Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More! I’ve been reading many books about writing screenplays lately because there are many talks about bringing storytelling into content marketing. I thought I might also go to the sources and dig in on how to write a screenplay and how to tell stories effectively.
The three books I was reading are: Story by Robert McKee, Screenplay Writing 434 from Lew Hunger, and Save the Cat from Blake Snyder.
In this episode:
- Content must have a good sense of what it’s about and who it’s for
- The importance of structure
- Know your characters, and dig deep into your character development
- How screenplay writing relates to B2B marketing writing?
- How to apply screenplay structure to B2B Marketing?
- What is the best way for marketers to focus on what they want to say and how to say it?
- What can screenplays teach us about creating a customer journey?
- How to create a one-liner to express the essence of your brand?
Quotes from the episode:
“Another thing I’ve discovered is that every scene, every movement, and every word matters. Everything in a movie is intentional and purposeful.”
“The structure of a screenplay is your foundation before you can create scenes and dialogues. The structure of your marketing is your marketing plan, processes and tools.
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I’ve been reading a bunch of books about writing screenplays lately. Why? There are many talks about bringing storytelling into content marketing. I thought I might as well go to the sources and dig in on how to write a screenplay and how to tell stories effectively.
Plus, I write podcast scripts and video scripts myself, so I can learn from screenplay writing.
Here are the three biggest takeaways from reading screenplay writing that applies to B2B Marketing.
- A movie must have a good sense of what it’s about and who it’s for.
- That means structure. Structure. Structure.
- Know your characters, and dig deep into your character development. I mean deep.
1. A movie must have a good sense of what it’s about and who it’s for.
When we watch a movie, we don’t consciously think about what the movie is all about and whether or not it’s for us. Most of the time, we watch the movies due to the titles, having read reviews, or listening to organic suggestions from friends and family.
But no matter what, people can usually tell you the general idea of what that movie is about. (Example: ET is about an alien befriending a boy, Jurassic Park is about dinosaurs not befriending humans, etc.)
Therefore, when you write a screenplay, you need to articulate what your movie is about. The screenplay writers usually create a single statement to describe their movies. That’s called a logline; it’s called an elevator pitch in the business world, and in the marketing world, it’s called a value proposition.
Here are some logline examples – you’ll know exactly which movie I am talking about.
A cop comes to LA to visit his estranged wife, and terrorists take over her office building. —- Die Hard with Bruce Willis
A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend. — Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts
An ugly duckling FBI agent goes undercover as a contestant to catch a killer at the Miss America Pageant — Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock.
What is a one-liner that you can use to describe your product, what it does, and how it sets you apart from your competitors?
What is a one-liner to express the essence of your brand?
What is a one-liner that you can communicate to the upper management of your marketing campaign objectives?
Do you see the similarities between screenplay writing and marketing?
I can easily translate “A movie must have a good sense of what it’s about and who it’s for”
“A Good Marketing plan should have a good sense of what it wants to communicate and who it’s for.”
2. That means structure. Structure. Structure
This is probably the biggest takeaway for me. In screenplay writing, we put a protagonist in a structured situation, and they act or react.
Let’s use Miss Congeniality as an example. The story is built on a plot where a serial killer is on the loose. A tomboy FBI agent, Sandra Bullock, needs to be undercover in a Miss America Pageant to find the killer and protect the contestants.
Based on the premise, what structure are you going to build? Not just to show how the killer is captured at the end, but how Sandra Bullock is transformed from a tomboy to a confident woman who also believes in world peace? (I am kidding.)
Over time, she eventually realizes that women in the pageant are not just superficial airheads. To present themselves well, they work as hard as she does. In a way, they are just like her, but in a slightly different way.
But, as a screenplay writer, you need to create a structure so that Sandra Bullock can go from point A to point B to get to the final destination.
Therefore, structure matters.
How is that different from creating a customer journey?
You create a journey to guide your prospects and customers from your outbound marketing outreach to the website, then follow up with a nurturing email or a phone call from your sales team. You build a structure for your customer to get from point A to point B.
Another thing I’ve discovered is that every scene, every movement, and every word matters. Everything in a movie is intentional and purposeful.
The structure is the foundation to guide the scene and dialogue development.
For an audience like us, we only see the final product. The only thing that’s tangible when we watch the movie is dialogues and the scenes.
However, before you can develop any of that as a writer, you need to build a structure. It’s like when you walk into a well-styled house. The only thing we notice is the styling and the furniture, but deep down, the structure and layout of the house are important, and even before the structure and layout, the foundation is key.
The structure of a screenplay is your foundation before you can create scenes and dialogues.
The structure of your marketing is your marketing plan, processes and tools.
3. Know your characters and dig deep into your character development. I mean deep.
Well, I don’t need to explain this takeaway.
For writers, they need to know their characters well.
As marketers, we need to know our customers well.
We create buyer personas to demonstrate our understanding of our customers. After reading these books, I realize that buyer personas are not enough. You need to dig deep and answer the question – why does your customer buy from you?
When they buy accounting software, do they buy it so they can close the book at the end of every month and not think about it, or are they buying peace of mind so that the closing can be done in 3 hours every month with your software?
Dig deep into what your customer buys from you.
I don’t think that marketers, I included, are constantly thinking about what our customers buy from us or what they want. We tend to focus on what we want to say and how to say it.
The three books I was reading are Story by Rober Mckee, Screenplay writing 434 from Lew Hunger, and Save the Cat from Blake Snyder. There are suggestions from Tommy Walker. Thank you, Tommy. I will be talking to Tommy about content marketing in the upcoming episode.
Are you reading any non-marketing books to help you connect the marketing dots?
If you are, let me know; you know where to reach me. I’d love to hear from you.