective group. While a physician audience will require that some of that formality is maintained, the script can (and should) be a bit more approachable than the standard journal ad. With patients, have your writers think of explaining the subject of the video to a friend or family member. Just make sure that the viewer gets enough factual information to know that you “know your stuff,” while keeping an authentic, genuine tone.  

3) Make your script detailed and write every word 

One of the most common mistakes video writers make is creating a script that only contains dialogue. The script should be thorough enough to pass it on to someone else to shoot. Write down all the characters, scenes, stage actions, directions and all the pertinent information to make your script accurate and comprehensive. It can be extremely helpful to use a 2-column table for a video script: use the left side for any direction, stage actions, scene information, etc. and the right side for spoken dialogue. This cuts down hugely on confusion – your director will thank you, your shoot will take less time (and therefore cost less money), and you’ll get right to the core of your message. Just remember: write down every single word. 

4) Make sure your script is brief (1)

Twenty percent of your viewers will close your video after 10 seconds or less, which equals 23 spoken words in the voiceover world, so the tighter your script is, the better.2 

That may not sound like a lot, but considering that static ads get far fewer seconds of attention, and the fact that there are so many messages out there competing for your viewer’s attention, it’s actually not too bad. The first few seconds of your video have to be compelling, and “hook” your audience enough for them to be willing to finish your video. To make sure your video script is brief, start by writing out your full script and gradually shortening it. When it’s as brief and powerful as you can make it, read the script aloud, slowly, and use the stopwatch feature on your phone (or one of those provided free online) to see if you need to cut more. 

5) End your script with your CTA (1)

As we’ve mentioned already, your marketing video should ALWAYS end with a clear and concise call to action. What particular action do you want your viewers to take after watching your online video? Do you want them to visit your website, purchase a promoted product, or socially share your online video? Let your viewers know what action they should take and invite them to do so. 

 6) Read your script out loud 

Once you are happy with your script, right before you start recording your video, read it out loud one more time. By reading it out loud, you can sharpen it and make sure it flows.   

Xavier Creative House employs a number of writers and partners with video production houses who can help us craft a video geared specifically for your company’s marketing message, audience, and CTA. Give us a call or shoot us an email today!  


References1https://www.moovly.com/blog/how-to-write-a-great-script-for-your-video-marketing-campaign. Accessed October 9, 2017.

2. https://larryjordan.com/articles/counting-words-for-voice-over-timing/. Accessed October 10, 2017. 

House Rules

Sunny Beth White

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