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How to storyboard a marketing video (when you are not an artist)

How to storyboard a marketing video (when you are not an artist)

Whether you like it or not, content marketing embraces the visual culture of today and is moving towards video.

According to HubSpot, 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers, and four times as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.

Which unfortunately does not bode well for blog posts.

As writing content becomes less effective as time goes on, you are probably already thinking about creating video content as part of your marketing strategy. You may be eager to jump right in and start creating videos, but first planning your content has proven invaluable in keeping your story – and your creative team – on track. That’s what I’m here to help you with today.

Before grabbing the camera and hitting the studio, be sure to have a storyboard to back it up.

What is a Storyboard?

A storyboard is a series of sketches that represent the individual footage planned for a video, film, or commercial. They often include directions for camera angle, lighting, and transitions along with dialogue and other notes.

Like all good writers, their articles begin with contours, good marketers begin their videos with storyboards. You’ve probably seen them used for animated movies. John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer at Pixar, calls them “a comic book version of the story.” Here are some storyboards his team used when making Finding Nemo:

But I’m creating a marketing video, you can protest. Does this technique really apply to me? While storyboards for marketing videos may not need to be quite as detailed as those used by the big Hollywood studios, they are still important.

Why are storyboards important?

Storyboards help you plan your video, really from start to finish. What will be the lighting? How will it flow? Do you want voiceovers or dialogue? How do you want viewers to feel? Storyboarding allows you to collaborate with other team members to unfold your shared vision for the video.

In many ways, storyboards are like a dress rehearsal for the real video. Storyboarding lets you figure out kinks and identify any gaps in your video – before you spend money on production.

Working on these things beforehand helps ensure that the final product is exactly what you envisioned. Storyboarding allows you to give directions to the people who will take your idea and set up, film, cut and edit it for the final product.

Make sure your marketing video is what you want it to be. Start with a storyboard.

A few examples of some great marketing videos

Let’s look at three extremely effective marketing videos. In the next section, we will refer to these when explaining the basic components of a storyboard.

1. Dropbox Introduction


Dropbox’s Intro Video was released in 2009, but marketers are still talking about it. At the time, Dropbox was still pretty unknown. They then placed the video on their front page, where it was viewed 30,000 times a day for several years, strengthening the company’s rapid growth.

The results make it clear that this was a successful video. But why, exactly? Its unique, carved animation style captures the viewer’s attention. Dropbox makes the problem of digital file organization related to all aspects of life, such as everyday problems like mistakenly leaving your wallet at home. Dropbox can solve your organizational problems at home and at work. It is also short enough to prevent the viewer from getting bored and ending with a clear call to action to download Dropbox.

2. Facebook tip: stickers


Facebook’s Tips marketing series highlights 12 unique features on the social media platform. These videos are no longer what they should be and get the point across quickly in a personal way. This encourages people to keep watching, learn what to do and get back to using Facebook. Instead of being a boring tutorial video, they use the Stickers feature to relate to fun events and conversations in the Facebook user’s life, such as celebrating running a marathon with your friends.

3. Salesforce demo


Salesforce’s demo video guides salespeople through a day in the life of using their software. It includes ambitious announcements about how it solves your problem (+ 29% higher payout rates), social proof of well-known companies using it, and a strong CTA in the form of a YouTube annotation so viewers can click directly to their site directly from the video.

Sellers are especially motivated by glory, winning and competition. Smartfor ends the Salesforce video with multiple photos of the user receiving recognition from colleagues and their boss for “crushing your quota.”

Basic structure for an effective marketing video

Every successful marketing video follows this basic story structure:

Opens Troubleshooting Solution Call to Action

Let us review each of these in turn.


The opener should immediately catch the attention of your viewer. It should fascinate them and encourage them to keep watching.

For example, the Dropbox video begins: “You’ve been there. You are about to buy lunch and you realize that your wallet is in your other pants. “Now the viewer is wondering, ‘Okay, this has happened to me. Will they tell me a way to fix this? I want to keep an eye out to find out… ”

Aim to establish a sense of urgency or mystery in your opener.

Problem definition

The problem statement outlines the problem the viewer is facing.

When determining the scope of your problem statement, think about who your target audience is. The Dropbox video would be as relatable as possible so that it landed on a universal problem as an organization. On the other hand, the Salesforce video follows Account Executives, so its message is much more targeted: “What if you could spend more time selling and connecting with your customers?”

Next, in the solution section of the video, explain how your brand can solve this unique problem for the viewer.


You have hooked the viewers with an exciting opener. Then you connected with them by recognizing their problem. Now it’s time to show the viewer how your product can solve their specific problem. Here you will go into detail, show people who happily use your product and include explanatory screenshots.

All three of our sample videos stand out here. The simple 2-D animation of Dropbox’s video mimics how easy it is to organize files with Dropbox. Salesforce guides the viewer through their entire sales process with a point of view presentation that helps the viewer imagine what it’s like to use the platform and how great it will be for their careers. The Facebook video demonstrates how Stickers makes using Facebook a little (much?) More fun and helps you get in better touch with your friends – it’s a relationship product.

Call for action

Finally, the money maker. The call to action is where you literally call the observer to act: by filling out a customer form, visiting your website or buying your product.

If their video was not already compelling enough, Salesforce further awards that the viewer can be easily persuaded by the final frame. Until the last CTA, Salesforce flashes the expected results across the screen and shares logos with big name brands using the platform. Then it ends with a strong CTA and contains YouTube annotations so that users can quickly click their way to their site rather than having to write it themselves.

Make sure your brand name, site address and CTA are all clear on the last frame of your video and stay on long enough for the viewer to process.

8 steps to create a storyboard for your marketing video

Now that you have an idea of ​​what makes a compelling video, let’s go through the steps to develop your storyboard. Working through these steps will move you toward your ultimate goal: Creating a marketing video that aligns with your vision.

1. Create a timeline

Storyboarding is about structure. In this step, you will find out the course of events for your video. What is the narrative you are telling?

Be sure to follow the opener’s order – problem statement – solution – call to action.

2. Identify key scenes

In addition to the concluding call to action, you need to determine the key points of your video. Maybe it’s a zoom-in on a differentiating feature of your product, a montage of customers using the product, or a large opening image.

Which scenes essentially engage the viewer and make them act?

3. Decide how many details to add to each scene

Want a cleaner approach like Dropbox and Facebook that focuses on cut-out animations or screengrabs? Or do you prefer the busier Salesforce approach, where you see the salesperson use the platform in different scenes? Maybe you want a completely different concept.

You will not overwhelm the viewer. Whichever route you take, make sure your product and message cut through the noise.

4. Write your script

Whether you rely on dialogue, voiceovers, or a combination of both, your script should outline all the spoken words for the video.

In a later step, you overlay your sound on the corresponding thumbnails.

5. Select your Storyboarding tool

Here’s the good news: you have a true table with storyboarding tools to choose from.

You can select the retro option and use a pen, colored markers or pencils and paper. Or you can go for high technology with any of these:

Presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides Graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign iPad software like Adobe Photoshop Sketch (often requires a stylus) Storyboarding software like Amazon Storyteller or Storyboard That Storyboard templates like this one for Google Slides or this one from Vidyard

When creating your storyboard template, make sure your thumbnails are about the size of your video (ie square, 4: 3, 16: 9).

6. Sketch your thumbnails

Here you get work and start sketching your scenes.

Depending on your artistic ability and bandwidth, you can pull out fully designed characters and backgrounds, or you can use stick figures for people and simple geometric shapes for objects.

7. Comment on each scene in detail

A storyboard is a visual tool, but you need to add the non-visual details to get the best result.

Add dialogue and / or voiceovers from your script to each thumbnail. Add directional notes to the people who will be working on the video, e.g. Desired lighting and camera angle. Number your thumbnails so they do not get mixed up.

8. Add cutouts

A “cut” is when the video zooms closer to highlight the action. All three examples of videos use cuts to highlight certain actions you can take with their product or software.

Indicate in your storyboard where you want cuts, as well as any other directions regarding transitions or flow of your video.

Storyboarding for success

The second best marketing video can not only be found in your head. To help others understand your vision, you need a storyboard. Define your narrative, outline it, and add dialogue and production instructions to your scenes. Then watch your video come to life.

About the Author: Michael Quoc is the founder and CEO of Dealspotr, an open social platform that connects new brands, lifestyle influencers and trend-seeking shoppers in exciting new ways. He was previously Director of Product Management at Yahoo’s Media Laboratory, where he spearheaded the launch of several innovative services in live video and mobile social networking. Michael has been granted nine patents relating to applications and technology for mobile and social networks. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.

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