Easy. Ask the right questions, BEFORE you make the video. That’s how to get the explainer video you want. Because preparation is everything, and by asking the right questions upfront, you’ll get the video you want.

  • The video that’s right for your brand, budget, audience, objective and timeline.
  • The video that will attract your audience at the right time and place.
  • The video they’ll be interested in, feel something for and do something about.

There are a shed load of questions you could ask, but there are three that are crucial to ask at the start, because they lay the foundation for everything that follows. And those three questions relate to purpose, place and audience. Answering them first will mean your animated explainer or video production – when you do have it made – will be much more successful.

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First up, PURPOSE, what’s the video for?

With respect to your own marketing strategy and your audience: what are you trying to achieve, and what is the nature of your message? Does your video need to generate leads, explain a complex product in simpler terms, attract people to your stand at an event, or change public perception on an important issue? Maybe it’s something else. 

And what about the outcome: how will you know your video has been a success? And what do you want the audience to feel, think and do when watching it and afterwards? Both things are important.

  • Get in touch.
  • Click through to your website and buy something.
  • Share, like or comment on it.
  • Be impressed.
  • None of the above, something else?

Feel. Think. Do.

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Integral to purpose is pinpointing the purpose your video plays in your marketing campaign. Is it a stand alone video for a one-off, isolated campaign, or is it one of a series of videos? One-hit-wonders can be great, but is that what you really, really want? Yes, that’s a Spice Girls reference.

Defining those things upfront is critical because it informs what should go in the script and how long the video should be. As the third question will reveal, a 15-second social ad is written, styled and structured very differently to a 90-second website explainer video.

In second, PLACE.

Where will your explainer video be seen?

A common mistake people make is using the same video in multiple channels and expecting the same result. (Such thinking might even be the definition of madness.) This has an appealing but false logic to it because it seems like you’re being efficient with your budget and somehow getting more bang for your buck. But in our experience, one-size-fits-all videos that try to please everyone, end up pleasing no one. And for good reason…

Explainer videos

When people seek out your website, it means they’re already interested in your brand, product or service (as opposed to when they’re browsing social media, where they’re probably just catching up on what their friends have been doing).

Icon of a laptop playing a video

And because they’ve already invested their own time and effort in seeking you out, that means they’re more likely to pay attention and be more willing to watch your animation or film. In turn, that means you’ll have more time to tell your story and engage them. Because, with more time and attention, your video can cover things to a deeper, broader and richer extent.

Plus, they’ll be more likely to have the sound on if they’re visiting your website, whereas on social media, the chances are that they’ll be browsing and watching without the sound on. That’s important because if they can’t hear your video, the message still needs to get across visually.

Social ads

But if you are going to publish your video in social – as an ad for instance – the opening scenes need to work much harder to catch people’s attention and entice them away from whatever it was they were already viewing. And it’s highly likely that people won’t hear your video either because they tend to watch videos in social with the sound off, unless it’s YouTube. So, the video needs to be able to engage and communicate in purely visual terms too.

Which means the script and length of your video need to first catch their attention very quickly, then give them a reason to keep watching and not lose any part of the message as they watch in silence.

If you tried using a 90-second website explainer video as a social ad, by the time it has blurted out, “Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away…” the audience will already be far, far away and have scrolled past your post.

Icon of two birds representing social media

Website explainers are great for people who have already invested their time in seeking you out, but social ads need to earn attention much, much faster because they’re competing with every other post for that attention.

Unless of course you’re George Lucas. In which case, you can pretty much do what you like. Are you George Lucas? If you are, whoop whoop! You rock.

Yes, that’s a Star Wars reference. Spice Girls plus Star Wars = Spice Wars, or Star Girls. Go figure. It doesn’t make sense to us either. We just threw that in there to see what would happen.

Exhibition videos

And things are different again for event videos.

If you wanted to play your video on a screen on your exhibition stand, it needs to have a modular script and structure compared to explainers and social ads. Because people don’t usually go to exhibitions to watch videos, they go to a cinema for that.

Icon of a laptop on an art easel


What they do is wander around taking in whatever it is that catches their attention, and grabbing whatever freebies are on offer. So using a modular structure is far more effective at catching the attention of passersby, because each module is designed to deliver a nugget of information or entertainment even if they only catch a few seconds of the whole video.

At the end of the day…

The most effective approach is to create a video suited to each channel. But if that’s not possible – for whatever reason – have your video created for the channel you think will be most likely to achieve your goal, which comes back to knowing what the purpose of the video is and what you definition of success is.

And if time or budget is of the essence, it’s probably best to leave the Spice Girls out of it. They’re so hard to get hold of these days, what with the impending comeback / not-really-a-comeback in the offing.

Third in line, AUDIENCE GOLD DUST.

Who is your audience and what is their intent?

No surprises here. Knowing who your video is for, is crucial. Any demographic data you have about your audience could be gold dust at this point because it can be used to inform how the content takes shape. If there are specific words, concepts, imagery or sounds for instance that you know your audience would find appealing – or be averse to – tell us. We can use that insight to make the video appealing to them.

What’s also critical to establish is their intent: what are they doing at the moment you intend to interrupt them with your ad or present your pitch or explainer to them? Are they already interested or invested in your brand and paying attention to you? Or are you trying to capture their attention and divert them away from something else? What will their mindset be at this crucial moment? Identifying that is essential because it influences how the video is scripted and designed.

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You might have more than one audience.

Fair enough. In which case, prioritise your audience into primary, secondary and tertiary. Because talking to a specific person at a specific point in the video will make it much more effective.

Whereas trying to appeal to multiple audiences all at the same time is a trap: the script will be so watered down (to ensure it is relevant to all three audiences simultaneously) that it will end up being generic and full of platitudes that appeal to no one in particular. That’s when people switch off. Other flavours are available. Mint choc chip. Rhubarb and custard. Chocolate orange. CHOCOLATE ORANGE!

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That’s it. Three things: Purpose, Place, Audience. 

Nailing them lays a good foundation for what follows. If you know the answers right now, great. Tell us. If not, no worries. We’ll help you find them.

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