The skills required for shooting and editing a professional video are generally recognized by most people as something not easily emulated without training, experience and professional equipment.
This does not mean there are not examples of fantastic work done by amateurs using home video options or even their phones. For the most part, the marketing professionals we work with know the value of having a professional team to create the best visual representation of their brands, even with the accessibility of quality equipment to anyone who wants to try it out.
But it doesn’t mean that businesses aren’t always looking for more ways to save money when making their ads and video reels. Despite widespread acceptance of the value of a professional camera crew and director, a lot of people ask themselves the question, "Well, should I write my own script and save that money for scriptwriting, or should I let you write my script?"
This might have something to do with two common sense facts:
- Everyone knows how to write.
- Pencils have been around in their current form since 1560.
It definitely seems a simper challenge than deciding to take responsibility for filming, shot selection and editing of a video. But writing your own script? The question appears to be less obvious to most people.
Scriptwriting 101 Is a Familiar Course
While there are pros and cons regarding the value of doing the scriptwriting yourself, I stand firmly in the belief that you should let your video team's copywriter write that script. Why? When you take on the scriptwriting responsibilities for your own Brand or product, your mind is filled with the jargon of not only your industry but the internal jargon of your business or even your special department as well. This means the terms you use, their internal definitions, acronyms, and context are all types of references that your viewer won’t be privy to. Even the most self-aware employee won’t be fully aware of every nuance of what people will understand outside of the four walls of your office.
The result is that you will most likely end up making a video for the people who made the product, and NOT for the people who are going to buy the product.
Selling a product to the rest of your team that you made is easy. But how often are we the “ideal customer” for our own products?
That's the difference you get when you leverage the services of a good copywriter. A trained copywriter approaches your product as an outsider – exactly the point of view you want to create an objective assessment of your product, campaign or idea. They work across many types of industries and Brands, and will often have seen a lot of research from other clients that give them a deeper understanding of the different types of audiences out there and their behavior and preferences. Basically, they may be better equipped to get into the mindset of your target audience than you are. They can help tee up what you're going to say. They can also hold you back if you are getting too “enthusiastic.”
The Reality of DIY Scriptwriting
We will often get a call from a prospective client which goes something like: "We want to make a two-minute video about our product." They then send us a five-minute script all about their amazing product. It's completely natural for someone who has spent months or years working on a product or a campaign to feel they have a connection with it that gives them a leg up on any outsider who is just seeing it for the first time. But it’s a different view for the potential viewer, who is also seeing your work for the first time and would be overwhelmed trying to digest the enthusiasm of the product team put into words. Because we are, in one way or another, all writers, it is hard for people to know the skills, insights, and tools that a copywriter can employ in writing a script. It’s almost a form of the science behind getting it to the right length of time. We all know that commercials can be 60, 30, 15 or even 5 seconds long. But even when you're dealing with web video and an irregular length, you want to be right on time, and you need a copywriter to help you get there.
All of this, however, doesn’t mean that our enthusiasm and ideas are not a welcome part of the process. In fact, it’s important that scripts are reviewed and that there is feedback along the way. The nature of a creative partnership like that with your agency is all about getting a combination of those “outside eyes” and the expertise of those close to the business to refine the message to perform for you.
Even in cases where you do need to find ways to save on our budget, simply write the first draft and send that to a copywriter. They can then revise it from your first draft and describe things in a way that's going to help lead the viewer to drink the water, so to speak.
Prepping Pros for Premium Performance
One more thing worth adding about scriptwriting is that often people will say, "Great. I'm going to let you write my script. Here is 50 hours of content about what we want to say, and we're making a two-minute video." We don't recommend doing that to your copywriter. Ideally, you will give them a real brief like you would for a campaign for your ad agency or any other marketing effort. A “brief” could mean sending them a very succinct deck, a brochure, a website, a couple of things to help get them get the information they need to be able to write that video. Don't inundate them with too many resources so that you are paying them to spend their hour writing rather than researching. Do you have an idea in need of an outside set of eyes? Or a video story you want to share with us? Feel free to reach out; we are happy to help.
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