Scripts for Small Businesses: How to Write a Promo Video

So you’re a small business owner looking to market yourself, and you’ve decided to create a promotional video.

First off, great idea.

Video is absolutely necessary for modern small business marketing, so you’ve made the right choice.

Now that you’ve decided to make a video, you have so many more decisions to make: what style to use, who to hire to shoot it, how to write it, and so much more.

And while I can’t answer every question you might have (because I’m a person who needs to eat and stuff), I will try to answer at least one in this post: how do I write a script for a promo video?

Do I Even Need A Script?

Short answer: yes. You need a script.

Long answer: while it’s quite tempting to throw caution to the wind and just pitch your product on a live video with no preparation, it’s a much better idea to have at least a loose script that will guide your videography process.

Does your script need to be Oscar-worthy? No, probably not. But the better your script, the better your promo video. And the better your video, the better your marketing will go. And the better your marketing...you get it.

All jokes aside, you definitely need a script. The writing process will help you brainstorm new and fun ideas for videos. Plus, when you work with a freelance videographer (like me) who charges by the hour (like I do), having a script will save you both time and money in production.

And that’s good news for everyone.

How to Write A Promo Script

I know what you’re thinking right now.

You have an image of a perfectly formatted, industry-standard screenplay floating in your head, and you probably had at least one thought along the lines of “I don’t know how to write that.”

That’s okay. You don’t have to.

When I write up a script that I want to send to a producer in the hopes of getting it made into a movie, I make sure that it’s written in a perfect format.

For a promo script that won’t be read by anyone outside of the production, you don’t have to be quite as stingy.

For promotional videos, the content is way more important than the formatting of the script.

Your first step, then, is to brainstorm your video concepts.

There are several types of videos you can create for your small business (I even wrote a post with more detail here).

Your main goal with brainstorming is to decide what kind of video you want to make, and then start throwing out some concepts for the script.

For example, let's say you're a boutique selling handmade clothing.

For your video, you decide that you want to do a behind-the-scenes look at how the clothing gets made.

Conceptually, this sounds like something that can be done without a script, but I can guarantee that any promotional video will be 100% easier to produce if you have a script, no matter what kind of video it is.

For brainstorming this behind-the-scenes look, you can start to toss up some concepts.

As with every brainstorming session, don't worry about having bad ideas. No ideas are bad ideas when you're in this phase, you're just trying to get your thoughts onto paper at this point.

So after you put some ideas together, you have this list:

Showing the journey of one piece of clothing, from start to finish

A day in the life running your business

Insider tips on what a customer should know when buying clothes

Now that you have your brainstorm list, it’s time to start thinking about writing your script.

To begin, you pick one (or eventually, all) of your brainstormed ideas.

For the example, I’ll run with “A Day in the Life,” a pretty standard yet impactful promo video concept that helps you build rapport with your customers.

For a video like this, your script probably won’t look like a full-fledged video script where every word is scripted out line by line (although it absolutely could be if you want it to be). Your script will probably work out to be more of a list of bullet points and shots that you plan ahead of time to make sure you achieve them.

Start With An Outline

As with everything that you write, for a video script, you should start with an outline.

An outline just makes it easier to structure your video on the overview level to ensure that you’re showing everything that you want to before you get bogged down with the details.

When it comes to promotional video production, you want to focus on getting the most important information to your customers, whatever it might be.

When you start with an outline, make a point to break down your video section-by-section, then get more granular with each section and outline the structures within.

For instance, back to our day-in-the-life example.

For starters, an general structural outline would look something like this:

Opening Up Shop

Serving Our Customers

After-Hours: Designing and Creating Our Products

Once you have this general structure, you have an idea of what your video will look like. Now, you can start to flesh out more of the underlying details.

Opening Up Shop

Checking Inventory

Making the Shop Look Good

How I Prepare for the Day

And so on. By structuring your outline like this first, you save yourself a lot of headache down the road, because you’ve prepared yourself for the next steps that are coming.

Every part of the scriptwriting process is meant to help you be creative and innovative while focusing on making everything as easy as possible.

The whole point of this is to plan ahead and give yourself the time and room you need to make something truly special.

Filling In Your Script

Once you’re past the outline stage, it’s time to start getting into the nitty-gritty.

Now, you don’t need to write your exact words in your script, as I said before. But it’s good to get pretty specific into the details for a couple of reasons.

First, you aren’t an actor (well, probably, if you are, then good for you).

As a fellow non-actor, it always catches me by surprise how, once the camera turns on, I’m out of words to say.

My mind is just...blank.

All those great pieces of marketing that I had thought up in my office three days ago are just out the window. Gone. Lost forever.

UNLESS: I have them written down.

In all my scripts (aside from screenplays, where I do, in fact, write it word-for-word), I continue the cascading bullet points into my details.

These details can be anything from specific products or features I want to mention, specific phrases I want to use, or certain shots I want to have in the video.

If you think back to your college public speaking class, this is essentially just your basic speech outline. But instead of nervously gripping a notecard to give a speech about the ethics of shouting profanities at waterfowl, you’re talking about something you’re probably pretty passionate about: your business.

From here, the process is easy. Keep going until you’ve hit every detail you want to hit, every note you want to make.

And then you have a first draft!

A Caveat: Working With A Videographer

Now, I do have to note that, if you’re working with a videographer (like me) who writes scripts (which I do), you don’t have to do this process alone.

You can work with your videographer to put together the script to your liking, or you can totally throw the responsibility on them and have them write the whole thing.

Either way, you’ll have someone experienced with you to guide you along the way, which is incredibly helpful.

I still believe, however, that the notes in this blog post are important to remember, even if you’re working with a videographer.

Having some knowledge about the process will give you confidence as you start working through what you want your video to look like, or what parts of your business you want to showcase.

Hiring on a videographer is great because many of us are full-blown creative director-type people, so you don’t have to worry about making sure you have a fireproof concept or a stellar script.

We can help you with that.

But if you’re informed and educated (and excited) about the process, you’ll be able to voice your desires more clearly and get the final result that you hoped for from the start.

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Visual artist. Multimedia maestro. Professional goofball. Writing about the things that capture my imagination.

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TJ Birnbaum

TJ Birnbaum

Visual artist. Multimedia maestro. Professional goofball. Writing about the things that capture my imagination.

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