A Brief Guide to Captivating Video Storytelling for Startups

Having to explain what you do is like Kryptonite for entrepreneurs. 

This is especially true for startups. 

At least with a “regular” business, you can say, “I run a consulting firm,” or, “I have a marketing agency,” or, “I manufacture pet strollers and sell them on Amazon,” — and leave it at that. 

But when you’re trying to invent something totally new or shake up a horribly outdated industry, talking about your business becomes 10 times harder…

Ironically, that’s when you have to be as clear and persuasive as possible!

The future of your startup quite literally depends on it.

If you can’t deliver your message and make it impossible to misunderstand, you’ll miss out on customers, employees, investors, business partners, advocates for your brand, mentors, publicity — basically, all those opportunities that make businesses grow.

For startups, video storytelling offers the most effective and accessible tool for delivering their brand message. Clarity, “stickiness” (as in, memorability), engagement, conversions — it checks all the boxes…

…as long as you know how to use it.

And once you’ve read today’s article, you will!

This week, we’ll show you how you can use video storytelling to grow your startup. You will learn:

  • The 4 “ingredients” that make any story come alive
  • 3 steps to creating effective story videos for your startup
  • How to choose between several different story elements

And more!

So: let’s get started with the all-important question — what makes a great story?

Video storytelling for startups

The 4 not-so-secret ingredients of great storytelling

Like making a delicious recipe, crafting a gripping story is all about combining the right ingredients, in the correct way. For now, let’s talk about the components of engaging storytelling — and we’ll tackle the process in the next section.

For starters, every story needs…

…a Hero

Good stories need heroes. They are the rocket fuel that moves the plot forward. Your hero makes things happen, and your viewers engage with the story from the hero’s point of view.

So who should be the hero of your startup marketing video? Most of the time, the answer is “your customer” — just like we’ve discussed before.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, especially if your video is intended for a different stakeholder. Non-customers — job seekers, current employees, investors, potential business partners — are still vital to your business. They deserve a moment in the sun, too!

So, depending on what your story video is about, you can cast different stakeholders as heroes. Hiring? Then a job applicant or an employee would make for a perfect protagonist. Raising funding? Your team and your brand can take up the heroic mantle to persuade investors to say yes. Selling? That’s easy: make your customer the hero.

Of course, a hero is kind of pointless without…

…a Villain

To make a gripping story, we need conflict and drama. And you can’t have conflict without a villain! Having a villain also means that there are sides to this conflict, and you can communicate to viewers that you and they are on the same side!

Now, let’s get one thing straight:

We’re using the word “villain” in the broadest possible sense. We’re not suggesting that you should call out specific people, or even specific companies, in your story videos. Here are two great “villains” you can always depend upon:

  • The status quo. The way things are. The way things have always been done… until your startup came around and decided there was a better way! Challenging the status quo of your industry, society, or the world provides high stakes and drama but avoids throwing “shade” (is that how the kids talk these days?) on specific people or brands.
  • Other industry players. Once again, you don’t have to name names (unless you want to). You can call out shady industry practices in general — your target customers will know exactly who you’re talking about anyway! For a great example of how it can be done, watch this story video by Warby Parker. At no point do they diss specific eyewear companies… but their customers know what’s what!

With our hero and our villain on stage, the story needs…

…the Quest

What is the hero’s mission? What do they hope to accomplish? Why do they want it so bad? 

Answering these questions will show the viewer that you understand their struggle. That you know what they want and what they’re going through just as well, or sometimes better than they do. And that means you can be trusted.

If you’ve made your brand or Founder the hero of the story, there’s a similar effect at play. Explaining what you’re hoping to do, and why, will help viewers understand you better and empathize with you.

For an example of a company that consistently nails this part of their brand storytelling, look no further than Space X and Tesla. Each has a global, overwhelmingly epic “quest” (colonizing space and ending the world’s dependence on fossil fuels) — and they never hesitate to play it up for brownie points.

Tip: it’s critical that you make viewers emotionally invested in the success of the “quest” — especially if you’re telling the story from the perspective of your brand. If your hero is the stand-in for the viewer, they will naturally “connect the dots” to their own life. But if not, you’ll have to do it for them.

Finally, the only thing left is…

…the Ask

Lots and lots of stories used to end with a moral — some kind of lesson, a takeaway, or a request made to the audience. “The Tortoise and the Hare,” “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” even Biblical parables delivered simple, straightforward lessons.

You don’t see this as much anymore. Nowadays, we teach people with textbooks and boring lectures instead of stories (pity!). But if you’re looking for a way to end your startup marketing video on a powerful note, you can do something similar to the storytellers of old…

…and ask your audience to do something. Leave them with a powerful call to action that takes all this goodwill, trust and rapport that you’ve built up through your story — and channels it into something new.

What better way to make sure that your story converts?

3 steps to making a powerful story video for your startup

Now that you know the “ingredients” of a solid startup story video, it’s time to get cooking. Follow these 3 steps to make sure that you knock it out of the park — and knock your viewers clear outta their socks!

Step 1. Identify the goal and the viewer

Who is the ideal audience for your story video? And what kind of strategic goal does it support? You need to get clear on these 2 things before you do anything — same as with any video!

For example, let’s say that you’re making a startup recruitment video. In that case, your target viewer is a potential job applicant. And your goal for the video is to get X number of qualified applicants.

Great! What’s next?

Step 2. Figure out the story elements

Now it’s time to cast your Hero and your Villain, determine the Quest, and settle on the Ask. This isn’t easy, because you’ll often have more than one promising option.

Let’s play this out, sticking with our recruitment video example…

Because the viewer is your potential employee, it makes sense to make the whole story about them and their quest to find an amazing job and make an impact on the world. Obvious, right?

Not so fast!

See, you could also cast your current employees as the heroes, so the viewer wants to be friends with them — or straight-up be like them.

Same goes for all the other elements:

  • The Villain could be anything: from your industry to boring 9-to-5 jobs where your audience feels like a cog in the machine, to some huge problem that your startup wants to solve.
  • The Quest could be something individual — your viewer’s goal to build a fulfilling career. Or it could be your brand’s mission to change the world.
  • As for the Ask, we don’t need to tell you how important it is to have a refined call to action! Because we’ve already told you, in great detail.

Bottom line is, you have to choose your story elements carefully, based on what your audience will respond to, and what supports your goal better. And as tempting as it is to use obvious cliches, take a bit more time and explore other options!

Step 3. Let your story shape your video

Now that you have all your storytelling ducks in a row, you can use what you came up with to create a compelling story video for your startup!

We recommend that you include these story elements into your creative brief — or write up a short “story summary” to use alongside a regular brief. Check back with it often as you go through production, especially during the scripting stage.

Do this, and your startup will get a compelling story-driven video precision-engineered to delight, persuade, and convert your audience!

Get a free strategy session to level up your video storytelling

No matter how brilliant you are, it’s impossible to innovate and create something new if you don’t have other people supporting you, and investing in you. Team members, investors, customers… They all contribute in their own way: by working for you, helping you raise capital, buying or using your products and services. All of them are vital to your success.

To get them all on your side, you need to tell stories that inspire, engage, delight, and most importantly — convert. And that’s where we can help!

We’ve worked with startups and tech legends alike, including Twitter, Uber, and Google. We know how hard it can be to get people to fall in love with something nobody’s ever done before…

…so we’ll commit all our marketing brilliance to help you get the most compelling, high-converting story video possible!

Here at The Draw Shop, storytelling is what we do, all day every day. We employ world-class copywriters and storytellers who can discover the core of your message and make it resonate powerfully with your target audience. And then our skilled artists will bring it to life with eye-popping visuals.

Your startup deserves nothing less than an unforgettable story. If you want us to help you tell it, let’s talk!

Book a free 30-minute consultation with The Draw Shop experts