How Movie Trailers Harness the Five Elements of Compelling Content

Guest writer Michael Valverde is the Head Producer and Storyteller at The Content Mine – a video production studio based in Atlanta. Michael helps his corporate and non-profit clients consistently mine and share their evolving stories. Michael is an award-winning filmmaker and marketing innovator with brand and agency experience.

Take it away Michael!

Content Mine


In a world where content is king…

Hollywood studios are master marketers. Their teams launch multiple worldwide film brands every year. After spending millions of dollars to make us aware of a movie, they have one shot to drive us to the box office – the movie trailer. Since all studio releases still sink or swim based on their box office performance, studio executives focus a great deal of effort and research on making those 90-120 seconds very compelling.

Let’s take a look at how they harness the five elements of great story telling to capture hearts and minds:

1. In a world…

A line now often parodied, was made famous by the late great Don LaFontaine. It demonstrates the need to quickly establish the context or setting for your story. When it comes to business, that typically means articulating the relevant market conditions that your product or service helps address.

Consider the five market forces; social, technological, economic, environmental and political and then drill down to one sentence that will help your prospect understand why they should pay attention to the rest of your message.


2. Then a change occurs…

In the movie world this is often called the inciting incident. It’s the challenge that will eventually drive the hero into action.

For marketers, this is about clearly defining your prospects’ most pressing pain point. Hone in on the real unanswered question they face, and get it into a single sentence. Be as succinct as possible. A laundry list only waters down your message at this stage.

“It’s a self-initated action, a virtual “big bang” that sets the entire plot in motion, that can be committed by either the protagonist or antagonist, and that is an act of pure will.”

– Michael Tierno, Writer


3. If the challenge is not overcome…

Establish the stakes for the hero. What if Luke Skywalker doesn’t find a way to destroy the Death Star?

What happens to your prospects and/or their business if they are unable to relieve their pain or resolve their unanswered questions? Use emotive, sensory-based language to explain what missing this opportunity for resolution would look and feel like for your prospect.

Luke Skywalker


4. Enter hero…

Now you can introduce your solution as the hero. Explain why your product or service possesses the true force. Help your prospect understand how you will answer those pressing questions and help them seize the opportunity to be great.

This is where you clearly explain your offering in the simplest (read, no buzz words or acronyms) terms. Focus on what it is and how it works; you’ll get to tout the benefits next.

5. Present the new and better world…

Describe your stakeholders’ new utopia. This is where you explain the benefits of embracing “the hero.” Again, use emotive, sensory-based language; what would it look and feel like to take advantage of your amazing offering? Help them visualize themselves in this new and better world. Be sure to tie their story back to the initial context you established at the beginning.

If you get stuck, you can log on to YouTube and watch a bunch of movie trailers. Tell your friends it’s research, I’m sure they’ll buy it.

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