Just like you can’t save a book that has a weak storyline by using a beautiful cover, you can’t save an Explainer video that has a weak script by using appealing visuals. Even the best visuals, animation, and voice-overs fail when the script isn’t strong. That is just how crucial the explainer video script is for putting your message across.
Explainer videos need storytelling to bring the best out in them. And when you’re writing a script for such a video, you have to be adept at storytelling. You need to know the structure and the various elements of storytelling to make a script that mesmerizes the audience—a script that sells!
- How Does Video Storytelling Work?
- How to Write an Explainer Video Script That Sells?
- How Does Storytelling Change With Different Types of Explainer Videos?
- The Mighty Story Template
Without wasting any time, let’s get right into it!
How Does Video Storytelling Work?
Most of the movies, novels, or ads you see use a similar framework. Donald Miller, in his book, “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” broke it down to 7 steps. The framework, SB7 framework, defines every story to have some variation of “a character has a problem and meets a guide who gives them a plan and calls them to action that helps them avoid failure and ends in success”.
I know that’s a lot to take in at once, so let’s break it down:
- A character – Your customer is the character. They are the hero in your story, and all of it should ideally revolve around them.
- Has a problem – Your customer has three types of problems: internal, external, and philosophical. Your story should ideally address all of them. These problems are villains in your hero’s story.
- And meets a guide – If a hero can solve their problems themselves, they wouldn’t get into those problems in the first place. And that is something the audience knows too well. So, your hero needs a guide who can encourage them and equip them to win. You are the guide.
- Who gives them a plan – The guide provides the hero with stepping stones to ease the journey. They tell the hero what they need to do in order to succeed and make sure that the hero succeeds.
- And calls them to action – Now that the hero is motivated and has everything needed to step on the path to solving their problems, all that remains is a push. You’ve told them all about the Solution but it is time to help them take the first step—they need a call to action.
- That helps them avoid failure – Failure aversion is one of the key motivators that prompt the hero to take action. If the hero doesn’t feel like failure would be terrible, they might not take any action at all.
- And ends in success – Everyone looks forward to happy endings in stories. Your hero’s success makes viewers believe in you. It shows how your solution influences their lives positively.
While this basic structure certain variations are necessary when we look at the different types of explainer videos. The kind of script you develop for a brand awareness explainer video is different from the kind of script that works for product explainer videos or brand explainer videos. Fret not, we’ll discuss them better in a later section.
How to Write an Explainer Video Script That Sells
Explainer videos are short animated videos focusing on explaining a product, service, idea, or concept to the audience (mostly B2B). Regardless of whether you put these videos up on websites (landing pages where visitors spend 2-4 minutes on an average) or social media (where people skip past in just seconds), the script has to be short and crisp to be effective.
So let’s get into how you can write an explainer video script that sells!
- Step 0: Brainstorm and Finalise Elements to be used in the Video—characters, environment, needs and wants, antagonist and climax, everything!
- Step 1: Introduce the Problem
- Step 2: Explore the Problem and Introduce the Solution
- Step 3: Explore the Solution
Follow these simple steps, and you have yourself a script that converts!
Step 0: Brainstorm and Finalise Elements to be used in the Video
Wondering why this isn’t the first step? That’s because this step acts as a precursor to writing your own explainer video script.
In this step, you decide what the script would be all about. You have to decide the subject of the video, the characters to be used in it, as well as the environment your video would have. You would also have to decide the needs and wants of the characters in the video. Finally, you would have to decide what the climax of your video would look like.
Finding it difficult to relate to what I just said? Let me explain with an example. Look at this video we’ve developed for EndoSystems. Can you identify the different elements used in the video?
The video was made for a service called endermologie. This service helps women get into shape and feel young regardless of what their age is. The subject here, as you might have already guessed, is the woman.
Other characters seen in the video include her kids, the doctor, and a few other women shown later in the video.
The different environments set up for the video are pretty evident and are complemented with smooth transitions. Our subject wants to look good and feel young without having to go through invasive, aggressive treatment.
The story is woven accordingly and the end result is that she feels like she has made the right choice going for endermologie.
That’s it! It doesn’t have to contain all the elements right from the get-go—you can add as many characters along the way as the video requires. Once you’re done deciding the elements which are needed in the video, you’re ready to write the introduction.
Step 1: Introduce the Problem
The golden rule is to introduce the problem within the first 30 seconds of the video. It is best to introduce the problem early on because it can help in keeping the audience hooked.
The hook has the ability to pull viewers into your story. It makes them connect with the video and helps generate interest. Remember, your customer is the hero in this script, so everything revolves around them. You need to talk about problems they can relate to.
Look at this video we made for Nvest.io. The video not only introduces the problem in the first 30 seconds but also builds a connection with the viewers in that short span.
It starts off by talking about AI and machine learning—the technologies used in the product—and then hints to the problem within the first 15 seconds of the video! This helps viewers understand the problem and the need for the product better.
Moreover, you need the audience to know what they should be looking out for. So introducing the problem early on is what you should do.
Step 2: Explore the Problem and Introduce the Solution
Now that you’ve introduced the problem, you have to make the viewers understand the gravity of the problem at hand. You need to make them understand why they should go for the solution you’re offering. The stakes should be high enough for the viewer to find themselves in a situation that needs them to make an important immediate decision, not like life and death, but close (unless you’re selling bulletproof vests).
Look at this video we’ve made for Innovaccer. The video was made for their EHR-agnostic physician engagement solution called InNote.
The video talks about a common problem most physicians face on a daily basis. It makes you understand how important the problem is and how much a solution for it is needed.
It then introduces the solution with Innovaccer stepping in as a guide. Notice how Innovaccer doesn’t try to be the hero. It is important that the customer is the hero because, in the end, it is all about the customer.
Step 3: Explore the Solution
Once the solution has been introduced, you need to explain it further and conclude with a call to action. While explaining, you should focus on bringing down the tension that you created earlier.
If you’ve taken care of the first two steps properly, this shouldn’t be difficult for you. This is the part where you tell them about the cool features of your solution, reassuring them that going for your solution is the right thing to do.
Look at this video we made for Incessant’s continuous delivery solution, Appian.
The video talks about the solution in great depth and ends with a clear call to action asking viewers to check the website or send them an email if they want to know more. This is just one of the ways in which you could explore the solution in the video and end it with a powerful call to action.
How Does Storytelling Change With Different Types of Explainer Videos?
Depending on the type of explainer video you’re trying to write a script for, you would need to tweak the structure of your script. Going for some explainer videos, you would need to take care of the introduction, problem, solution, and CTA. While in some cases you would have to do away some of these elements or play around with their order of appearance in the video.
Let’s take up different types of explainer videos and see how the script’s structure changes with them!
Educational Explainer Video
These videos are used for brand awareness. The name “brand awareness” might suggest that you should talk about your brand in the video. But all you really need to do is to educate the audience about the subject of the video. In fact, it is best to keep your brand’s name out of the video for most of it. It is only towards the end that there should be any mention of your brand.
The structure for a good educational explainer video would go something like this:
- Problem: This should take 30-50 percent of the video. You need to start the video by talking about a problem that your customers are facing. For this, you need to step into their shoes and understand what their major pain points are. If your product helps them out with multiple pain points, you would want to choose the one that troubles your customers the most. Once decided, you should start the video by talking about this pain point, making that you understand their problem and empathize with them.
- Solution: Now that your audience knows that you understand their problem, it’s time for the solution to that problem. Ideally, this solution should make up most of the video. Remember, we’re not trying to sell our products or services here. All we’re trying to do is educate them.
- Call to Action: You don’t have to go all “buy my services now” on your audience for your call to action to be successful. You could simply ask them to go to your website or a landing page to learn more. Whatever you do, make sure that this section is as small as it gets. Anything over 5 seconds is an overkill.
Look at this educational explainer video we made for Hub International. Notice the structure of the video to understand what we’ve just mentioned better.
The video talks about the problem in the first half. In the second half, the video focuses on the solution, ending with a crisp call to action. That is how you should be structuring your script for an educational explainer video.
Product Explainer Video
In these videos, your aim should be to explain to your audience why they should buy your product or service. These videos are made for demand generation so the structure of the script for these videos would be different from that of brand awareness videos.
The structure for a good product explainer video goes something like this:
- Problem: Unlike brand awareness video, the problem needs to be emphasized more here. As we’ve mentioned earlier, you need the audience to understand the gravity of the problem and feel like all can be lost if the problem isn’t solved.
- Solution: Once you’ve brought them to a point wherein they start thinking that a solution to the problem is indispensable, you can now go ahead and tell them about your solution. Out here, you need to talk about your solution comprehensively, helping them understand why your solution is the indispensable solution to the problem.
- Introduction: You can now tell them about your company. Names, logos, and the likes are best placed here. This shouldn’t be in the video for more than a few seconds.
- Call to Action: Finally, you need the call to action. Unlike educational explainer videos, out here your CTA should focus more on getting them to make a purchase or get closer to making one.
Look at this video we made for Blue Green Water Technologies which talks about The Lake Guard, a product of theirs.
The video starts with an introduction to the problem, eventually talking about the need for a better solution. It then talks about the solution—Lake Guard—and talks about its benefits making the user understand how important the solution is. Notice how it is only towards the end that you can see their logo and CTA.
Brand Explainer Video
Brand explainer videos help you connect with your audience on an emotional level. They help create long-lasting bonds of trust. These videos talk about the company and its services but unlike product explainer videos, they don’t focus heavily on problems. In fact, in most good brand explainer videos, the problems don’t make it into the video.
A good brand explainer video has a structure which goes something like this:
- Values: A great hook for these videos is values—people connect with them on an emotional level. Out here, you could hint towards your services to make the transition smoother.
- Services: Once you’re done talking about values, it is now time to relate them with your company in such a way that they can cover at least one of your services.
- Call to Action: While a lot of companies prefer not having a CTA at the end of these videos, they’re important. Your CTA could be as simple as displaying a link to your website, but try to have something.
This video by Airbnb is a marvel as a brand explainer video. The way this video connects with the audience on an emotional is too good!
Notice how smoothly the video transitioned from values to services? That is how subtle you should keep the transitions.
Testimonial Explainer Video
Business is all about trust, and what could be a better way to instill trust than social proof? With testimonial explainer videos, your audience can hear it right from the horse’s mouth. It helps boost their confidence in you and increase their chances of making a purchase.
The structure for a good testimonial explainer video goes something like this:
- Problem: The first thing that your customer should talk about in the video is the problem they were facing which you solved. The way it is worded is very critical for the success of the video because if your audience can’t relate to the problem, they might skip it. If the problem statement doesn’t make them go “oh, this is exactly my problem!”, they’re going to abandon your video.
- Experience: The task is simple, all your customer needs to do is talk about how you and your solution helped them fix their problem. But this is tricky and going wrong with it might make the testimonial look salesy.
- Call to Action: A call to action is a must-have for every video. If someone gets impressed by the way you solved your customer’s problem, how do they reach out to you? How do they ask you to fix their problem? CTAs help guide them.
Look at this testimonial explainer video we made for M&M Financials:
The video starts with various M&M clients talking about the problems they were facing and then moves on to how M&M helped them solve those problems. What’s worth noting in this video is that it appeals to your logical self as well as your emotional self. And that is why this video just connects.
Commercial Explainer Video
Commercial explainer videos are short teasers (usually 5-60 seconds long) with the objective of creating brand recall. They can be used for remarketing your products/services as well. Since these videos are short, you need to be careful about every word you use in the scripts for these videos.
The structure for a good commercial explainer video goes something like this:
- Problem: Like most explainer videos, this too starts with a problem. The only difference here is that since you’re short of time, you would have to wrap it up quickly. But quick doesn’t mean incomplete—make sure that you talk about the problem enough for the audience to understand it.
- Solution: This is the part that should ideally make up most of the video. You need to let your audience know about the solution you’re offering in a fun and engaging way. This too has to be carefully worded since we have a very limited amount of time for it.
- Call to Action: Finally, you need a call to action. Ask your audience to do something—something that would shift them to the next stage of their life cycle.
Look at this video we’ve made for Raptor Plumbing:
The video starts by briefly setting the environment up and then quickly shifts to the problem. It then transitions to the solution and ends with the CTA—all within 30 seconds! It not only follows the structure but does it in such a way that all the information needed is out there in a short time span.
Corporate Explainer Video
These videos are used by companies for efficient internal communication. They are used for multiple purposes including recruitment, onboarding, training, and communicating with shareholders.
The structure for a good corporate explainer video goes something like this:
- Introduction: Unlike any video we’ve discussed thus far, these videos start by letting the audience know what the video would be about. This can be a hint or a clear and concise introduction.
- Subject: This makes up the majority of the video. Depending on the subject of the video, this could contain a lot of things. This could be you talking about a new program you’re about to launch, or information regarding why candidates should join your company or even an annual financial update for the shareholders.
- Call to Action: While it doesn’t seem like these videos need a CTA, you absolutely must give them a CTA. You could ask them to sign up for a program, know more about the subject, and the likes.
Look at this video we made for Bank Leumi for their internal program [email protected]:
The video talks about the program and how it would be beneficial for the bank’s employees in a highly engaging manner. Notice how the structure is followed throughout the video.
That’s all you need to know to write a killer explainer video script!
…Before You Go!
Remember the following:
- Your customer is the hero and the entire script revolves around them.
- The Problem-Solution-CTA structure works for almost all scripts.
- Choose the main pain point of your customer as the problem statement.
- Try to address the internal and psychological problems along with external ones.
- Keep the introduction of the company towards the end.
- Speak to the audience using personal pronouns such as “you” and “your”.
Smash the button below to download your copy of the explainer video script template!
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