Picking up a camera and filming or getting straight into animation software is what most amateurs do when they get into videography and production. Problem is, these typically turn out bad for the end-user because it’s simply not story-focused.

One of the worst things you can do when developing a new corporate video is to build without a storyboard or script that’s geared towards making the viewer take the action you want.

For example, if you want them to sign up for your email list, there are ways to prime them to do just that. If you want them to take action in other ways, they’ll need more information.

Here are some ways to structure video content that even beginners can use.

1. Focus on Benefits, not Features

Similar to other communication faux pas, videos are not exempt from this issue. Over-focusing on features give the viewers very little reason to act on the information provided, it just simply isn’t compelling.

If you’re trying to sell HR Software for example:
Don’t make the focus about the ‘features’ of your product. Instead of having a long dialogue about features like Attendance Tracking, Automated Payroll and such, focus on what these features enable your customers to do.

People buy outcomes, and when you clearly articulate this in your videos, you’ll have an upper hand versus your competitors.

For each feature, we can identify what the main benefits are:
a) Attendance Tracking – Ensure your employees come to the office on-time
b) Automated Payroll – Generate payroll documents every month in one click
c) Leaves & Claims – Have your employee manage their own leaves with self-service capabilities

Your benefit statement or messaging is most commonly tied to these 5 things:

I) Pleasure

These can come in many different forms. For a manager trying a software – it can mean they are relieved of their duties due to higher efficiency. Identifying what gives your customer ‘pleasure’ can boost the persuasive factor of your solutions. These are usually tied to emotions as most people making purchasing decisions emotionally.

II) Increased Profit

This benefit applies more towards small-business owners where their bottom-line is to profit. Showcasing social proof of return-on-investment and developing a credible brand via association is a quick way to get buy-in from people who appeal to this benefit.

III) Ease

This should come as no surprise – humans are born to be lazy and our lizard brains avoid any form of danger or fatigue. Solutions that simplify the lives of your customers tend to sell really well if it saves them time and effort in managing their day-to-day.

IV) Pain Relief

Accurately identifying your customer’s biggest pain points is a great way to alleviate pain with your offerings. Humans are naturally pre-disposed to be loss averse and will do almost anything to avoid painful experiences. In your videos, be sure to illustrate your customer’s scenario of pain and show how you solve their problems with your offerings.

V) Savings

Not a crowd favorite, but savings have been used for hundreds of years to coerce customers. Holidays like Black Friday are a testament to the success of perceived savings. Instead of using this concept to compete on price, instead, think about how to increase the perceived value of your offerings before offering a savings element into the final price.

Identifying benefits lets you speak to your audience on a personal level and tap on their emotional triggers. Stop trying to rationalize and start using benefits to sell.

Crazy Egg does a great job at this with its explainer video:

2. Use the Hero’s Journey

When you run out of ideas to structure video content, move back into the tried-and-tested structure that has been used for almost all the blockbuster movies you’ve ever watched. Companies like Disney, Pixar etc, use it. It’s the Hero’s Journey.

starwars hero's journey

Here’s an example from Star Wars:
a) Ordinary World
Luke Skywalker begins his journey as a farmer and his character is introduced to us in a state of comfort and without threat.

b) Call To Adventure
Luke finds a message stored in a weird-looking robot by Princess Leia that calls out to someone else to save her. Luke is not the one addressed, but he decides whether to take the next step.

c) Refusal of the Call
Luke refuses the call to start the journey and is filled with doubt of his own capabilities. Unfortunately, he returns to his farm to find his Uncle and Aunt murdered and the farm set ablaze.

d) Meeting The Mentor
He meets Obi Wan Kenobi and decides to learn the way of the Jedi because there was nothing else left for him back home.

e) Crossing the Threshold
Luke leaves home and heads to the spaceport – symbolic of him leaving his environment of comfort and all that he knows into something brand new.

f) Test, Allies and Enemies
Luke meets more allies like Han Solo and Chewbacca and makes some enemies along the way.

g) Approach to Inmost Cave
The team heads towards Death Star – a place that represents conflict and danger, an almost seemingly insurmountable obstacle.

h) Ordeal
Now the conflict begins where the hero (Luke) is tested by using his skills to overcome an enemy. Luke loses a friend, but saves the Princess.

i) Reward
Luke emerges a different person. He has grown and changed.

j) The Road Back
The hero heads back to the world that he came from. This then paves the way towards a larger conflict to destroy the Death Star.

k) Resurrection
The hero now faces an ultimatum – if he loses, everything is at stake. The odds are against him – but this is a setup for the final conflict. Luke succeeds and has completely transformed.

l) Return with Elixir
Luke is no longer the same man he was on the farm – he chooses to explore the galaxy and embraces the world outside of his own.

Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey has seen a few iterations over the years, but the constant is conflict. In any video you might create, you’ll want to have the element of conflict and resolution peppered throughout the storyboard. Using a hero-character can also be beneficial to helping your viewers ‘step into the shoes’ of the persona.

It’s worked for almost all the great movies in existence, and it will work for you too. Here’s an example of a video that uses concepts from the Hero’s Journey for its script:

3. Use the AIDA Framework for Marketing

One of the most ubiquitous communication frameworks used among marketers is the AIDA framework, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.

This is used in almost all forms of marketing collateral, from ad funnels to landing pages. It also can be used to enhance your video structure.

How you can apply this to videos is to:
a) Have an Attention-grabbing scene upfront where you talk about a pain point your audiences face.
b) Inspire Interest by slowly addressing the pain-points with an intriguing fact or product offering.
c) Manufacture Desire by showing proof that your product has worked for others and paint a picture of a better life/reality after interfacing with your solution.
d) Lastly, get them to take Action with clear steps on what to do after watching the video.

It’s a simple video structure but using these triggers to slowly hook the attention of your viewers and setting them up for the call-to-action is one of the most effective ways to get buy-in from your videos.

Here’s an example of a video that requires almost immediate-response using the AIDA framework as a base structure:

4. Include an elevator pitch upfront if you’re selling a product

If viewer doesn’t ‘get’ what you’re saying in the first 30 seconds, you’re going to have a problem keeping their eyes glued to the screen. Often, when explaining a product, they need to quickly understand the value proposition and of course what it does in a quick, punchy summary.

‘Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.’– Albert Einstein

Albert was right, the problem with most videos is that they aren’t simple enough. The ones that try to often end up empty and lose its value.

If you’re selling a product, you’ll want to immediately grab attention with a strong benefit-driven elevator pitch for your solution. Instead of rambling on for a good 30 seconds before getting to the essence of your pitch, you’ll sometimes want to have a short one-liner upfront to describe your solution and its benefits to the viewer.

Have a look at this software introduction video that quickly gets to the gist of the product:

5. Use simple, conversational words

Using only industry jargon to a non-technical viewer audience is a sure-fire way to lose their attention with immediacy. The key to captivating viewers upfront is to have any dialogue or words in simple language that even a kindergartener can understand.

If your viewers aren’t technical experts – there is no reason for you to include jargon in your videos. If you’re selling services to small-business owners, you almost always want to be as easy to understand as possible.

In some instances, videos aren’t meant to sell products, but merely to prime the viewer to eventually make the purchasing decision after speaking to a salesperson for a demo in person. You simply can’t go wrong by being clear with your messaging when you structure video content.

Have a look at this video that uses simple language – almost to comedic relief to acquire new customers:

There you have it, some proven and effective ways to structure a video from scratch. These are just scratching the surface of the considerations we have here at Motionsauce when we develop new scripts and storyboards for our clients.

Videos can be a powerful way to prime your target market to do what you want, so be strategic and be extra deliberate when putting a script together.

Good luck!

To summarize:
1. Focus on Benefits, Not Features
2. Use the Hero’s Journey
3. Use the AIDA Framework
4. Incude an Elevator Pitch
5. Use Simple Language

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Putting epic videos together for clients to drive business results is my passion. I started out as an actor at MediaCorp before getting into video production. Past clients include Huone Events Hotel, Oracle , Trigen