Each year, Hollywood produces and distributes 400 to 500 films (stories), more than a film a day. A few are excellent, but the vast majority are mediocre or worse. The temptation is to blame those who approve such mediocre productions. But the reality is, story departments of major studios pour through thousands upon thousands of scripts, novels, and plays each year searching for that one great story. Or, more likely, something that is better than average.
By the late 1990’s script development in Hollywood climbed well over $500 million per year, three-quarters of which was paid to writers for films that will never be made! Despite enormous budgets, Hollywood cannot find better material than it currently produces. The hard to believe truth is that what we see on the screen each year is a reasonable reflection of the best writing of the last few years.
Stories are not just confined to Hollywood. Storytelling is the currency of human contact. It is how we make sense of our world. It is how we discover new things and make sense of our own perceptions. It influences what and how we buy. Critic, Kenneth Burke tells us, “Stories are equipment for living.”
Stories around the water cooler
A good example was a friend who recently told me about a story he had read. The story intrigued me enough that my friend thought it would be of value to me and emailed me the link to the story. I read the story which then resulted in me buying the authors book. It was the story from the article that initially influenced me and my perceptions.
Think about when you enter the W Hotel or a comparable hotel and see the attention to the perfect details, down to the triangle folded in the toilet tissue. Your mind instantly creates a story about cleanliness and class. Apple’s simple white but well thought out packaging conjures up a story of quality and craftsmanship. When we see the icon for Mercedes-Benz, we think of the best in automotive vehicles. A generic chocolate labeled “Swiss” tastes better than the same chocolate labeled “Made in Taiwan.” A book authored by a well known author conjures up a story of quality before it’s even read.
To the mind, these stories — heard, read or invented — actively engage us where we form our own, vivid and personally relevant interpretations.
A good story is powerful. It means something. Ultimately, we all find meaning in our lives by the stories we tell and in many stories we read and hear. Is your story that is being told one that is compelling and inviting?
Following are some thoughts to consider regarding your story:
- Is the story you’re telling about yourself, your product, or your service one that is memorable?
- Identify 5 online media resources that convey your story.
- What types of content does your buyer engage with? (i.e. trade publications, marketing collateral, white papers, websites, blogs, tradeshows, events, videos, podcasts) Is your story engaging your audience through these media types?
- Does your story move people to want to purchase your product or service? If not, what are you doing about it?
- Storytelling is all about TALENT. Hollywood proves it’s point! Do you have a creative production team constantly improving your story?
- Storytelling is how we make sense of the world.
- Our rational mind has a mind of its own — a feeling mind — whose decisions are based by various motivations, limitations, and especially, social influences.
- “What we believe is what we desire, and what we desire is ultimately what we do. It’s the human condition.” – Tom Asacker
- All stories evolve.
- Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re probably right.
- We all have a deep desire to understand and explain everything to ourselves. Therefore does your story help achieve that for your customer?
Resources and References
Tom Asaker, The Business of Belief – How the World’s Best Marketers, Designers, Salespeople, Coaches, Fundraisers, Educators, Entrepreneurs and Other Leaders Get Us to Believe, 2013
Robert McKee, Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting – Harper Collins Publishers, 2010