The Movie Sequel Approach To Build Your Audience
When you open up and allow others to follow your journey, they are more inclined to stay with you.
If you can find a concurrent theme and people know it is ongoing, a narrative starts to form. Whether written, audio, or video, weaving a message in instalments keeps people with you, not wandering off.
Imagine what you do, as part of an ongoing bank of work that aligns with a consistent message. Think that what you create and share is more Star Wars, than Police Academy.
This article has its roots in a bit of nostalgia.
It is 40 years since Star Wars was released in the UK. The cinema doors opened during February half term in 1978 (it opened during May 1977 in the US). Here is what it looked like when it opened in Bournemouth as covered by the Daily Echo.
Taking it one step further, when it comes to the top ten highest grossing films of all time, six are in fact, sequels. People like something they are familiar with and can come back to with a sense of familiarity. It makes the whole interaction easier when people know what they are getting and they can connect with on a much deeper level.
This is exactly the same when it comes to your business and the loyal audience you can build with the content you create.
In a recent You Are The Media article, I highlighted the importance of celebrating the small things that keeps a message ongoing. It is this build up of communication that follows a message (mine happens to be ‘loyalty’) where you want people to come back (I send an email every Thursday). The reason people come back is that there is a heartbeat to your narrative. It is far easier to get to know someone a bit better rather than an attachment to a company logo.
What I am going to highlight is not a tired answer that is going to blindly tell you to create a story, but to look at those traits for why people come back. Why not take from another industry (the movie business) and what it means to create anticipation, familiarity and connection.
A Constantly Revolving Framework
In a B2B capacity the objective is to get someone to step forward to subscribe or convert.
If you take on board your work as a film series that continues with a related theme, the whole process can look something like this.
This is a framework to take on board.
You have a message that you stand resolutely next to, you don’t flinch and you are more Godfather than Basic Instinct 2.
What you say resonates with those who read/listen/watch. It becomes easier to associate when you talk in a language that doesn’t try to pretend to be the oracle. You want to be more Toy Story 2 than Cars 2.
The message that you share and unites, has to be of interest to someone else. You have to be in a place where they want to find out more, or get to know you (and your business better). It is better to be Aliens than Exorcist II: The Heretic.
People get to a point where they are ‘in’. Whether that is converting to a new customer or feeling compelled to subscribe to receive more content from you, this is where you can take someone else by the hand and show them how your world works and appreciation that they are part of it. You don’t want to be Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, maybe Mama Mia: Here We Go Again? We’ll only find out about that one when it comes out this summer.
If you can repeat this framework over and over again, you become Lethal Weapon, not Rush Hour. The narrative you create has a continuum, not one ice cream dollop of a campaign where you make an almighty noise and then quickly go quiet again.
What About You & The Movie Sequel Approach
If you can create an ongoing narrative within your B2B space that others understand, they will want to come back to it. When it becomes familiar and relatable, you are onto a log running winner.
It doesn’t have to be the logo and the ‘about us’ page that you put the investment in, it is the thread you create where you provide something to pick up and run with.
This is why you have such an opportunity to write and record and share in places where you now have complete access. The narrative you create can be interlinked into instalments that aligns with what you do (the weekly article, the monthly email, the fortnightly vlog, the Friday podcast), so people connect and stay loyal to you.
If you can create a genre and keep momentum with a message, it becomes easier for others to stay with you.
Here are some pointers to be aware of and to think about why people come back:
You Don’t Take An Audience For Granted. Just because an agency presumed that the new website they made live for someone else is worthy of giving a song and dance over on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean that others think that it is useful, entertaining, engaging or thought provoking. You create for someone else in mind. This is not about thinking that your audience is everyone, but to be relevant to those who matter.
Your audience is not everybody. If the Deadpool audience was everyone, then it just wouldn’t have worked. The talking into the camera, not taking anything and anyone else seriously and the step to make it an 18 certificate, proved that to be a success you don’t have to sit in the middle where everyone else has been for decades (the film was the biggest R rated movie ever made).
There Is A Continual Theme. There is no need to continually chop and change. When people get it, you stand next to them. The time when you have to change tact is when you listen to your audience and tailor for them. For instance, in 2017, I was heading down a road that was becoming too focused on banging the content marketing drum. By moving the needle slightly, the focus became the end, namely the ability to build loyalty to grow and not the means, which was telling people about how content marketing works.
When people see your message and it doesn’t deviate, those that are interested will lean in even more.
Since 1962, James Bond has been etched into the cultural zeitgeist. The theme has been continuous for over 50 years . It works something like this: M assigns Bond to a mission of national importance; the villain appears to Bond; Bond fails to kill him; the woman steps up and shows herself to Bond; Bond seduces the woman; Bond is captured/tortured; Bond escapes and beats the villain.
People want something that is recognisable to them. It is up to you, to put your own stamp on things. This is how we get to trust others when there is a consistency of message.
You Create The Expectation. When people know when you are going to show up, it makes it easier for them to make a commitment. It is better to be slow and steady if you are about to release a new podcast and release one a month, rather than blitz it with six shows in the first month and then start getting becoming less frequent.
When you put a date in someone’s else’s calendar ie. your email arrives on a particular day, if someone doesn’t like it, they won’t come back again. However, that is ok, it was just that they weren’t for you. It is better to follow a rhythm of delivery, rather than just show up in sporadic moments. Persistence and consistency are key (probably the two most common themes from the You Are The Media Podcast so far this year).
Hollywood follows a pattern of releases throughout the year. Time gathered data on over 8,000 movies in IMDB that made at least $100,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars, all the way back to 1913. By correlating the keywords for each movie to the month that it was released, they were able to find highly seasonal topics for each month of the year. Summer represents action, dark plots are synonymous with winter, ready for Oscar season, click here and type in a topic for a movie to see what month it will be likely to appear.
Lets Round Up
If the overall theme for this article is to think of your content as a film series that people get to know and come back to, lets remember that it doesn’t have to be blockbuster budget. You can go head to head with the more established players in your industry.
The important aspect is to create a message that other people believe in and is unique to you. Smaller budgets that offer something new, can create a significant return. From Saw to Rocky, these represent low budget films from relatively unknown actors, that achieved word of mouth and a loyal audience for successive films (have a look at 20 low budget films that became huge blockbusters).
From a B2B perspective, it doesn’t matter whether your approach is low budget, it is the ability to be engaging within a marketplace and using channels to distribute your message. What enables you to connect with others is the perspective you provide that delves into a space that not everyone has dived into.
Whilst Star Wars made it’s first cinema appearance 40 years ago and the old fashioned tale of good versus evil, no one had done it in a way that became immersed within space battles and aliens. That’s the same from a B2B side, you pick up on something that has been part of your industry for generations, but you put a new slant to it that people want to come over to your (not dark) side.