Explainer videos have become one of the most powerful tools in video marketing strategy for a reason: They allow companies to promote their product or service's benefits while also sharing valuable pieces of information to the audience. Explainer videos are both effective and useful branded content.
At the outset, drafting your explainer can feel daunting. A video requires you to juggle a lot of things in your head: scripting, storytelling, animation, illustration, editing…
But don't worry! This article will break down the basics of how professionals produce a successful explainer video, guiding you through the production process from the early script stages to the final touches of your masterpiece.
1. Writing Your Script
Every video starts with a script; it's the backbone that will help you structure not only your video but also your production process.
If the blank page scares you or you're dealing with writer's block, a useful trick is to just sit down and write every idea that comes into your mind. At this stage, nothing is off the table, so don't restrain yourself—let your creativity flow. Once you have enough material, you can polish your message to its core while also coming up with new and more focused ideas.
Three rules should guide the improvement of your script:
- Be relevant. Explainer videos are equal parts promotional and educational. Your main objective could be to promote and make the sale, but you can't do that without explaining to your audience how your product or service will benefit their life. The message of your script should balance what you think is important with what interests your audience.
- Be concise. Time is precious; don't waste it. Most explainer videos shouldn't go over the 90-second mark, which translates roughly to a 200-word script (or even less!). Grab your customer's attention within the first 15 seconds so you hook them into staying and watching the whole thing.
- Be entertaining. This is one of the most overlooked pieces of advice for creating branded content, but it shouldn't be! Your script should be clear, educational, and, above all, entertaining. If you're covering a complex topic, find ways to explain it in a memorable and exciting way (as exciting as possible, at least). Writing an entertaining script can be challenging, but it's what will captivate your audience and inspire them to take action.
This whiteboard video from ViGlobal, a company that offers software solutions for employee retention, is an excellent example of a good script because it's full of creative narrative twists:
2. Creating a Storyboard
What makes video such a compelling medium is the way it shows instead of tells. So once you've finished writing the first draft of your script, you should start thinking about its visual presentation.
Storyboards help you get a clearer idea of how your video's key moments will unfold with all of its main elements combined: script, visuals, animations, brand logo, etc.. You can even include transition marks to guide you through editing and post-production.
As a companion to the script, your storyboard can also serve as a platform for making tweaks and adjustments to your project. You might notice a continuity error and fix it before it's too late, for example.
3. Nailing Effective Characterization
Contrary to what many marketers believe, the main character of an explainer video isn't the product or service they're trying to promote—it's the prospective customer!
The first thing that should appear in your video is the animated character that acts as a representation of your buyer persona. Your piece will follow the story about how the character encountered a problem (the same problem your viewer has) and solved it using your product or service.
For your video to influence your audience, you need to know who they are and what they care about. Defining your target audience is the first step toward building a loyal customer base. Get to the root of what your audience needs and which problems you can help them with, or else it'll be difficult for your story to connect with them.
Note: relatable does not equal average. The protagonist of your video should have specific characteristics that resonate with your viewer and beget empathy.
4. Making the Most of Animation
Video offers unique communication advantages, and animation lets you make the most out of those. Your script and storyboard come alive through movement and visual effects. Every second of your piece should feature dynamic animation that makes the viewer feel as if the story is going somewhere.
Whether you choose to use 3D graphics, whiteboard drawings, traditional animation, or another style, keep in mind that every visual feature of your piece should engage your viewer.
The following example is an explainer piece from a tech startup that offers remote work solutions. Notice how captivating fast-paced animation can be.
5. Branding Your Explainer Video
Your brand is more than just a logo and the types of product or service you offer. Your company's identity is also formed by the consistent look, feel, and tone across all the content you produce.
Your explainer video should be no exception. Use your brand's color palette and fonts to create a shared experience that generates brand awareness.
Furthermore, your brand's logo should appear at a critical moment in your video—which usually means right when you introduce your product.
And last, finish with a clear call to action. Include simple step-by-step instructions on how to acquire your products or services, or just how to learn more about your company.
* * *
In the time of COVID, reaching and persuading buyers can be difficult. More than ever, audiences are looking for companies that speak directly to them and their real-life problems.
A well-scripted explainer video is like a direct one-on-one conversation with your customers that proves you understand their needs and know how to help them. The tips in this article will help you start that conversation and build a lasting relationship from scratch.
Editor's note: Article 1 in this three-part fortnightly series is "How to Make Product Videos That Actually Drive Sales." Article 2 is "Five Tips for Making Company-Culture Videos That Captivate Your Customers' Hearts."
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