“Standout startup explainer video.” Say that one quickly a few times. While it may be a bit of a tongue-twister, creating a standout startup explainer video doesn’t have to be as hard as saying those words!  

Is your startup considering investing in an explainer video this year? You know; those punchy videos that explain your product or service in like 60-90 seconds? Explainer videos are a great way to pitch what you do and introduce your start-up to the world. Like they say, you only get one chance to make a great first impression so here are 8 tips for creating a standout startup explainer video. One that clearly describes what you do so you can turn those prospects into customers.

Tip 1: Plan for success

Before even beginning the process of writing a script, you need to do a little planning and strategizing. Below are some of the questions we use in our creative brief, or pre-production questionnaire as we call it.

  • Why are you having this video created and what do you hope to accomplish?
  • Briefly describe what your company, product or service does:
  • Who are your main competitors?  Please list website url’s for reference if possible.
  • What separates you from your competitors? What makes you unique (or what will make you unique when you launch)?
  • Take us inside the mind of your target customer. Please describe them not only in demographic terms but also in terms of what motivates them, what keeps them up at night, what barriers/”pain points” they might currently be facing that could lead them to need a product or service like yours, etc.
  • How is your brand making their life better?   How do you address the above-mentioned barriers and pain points of your target, especially in comparison to other offerings out there?
  • What do you want the main takeaways to be after people watch this video (don’t list every single point that may be covered, instead list the key takeaways that you need to stick with people after seeing this)?
  • Any “do’s and don’ts” in terms of the video?   E.g. tonality to either use or avoid, certain buzzwords to focus on or avoid, etc.?
  • Do you have call-to-action that you’d like to include (eg call, click here, sign up…)?
  • Any brand tagline or slogan that you’d like to include at the end of the video?
  • Do you have a specific running time/length in mind (60 seconds, 90 seconds etc.)?
  • Do you have a preference male vs. female for the voice over?  Any accent preference (other than American)?
  • Are there any videos or styles that you would like to emulate in this production?   Please provide specific links.  Note: the links could be from either Gisteo’s portfolio or from other videos you’ve seen online.

It’s important to think about your business at a high level and focus on what really matters for the video you’re creating. Whether you’re working with Gisteo, some other production company or doing it yourself, answering key questions like these should be your starting point.

Tip 2: The script is (almost) everything

A well-written script is the key to a standout startup explainer video. It’s the blueprint for your video and the foundation upon which everything is built. Here’s the dirty little secret: a great script can work even with so-so visuals. Great visuals, on the other hand, won’t save a lousy script.  Some people fall in love with a visual style they’re seen, which is fine, but visuals are secondary as we’ll discuss in a bit.  Your first and most important task is to craft a compelling story!

A well-written script is the key to a standout startup explainer video. It’s the blueprint for your video and the foundation upon which everything is built. Here’s the dirty little secret: a great script can work even with so-so visuals. Great visuals, on the other hand, won’t save a lousy script.  Some people fall in love with a visual style they’re seen, which is fine, but visuals are secondary as we’ll discuss in a bit.  Your first and most important task is to craft a compelling story!

Tip 3: Keep it concise

French mathematician Blaise Pascal once wrote, “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter” and that’s the irony when it comes to scripts for startup explainer videos. It can actually be harder to make it short and sweet (60-90 seconds) than to produce a longer, more bloated video. Attention spans are short and there is a lot of debate about the perfect length when it comes to explainer videos, but you can almost never go wrong with a tight, succinct script that trims out the fat and gets to the gist quickly.

French mathematician Blaise Pascal once wrote, “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter” and that’s the irony when it comes to scripts for startup explainer videos. It can actually be harder to make it short and sweet (60-90 seconds) than to produce a longer, more bloated video. Attention spans are short and there is a lot of debate about the perfect length when it comes to explainer videos, but you can almost never go wrong with a tight, succinct script that trims out the fat and gets to the gist quickly.

Tip 4: Simplicity is bliss

There are a lot of ways to structure your script but, most of the time, keeping ti simple and straightforward is the way to go. The tried and true problem-solution-benefit structure is always a winner.

Problem: set up and acknowledge the pain your customers are having.

Solution: introduce your product or service as the best way to alleviate this pain.

Benefits: beyond features, focus on the true end benefits that will matter to your customers. Like they used to say in advertising, you’re not selling mattresses, you’re selling a good night’s sleep. That’s the end benefit so don’t forget to stress what’s in it for them.

Tip 5: Use a professional voice talent

There’s nothing that screams “amateur video” more than a schlocky voice over recorded with a bad microphone. There’s too much talent available at reasonable rates these days on sites like Voices.com for you to not use a pro for your startup explainer video. Spend a little more and use a pro. It’s worth every penny.

Tip 6: Humor can be your friend

Dollar Shave Club: it’s one of the best standout startup explainer videos of all-time and it’s funny as hell. Your brand doesn’t need to be Dollar Shave Club but having some fun with your script and video can be a great way to connect with your audience. A little humor can go a long way as long as it’s not forced and it doesn’t get in the way of your main message.

Tip 6: Visuals matter but maybe less than you think

You’re a startup hoping to make a splash in the market. You’re not Pixar trying to produce a box-office smash hit. Like having a professional voice over, polished and appealing images are indeed important…but they’re still secondary to your script.

Simple visuals can still be effective. In fact, too much “eye candy” might even distract viewers from your pitch. Plus, the more elaborate the visuals, the higher the budget so you need to evaluate how much you want to spend on your video and if all that razzle-dazzle is really worth it.

Tip 7: The right music can make a difference

Any standout startup explainer video includes a good music track to set the tone, evoke emotions and spice up the video. Just like with voice overs, there’s no excuse anymore to not use professional music tracks because there is so much great, affordable music to choose from on sites like PremiumBeat.com.

Tip 8: Consider using a professional explainer video service

You can do a standout startup explainer video on your own. In fact, if you follow the tips above, you’ll have a solid chance at success. Using a professional company like Gisteo, however, can make your life a whole lot easier. We’ve worked with hundreds of start-ups over the years and we offer diverse styles at a fair price.

If you want help creating a standout startup video, contact us and we’ll set up a time to discuss.

Stephen Conley

Stephen Conley

Stephen is Gisteo's Founder & Creative Director. After a long career in advertising (a way more dysfunctional industry than even Mad Men portrays), Stephen launched Gisteo in 2011 and the rest is history. He has an MBA in International Business from Thunderbird and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he did indeed inhale, albeit in moderation.

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