We’re hearing a lot of messages that “marketing has changed” and encouragement to “create video content” and especially to TELL STORIES. It’s no secret that we all love a good story. Human beings always have, and we always will. It’s becoming a very popular and well-known truth that telling stories is not just for entertainment or for your kids at bedtime. Telling stories is a way to communicate effectively. Telling stories in your video marketing creates connection. But how do you tell an effective story ? How do you tell people the truth and still be compelling? How do you create videos that blow away your audience? How do you make sure your videos can drive results?
I was recently interviewed for an online show called Digital Champions from the Daily Ad Brief. The host asked me “what is your biggest challenge you face in your client/brand video work?” I’m a very candid and honest person with everything. I told her that the biggest challenge is convincing corporate leaders that talking about a struggle in their story and video content is necessary. Talking about CONFLICT is the only way your story can have a RESOLUTION. If you fail to highlight this, you’re just bragging and people will not be drawn in. In theory, most people agree with this. The tricky part is when you get to know their goals, you discover a story that aligns with their goals that they have, then you begin pre-production to film that story. You outline the film based around the story structure needed to tell an effective story.( Motivations, Desires, Uniqueness, Hook, Conflict, Initiation, Journey, Resolution, and Ending) This is part of our Development Process. It’s very common that at this point a client gets cold feet. It’s because the idea of being vulnerable about struggles is scary. The idea of taking a risk is not desirable. Yet our early conversations are usually met with enthusiasm and the desire to create emotional impact with their audience. We identify that telling an authentic, honest story through video is the way to do that. So what went wrong?
I just think it's only natural that many people stay surface level. It's uncomfortable to be vulnerable and to take risks, especially in corporate environments. But often, when brand leaders point to example video content that was successful, it's because that content didn't play it safe.
Let’s make up a short script for a corporate video.
“Our company was started in 1993 with the desire to deliver value to our clients with consistency and integrity. Since then, we’ve always met client needs and delivered results. We aim to always innovate and serve, and will continue to do so.”
Ok, not bad for just rambling off some jargon that I’ve heard many times, and you probably have too. What’s wrong with it? I’ll try another one.
“Our company was started in 1993, when our industry was very green. We were immediately competing with companies 10X our size. We didn’t have an office yet, but we had drive. We discovered that the more we got to know clients unique struggles, the more we could offer insights to problem solve, even when it was uncomfortable to hear. The clients respected our candid style and began choosing us and being our own advocates. Those same values of candid honesty and integrity ring true today.”
The 2nd option is more open about struggles, specifics, and tells a story. Naturally both are vague and imaginary companies from whatever industry, but hopefully you get the idea. Telling a story takes you on a journey where you can relate to a hardship. We’ve all had hardship and struggles. If you pretend to have everything together, the hope is that people trust you. But if you’re real and explain that you haven’t always had everything together, it’s relatable. Both are highlighting the same things, but one way sounds human and the other sounds …well…boring and robotic.
See examples of authentic and effective storytelling for a client here
See our founder’s story here
The key here is to remember that highlighting conflict doesn’t mean you’re simply being honest about some struggles in your company without making a point. Having the resolution in mind is equally important. Perhaps there are things happening that are uncomfortable and challenging right now in your company that you’d rather not talk about. We have those struggles right now as well. I’m sure we all do. But just venting about a problem isn’t telling a story. A story has a journey of steps that arrive at a conclusion. So what steps can you take from the conflict you’re in now that will lead you, initiate you into a journey, that could then find a resolve? It’s the stories that have already happened that are key to remember, focus on, highlight, and push out to your audience. These are stories that you already have from your life, from your employee’s lives, from your founder, your clients, etc. They’re just sitting there much of the time. But because they have uncomfortable parts, most companies avoid talking about them. They highlight how victorious they are in so many areas, but fail to recognize the deep need we all have to connect. We connect through opening up, being authentic, and empathizing.