Brands love to tell stories.
Why? Because people love hearing them (if they’re told well, that is). Stories are ingrained in the human psyche because they help deliver a core message in a flow the keeps people engaged throughout every stage.
However, while stories are as old as history, the typical story arc has changed – and your audience has changed it.
It’s time to adapt or get ignored. I know which option you’d probably prefer!
Prefer to listen, rather than read? Here’s the Podcast summary!
What’s the traditional story arc everyone knows?
You know the traditional story structure.
It’s in every novel and movie. This narrative arc consists of a bell-shaped curve that offers a comfortable sequence of sequential events, designed to keep people entertained throughout.
Typically, there is an initial introduction where the scene is set. Then, an incident occurs, there is rising action, followed by a climax. Success (or failure) ensues, the action falls and there is a resolution.
Marketing and adverts typically followed the same sequence.
A lead in which builds to a climax, then a product or service solution, completed with a brand and call to action about what to do next. Think about a typical advert or marketing piece that you’ve seen over the last few years.
For instance, consider this marketing story example.
- Introduction: group of people driving in a car establishing they’re on a road trip
- Build: the person in the front seat looks agitated and their stomach growls
- Climax: he or she sees the iconic restaurant logo in the distance and says: “I could really go for that.” The other people in the car agree.
- Product solution: The voice-over talks about their new meal and how affordable it is. It also mentions that it’s perfect for ‘hunger on the move’. The crew look happy eating in the car.
- Call to action: it shows the brand and where to find more information.
It makes logical sense because that’s what we’re all so used to. It’s how it has always been and it’s comfortable. But that’s now all changing!
So, why change the creative storytelling arc?
Well, I didn’t!
You did – as a customer. We all have. Our attention spans have changed; and by that, I mean significantly shortened. We’re also far more selective too.
In truth, it’s not just humans that have changed their preferences.
New platforms and mediums like TikTok, YouTube and Instagram have also been a catalyst. These encourage a different way of consuming content because of their very nature. They provide quick “shots” of entertainment and people have generally grown accustomed to this method of instant gratification. When a story takes too long to kick in, it’s too easy to just swipe onward.
People have grown accustomed to content that offers instant gratification.
Hence why story arcs have changed.
All of this means that the typical storytelling arc has changed, mostly without most brands even realising it. While this applies to all marketing storytelling now, adverts especially need to be paying attention to this.
What’s the new marketing story arc shape?
You can probably guess it, but this is what it typically looks like now.
- Straight in –there’s no time for a slow setup. You dive right into a relatable situation that hooks people instantly. This involves attracting attention fast with a relevant impact.
- Hit the climax fast –move straight onto the reveal now. The climax involves incorporating the brand naturally in the situation too, rather than the traditional way where it was a branded screen. This way, your brand is part of their lives – not a specific call out.
These first two steps quickly show people why they should care and watch on. If you’ve helped them, you can now explain the ‘what’ of your message next.
- Sustain engagement –here, the energy drops to give people more balance. If you’ve hooked their attention well in the first two parts, they will typically stick around for more information, more of the story and something of interest.
This is very typical of today’s audience: you need to earn their attention. But once they’ve seen the value, they’ll give you their time because you’ve established your value.
Give them the “how” from here.
- Call To Action – Now, you can provide more direction about what they should do next. Provide guidance and blend this with benefits to seal the deal.
- Additional information – Interestingly, even though people’s attention spans have decreased, once you’ve ‘broken through’ the initial scepticism and judgement, they will stick around so long as you’re offering value. This is where people who last can find bonus content.
Welcome to the new creative story arc!
There you have it.
It’s strange, isn’t it? And yet, it makes sense when you think about it.
Take your marketing hat off for a second and put on your customer hat. You’d probably prefer to get your information in this way too – instant relatability and brand incorporation first, then more information second once you’re comfortable.
That’s what your audience is looking for. So, make sure you give it to them if you want them to notice your brand.
So, let’s bring back the advert example from above
- Straight in: immediately show the hungry person in the front seat, saying “I’m starving, and look what’s up ahead!” No need to establish the people are on a road trip – your audience will get it as the climax unfolds.
- Hit the climax fast: the car is suddenly in the Drive Through lane. Their hand extends and grabs the bag with the restaurant logo on it. Branded food is in the car with everyone eating while the car speeds on. “Wow, that hit the spot!”
- Sustain engagement: the scene discusses how the solution is perfect for crews on the move. It’s fast, cost-effective and quality food you can share. “It’s part of the road trip.”
- Call to action: this is more of a welcoming direction, like “next time you’re on an adventure, you know where to go. Swing by!”
- Additional information: the story moves more into the menu and the types of food.
You will only ever get to stages 3, 4 and 5 if you set up parts 1 and 2 really well.
That’s why you have to hit the action fast- because people today give you all of 3 seconds to determine if they want to stick around or simply move on.
How does this new creative story arc affect content?
While it may sound like this is just for videos or adverts, it changes the game for all content that tells a story- from audio podcasts, to written content, landing pages and even case studies.
You need to cut straight to the relevant proof so you “tick that box” for them and earn your audience’s precious attention. Otherwise, they’ll move straight on.
Think about all of your content – do you need to shift things up a bit now?
How can Melotti Media help you tell a good story?
To engage your customer and achieve ongoing business success today, you need a powerful message, quality copywriting and consistent content. However, this is easier said than done.
Perhaps you’re time poor and spread thin, or writing may not be your expertise.
So, let us take care of your message marketing, copywriting and content marketing needs!
For more information or to speak to a quality marketing copywriter to get the results your business deserves, contact me now at email@example.com.
Our Message Marketing services can sharpen your words to achieve your goals, today.
Melotti Media | Copywriting & Message Marketing Bureau