Marketers ruin everything…
Take storytelling, for example.
Storytelling is beautiful. It’s an art that grabs people by the shirt-collar and takes them on an emotional journey. But marketers are trying to ruin it…
It all started with Donald Miller’s Build a Storybrand book. That book was actually quite good and insightful, but it set off a wave of marketers infecting the art of storytelling with “tricks and tactics” and gimmicky formulas.
But rest assured: good storytelling is still alive and well. And if you want to learn it, I suggest doing so by watching great films, reading great fiction, or reading about it from literary geniuses…
All that said…
I, a Marketer, am now going to ironically share with you four powerful storytelling lessons I learned from watching A Quiet Place: Part 2 over the weekend. I’ve seen these lesson improve sales pitches, marketing messages and great movies alike, and I’m absolutely in love with them.
1) Great Stories Start With a Situation
You don’t need a well-planned roadmap or copied-and-pasted formula. You need a captivating situation.
In A Quiet Place Part 1, the situation is that dangerous creatures roam the earth, hunting and killing anything that makes sound. You’re immediately made aware of the situation.
But, to keep the audience captivated by the tricky situation, there are a couple simple rules to follow.
2) Coincidences Should Never Help The Good Guy
When coincidences help the good guys, it ruins the story. For example, in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the heroes all get sucked into a pit under the dessert. And for just a moment, you think “oooh, what a tricky situation! I bet that’ll be hard to get out of.”
But, it actually turns out to be super easy, and the heroes just happen to find exactly what they came to this massive dessert planet looking for. 🤦♂️
The coincidence killed the journey. Coincidences should only work in favor of the bad guys. That makes the story much more riveting.
3) Use “But” and “Therefore” to Connect Points, Not “And”
A Quite Place also uses a trick Matt Stone and Trey Parker used in making their show South Park: The story should connect with “but” and “therefore,” never “and”…
That’s because this “and” this happened “and” this happened “and” this happened is boring.
“BUT” this happened “therefore” this happened “BUT” this happened “therefore” this happened is way more interesting.
They escape the monsters, BUT then make sound. Therefore, they get away from the monsters again, BUT then they start running out of oxygen. Therefore they get new oxygen, BUT then the monster finds them. Therefore they blow up the oxygen to fight off the monster, BUT the monster survives!
4) The Stakes are Real
My biggest peeve with Avengers: Endgame is that they had two big opportunities to make the story feel EPIC, but missed it…
1) Time travel. How on earth will they figure that out? What will it cost? That could have been fascinating. Right?…
Or, maybe not…
Turns out to be super easy for Tony Stark. He comes up with time travel while he’s doing the dishes. LAME.
2) Time travel stakes. This one is a real bummer…
Everyone’s thinking “WHOA… Tony is going to have to choose between his daughter and the universe!” And that would have been a RIVETING story.
BUT… They came up with a nice coincidence to help the good guy get out of it. Turns out changing the past doesn’t change the future. He can conveniently go back in time and still return home to his daughter for supper. 🤦♂️
Convenient, but it hurt the story. You have to give the characters real stakes.
Great Pitches Do the Same Things
They give prospects a tricky situation to navigate.
The coincidences in the market actually make things tougher for the prospect, which is what your product’s various features helps with.
You use “But” and “Therefore” to lead the prospect to the need for your product.
And, you show that the stakes of not taking action are real. That’ll give prospects a captivating story to put themselves in.
But, I digress. I am a Marketer after all…