Hollywood Storylines Made For Your Video Marketing
Your video teacher’s name is Bond. James Bond.
And 007’s got some lessons for marketers of all stripes looking to spice up their engagement- and conversions- through video.
It recently hit me after watching Casino Royale (Daniel Craig’s first appearance as Bond) how many of the theatrical techniques in that film apply to compelling video marketing.Sure, yours won’t require the special effects and stunts of the gripping, if not over-the-top, British spy series.
But still, the storyline takeaways from one of Hollywood's most beloved collections can be adapted for your own viewers to keep them enthralled.
Here are some examples from the flick that can seriously increase your Watch Time and have your videos ranking higher:
Inject Some Opening Drama
Right from the opening scene, you’ve got to capture the viewer’s fickle attention span.
Even the screenwriters of a famous franchise like James Bond- which needs no introduction or convincing of what it’s about- do this.
And they do it in spades.
Casino Royale starts off with an MI6 colleague of Bond’s returning to his office in Prague.
Once inside, he notices James sitting down in a dimly lit corner of his office. Completely unannounced.
Turns out Bond’s there to kill the agent, who betrayed their employer by selling sensitive information to foreign operatives.
Before Bond pulls the trigger, he also recounts a story to his colleague about the first agent he ever killed, shown in black-and-white flashbacks depicting a brutal struggle in a seedy bathroom.
Needless to say, the viewer’s attention’s completely stolen at this point.
That’s why it’s good to start strong with your video. Consider a “pattern interrupt” or other completely surprising facts or visuals to kick off your message.
Your business, product or service needn’t be filled with excitement to do this.
If you’re an auto body shop, start the video off with a recorded car crash. Show a picture of a totaled car or pained face of a “soon-to-be client” and make a story off of that.
It also doesn’t need to be an obvious connection. A painter could start his video off with footage from a wowed customer who’s just been shown a freshly painted room for the very first time.
(This exact scene recently transpired when a painter opened up the door to our soon-to-be daughter’s room. The feeling of joy combined with our looks of wonder would have made a killer opening to that painter’s video, and been a lot more convincing than any words or paint job would have!)
Be creative here, but ensure the opening drama leads in to the rest of the story you’ll tell throughout the video.
Create a Cliff-hanger
Here’s where you build on the opening drama and introduce an unknown that needs answering… but the answer won’t come until later in the video!
People are naturally curious— and when it involves something they’re interested in (your product or service), you can be sure they’ll stick around longer than normal to get the information they want!
In Casino Royale, Bond finds a one-word text message stored on one of the bad guys’ cell phones: ELLIPSIS.
He tracks the number that sent the text and it sends him on his international journey to discover what the word means— and its deadly significance to the criminal conglomerate using it.
We don’t find out the meaning until much later in the movie… with Bond all the while cheating death trying his best to uncover its secret.
This is a great tactic you can use to up your engagement level and turn your audience into more receptive viewers than they otherwise might have been!
It’s as simple as telling the viewer if they stick around, they’ll get the answer to a problem they have (which you should mention near the beginning, and reference in your video title too for consistency).
There are great examples like this in information-heavy niches like weight loss and nutrition.
Just about one minute in, this video sales letter (VSL) promises viewers will learn how “eating carbs the way I’m about to show you can help you lose weight” and “Before I reveal my list of fat-burning carbs…”
It’s language like this that perks up your viewers’ ears, and plants the mental cue of cognitive dissonance— a psychological state of uneasiness where the viewer needs a timely answer but doesn’t have it. In this way, they’re dissuaded from clicking away from the video, for fear of losing that answer.
This is a persuasion technique used by some of the best direct response marketers and neuro-linguistic programmers (NLP) around.
You can easily do the same in your videos, using language like the above examples— either verbally or in written form in a helpful VSL.
It’s the equivalent of an ongoing cliff-hanger in your favorite thrillers. A mystery has been presented and you want to stick around to get some “closure” on the matter!
The same can be accomplished by using tactics like:
- A countdown list- Count down (3-2-1) the best or worst things your prospects can do for [whatever your business solves]. The anticipation and promise of the “best or worst” item at the very end will help improve your Watch Time and engagement!
- A contest winner- Tell your viewers that the winner of a contest, draw or another promotion you ran will be unveiled at the end of the video. (Of course, email or contact the actual winner directly if they don’t happen to view the video. Good business practices and all!)
- A new (visual) update- Do you have a new software update, product release or other newsworthy item for your viewers? Let them see the actual update or item at or near the end of the video, after describing the change and “preparing” the viewers for what they’ll see. Seeing is believing, and this is another technique to gain excitement and compel viewers to stick around.
Stage a Surprise Ending
A classic cinematic technique. Often the hallmark of a great (or at least memorable) movie.
No reason your video can’t use the same!
Now back to Bond.
*(SPOILER ALERT BELOW!)*
Bond’s love interest through the better part of the film- Vesper Lynd- is seemingly settling down with James after the climax of the movie, where the main enemy (more on that later!) is finally taken care of and all mysteries presumably solved.
Bond could never seem to hold down a steady relationship, and things looked rosy for the couple.
That is, until we find out Vesper actually gave away confidential banking information to the same conglomerate that Bond was tasked with foiling.
She ends up withdrawing over $100 million and delivering it to the criminals. Right under Bond’s nose.
When Bond finds out, he goes to intercept her delivering the money.
Once the building where the cash is exchanged begins to sink into Venetian waters, Bond attempts to save Vesper but she ends up drowning herself— seemingly unable to live with the double-crossing deed she committed.
(Of course, we then later find out Vesper’s intentions were good… she withdraws the money for the bad guys in order to save James’ and her overseas boyfriend’s life.)
None of this was expected. And that’s the compelling beauty of it.
So how do you use surprise endings in your video marketing?
- A straightforward way of doing so might include showing viewers the results of a study or test you performed, which went completely against what you thought (and previously discussed with viewers) would happen.
A good example of this would be if you’re an online marketer and are letting viewers follow along with a landing page split-test you run. You’re sure- based on past results, gut feeling or whatever the reason- that Landing Page ‘A’ will be the winner… but turns out Landing Page ‘B’ was the champion!
You discuss how and why you had a great feeling about Page ‘A’ through the video, as you dissect the various elements of each Page, and then reveal everything at the end (LIVE and with accompanying screenshots or views of the stats in the software if possible, to accentuate the drama).
- A second example might be a little silly, but accomplishes the same thing.
On top of some sort of announcement or helpful update you provide, you can inject a little of your brand’s own unique flair in an unexpected way.
Surprise endings don’t need to be over-the-top, when they’re fun and still give your viewers information.
- Another example of a video surprise ending is one used for calculated purposes. Here’s a big brand using that technique to transfer positive sentiment toward their product.
The point is to set up expectations in the first part of your video… and then completely alter them with what you present at the end.
Establish an Enemy
Another classic element of a gripping Hollywood storyline.
And… a more advanced marketing technique that, when done right, can position your business as the “good guy”— and one your viewers can relate to (and therefore make it easier to turn them into customers!)
In this way it shows you’re in this the prospect, and understand their situation.
It’s good vs. evil. And a critical element to any James Bond masterpiece— Casino Royale included.
In this case, it’s the mysterious Le Chiffre who plays the reviling antagonist.
A perfect “evil” character, Le Chiffre’s a renegade investment banker with a visible scar across his damaged eye (and a tear duct that seeps blood when he’s upset).
Not only part of the mental manipulation and anxiety in a high-stakes poker game, he’s also behind some obscene torturing of Bond, and the criminal mastermind behind the illegal activity Bond tries to stop.
He’s a fixture of the film throughout, and one the viewers grow to loathe as the movie progresses.
How do you insert an enemy into your video marketing?
It isn’t always easy, but when you think critically enough about your niche (and you know your target audience well), you’ll know exactly what to key on.
This is where a comprehensive buyer persona of your prospects comes in handy.
It comes down to knowing how your prospects tick. To get that information, it’s hard to find 10 better questions to ask than these, before creating any marketing for them. (Questions made famous by Dan Kennedy.)
What do they dislike? Who (or what) do they attribute their problems to? These are problems that your business is supposed to solve!
For example, using the health niche again, oftentimes the “enemy” of folks looking to lose weight or eat healthier are the big food companies who profess their products are “healthy” or “low fat”, but are anything but when consumed regularly.
In fact, they often contribute to weight gain.
Or, another potential enemy is the flood of so-called health “gurus” who all have their own agenda to push, oftentimes with conflicting information that does nothing but confuse the prospect.
And confusion leads to inaction, making the situation worse.
High net worth individuals have a common enemy: the government. They feel they’re being punished for their success with outrageous taxes levied on them.
Small mom and pop shops, say bookstores, boutique retailers and stationary suppliers, all share the Amazons, Walmarts, and eBays of the world as their common enemy.
Any business can point to at least one “enemy” that’s impeding their prospective customers from success or getting where they want to be. So just like Hollywood leverages the emotion of a galling villain, you can do the same in your videos.
And then bring prospects closer to you!
Some online marketing agencies do a good job of demonizing the bad guys in their videos… oftentimes similar agencies to theirs, but also “traditional” media that are given a bad name due to their less-than-transparent results.
Mac did the same to Microsoft- and their implied unreliable operating systems- in several classic TV ads like this.
Rather than encourage you to attack a direct competitor, a more shrewd idea for your video might include demonstrating how the “leaders” or “gurus” in your niche all claim their expertise in some area— but you never see true credentials or know how to pick one over the other amidst all the noise and chest pounding.
How is one different than the other?
Or, that they always say how easy something is, but when you actually go do it, realize what you were told was all hype and not a realistic reflection of what’s required.
Again, this must be done with tact… and only when it’s clear who (or what) the enemy is to your target audience. And, all the while positioning your business as the helpful “good guy” in the situation.