Explainer videos are a great way to distill complex products into 60 seconds seconds of accessible content. But like all content, it only works if you give buyers a reason to look. Here are 11 tips to help you write better scripts for your B2B explainer videos.
Explainer videos for B2B products are nothing new. You can find loads of content about what they are and examples of every kind and style. So, believe me, I’m as surprised as you that I’m writing a post about them.
But the truth is video is still crucial to a B2B content marketing strategy. And many companies struggle when it comes to making them – particularly writing scripts for B2B explainer videos. That’s probably because of a lack of practical advice on how to actually conceptualize and create them.
This post is intended to help rectify that. And while it’s by no means exhaustive, it will help you avoid missteps and keep your focus on what matters: the viewer. So, here are 11 tips (all learned the hard way) around conceptualizing, writing and storyboarding your video.
Tip #1: Choose the right type of explainer video
There are a few different kinds of explainer videos: animated, live-action, hybrid and more. You’ll want to choose the style that showcases your product best. If you sell enterprise software, your video should actually show your software, not just talk about it. You don’t need live-action footage or animated figures to do this. People are watching your video because they want to know what your software can do and if it looks easy to use.
If you sell a service platform or solution, your video should show how it works, preferably in easy to follow steps. Animated videos are a popular choice for this because they help simplify what are normally complex processes – making them more palatable and easier to understand for buyers.
Tip #2: Make your video as short as possible
So often, a customer will come to us saying they want a video of a specific length, like 60 or 90 seconds. But attention spans are shorter than ever these days. Under no circumstances should you waste a viewer’s time. Keep your video as short as you can make it without negatively affecting the story you want to tell. Hit all the main beats of your pitch and then exit gracefully.
In our experience, most B2B explainer videos can be done in 60 seconds or less. Ninety seconds is pushing it, but is sometimes necessary. Anything longer and you should consider breaking your script into more than one video.
Tip #3: Consider every word
In most cases, a 60 second video translates to about 150 words in script form. Have you ever tried selling something in 150 words? It’s not easy.
When we write scripts for B2B explainer videos, we give every sentence its own line. This makes it easier to focus on each thought and ensure every word has a purpose. We also try to imagine how the narrator (if there is one) will sound saying the words. A good narrator can convey the point you’re trying to make in half the words using the right emphasis and pacing. Like this:
For safe, compliant and high-quality products, there’s only one choice for manufacturers.
Safe. Compliant. High-quality – every time.
You can almost hear the pauses in your head on the second script option. And it’s over 50% shorter.
Tip #4: Write using natural language
For many buyers, an explainer video will represent their first impression of your brand. The way you describe your product will have a big impact on what the viewer does next. Don’t be complex. Don’t use jargon. Communicate like a human being, using natural language. Here’s what that looks like:
ABC Consulting improves your manufacturing process, bringing best practices, repeatable processes and world-class expertise.
ABC Consulting helps you perfect your product – by perfecting the way you make it.
The first option is how a business would say it. The second option is how a person would say it. That’s natural language.
Tip #5: Start with the problem
Scripts for B2B explainer videos are most effective when they’re designed to get the viewer to stick around. This means you need a good hook, something to get them invested. And guess what? Talking about YOUR company is not going to get them invested.
People don’t care about your company. They want to know what’s in it for them. Talk about their problem first. Here’s what the difference looks like:
XYZ SCIENCES is a clinical research company that helps you recruit and retain clinical trial participants.
Recruiting and retaining clinical trial participants in this time of disruption is not easy.
But science doesn’t stop. It can’t.
Which one is more likely to hook the viewer? Yep, the one that talks about their problem.
Tip #6: Get to the point (in 15 seconds)
Just because someone’s hooked, doesn’t mean they’re going to hang around for the full 60 or 90 seconds. So, don’t spend too much time on the problem. Get in, get out, then get to the point of your video: your product/solution. Your logo should appear within the first 10-15 seconds. Wait too long and someone may get antsy and leave.
Tip #7: Keep details on screen
When people watch videos, they pay more attention to what’s on screen. They’re more likely to miss something in the narration than they are in the visuals. So, your script/narration should be simple enough to let viewers watch and listen at the same time. If there are details you want included – put them in the video in the form of kinetic text. Or even better, show people what you’re talking about by using visual metaphors.
Tip #8: Think in visual metaphors
Explainer videos are all about showing more than telling. Visual metaphors, which use images to represent a concept, feature or benefit, are what make this possible. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.
VO: Bridge your treasury and accounting teams with a single platform everyone can use.
Action: [Two pillars rise up out of the ground, a figure atop each one. A bridge forms and connects the pillars. The two figures cross and shake hands.]
This is, admittedly, a poor example. A good animator can do much better. But the advantage here is that we’re showing and telling. So, even if I only half-listen to the narration, I’m still going to get a clear idea of the concept being described. And in about 5 seconds.
Tip #9: Use commands, not descriptions
When you talk about features and benefits, don’t just describe them. Talk about them in the context of what they will allow your customer to do. Begin sentences with command verbs, not your product name. This is a tool copywriters use all the time and it’s very effective.
“EFG SOFTWARE centralizes your critical HR applications in one easy to use platform.”
“Put all your favorite HR tools in one place.”
Even though the first option talks about how the product benefits users, it comes across as being about the company. The second option is all about the buyer and what they can do.
Tip #10: Finish with a call to action
Remember, the point of an explainer video is to get the viewer to watch the whole thing. But what do you want them to do after that?
All explainer videos should end with a sensible call to action. “Sensible” means: tell them to do something that makes sense in the moment. If you’re pitching software, tell them to book a free demo or sign up for a free 30-day trial. If you’re selling a more complex solution, tell them to see how it works in more detail or invite them to tell you about their version of the problem you outlined in the beginning of your video.
Tip #11: Do all this before you talk to an animator
Most animators aren’t magicians. They need a clear idea of what you want – from animation style to pacing to polish. And the script for your B2B explainer video needs to make all this clear.
The more insight you can give an animator, the further they’ll be able to take your vision. We usually engage our animators only after we’ve established most or all of the ideas discussed in the above tips. This allows us to maintain more control over the look and feel of the finished product. Bringing an animator in too early is sure way to make your video more expensive than it needs to be.
There’s certainly more to producing explainer videos, like hiring and working with a voiceover artist. Again, this wasn’t meant to be exhaustive. But following these tips will help remove uncertainty and indecisiveness from the process – two things that tend to make companies default to a straightforward, all-about-us type of approach. And viewers don’t want that. So, now that you have what you need to get started, get to it. Good luck!