We’ve all been there before.
You’ve got a great idea. This lead gen video is going to be the next Dropbox success story.
You talk to your video team. You write the script. Everyone is excited. You shoot the video. World-domination, an IPO and/or a promotion are mere frames away. You launch the video. That upload click has never felt so good.
Then the crickets start. And when you watch the video you realize… “this is nothing like what I had in mind!!”
Shoulda made a storyboard.
Some people think a storyboard has got to be a Pixar-level work of art in and of itself. Or that you’ve got to be able to draw or be creative to make a good storyboard. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here’s a simple process we use to make storyboards so there’s less of a chance of botching production.
Storyboards (unfortunately) aren’t magic. If you don’t know what you’re going to say, there’s no saving it.
There are a few common outlines you can use to get started. Here are two every video marketer should have in their tool belt:
Stories from Star Wars to Dropbox’s legendary explainer have harnessed this framework to make high-growth videos.
It goes like this:
Cheesy infomercials have made BILLIONS with this framework.
The idea is when there’s a pressing problem you don’t want to let up on the pain, but keep pressing forward so it’s clear how much they need your solution.
Here’s a breakdown:
My software of choice is Google Presentation. One because it’s free, but two because it’s familiar and has almost zero roadblocks to getting started.
If you’ve got some paper, a cell phone camera/scanner and a Google account you’re ready to go.
If you’re looking to get a bit more fancy you can take a look at StoryboardThat.
Inside a two minute video you may not have a ton of scenes, but there will always be a few critical frames.
Every marketing storyboard should have frames for:
The main goal in the first frame is to create a sense of mystery. If you’re working on a lead gen video, this is doubly important since a visitor is normally trading their contact info to scratch the itch of their curiosity.
This is the frame that should get your viewer’s head nodding (or qualify out the ones who shouldn’t be watching anyway). If you have any dark or depressing frames, this is where they’ll go.
My favorite frame of all. This is where your marketing chops come into play. You can shave major time off an explanation with a well-thought-out solution frame. Binge watch the explanation section of some late night infomercials to see this one done exceptionally well.
Without this you might as well go home. This is a nitty gritty frame, with the most important factor being clarity. Is your URL easy to read? Did viewers see where to click? Does your info stay on screen long enough?
One important note: some frames are important to script well but don’t really need their own storyboard. For example, benefit statements are critical to a script, but as long as your wording is right, your imagery may not be as essential.
Nearly every video I make starts as a doodle. Ironically, I can’t draw but it doesn’t take complicated images to get the idea across. My go-to images? Stick figures for people, and labeled rectangles for objects.
Some of the keys you’re going for are:
The main value of storyboards is being able to run through your script and feel how your video is going to go BEFORE you’ve spent the time and money on production.
So fire up your script, pull out your key frames and do a dry run. This is the step where the heaviest tweaking and revisions will come in and by doing it at the storyboard stage you’ll be saving yourself time and money.
John Lasseter, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer puts it well.
“I will never let something go into production unless it is working fantastic in that version with the still drawings. Because no matter all the great animation you can do will never save a bad story. We will work and rework and rework and rework these reels — sometimes thirty times before we let it go into production.”
While it seems like a little more work upfront, dropping in a storyboard step can save major time in production.
If you have any tips of your own, please share them below!
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