If there’s one thing you know about me, it’s that I like movies. And you also know that I can find marketing analogs in virtually any movie I watch: From how Multiplicity perfectly illustrates the need for having a psychographic profile on your target customer to how the six Infinity Stones teach us the power of positioning.
So, it should come as no surprise that I also see a common thread between the film industry as a whole and marketing.
You see, all movies fall into different genres, such as action, adventure, comedy, drama, suspense, horror, mystery, and more. The genre selected for a story defines how that story is told. It determines everything from the tone, voice, and mood to the style, aesthetics, and pace.
The thing is, any story can be told in any genre.
Consider the 1993 comedy classic Mrs. Doubtfire starring Robin Williams. It’s a comedy about an eccentric dad who dresses as a British nanny so he can spend more time with his kids after his wife leaves him.
But this story can also be told as a drama:
Daniel Hillard is an out-of-work actor whose whole life revolves around his children. His wife Miranda is tired of waiting for him to “grow up” and kicks him out. After losing custody and visitation rights, Daniel must find a way to reconnect with his children against all odds.
Of course, it could also be a horror flick:
Daniel, a deranged man suffering from multiple personality disorder, is denied custody of his children. His alter ego, Euphegenia Doubtfire, will stop at nothing to get them back, leaving in their wake a trail of fear and destruction.
Does that sound like I’m “reaching”? Well, here’s the trailer for our horror version of Mrs. Doubtfire:
How does this relate to marketing?
Good question. The unfortunate truth is that most brand stories are told in one genre; the documentary. Not that there’s anything wrong with documentaries. I love them. But if you really want to stand out from the competition and connect with your target, you need to venture into other genres. Comedy, drama, and yes, even horror make for compelling brand stories.
It may be difficult at first, but I challenge you to stretch the limits. Word choice and tone significantly influence the emotion that your copy can evoke. And we want people to feel emotion when they read what you have to say.
Take your about us page, for example. This is an excellent place to start. I give it a 99% chance that it’s told as a documentary. Reimagine the content as a drama, or adventure, or even a comedy. Take into consideration your brand personality and the interests of your target market before choosing the genre.
Or better yet, try it out in all three. You may be surprised to find which iteration works best.
Still not confident?
I understand. You may need some practice before tackling your own content story. Here’s an exercise to stretch your brain and practice. Like I did with Mrs. Doubtfire, choose a movie and swap its genre. Then write the brief synopsis that you’d find on Netflix.
Bonus #1: I went ahead and made a simple excel-based randomizer for you. You can download it here.
Bonus #2: A fun group activity! If you have a team, break them into groups of two or three and have them each select a different movie and swap the genre. Then have each team present their synopses and see if the other teams can guess the film!
Bonus #3: If you enjoyed the horror trailer for Mrs. Doubtfire, then you’ll enjoy this fun romantic comedy version of The Shining 🙂