Holidays mean sitting back and relaxing, so here I am, late at night watching Jaws. Yes, great viewing for a seaside holiday right?
Anyway, that, combined with currently reading 3 books at once, one single message seems to becoming clearer and clearer… people enjoy a slow reveal and anticipation much more than being beaten over the head with a message over and over again.
Am I stating the blindingly obvious? You would think so. I know my writing teachers in high school and uni lecturers certainly would hope so. The ringing words of my poetry teacher echo in my ears- “show, don’t tell”- and yet it is rather frustrating to see so many creative and marketing people ignoring these simple words at their peril.
There is all this talk about making the conditions within which people discover things, getting influencers to do the work of spreading the word for you or simply doing the same old thing so as to make sure the baseline of marketing or story telling is covered so people get what they expect. How is that meant to differentiate you from the countless other stories out there?!
Think about Jaws- the parts of the story people talk about are NOT the ones when you see a shark chow down on an unsuspecting human. It isn’t necessarily when you see the water red with blood. No- it is when you can feel the palpable tension, waiting for what is going to happen to happen. This is what makes you forget about that cup of tea you would like or delay the trip to the bathroom. When you can feel something is about to happen but feel compelled to stay to find out exactly what that something is!
When the Police Chief is sitting on the shore, waiting for something to happen as people walk in front of him or try to divert his attention, when the Oceanographer drops his spear in the shark cage, when the old salty sea captain tells the story (based on a true one in World War 2) about being dropped in the drink in shark infested waters during the war and how many people got eaten as they waited desperately for rescue, these are the moments that not only grab your attention, but also stay with you.
So how do you deliver that in marketing?
- Map the story of what you are trying to market and look for things that will invoke emotion or attachment within that journey.
- Stop thinking it is a matter of getting “the right” people on board your products story and start focussing on making the story compelling enough for people to want to engage in it instead.
- Incorporate a little bit of a slow reveal to the mix. Some of the most provocative and memorable things in life are the ones involving a “twist” or even have a fairly straight ahead answer but a delicious journey to that answer to sink your teeth into. Conversely, if you continually beat people over the head with your message, you’re just the loud guy at a party who cannot shut up. You’re hardly going to give him much credence over time, are you?
- Don’t just focus on your wins, show your failures as well because that information also adds to your compelling story. We all win and lose at various times and overcoming these problems, objections or finding a solution for a problem can honestly get your more loyalty and more interest if handled well than getting it right all the time.
- By the same token, it’s not OK to be experiencing one pulverising defeat after another as it doesn’t inspire confidence to continually failing and not learning. Use your temperance and brains to work out the right mix and take a leaf out of Seth Godin’s approach.
By creating an environment of anticipation and excitement (think of Apple with coming releases of iPhones for example or long awaited new albums from musicians), you can really help your product take a bite out of the competition and help your product recall increase.
And if you can match the suspense with the experience, imagine just how powerful your product will be?