By Kim Albee
I recently listened to an interview between Perry Marshall, a marketing expert that I follow and Joshua Russell a Professor of Screenwriting and Film Aesthetics at DePaul University. It was a fun and interesting conversation where they explored the power of stories from both a screenwriter's and marketer's perspective. While there was far too much to cover in a single email, there is an essential idea that made an impact on me that I'll share with you.
A well told story will captivate and control the audience. As Joshua Russell said, "It will take people to a place that is beneficial." What's beneficial of course, being determined by the story teller. As marketers, our job is weaving a story compelling enough that our audience can't leave in the middle. Given the multi-tasking nature of people today, it can be challenging to cut through the clutter that is clamoring for their attention.
So how do we hold their attention and keep them interested? As we read, our perception is constantly changing and being revised as we work through the material we're reading.
Paying attention to critical points of perception can help when we are constructing our stories.
When telling a story, there are three essential steps:
1. Establish a subject.
2. Introduce conflict with the idea of the subject (revising our understanding).
3. Come to a new understanding (i.e. new subject).
Said another way:
1. Introduce a Problem.
2. Agitate the itch of the problem. identify with it.
3. Offer possible solutions to the problem.
If we skip step #2 and go right to #3, we aren't allowing our audience to naturally progress and follow the story. By including step #2, we are allowing the audience's perception to identify with the problem for THEMSELVES, and naturally evolve THEIR perception of the need, so when they reach #3, they're saying "Yes!" in their head. That is what defines engaging content. If we skip step #2, and jump right to step #3, we will be forcing our point of view on our audience, which creates conflict, not engagement.
As Perry said, people can have problems for years and do nothing about it. But when it gets to a boiling point, then we'll change. As the stakes of the problem get higher and higher, it starts to look easier to change than to stay the course.
Agitation is the glue that connects the problem with the solution.
How well are you agitating?