(blog post by Andrew Thorp)
Henry Cavill shot to fame recently in his new role as Superman in the latest blockbuster Man of Steel. It’s a classic hero’s role and it’s doing good business at the box office.
But heroic behaviour actually IS good business and if you want your company to stand out from its rivals you need to communicate in a different way.
A lot of entrepreneurs ask me how to make their basic pitch more compelling, especially when the subject matter is rather dry. My answer is usually, “tell a story and play the hero’s role”. Let me explain, using the apparently unpromising topic of insurance!
Take a look at this Green Flag commercial. They’ve essentially ‘storified’ their sales pitch by making it about getting a father back to his son in time for his bath and bedtime story – more specifically, “The Tiger who Came to Tea”. The ad agency used a fake ‘breaking news’ theme, complete with BBC-style graphics and news reporters door-stepping the boy and his mum in the glare of TV lights and cameras.
It’s a clever piece of promotion as it engages the audience emotionally with the characters in the story. It’s got a nice narrative structure:
Set the Scene
Father on way home, keen to get there in time for bedtime story, promised his son he’d be there.
Car breaks down, phones home, boy distraught, mum and dad stressed out, what to do?
Calls for help, Green Flag arrive promptly, sort out the car, he’s on his way again.
The Happy Ending
Man gets back home in time, son gets his story, dad keeps his promise.
The Moral of the Story
Get some decent breakdown insurance so you don’t let your loved ones down.
The story element is reinforced by the ‘breaking news’ theme and the use of a well loved children’s book. But it’s also interesting how the commercial uses one of the most powerful narrative concepts – the fight between good and evil.
Pretty much every Steve Jobs presentation contained the very same idea – maybe it was an entity (Microsoft) or a concept (lazy design). Whatever the case, he wanted Apple to be seen as a hero fighting against malevolent forces.
If Green Flag can get a father home in time for a bedtime story they’re playing the heroic role. The evil might be unexpected delays or vehicle malfunction, but they’re gonna come zooming in cape-a-flapping with those big red (err…green) underpants and save the day. Come to think of it they ditched the underpants look for Man of Steel!
So if you want a more compelling story to tell about your product or service, find a baddie and start playing the hero’s role. Be a ‘Super-company’!