Four Little Words That Can Increase the Fee of Your Next Copywriting Project

The first time I used these four words with a client, I was shocked by how easy it was to almost double the size of my project.

Since, then it's worked without fail. They always respond with something along the lines of, "Yes, of course. We need that, too."

Before I give you the four magic words, let me give you a little background and explain why these four words evoke such an automatic response.

It has to do with the fastest growing niche market online …

Video marketing.

eMarketer reports that U.S. Internet users viewed 12.7 billion online videos during November 2008, up 33% from the previous year.

They also put online video viewers at more than three-quarters of U.S. Internet users, and estimate that percentage will rise to 88% by 2012.

That's 75% of all Internet users viewing videos.

Who's creating all these videos? It's mostly individuals, although a growing number of businesses are also moving to video marketing.

Unfortunately, the majority of the videos are home-grown, poorly produced, and sloppily written. And yet, they are viewed — sometimes by thousands of people.

This presents a tremendous opportunity for copywriters to step in and use our skills to produce quality marketing videos.

In fact, I've discovered that video marketing is an easy add-on to my existing web projects. All I really need are my four magic words:

"What about using video?"

Talk about getting a quick head-nodding response! There's no hard-sell, and not a shred of doubt in their minds that video marketing is a requirement.

Here's What You Need to Know About Video Marketing to Get Started …

There are three primary components of creating an online video. I typically do the first and third steps and subcontract out the middle step. With a little training, the right tools, and some practice, you can actually do all three.

The Three Components of Creating Online Videos

  • Writing the video script
  • Producing the video
  • Promoting the video

This article focuses on the place where you as a copywriter can have the greatest impact — writing the video script.

How to Write a Video Script

You know as a copywriter that the headline and lead constitute about 80% of the sales process. It's no different with videos. If they're not hooked in the first 10-15 seconds of the video, you've lost them.

Just as with any promotion, you'll want to start your video with a powerful benefit-driven headline and lead. The speaker's credentials will come later.

There are three main types of marketing videos you'll be asked to write.

  • A short "talking head" video (usually less than 5 minutes) in which the speaker entices the viewer to take a specific action at the end of the video, such as opt-in to a list.
  • A short (3-5 minute) text or animation video with the same intentions as the talking head video.
  • A longer "value add" video intended to offer the viewer something of real, tangible value in the moment. These training-type videos are anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes in length. These videos are almost always a combination of text and animation and rarely the talking head type.

Tips For ALL Video Types

Whether you're writing the talking head script or the text/animation script, do just as you would do with any promotion you're writing:

  • Start with a "big idea" …
  • Write a solid headline and lead that gets them hooked …
  • Maintain the "golden thread" throughout the script …
  • And close with a solid offer or, more typically, a call-to-action.

All the elements of good copy are still there, but they are very much compressed. The key is to offer a compelling promise and "unwrap" the promise through the video. If they don't get to your offer, there's no reason to shoot the video.

Remember that unlike with a written promotion, the viewer can't skim or skip ahead. You've got them from beginning to end, so your copy has to really flow and provide good reasons for them to stay with you.

Talking Head Videos

In the talking head video, the spokesperson is shot against a "green screen." The green screen (literally a light green colored screen) allows the video production crew to digitally place ANY backdrop behind the speaker. With the right software, you can even produce a video in which the speaker "walks" onto the computer screen from the edge (called "Transparent Video Effects")!

With the talking head video script, you also need to consider these factors:

  • Create frequent transitions between ideas or thoughts. This helps in the video production in several ways. It makes it easier for the person being filmed to stop, take a sip of water, or pause to memorize the next piece of the script. Talking head videos always work better if the script is memorized, not read.
  • Use short, snappy sentences. Online video viewers have incredibly short attention spans. The bullet above, for example, is WAY too long for video.
  • Write a draft, then cut out about 50% of what you wrote. It takes about two times longer to read a script out loud than it does to read it silently. After you write the script, time yourself reading it out loud (with pauses). You'll be surprised that your 30-second script takes 50 seconds to read out loud!

Here's a special tip: Those frequent transitions you write are perfect for the person being filmed. He or she stops at each pause for a few seconds, memorizes the next piece, and goes back to the filming.

The production crew simply zooms in or zooms out at each transition so that it appears to the viewer as a seamless production. They won't see that the speaker is perhaps standing in a slightly different place.

Text and Animation Videos

The second form of video uses only text and animation. At its simplest, the video is little more than a set of PowerPoint slides. More complicated videos use "transition effects" (scrolling, fly-ins, etc.) to flip from scene to scene or slide to slide.

With the right software, it's not hard to create fun animations which can be added to a video. Plus, you can purchase ready-to-go animations and short video clips online at www.istockphoto.com.

Short text/animation marketing videos are generally 5 minutes or less. Any longer, and your viewer may never get to the close.

When writing a script for a text/animation script, pay attention to these factors:

  • What's on the screen is the essence of what's being spoken. The actual script enhances the words on the screen. Think of the words or images as the "picture" you are cleverly placing in your viewer's mind. The spoken words are the backdrop that reinforce and enhance the feelings you want to evoke.
  • Think of everything (words or images) you put on the screen as subheads. They continue the flow of the conversation and keep the viewer engaged.
  • Vary the on-screen message. Make bold points. Ask questions. Say things that get the viewer nodding his head. All the while, the voice script is reinforcing the message (the big idea) and continuing the golden thread until the close.

Writing Longer Videos

The longer videos are frequently used to "extend the free line" or offer "results in advance." These are Internet marketing terms which are sometimes used interchangeably.

The "extend the free line" concept is simply where you provide something of real, tangible value to the viewer to gain his or her trust.

The "results in advance" concept is similar — you give the viewer something he or she can do within the next few days that provides tangible results. Again, this builds trust.

I've found that the actual video format for these longer videos is far less important than the value of the content being provided.

I've seen amazing videos that were little more than pictures of a "mind map" on the screen, with no special effects to enhance the viewing experience. They are PURE verbal content, and I've watched them with rapt attention from beginning to end.

This is good news for copywriters. I've created complete scripts for some clients for 30-40 minute training videos. As a copywriter, I find that I know far more about how to convey a message to my audience than most of my clients.

If you can write a long promotion, then you can easily create a solid training video that your clients will love.

The Bottom Line

Web TV Enterprise reports that spending for online video marketing will increase by 50% in the next year. And comScore Video Metrix service says that the total number of videos viewed online grew 47% in the past year.

It's not hard to sell your clients on the idea of creating video. In fact, in the online world, videos are rapidly replacing "White Papers" as the preferred method of promoting a product or service.

And, video is important for your own business. You can create your own marketing videos, as well as your own video-based products.

The bottom line is that video is an EASY add-on to your business. It's also a great niche in which you can start your copywriting career.

How to Learn the Tricks of the Trade

I've spent hundreds of dollars on online video training programs, and there's only ONE program I know that is specifically written for copywriters: Video Marketing for Profit.

To be perfectly honest, I'd prefer to keep Video Marketing for Profit a secret. I feel like the miner who inadvertently discovered a massively huge swath of gold in a hidden valley.

Nobody knows the size of this market, but when I look at the dollars being spent on poorly written videos, my heart starts to flutter.

If I were you, I'd get my hands on Video Marketing for Profit as soon as possible. I'd go through the program a couple of times, then try the four magic words the next time you're talking with one of your clients … "What about using video?"

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: October 5, 2009

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