There is a lot we can learn from Hollywood. Especially about what NOT to do. But that's for a future show.
In this article, I'm going to keep it strictly about learning Business secrets, Marketing secrets, even Content Creation secrets, from Hollywood.
(You can listen to, or read, the full series below).
(listen to the article below via the player above)
And as a marketer, one of the most critical skills you need is storytelling.
Now, I myself have a newsletter - which you can sign up for at SubscribeMe.fm. Or just send me an email to Ravi_at_SubscribeMe.fm and I'll add you to the list and even give you a free copy of one of my eBooks.
I've been sending emails to my lists for over 25 years now. And my most successful email EVER, in terms of most opens, most read, and most clicked, had the subject line "I Came Home and the Dog Was Bald".
In that chapter, I talk about one of my favorite NLP techniques called Pattern Interrupt. And I talk about the story of a time when I mistakenly checked my email in the middle of the night right before going to bed, and opened one specific email from one of my favorite people, Roy H. Williams, aka the "Wizard Of Ads", read through it, started cracking up with laughter, and then ended up wide awake after that and couldn't go back to sleep for a while because my mind was racing with ideas.
It is an absolutely mesmerizing story and you'll regret not having heard it. So right after you finish this episode, be sure to check out the full episode, "I Came Home and the Dog Was Bald".
You too are a born storyteller. We’re all storytellers – from telling stories to our siblings to our kids to our parents to friends at a party.
You may not have honed it well enough - yet, or thought about it enough and adapted it for your business, but storytelling is in our DNA, right from when primitive humans gathered around a fire at night and told each other stories.
There are so many frameworks and formulae for telling a story.
And, But, Therefore
The second word, “But,” is for the conflict act of a story. “Therefore,” is the third act of a story, and ends with the resolution.
Comedians call it Setup, Twist, Punchline. A Three-act story.
There was a little girl on a farm in Kansas and her life was quite ordinary. But one day, Young Dorothy Gale and her dog are swept away by a tornado to a magical Land. Therefore, she has to find her way back home from a strange land filled with strange things. Get it? Sorry, no points for guessing the name of this movie: The Wizard of Oz.
Here’s another easy one: An innocent young boy grows up with a mean aunt, uncle, and cousin, and one day gets an invitation to a school of magic because he was born into a magical world of wizards and witches. But he discovers that his arch enemy is the one who murdered his parents and also happens to be the most powerful wizard. Therefore, the young wizard has to try and defeat the evil wizard with the help of his friends and teachers, before the evil wizard takes over the world.
Here’s a business example from coolerinsights.com(1): ABC Accounting Services (hypothetical): Mr. Tan is the boss of a Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) in the car servicing business. Every day, he has to grow the business, hire and train staff, ensure that operations are running smoothly, and fix cars too (it’s a small business anyway). But because he is so busy and not financially trained, Mr. Tan has no idea how to keep his financial matters in order. Therefore, he needs the help of an accounting firm like ABC Accounting Services to take away his bookkeeping headaches, so that he can concentrate on growing his business.
>> Hook And Sub-hook But Knowledge Gap Therefore Your Solution
The departure: The moment in which the hero starts his journey
The initiation: The course of the hero’s journeys, with the adventures and discoveries that emerge during the journey
The return to the point of departure, with the acquired powers and knowledge.
One of the most famous and easily identifiable examples: Finding Nemo, the animated movie from Pixar.
2) No amount of great marketing can make a bad product successful. So you’ve got to start with a great product.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash: Starring a peak Eddie Murphy.
Cost $100 million to make. Lost: $96 million
The Lone Ranger: From Disney! Starring a peak Johnny Depp after making insanely profitable Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Cost: $225 million, Lost: $98 million
Waterworld, starring Kevin Costner.
Per Wikipedia, with a budget of $172 million, they spent $63 million on marketing and distribution, bringing the total cost to $235 million. The film earned a total of $264 million. So even with 63 million worth of marketing on TV and Radio and magazines and every imaginable channel, they barely broke even.
Production budget: $263 million | Loss: $122 million
Oscar-winning Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Finding Nemo) and the beloved and celebrated book, A Princess of Mars, written in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Another massive Disney clunker.
Now, there are two things I would like to add:
Great marketing can sometimes make most non-Hollywood products successful. It’s different with movies because a lot of people will be watching a new movie in the theaters, in the same short time frame – like within the first few weeks. And word of mouth is incredibly strong for movies because whether you watch a great movie or a terrible movie, you’re probably telling everyone you know in real life and on social media. And there are websites like RottenTomatoes.com that give out ratings, and if a movie or show stinks, then it’s going to get terrible ratings, and that’ll discourage a lot of people from even checking it out.
But when it comes to real-life products, like a software product, or an online course, or your coaching program, you’re not going to get large numbers of people signing up for it – at least most people aren’t going to. And most of them are not immediately going to social media and posting about how terrible your product is. It takes time for the word to spread. That’s why in the short term, it’s easy for great marketing to get you a whole bunch of sales. Of course, if your product sucks, you’re going to get tons of refunds, and the bad reviews will slowly start piling up and eventually snowball, and you’ll lose your reputation.
So even the greatest product in the world will not be successful unless you promote it, that doesn’t mean you should throw money trying to promote a bad product, because, in the end, you’ll have a lot of unhappy customers, tons of refunds, and a terrible reputation to deal with.
3) Product placement
FedEx – Cast Away
Wilson The Ball – Cast Away
Aston Martin – James Bond
Ray-Ban glasses – Top Gun
You can adopt this strategy as part of your content. In fact, I do this all the time on this very podcast. Whenever the topic of the show talks about a product or a book or a course, I promote either my own products – like my own coaching program, which you can check out at SubscribeMe.fm/coaching, or my 8th and latest book titled DOGPOO & DOSAA: 67 Proven & Implementable Truths, Tactics & Hacks To Create Better Content, Promote Your Products, Grow Your Audience and Make More Sales , which you can find on Amazon, or on my website at DogpooBook.com.
See what I did there?
You get the idea. Contextual ads are far more appreciated and accepted because they don’t take away from the main content.
And this is also why host-read ads are far more powerful because the ad is in the voice of the show’s host, instead of some random person of the opposite sex from the host, reading out a Geico ad that sounds like a radio commercial.
4) Who You Know
That’s why Alumni groups can be so powerful, even more so if you went to the big Ivy League schools. A network of peers and colleagues who have gone on to do different things in life and have had achievements and accomplishments is a very powerful kind of network, which can get you into rooms and situations and deals that you probably couldn’t get otherwise.
Similarly, associations and clubs can be very influential in opening new doors. This is why you need to join meetups and local groups and associations and get to know people from your industry and even peripheral niches.
5) A Great Team
If you’ve listened to my podcast before, you’ve heard my “Ooh What a Man” jingle. Let me play you a short clip of that song. And I’ll play the full clip at the end of this episode. This was created by someone on Fiverr. I paid $30 for lending the vocals. I had already picked out the song.
I found the song and decided that it was going to be the jingle for my podcast. So I found a Karaoke version without the vocals, wrote my own lyrics to match the original rhythm, and I found this singer on Fiverr. She had an amazing voice. I messaged her and sent her the audio clip and the lyrics and asked her if she would sing the lead version. And she charged me $30 for that. And that’s how we got this audio clip that you’re about to hear. (listen to the podcast for the audio).
If you’ve heard my Liam Neeson clip, that too was created by a Liam Neeson impersonator on Fiverr. I might’ve paid about $50 for that. Here’s that clip. (listen to the podcast for the audio).
And then there’s the Morgan Freeman clip. (listen to the podcast for the audio).
So Fiverr doesn’t mean just Five bucks, and Fiverr certainly doesn’t mean low quality. Not any more.
6) Skill & Practice
Many people end up thinking that practicing something will make you sound too robotic. They think the term “sounds too rehearsed” is a negative thing. On most occasions, it’s not a negative.
Whether it’s the nightly news, a stand-up routine by Dave Chappelle, or a state of the union address by the President, or Saturday Night Live, all of it involves scripting and rehearsing.
There’s this incredible scene in the movie Reservoir Dogs – directed by Quentin Tarantino. In this iconic sequence of scenes, Mr. Orange, aka the actor Tim Roth, tells the story of him walking into a bathroom with 4 cops.
Anyway, in the movie, Mr. Orange has to tell them the story so convincingly that the gang needs to believe it’s true, and hopefully that then gives him a way into becoming a part of the gang.
So another cop gives Tim Roth the script of a story of him walking into a bathroom that has 4 cops. And Tim Roth’s job is to memorize it, and live it and feel it, and make it his own so that when he narrates that story to the gang members, they should really believe the story and develop a connection with him.
Saturday Night Live takes ONE ENTIRE WEEK of practice, following a tight script, no improv allowed and is actually frowned upon, and in spite of all that, you can still see the actors reading off of a big sign off-camera, and they know that you can see that, and that’s OK with them.
Now on the flipside, Hollywood is all about retakes – getting the perfect shot without flubbing the lines, without screwing up the expression, the movement, or the lighting. Greatness takes practice. Great products take constant and multiple revisions to create and improve.
In the book, “Creativity, Inc.”, Ed Catmull, the founder of Pixar and president of Disney Animation, argues that every film starts out as an “ugly baby”, growing through countless changes into a graceful adult.
I talked about Skills, Scripts, Practice, and Mr. Orange's "Commode Story" on this episode:
Put Your Pen Down, Script It And Rehearse It – 106