Do you consider audience and platform during the story development process?

3 brand stories that use emotion to sell and what you can learn.

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There is a danger as we get swept up in the initial seed of a story that we get complacent, and we don’t stop and think about our audience. A classical marketing strategy will always start with a clear understanding of the customer and their needs during the solution design process. Film-makers will often start with a compelling story, however, there is a lot to learn from a classical marketing process for creating greater engagement with audiences. In a previous article, I shared on the importance of thinking differently about how we do things. As storytellers, we have to ask more questions about our audience and the platforms, then circle back on the story.

Great stories tap into human emotion. As you will see from the following marketing campaigns, brands are using story devices to motivate purchasing decisions. Ever found yourself feeling teary-eyed watching a tv commercial? Yep, me too! Brands are engaging viewers with long-form storytelling and emotion to build connection and brand value. Why? Because they understanding the audience they’re trying to sell to. Just as advertisers use filmmaking technique to sell a product, the film making business can learn from the marketing processes to help improve the relevance and clarify who the audience is.

Here are 3 great examples of short films on YouTube that use emotion to build a connection with potential customers.

In 2018 Hyundai celebrated twenty years of business in India. The underlying story proposition is Hyundai is about quality, value and loyalty, and it is told through a family story. So, was this campaign successful for Hyundai? Did they sell more cars? I haven’t been able to find out what the production budget was for this campaign, but with almost 223 million views and only 0.03% dislikes, if just a small percentage of viewers go out and buy a car from them, then I’d say yes. What we learn, is that if Hyundai wants to reach young families who are trying to stretch their family budget, then purchasing a Hyundai could be a good investment.

Car manufacturer Volvo has been known as a safety-conscious brand, and in this campaign, they expand their vision to the safety of those outside the vehicle, or more specifically, those that may come into contact with a car! Ouch! According to a study, cycling one hour may add an hour to a persons life expectancy! Another study says if you ride a bike to work you’re more than 500 times more likely to die than travelling by bus! Either way, we know if you get hit by a car it is going to hurt. Volvo has tried to do something to help. Isn’t that lovely of them? In this factual video, they demonstrate leadership, innovation, care and responsibility with the introduction of Lifepaint.

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I am a bit of a sucker for the annual Christmas campaign. Once again, we’re taken into the land of fantasy and make-believe to imagine (and believe) the founder of the company was the original inspiration for the Santa Claus we’ve all come to love! Don’t be so quick to judge. Coca-Cola did the same a hundred years ago. As cynical as I might sound, Sainsbury’s are probably playing in safe territory. Few people participate or know the original story that marks the holiday season so pretty much anything is up for grabs. And heaven-forbid we would ever call into question the need for a public holiday and colossal retail spend. Long live the jolly fat man, right?

Okay, back to reality. Sorry.

For filmmakers, the creative process always starts with the story, right? Its good news for creatives that demand video content is and as great as these examples are of stories told well, 66% of viewers think most content is irrelevant to them, and it’s not just because the production quality was poor. Online viewers are becoming more sophisticated decision-makers. They’re certainly cynical or suspect of advertisers trying to sell them stuff, and they’re being bombarded with messages from every direction. As content producers, are you considering the audience when developing your story and how does the platform, come into consideration? As you think about this, what would you change? Do any of these examples achieve what we imagine their objectives were? Has each brand built relevance, credibility and respect?

We’re living in times when marketers can no longer simply tell a customer your product (or story) is great, they won’t believe you. As Seth Godin says, “Marketers can no longer use commercials to tell their stories. Instead, they have to live them.” Do our stories ‘live’ the story we’re telling them? This is why empathy is such a powerful tool and it has become such a popular device in the stories we tell.

Do you need to pay more attention upfront, i.e. before heading into production, to the co-relationship between story, audience and platform? What is your process?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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