Once Upon a Time… You Wasted Money on Marketing

Why You Need to be Implementing Cinematic Storytelling.

Maybe this is just because of the business I’m in, but over the last few years, one thing I’ve noticed is that every business thinks it needs a video. They know they want SOMETHING but that’s usually where the strategic marketing part of the process stops. They’ll reach out to a videographer whose first question will be… “What did you have in mind for your video?” Now this poor business owner who thought they needed a simple video, is stuck being the writer, producer, casting director, and marketer of the very thing they were trying to hire someone to help them with! So what happens? The owner is too busy running their business so the videographer shows up, interviews them, slaps some drone shots in there, and presto. The owner LOVES it but their customers don’t engage and nothing happens and those marketing dollars are wasted.

Don’t get me wrong, video is EXTREMELY powerful, but videographers don’t understand marketing and they don’t know how to harness that power to grow your business. Creating impactful video ads begins with one question. What is your goal? If your goal is to tick a box and feel better about your marketing efforts, there are plenty of people who would love to take your money and give you nothing in return. However, if your goal is to create a video ad that generates revenue and takes your business to a new level, you need to understand Cinematic Storytelling.

There are three “acts” in Cinematic Storytelling—Connection, Message, and Impact. These Acts are the bedrock of any successful video campaign and are the secret ingredients to creating a video ad that sells.

Act I: Connection

People don’t buy things based on facts alone. They buy based on feelings and emotions. Emotions are what make a connection between a customer and a product. To connect with your target audience, you’ve got to make an appeal that’s deeper than facts and figures.

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Harrison Monarth summarizes research from neuro-economist Paul Zak. Zak found that our brains respond strongly to stories and that different types and parts of stories cause different reactions. Tense moments produce the stress hormone, which allows us to focus. Cute moments (e.g. an adorable puppy) produce oxytocin, the feel-good chemical that promotes connection and empathy. Other neurological research shows that a happy ending to a story engages the limbic system and releases dopamine which makes us feel more hopeful and optimistic. “People are attracted to stories,” Quesenberry said, “because we’re social creatures and we relate to other people.” (Monarth, 2014) Telling a story is what makes a commercial build a connection and have a lasting impact—this connection is what separates great commercials from those that are…less than great.

Scientific research proves this—and our day-to-day experiences prove this—to make a connection with your audience or make a sale, you need to tell a story. The more I studied this idea, the more I realized businesses need more than just a great looking commercial. They need to stir emotions inside their audience and use those emotions to create a connection.

In order to do this, you need to first understand your customers and what it is that they really want and what their core motivations are. Maybe a person’s surface goal is to lose weight but deep down, his core motivation is to find a spouse and not be alone. Your video should tell a story about helping them not be alone instead of how you help them slim down. If you tell their story well, you’ll build trust quickly and spark the buying relationship.

Act II: Message

So you know you need to build an emotional connection with your customers and that telling a story may be the best way to do it. But you don’t want to tell just any story. You don’t want to craft a message that shows how great your company is or how many awards you’ve won. Instead, you need a story that puts your customer in the role of hero.

Donald Miller, best-selling author and marketer extraordinaire, puts it this way, “When we position our customer as the hero and ourselves as the guide, we will be recognized as a trusted resource to help them overcome their challenges.” This is the whole premise of your story. You’re a guide, helping your customer win the day. Regardless of what type of business you run, if you follow this format, your customers will be glued to the screen.

We recently worked with a client that was having trouble recruiting talented applicants to join its team. They were doing all the standard things to recruit—advertising on their website, going to career fairs, etc.—but weren’t seeing much success. So they came to us. We helped them create a recruitment video that totally shifted the perspective of their marketing. Instead of highlighting themselves with facts like how long they’ve been in business and the prestigious clients they work with, we helped them tell a story about their team and made their prospective employees the hero of that story. All of a sudden, people were drawn into a story and could see themselves in it, and the client has seen a dramatic change. At career fairs, they’re now creating bottlenecks with job-seekers lining up to talk. They hired FIVE people from their last event when, typically, they’d hope to hire one. That’s a 2200% increase—talk about return on investment!

You solve problems for your customer. When people come to you, you help them overcome an obstacle and win the day. So, if your marketing can make your customers the hero of their story—and you as a helpful guide along the way—you’re going to be much more successful.

Act III: Impact

Once you’ve identified your customers’ core motivations and developed a message that places them as the hero, you’re almost there. Now you just need to bring it home—or more accurately send it out. What good is a brilliant video if no one sees it? And, just as importantly, what good is a brilliant video if the RIGHT people don’t see it?

Imagine you’re a company that sells soccer balls. You buy ad space on a website, and after a couple of weeks, you learn that 15,000 people have watched it. Pretty great, right? The trouble is, each of those 15,000 is basketball a player so you don’t make any sales.

It’s not enough to just have eyes on your marketing. To make sure your video has the impact you want, you need to plan its release for your specific market.

You need to find out where your customers spend time, what websites they visit, what they listen to, etc. Taking the time to answer these questions will be well worth it. You’ll know where your ad spend should be, and you’ll get in front of the people who have the problem that you solve.

End Credits

Putting the three acts of Cinematic Storytelling together—Connection, Message, and Impact—will completely change your marketing. By telling a story and making sure the right people see it, you’ll generate more sales with less effort. In as little as a minute, the right video can build an emotional connection with a complete stranger—something that would normally take months of conversations. This is the real power of video. Use it wisely.

Interested in implementing Cinematic Storytelling in your marketing but not sure where to start? Do you have content already but are wondering if it’s telling a story and creating a connection? Wondering if the right people are seeing your videos? His Grace Productions can help. Send us a message and we’d love to talk more about stories or check out our free case study to take a deeper look into how storytelling can work for your business.