Tag: explainer video script writing


Can technology marketing videos have empathy?

There’s little doubt that video as a medium can have empathy. Reality TV shows may increase empathy and bring out the best in us. But let’s consider the kind of videos I know best, technology marketing videos. These are mostly short, high-level solution overviews for lead generation or account management.

What is empathy in marketing?

The production of marketing content — video in particular — focuses on packaging messages efficiently. How often does anyone ask, “How do you think the person who looks at this content will feel about it?”

Brian Carroll at B2B Lead Blog writes interestingly about humanizing the sales and marketing processes. In “How Empathy Will Grow Your Sales and Marketing Pipeline” he notes that customers are deluged with so many impersonal marketing messages through so many channels, they are just worn out. We can all empathize here.

But the idea of empathy in marketing is that people warm to a message that addresses hopes, fears, and other feelings we all have. For example, if yours is a complex sale, Brian suggests focusing on the risks perceived by your customer. That’s a fruitful idea. I would add that, with a buying team, you need to address multiple kinds of risk-averseness to help encourage consensus.  I’ve written previously about contending with group dynamics.

How to add empathy to technology marketing videos

In terms of video, empathy doesn’t necessarily mean trying to take hopes and fears into account. I really like Carroll’s formulation that “the best marketing feels like helping.” Customers aren’t looking for solutions.


Tell B2B video viewers you take them seriously

Malcolm Gladwell has said that, for him, the key to a good live presentation is to keep in mind that the audience wants to be taken seriously. This struck me as pertinent to the development and production of B2B video for inbound marketing and sales engagement. We imagine the audience browsing our collection of marketing content like bees collecting nectar. We plant messages they’ll take back to the buying committee. But how much effort goes into making them feel that we take them seriously.

Support every claim

In a short video, there’s usually a requirement to put across several key messages, sometimes for different audiences. That can lead to adjectival overload — a string of phrases like “powerful features,” “unprecedented scalability,” and “advanced technology.”  You’re probably don’t find such claims compelling. Neither will your buyers.

Anticipate questions

Many of the videos we produce deal with technology product introductions and upgrades. Most of these solutions have been pre-introduced to existing customers or user groups. If you can get a fix on what these groups are most curious about, you’ve made a good start on figuring out how to frame the story for a larger audience. Even if you’re required to deliver information on a set number of features, if you start with one you know people will have questions about, you’re audience knows you’re serious.

Remember how they got here

You’ve probably heard that B2B video needs to grab the viewer’s attention in the first 15-20 seconds.


Write a better explainer video script with help from Microsoft Office

explainer video script

The scariest moment in explainer video script development is when the page is blank. The visualization technique suggested here can help you get going and keep you on track.

An explainer video script for a technology solution is an “elevator pitch.” It says what needs to be said in a way calculated to win over a prospect in the course of an imagined elevator ride to the executive suite.

“SmartArt” is not as dumb as I thought it was

explainer video script

Forget about what this looks like. No one else need ever see it. This simple visualization can help you structure your script and make sure you tick all the right boxes. Here’s a tutorial (which I needed) on using Office SmartArt.

I’ve been ignoring this clip-arty feature for years, but I’ve recently discovered a use for the “Smart Art Graphic” selection in the Microsoft Office “Insert” menu.  Turns out, It can be very helpful in constructing explainer video scripts for marketing technology solutions.

There’s certainly no aspect of “Art” in what I do with Smart Art.


How to tell a video sales story (Pt 3)

how to tell a video sales storyThis is the third of a series of posts on how to tell a video sales story. Here’s where to see Part 1 and Part 2

How to tell a video sales story? At one time or another, everyone who has ever had a job has probably wished “to bring about a major change in the organization.” According to this OpenView B2B Buyer Insight survey, it’s one of the main reasons buyers reach out to salespeople, and one that many salespeople fail to take into account.

Obviously, this is a motivation that should be taken seriously by solution sellers, because just about every software solution promises to effect a major change — higher performance, better security, increased customer satisfaction, better user experience, and so forth.

You seldom see an explainer video that addresses this motivation directly, but we’ve made a few.

“Here’s something you can change right now” (vs. “Here’s what we can do for you”)

how to tell a video sales story

An opportunity for ambitious government agencies who want to make a difference.

Here’s an example intended to appeal to would-be game changers in government who want to increase citizen engagement. It assumes right from the outset that the viewer is an IT executive motivated to bring about change, and demonstrates the straightforward, yet innovative, Software AG AgileApps live solution for governments (there is a UK version, too).

Did you know about this opportunity for change?

Any time you’ve got a solution most people in the organization don’t know they need, you have a big challenge, and an opportunity to reach out to the innovators who want to “bring about a major change.”


How to tell a video sales story (Pt 2)

how to tell a video sales storyThis is the second of a series of posts on how to tell a video sales story. Here’s where to see Part 1 and Part 3

How to tell a video sales story? As noted last time, there’s evidence that a lot of salespeople don’t have a good handle on the circumstances under which buyers might want to reach out to them.  That’s according to an OpenView B2B Buyer Insight survey.

One of the motivations salespeople tend to underestimate is “to replace a solution that isn’t working well.” For someone creating content for sales engagement, this suggests that it might be a very good idea to help out the sales team with with videos that anticipate the question “How should I replace my solution that isn’t working well.”

This audience is different — and it’s not you

Let’s take note of the following about the potential audience we’re trying to address with these  videos

  • They know they want a solution
  • They are inclined to take action to learn about the solution
  • They may or may not know about your solution, and
  • What they think they know may be wrong

As a marketer, you naturally evaluate a video on how much you like it, and whether it keeps your attention. I think this is one reason that many “explainer” videos start out with a display of empathy for the viewer’s problems. Because, without problems, there’s not much of a storyline — and stories are what we all like.

But keep in mind that you


How to tell a video sales story (Pt 1)

how to tell a video sales storyThis is the first of a series of posts on how to tell a video sales story. Here’s where to see Part 2 and Part 3

How to tell a video sales story? An OpenView B2B Buyer Insight survey points up some differences between what IT buyers and IT salespeople think motivates buyers to reach out to salespeople. I think it’s interesting that salespeople tended to underestimate the importance of these buyer motivations:

  • To research a market
  • To replace a solution that isn’t working well
  • To bring about a major change in the organization

It put me in mind of an issue we face every time we develop a technology marketing video — How do we frame the story? Even more important — What happens in the first scene?

Turns out, we have framed videos around these motivations — not deliberately — in the past, and the videos have worked well. But we’ll consider them with a little more deliberation in future projects. Maybe you should, too.

“Here’s what’s new in your market” (vs. “Here’s why we’re the next big thing”)

When everybody’s doing it — in IT today, “it” is cloud/virtualization, big data analytics, mobility, social media — solution providers tweak their solution to stay on top of the trends. A relevant video solution might be to feature these special tweaks in shorter-than-average videos.

For example, Cisco’s Workload Automation solution has been around for a while (as Tidal Enterprise Scheduler). Here are a couple of short videos 


Make your explainer video 20% shorter

“…there are very few movies that wouldn’t benefit from losing twenty minutes and the inclusion of an exploding helicopter shot…”
— Roger Corman

This quote, which I first heard on Mark Kermode’s BBC Film Review podcast, may not appear to have much to do with marketing videos, but I think it reflects an attitude video producers might consider adopting. True, we’re not going to be able to come up with the equivalent of an exploding helicopter, but I’ve seen very few marketing videos that couldn’t be improved with a little more explosive visual stimulation.

make your explainer video 20% shorter

Not an exploding helicopter, but a stimulating graphic can help a text-heavy video make a big impression, nonetheless.

We recently produced several videos for use in the noisy VMworld Expo environment. Lots of text on the screen, no voiceover narration. Fortunately, our client, Cirba, uses a relatively stimulating visual metaphor to explain how their analytics solution makes virtual environments more efficient, and we were able to adapt their visual metaphor to good advantage.

As to the benefit of “losing twenty minutes,”


Making numbers count in marketing videos

Are you making numbers count in marketing videos? I recently ran across through an oversized marketing infographic containing two dozen statistics intended to make the case that 2015, at last, The Year of Video Marketing. Presumably, sharing this infographic with the powers that be could help to boost video marketing budgets.

Making numbers count in marketing videos

This is one screenful (on my laptop) out of 14 in this infographic.

It is interesting to know that

  • 75% of business executives watch work-related videos at least weekly
  • 59% of of senior executives agree that if both text and video are available on the same topic on the same page, they prefer to watch the video

Letting your eye wander over numbers that quantify this, that, and the other, is part of what makes infographics fun.


Using filmable ideas in marketing videos

For me, cinema is essentially emotion. It is pieces of film joined together that create an idea, which in turn creates an emotion in the mind of the audience. Not through spoken words, but through the visuals. It’s a visual medium. And montage is the main thing. All moviemaking is pure montage.
Alfred Hitchcock

Using filmable ideas in marketing videos

The Kuleshov Effect: The three scenes start the same, but they end up evoking very different responses and interpretations of the action. Watch on YouTube.

The term montage, as used by Hitchcock above, was coined by the Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, to denote a “scientific” editing process in which a sequence of unrelated images is calculated to evoke the idea you want the audience to go along with.

This approach was validated in a clever experiment by the filmmaker and theorist Lev Kuleshov, with whom Eisenstein studied in the 1920s. Kuleshov concocted a movie that presents the same film clip of an actor’s face  intercut with an image of a of a young girl in a coffin, then with a plate of soup, and, finally, with an alluring woman on a divan. The actor’s expression never varies, but the audience was aroused, nonetheless, by what they saw as sensitive portrayals of sadness, hunger, and lust. And they praised the actor’s range!

What’s the big idea?

Of course, your marketing video is probably not trying to achieve its emotional effect with Bolshevist film editing techniques. But you are trying to create ideas and positive feelings.

This is not the same as communicating a “message.” A typical technology solution “messaging document” starts out with a lot of context, like this:

Automation is critically important to IT departments. Automation standardizes and simplifies day-to-day operations, reduces costs, and increases agility. Effective automation can only be achieved with Enterprise Integration.

This is all correct and clear, and may contain the Big Idea, but it is clearly not filmable. Even as dialog between movie stars, it would be unwatchable.

Finding the filmable ideas


5 things your B2B video script needs to avoid

B2B video script

Some things that look good on the page of a B2B video script can slow down the pace of your video and confuse the viewer.

A one-minute B2B video script should contain about 125 words. Any more and it will start to sound like a list of side effects at the end of a pharmaceutical commercial.

Assume that the first 30 seconds are more important than the second 30 seconds. So the first 60 words are crucial, and they need to be very, very carefully chosen. Here are some thing not to do, especially at the outset.

Non-visual ideas

Anything that can’t be pictured is a big drag on the communicative power of video — because showing is so much faster than telling.

Non-visual ideas include nebulous concepts like holistic, buzzwords like transformative, even down-to-earth abstractions like “best practices.” If you can’t sketch it on a piece of paper, you’re probably going to end up having to say the word and spell it out on the screen at the same time. Not very informative. You may have to resort to a visual cliché like a magic wand or a light bulb. Such images can be fun to look at, but they are not persuasive.


It’s pretty much impossible to show something not happening or not causing a problem. Even a comparison like  “it’s not over-engineered (like other solutions)” — which can be visualized — is not as compelling as visuals depicting how your solution is a good fit for its purpose. Besides, the more you accentuate what’s positive about your solution, the less likely you’ll be telling the audience something they already know.