What Corporate Marketers Can Learn from Hollywood

Find Out What Happens When Marketers Add Emotion and Suspense to Their Content Marketing

In conference rooms across the country, corporate marketers and their agency partners are struggling to develop plans and generate content that will drive results for their businesses. And very rarely do their internal clients in engineering, sales and management come to them and say, “What we need is more emotion and more suspense in our content!”

But the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster: anticipation, unexpected elements, tying into audience aspirations, can and should be leveraged to create compelling corporate content.

The importance of emotion in content was a key theme during my recent visit to Content Marketing World. And the idea of storytelling was prevalent from the opening address by Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi through the final keynote by Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey.

Pulizzi talked about creating and leveraging the “moments of inspiration” that motivate demand. His simple example: how demand for juicers goes up as people aspire to focus on health in the New Year. And Spacey talked about the importance of tension in a story “Without it, there’s no driving force, no passion, no involvement.”

So how do we take corporate content and add some Hollywood-type flair?

  • Be authentic and play to audience aspirations. One of the speakers at Content Marketing World shared the story of how he made video stars out of his very technical, geeky engineers. Fortunately, their target audience was also technical and geeky and wanted to be viewed as smart as his engineers, so his main requirement was that each of his experts be natural and authentic in their message and delivery. Potential participants who suddenly become formal in front of the camera or spoke unnaturally were not included in the program.
  • Play to audience fears. One of my clients wanted to show industry leadership by helping educate their customers about upcoming regulatory changes. As we drafted a blog post, we thought strategically about the title, avoiding “An Update on Upcoming Industry Regulations” and instead used “Five Things Your Boss Wants You to Know about Upcoming Regulations.” This was the most successful post in the blog’s history.
  • Be unexpected. In many ways it’s easier for corporate marketers to do something unexpected than it is for Hollywood, because we expect Hollywood to ‘wow’ us. Several years ago I promoted the dry topic of data mining by digging up a tech industry urban legend about the correlation of purchases of beer and diapers at supermarkets. To promote our experts, we mailed out a carton of beer with diapers in the holes—much to the incredible surprise of the tech journalists who received it.

By using these elements of storytelling, case studies, videos and even white papers offer an opportunity for corporate marketers to leverage the basics of human nature to gain more traction with their audiences.

A couple great resources I recommend:

  • Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe,” by cognitive science professor Jim Davies. Check out this great overview of the book and the importance of compelling content.
  • “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die,” by brothers Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This book has been around a few years and was widely cited at Content Marketing World.



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