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!
Without wasting any time, let’s get right into it!
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:
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.
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!
Follow these simple steps, and you have yourself a script that converts!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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:
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 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:
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.
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:
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 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:
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.
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:
Look at this video we made for Bank Leumi for their internal program include@leumi:
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!
Remember the following: