Most consumers and businesses recognize quickly when the main focus of marketing is over-promising, interrupting, or bragging. If you paused for a moment you could think of at least two or three examples that you saw recently. It is often boring. So how do we engage an audience through video? Through storytelling. What actually is a story? And what is the one key element that must be included in video marketing stories? Whether it's a 30 second spot or 5 minute product videos.
Not all stories are created equal and not all stories are effective. Why? For example, many businesses prefer a narrative style.
However, not all narratives are in fact stories. There is a definite structure to storytelling in video productions. Let me start by pointing out what a story is NOT. Many corporate video productions in the manufacturing industry for example seek to explain processes. The story usually follows these steps: First this happens, then this, then this, then that, then the product has been assembled. The list of steps is followed by a set of features and benefits, and finally a CTA (call to action). Fairly straight forward but uninteresting.
Engaging corporate video stories on the other hand have a specific structure. The most basic structure includes a definite beginning, a middle and major turning point, a conflict, a course correcting decision, and finally a satisfying resolution.
One of the key points to remember is that the story should include a conflict and a turning point that briefly throws events out of balance. When the pendulum briefly swings from positive to negative that is when the viewer becomes hooked. They ask themselves "what will happen next"? There is often a resistance to going negative in any sort of way. But illustrating how to overcome conflict or an obstacle is absolutely critical in story telling. It's an emotional pull that's hard to resist. Many corporate video productions simply go from positive to positive to positive.....that format quickly becomes stale. Each conflict falls into only one of 6 categories which I will outline in an upcoming post.
People may need your product but what convinces them to choose you over other companies is the story about your product. The meaning is the key decision driver. The emotional push and pull creates meaning and engages the viewer significantly more than a video about a list of features.
A summary of the key points about video storytelling:
- Introduce the star of your video which may be the brand, a person, or your product. (Keep it to a single personality or brand)
- Describe a conflict or obstacle which the viewer may perceive.
- Next describe the need for a major decision or turning point in the story. In other words, a change in direction to restore the balance.
- Finally, the balance is restored through a satisfying solution.
I greatly simplified the process, but making conflict and obstacles your friend and offering a satisfying solution is the way to viewer engagement.
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