What's the Best Video Storytelling Approach?

  • Harry Hayes

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These masks are well known icons for theater and storytelling.

No Matter Which Video Storytelling Approach You Use, the Goal Is To Always Be Authentic and Relatable.

What’s the best video storytelling approach? Should you just turn on the camera and let people talk? Load a script for them onto a teleprompter? Or should you hire professional actors and leave the performances to them?

As I’ve written many times before, there’s more than one way to tell a story. So whether you’re scripted or unscripted, using actors or real people, the goal remains the same.

Communicating your selling point and representing your brand in an honest, believable way.

The Authenticity Trap

One of the biggest buzz words of the past ten years, especially when talking about marketing, is Authenticity.

It basically means being real and genuine. True to who you are as a brand.

But some marketers have pushed the concept even further. In their thinking, authenticity means not looking like an ad, period. People speaking on camera should have uhs and ums and awkward pauses. Anything scripted is overproduced.

Of course, I disagree.

Testimonials and real-person interviews are an effective type of messaging, but they aren’t the only type. There’s still plenty of room for scripted dialogue, and humor, and other storytelling devices.

To explain further, let’s look at some storytelling examples.

Unscripted Examples

This first example is for Team Georgia Neurosurgery & Spine. It wasn’t scripted. I didn’t write the copy and hire an actress to deliver the lines. The video storytelling approach here was to interview an actual patient and let her speak in her own words.

That doesn’t mean we just rolled the dice and hoped she’d say something interesting.

To get what we needed, we asked good, open-ended questions. She told us about the pain she had been feeling, how it was affecting her life, and about her surgery and treatment.

I think the best question we asked was “What can you do now that you couldn’t do before the surgery?” That’s when she talked about letting her dog jump up and hug her, and being able to hug him back.

Here’s another commercial from the same campaign. When we asked Mama Sid to describe the pain from her carpal tunnel syndrome, she used emotional, human terms.

Both of these examples are authentic and believeable. They’re also relatable—but more on that in a moment.

Scripted Examples

Now let’s look at some scripted examples, to show how professional actors playing a character can be just as authentic and believable on camera.

This example is for ATC Income Tax. We came up with the idea of three couples at a dinner party, talking about their tax refunds. We wrote the dialogue in a way that isn’t forced or contrived.

They don’t even mention ATC Income Tax. You don’t know who the ad is for until the logo fades in at the end.

The point of the commercial is Same Day Refunds—the most popular service ATC offers its customers.

Here’s another scripted example, for Landlord Loans. It’s an online lending company that works exclusively with rental property investors. They offer many benefits and services that traditional banks simply cannot match, including the main selling point of this commercial—faster closings.

Video Storytelling Approach

As you can see, both scripted and unscripted approaches can be authentic and effective. The key, as I mentioned above, is relatability.

Are you presenting a situation that people can relate to? A problem your target audience has experienced themselves?

Whether it’s nagging back pain, waiting for a tax refund check to arrive, or the hassles of getting a business loan, the above examples are bigger than the individual stories they tell. They’re relatable to a much broader audience.

They’re based on consumer or customer insights. And stories like that can be retold again and again.


About the Author: 

Harry Hayes is the owner and executive producer at Content Puppy Productions, a corporate video production agency based in Charlotte. Before starting Content Puppy, he spent 20+ years as an advertising writer and creative director.

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