Script Writing 101: Know Your Audience
I love to read and hike, so when I saw a magazine article about a local hiking trail, I was intrigued. The article opened with a beautiful introduction, but after the first couple paragraphs, I was lost in sea of unexplained tangents. The author wrote about the scenery, the history, and her daughter and husband—unintentionally taking the article in a new direction with each topic. When I finished reading, I was left with more questions than answers. The promising article was quickly thwarted by the author’s inability to identify and connect with her audience.
Effective scripts require many successful components: an engaging hook, important facts about the product or service, but one aspect of a script writing stands above the rest—the audience. Proper knowledge of the audience, or target market, is the foundation to a successful script. You might have a product that will revolutionize humanity, but if you can’t convince your audience they need it, then the product will fail.
While I sincerely believe we can learn a lot from our mistakes, I don’t want you to fail, so the first step to writing an effective script is a clear understanding of who will want or need your product or service. This is not an aspect of script writing where you can give a blanket answer, like stay-at-home mothers, or business professionals. Dig deep to uncover the nitty-gritty demographics of your consumers.
When I write, I like to create a fictional person to whom I can refer throughout the creative process. This might seem easy, but the character needs to resemble the target audience all the way down to the type of coffee they drink (or perhaps, don’t drink). Start by asking these questions:
1) Who is the target audience?
2) Are they male or female?
3) How old are they?
4) Are they single, married, widowed, or divorced?
5) What is their education level?
6) Where do they live?
7) How much money do they make?
8) Where do they work?
9) Where do they go when they’re not at work?
10) What is their tone? Casual? Professional?
I’m sure you get the idea, and maybe you will need to add more questions to really get into your audience’s psyche. Ask away! These questions help you identify with your audience and create a script that targets the important aspects of their lives: what makes them happy, sad, calm, and more importantly, what causes them pain. Not necessarily a physical pain but an annoyance that your product can solve.
Easing the Pain
This brings us to the next step: identifying and solving your target market’s pain and predicament as it relates to your product or service. Your product or service solves a problem for your audience. Because you’ve already created the product or service, you are aware of the problem. For the purposes of script writing, you not only need to be aware of the problem but you also need to strip the problem down to its very core. An effective time range for a video scribing video is anywhere from 60 to 90 seconds, so every word needs to count. To efficiently convey the problem and solution in a script, you should be able to explain the problem and solution in one or two sentences.
For example, every month my client’s network suffers attacks by a different virus, so my software eliminates their suffering by protecting their network against all virus attacks at a better rate than my competitors.
With a condensed version of your problem and solution, you will never lose site of the true target of your script. Condensing the problem and solution might be difficult, but it can be done. I have written scripts for corporations with very technical products, and I can always condense the problem and solution so it relates to the audience. It might take a couple tries, but you can do it.
No Dumping Zone
Your product or service is amazing; you will be tempted to make the product the focus of the script— resist. The last thing you want to do is use 60 to 90 seconds to dump a whole bunch of information about the product on your audience. The audience will not be able to decipher the information that pertains to them. As the expert, it is your job to identify the information that is important and show your audience only what they need to know. This can easily be accomplished by writing out a draft of the script, and then, as you read through it, ask: will my audience need to know the product or service does this? Does this entice my audience to purchase my product or services? If the answer is no, rework it or delete it. Try not to be depressed that you can’t fit all the information in. The most successful scripts are succinct and propelled by information that appeals to the specific audience.
The magazine article I read could have easily appealed to outdoor enthusiasts searching for a trail with historical value, but without direction and clear knowledge of a specific audience the message of the article was lost. You do not need to fall victim to a directionless script. Simply create a fictional character to represent your audience, identify a condensed version of the problem and solution as it pertains to your audience, and include only the information the audience needs to know about the product. By following these steps you will write a successful script for a video that will not fail.