Storytelling has been the buzzword of marketing, on and off, since marketing became a ‘thing’. Now, with an increasing number of companies looking to incorporate video into their content marketing strategy, storytelling is becoming more important than ever.
Savvy companies worldwide are turning to visual storytelling to great effect, connecting with their audiences to convey a message that’s inspiring and engaging. However, many brands and businesses still struggle with this, complicating their story with a message that’s too complex or devoid of emotion.
One company with years of experience in creating great content is Canadian filmmakers, Stillmotion. After many years perfecting their craft, with a few hiccups along the way, the team at Stillmotion has made a series of videos detailing the art of the perfect story.
The first of these videos deals with the foundation of building a great story. Stillmotion calls them ‘The 4 P’s of Storytelling’ – people, places, plot and purpose.
By setting its video in a space that bears more than a passing resemblance to an Apple Store, Somersby has poked fun at the excitement and hysteria that greets each new Apple product, making an entertaining and memorable video. Without getting into trouble from Apple.
The third ‘P’ stands for plot. Stillmotion advises that every good story needs an element of conflict and journey to drive the narrative. This doesn’t mean you need a pantomime villain – conflict can arise in a variety of guises, whether a flawed character, mental barrier, or even a physical limitation.
Intel has a great example of this in its recent #LookInside campaign. One of its videos tells the story of Eric Weihenmayer, one of 118 people to have climbed all seven summits, and the only blind man who has achieved this.
The theme fits with Intel’s campaign, which shows how it’s the things inside that make us who we are. By using conflict and journey, Intel has drawn its audience in to be an active participant in the story. They feel empathy with the character, and want him to succeed. If a plot is too predictable, your audience will become bored and switch off. You need to keep them curious and draw them in so they want to see what happens at the end.
The final building block to your story is purpose. Why should people care about your story? What does your story actually mean?
Here, the Stillmotion mantra is, ‘know what you need to say before you speak.’ Before you start recording, it’s essential to know what the purpose of your video will be, and you need to constantly think back to this throughout the video making process. Remind yourself at each stage why people should care.
This mantra is equally true of commercial videos, and is demonstrated to great effect in a video Stillmotion made for BioBeats, a company that created an app that makes music generated from your heartbeat.
Essentially, Stillmotion believes you need to be able to state the purpose of your video in a single, clear, succinct sentence before you pick up your camera to start filming.
Storytelling is a key element to conveying your message to your target audience in a memorable and engaging manner. As humans, we’re built to respond to stories, but they must be interesting, authentic and they need to move your audience emotionally.
Next time you’re planning a video, think carefully about the 4 P’s of storytelling – people, places, plot and purpose – before you start filming. This will build a strong foundation for your video and maximise the chances of its success.
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