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.
Writing the Perfect Script the “Made to Stick” Way.
I often feel like I’m just regurgitating things that have been said by someone else, but some things are MADE to be regurgitated. “Made to Stick” is an exceptional book that Ydraw enjoys using for script writing. It’s a guide for anyone and everyone.
Following the six guidelines in this book will help create a script that will amaze any audience which will ultimately lead to more sales and money. Why else would I be up at 3 in the morning typing this? In the video I talked about the Seven Steps to Success which include keeping it SIMPLE, doing something UNEXPECTED, making sure it sounds CONCRETE, showing CREDIBILITY, writing to people’s EMOTIONS and telling STORES. The seventh principle is unique to Ydraw and that is writing the script in clear and memorable SCENES to get the message across more clearly.
I use and swear by the 7 S.U.C.C.E.S.S principles which have helped bring me, well, success!
Oh but wait, this is not about me, this is about YOU! “Made to Stick” works, and has produced GREAT results. It is one of the top advertising books on the market and can be found at most local libraries for the people too cheap to buy it. It has sold millions of copies, those lucky guys! So without further adieu, lets get started.
Writing the Perfect Script
People, People, People! Most people’s script skills are likely below par. Since we aren’t playing golf, that’s a very bad thing. It takes a bit of practice, work, and following advice to achieve success in Writing the Perfect Script. It requires a lot of patience and a couple of drafts to get it right. But do not worry, Ydraw can help! Lets take a quick CRASH COURSE on writing a script. By the way, just so you don’t have to take Ydraw’s word for it, the book “Made to Stick” is used as the CRASH COURSE guide.
Here are two great tools from the book “Made to Stick”, absolutely FREE! Take a look, they may apply not only in script writing, but in other parts of your business as well.
“The big mistake that businesses often make is they think compelling prospects to call you means getting your name out there, getting people to know who your business is. And that’s not it at all. Sometimes, the very best thing you can do is put your own ego aside and focus only on what they really want…without even any mention of YOU or your business up front. When you put your selfish needs aside and you’re able to focus just on them, that’s when the real magic happens. That’s when the real breakthroughs happen. They don’t see that there’s any sales involved in that. They see that it is completely and exactly what they’re looking for. So, they feel safe to act.” www.ilovemarketing.com
When creating a marketing piece you have to forget about what the company wants. Companies love to tell people what they are good at and love talking about their products. People already know whether a company has a secret 50 step method to solve the world’s problems, and they know whether someone has a PhD or not. The fact is, no one really cares. All the time and hard work that goes into making a stunning logo, website, company profile, etc, doesn’t really matter.
All consumers want to know is what someone or something is going to do for them. How will a product or service solve their problems? You and your company might love script and video filled with valuable information about your business and organization, but the audience most likely will not like it. The last thing anyone wants is “decision paralysis” (when customers are hit with so much information they cannot make a simple decision). Customers need to be able to quickly and directly see how a product or service will solve their problems.
2: Simplicity: Find the Core Message
What is the single most important thing?
Simplicity is about finding your core message and sharing it in a compact way. The core message is the single most important thing worth communicating. The Army has a core message for its battle plans called “Commander’s Intent.” Smart companies like Southwest Airlines have core strategic messages, such as “THE low-fare airline.” Journalists use the “inverted pyramid” model to write stories, putting the most important information at the top of the article. Simplicity is about prioritization, and it’s also about saying a lot with a little.
3: Do the Unexpected: Use surprising points to capture an audience
What are we going to do to be unexpected?
The first requirement of effective communication is getting attention, the second is keeping it. In order to do this you use the unexpected: This is where we come in. Video Scribing and our amazing team will keep your audience engaged, but the script needs to contain some unexpected things like humor, facts, or flat out crazy pictures. These types of things will capture attention and keep people engaged.
4. Connect Emotionally:
What is your product? What emotion does your product bring out?
Tapping into peoples’ emotions is critical. If a company or product can hit a consumer emotionally, they will be much closer to obtaining a new client. Look at emotions like happiness, frustration, or sadness. Emotions are powerful! The most important effective emotion is happiness. Your battle is won when you succeed at finding a way to make people smile and feel good.
Credibility improves depending on the person’s feelings of acceptance around you and your company. Boring, dry, information packed scripts hurt everyone involved. You’d be amazed at what professional CEO’s come up with. Get creative! Tap into emotions! Serious products? Yeah right! Do not make the critical error of thinking “serious” products can’t be made funny. Some of the greatest videos come from taking something serious and putting some humor to it.
A perfect example of this is found in “The Last Lecture” book. Randy Paush had terminal cancer and was giving one last presentation before he died. Instead of presenting a serious presentation, he stood up and gave a presentation that had the audience smiling from ear to ear. Even if something is serious, it can always be made humorous.
5. Tell Stories: They are the KEY
What is your story? Does your story contain one of the 3 plots named below?
THREE MAJOR STORY PLOTS
1. The Challenge Plot: This is the classic underdog, rags to riches, or sheer willpower triumphing over adversity. The key element of the Challenge plot is that the obstacles seem daunting to the protagonists.
2. The Connection Plot: A story about people who develop a relationship that bridges a gap: racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, or otherwise. E.g., the Mean Joe Greene commercial in the 1970s where Joe make friends with a scrawny young white kid. All connection plots inspire us in social ways. They make us want to help others, be more tolerant of others, work with others, love others.
3. The Creativity Plot: This involves someone making a mental breakthrough, solving a longstanding puzzle, or attacking a problem in an innovative way.
STORIES ARE THE KEY
By using a great story you can tap into emotions, past memories, and past ideas. Not to mention the fact that stories are engaging, memorable, compelling, motivating and flat out more entertaining. Everyone is happy to pay money for entertainment! The key to making an idea sticky is to tell it as a story. Stories encourage a kind of mental simulation or reenactment on the part of the listener that burns the idea into the mind. For example, when training a pilot, a flight simulator is much more effective than flash cards. The hard part about using a story is creating it. Always be on the look out for stories to use and write them down for future use. Most good stories are collected and discovered rather than produced de novo.
So there you have it! Your Guide to Writing a Script. Use it, abuse it, and watch the sales pile in!