How to Write a Marketing Script
With the increased prevalence of YouTube and online videos, more businesses are faced with the challenge of writing an engaging marketing script than ever before. For companies who would have never had the budget to make a full-fledged TV commercial, the ability to take a video from a smartphone and upload it has made it more accessible for even startups with nonexistent marketing budgets. Here are some of tips to keep in mind when writing a marketing script.
Identify the Medium
Before you start writing your marketing script, identify the medium and, for instance, learn the differences between writing for YouTube and writing for a TV commercial. With YouTube videos, you can write longer, more informal scripts that you can upload yourself. However, if you’re writing a script for a TV commercial, you must fit whatever content you can into a video that’s only, say, 30 or 60 seconds long. A one-page script written using a screenwriting tool like Final Draft Pro or Celtx equals one minute of video. For a one-minute or one-page long video, you must be very selective with your content because there just isn’t the space to include a lot of information.
Show, Don’t Narrate
Whenever possible, show the story rather than narrate. For instance, if you’re selling a revolutionary product that has the potential to change a person’s life, create a character and situations that demonstrate the change that owning your product would make. By creating descriptive settings and characters, you won’t need additional narration.
Consider the Plot
Most people don’t think about a marketing video in terms of plot when they first start writing their video marketing script. While you won’t be able to write a complicated story with multiple characters and actions, marketing videos still need movement. Consider the character, the story and how it’s told, and what the message ultimately says about your company.
Include Real Life Situations
People best engage with videos that establish real life situations to which they can relate. In POPIN’s highly successful Kickstarter campaign, the company showcases a video that demonstrates how difficult it is to store all your children’s toys, especially traditional playhouses and play kitchens, in your home with limited space. Most parents can relate to this type of situation because they live it every day, so it’s not surprising that the Kickstarter foldable play structures were such a success. The customers identified with the problem presented in the marketing video and saw the value in the solution. Think about how your customers use your products or services and try to showcase these situations in your marketing scripts.
Remember: Horses, Not Zebras
There’s this saying used in law enforcement, medicine, and screenwriting: Look for horses, not zebras. It means that in most cases, the answer is the most simple or obvious, not the rarest situation. A patient with a headache more often has a sinus infection than a brain tumor. This should be the same in your marketing script. While it might be more interesting to present an innovative situation or use for your product, it will be more effective to show its everyday use and why people buy it.
Dialogue Should Not Be How People Really Talk
When people talk, it’s full of errors and nonsense, like “um” and “hi.” With the time limitations as you’ll have in a script, you need to clean up the dialogue to get to the point.
This means that an interaction like this:
- GIRL: Oh hey.
- BOY: What are you doing?
- GIRL: Um, I was just shopping on my phone for a new T-shirt.
- BOY: Cool.
- GIRL: You want to see it?
- BOY: Sure.
Should instead look like this:
- GIRL: Want to take a look at this cool T-shirt I found while shopping on my phone?
- BOY: Cool shirt. I like how the design includes fun animals.
- GIRL: Twenty percent of the profits also go to charity.
Do people speak the way they do in scripts as they do in real life? Absolutely not. But people don’t want to listen to how real-life conversations unfold. This would be extremely boring and wouldn’t help move your marketing efforts ahead.
Every Word Should Move the Script Forward
Every word in a script should move the story forward. With limited numbers of words with which to work, it’s critical to include only what’s necessary.
Beginning, Middle, and End
Every story, including your marketing script, should have a beginning, middle, and end. It should show customers their buying journey. People have been subconsciously exposed to this story structure from the time they were read bedtime stories as a child. It’s a natural way of conveying information in a script. It’s important that you, as a writer of this marketing script, create a natural beginning, middle, and end for your story.
Limit the Number of Characters
Some movies feature ensemble casts, with many characters each with their own stories and personalities. Creating an ensemble cast for a marketing script is a terrible idea. It’s more difficult to find enough actors to fill the roles and it also costs more to compensate these actors. Plus, depending on how short the video is, it can be confusing to have too many characters.
Avoid Long Monologues
Long monologues where one character speaks for an extended period tends to be boring for viewers, especially if the character isn’t speaking directly to the camera. It’s generally better to have a dialogue between two characters or to have an action break up the monologue. This can be much more interesting for viewers to watch and stay engaged.
One possible exception to this is training style videos or vlog style videos where one person speaks directly to the camera. In these cases, it’s typical to have one person do most of the talking.
You don’t want people to feel they’re wasting their time learning about your product. It’s best if you show them how it’s used.
One way to do this while writing a sales marketing script is to overcome common objections that customers have about your product in an engaging way. For instance, if customers feel your company’s product takes up too much space in their home, show how easily it can fit into a basic closet. If customers doubt how long the product will last, showcase its durability. Sometimes you can overcome an objection visually, without it becoming the main storyline of the script.
In the most basic sense, all marketing scripts should be entertaining. This doesn’t mean that you need to include slapstick humor or make everything comical. You do want to strive to create a video that is entertaining in some regard. When people are entertained they are more likely to watch the whole video. This is when they’ll be the most interested in learning more about your company’s products or services.
Keep to Brand Voice
No matter what content you create, such as a video, a blog post, or a brochure, it’s key that you stick to the brand voice you’re cultivating. If you want to have lighthearted humor, it should be present in every single marketing piece you use. Think about the brands that have a distinctive brand voice. What would happen if some of their content was different in tone or style? Would you recognize the marketing asset as part of their brand?
A marketing script can transform your next Facebook Live or YouTube video into something that’s more engaging and meaningful. It doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult. It can make the difference between developing a powerful marketing asset or something that’s just okay.
Melanie G. is a freelance writer and editor living in Tampa, Florida. She’s freelanced full-time since she left her writing job at Nielsen in 2012.