Tips for Writing Explainer Videos

Last year, we helped a client with text for a few explainer videos.

When they sent the draft text to us, they said they needed it trimmed to under 250 words to fit a 60-second video. Unfortunately, the text they sent was nearly 400 words.

They were trying to fit a lot in. They introduced two characters, explained their positions and their problems, introduced the company’s product, and then went on to detail every feature and benefit.

It was difficult to do, but we managed to cut the text nearly in half. However, it was not optimal, because they began with a concept that did not suit a limited time frame of 60 seconds.

According to marketer Neil Patel, the typical rule of thumb in the industry is 150 words per minute. This is so that you don’t sound too rushed as you’re speaking. If there’s too much information, your video could come across as lacking focus.

If you are thinking of doing explainer videos for your business, you must keep in mind that you cannot approach them the same way you approach writing a blog post or a newsletter article.

Here are our tips for an explainer video, based on our experiences with clients.

1. Decide what you want the video to accomplish. Do you want people to visit the website for more info? Do you want them to download an app? Do you want them to sign up for a newsletter? If the goal is to walk people through your product, you should understand that you might not be able to accomplish this in 30 seconds.

2. Give yourself the amount of time you need to do it right. Don’t start out thinking “I want a 30-second explainer video” and then proceed to create a whole scenario with backstory, expecting to also walk people through your product and all its benefits. If you have a budget and a time limit, you need to really narrow what the video will talk about.

3. If you have different types of users, you might consider doing a separate video for each – especially if the features you’ll be talking about are very different depending on the user. For example, perhaps you have one set of features/services for clients who are solopreneurs, but another set of features/services for clients who are large firms. Trying to fit all the info about both types of services into one video may make it long and unfocused.

4. Don’t try to mention every single feature or benefit. This is a little different from the point above. You may be tempted to write about all the different aspects of your product or service and all the various benefits it has for customers. Unfortunately, you could end up sounding like one of those “But wait… there’s more!” cliché TV ads. Focus on the key features and benefits to catch people’s attention and get them interested in learning more.

5. Use your brand language (such as key messages or terms) and be sure you don’t slip into clichés that make you indistinguishable from competitors, such as “Our revolutionary solution helps you grow your business!”. (If you need help getting your brand language together, our Branding for Beginners book can help.)

6. Don’t forget the call-to-action at the end! Looking back at the first tip here, what did you decide was your goal for the video? Don’t forget to tell people what you want them to do!

We hope you find these tips useful!