What Hollywood can teach business
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Getting Personal About Business, the blog of Zahn Consulting, LLC.
As business professionals, entrepreneurs and senior executives, the movies are more than just a relaxing way to be entertained. Hollywood understands the importance and relevance of the concept of "story" to not only move people emotionally, but also to change opinions, persuade, convince, or get people to take action.
Take some of the recent Oscar nominees.
As much as people were mesmerized by the performances of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill in "The Wolf of Wall Street," the lessons about honesty, integrity, morality and standing for something real and substantial are very apparent.
"Twelve Years a Slave" presents plenty of opportunities to scrutinize the human condition, the impact of greed on behavior, victimization, integrity, etc. Although a period piece, a closer look at the story makes it easy to see how the very same dynamics occur in contemporary society.
"Dallas Buyer’s Club" and "American Hustle" speak to similar issues of greed, how people can be convinced or choose to pursue immoral pursuits, the impact on the person and others when their behaviors are to be accounted for.
But what does it mean for business?
- A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down. If people (prospects and buyers) can be entertained or taken on a journey that meets both emotional and cognitive needs, the chances of success go up exponentially. Few of the "messages" being imparted would reach the audience if they were delivered in dry commentary.
- As a business seeking to differentiate itself from competition, the more memorable and distinct one can make the "brand" or company image so that it resonates with shoppers and prospects, the more likely it is to be recalled when the purchase decision is made. Affiliation with what the store stands for can build a following.
Marketing efforts should be supplemented with (if not entirely based on) elements of "story" or context for what the business is truly focused on.
Author and sales guru Mike Bosworth recommends a focus on the following "stories" to communicate a business mission:
- Who I am/Who we are — who the salesperson is and who the company represents;
- Who we help — by life circumstance or situation.
In order to build the trust and desire to do business together, it is essential to appeal to the desire to want to do business. Storytelling is the gateway to accomplishing that for Hollywood — and it can be for business.
Does storytelling work better for certain types of retailers? What retailers do you think are particularly effective at using storytelling to engage consumers?