Last week I was in Atlanta for a video shoot and I had to pause this letter. It was my first time traveling since the pandemic and, well, it was weird.
This week's finds include 8 lessons about creativity, how to craft a brand story, a Hollywood Framework for content creation, what is narrative-market fit, and how media companies can survive in the age of abundance.
🎓 A hilarious 2 minute tutorial about tantrums from Adult Swim
🗣 Matthew McConaughey sits down with Emmanuel Acho to have an uncomfortable conversation with a black man
🎬 A 5 minute short film about the psychology of people who lack the self-awareness to see their own lack of self-awareness.
💡 105 Headline Ideas to inspire your next campaign
🚧 A beautiful summary from Seth Godin on the importance of dismantling barriers
💭 An inspiring comic about 8 marvelous & melancholy lessons on creativity.
In this third post of the brand video creation series, I explain how to craft a compelling story.
- The one mistake you shouldn't make: avoid using data, statistics, features and logical arguments to explain why you’re better than the competition. Emotion drives our choices more than logic.
- Make your message simple. A confused consumer never buys. In fact, people rarely buy the best products and services. They buy the products and services that are easiest to understand.
- Your customer is a hero experiencing a conflict. You are the guide that will take him on a journey to resolution.
- You are not selling a product or service. You are selling the transformation that your customer will experience through it.
The Hollywood framework for crafting popular content
5 minutes | Animalz
In filmmaking, movies can be “high-concept” or “low-concept.” High-concept movies are based on an easily pitched, succinct plot—like Snakes on a Plane. Low-concept movies rely less on plot and more on world-building and character development—like The Revenant
- The same principle applies to content marketing. Some content is high-concept: the reader can immediately anticipate what the article is about and what the value is (i.e. The Science Behind 100k-View Blog Posts). Some content is low-concept: the value of the article isn’t immediately apparent, and it relies on great execution to make it satisfying (i.e. The Ultimate Guide To Growing a Blog).
- High concept content performs better: it stands out because it hones in on a specific and interesting nuance. It also templatize a winning formula and requires fewer resources.
- To make your content more high concept, start from something generic (like a keyword) then hone in on one facet of the topic that you find most interesting, most contrarian, or most supported by your own experience.
Use narrative-market fit to judge the merit of a news story
7 minutes | David Perell
- Just as companies with product-market fit are more likely to be funded, stories with narrative-market fit are more likely to be written. To increase the reach of their stories, journalists often identify emerging narratives and look for facts to support the story they want to tell.
- Bad narratives lead to bad policy, and bad policy leads to bad outcomes, which further bad narratives.
- Society is like a cruise ship. It turns slowly but moves with force once it settles on a direction. It won’t self-correct unless you turn the wheel, so traveling too far in the wrong direction could send it into a cliff.
- Looking for narrative-market fit is like holding a compass in your pocket because even though it can’t tell you much about where you are, it says a lot about where you’re going.
How media companies can survive in the age of aggregators
10 minutes | Stratechery
- The single most important fact about both movies and television is that they were defined by scarcity: there were only so many movies that would ever be made to fill only so many theater slots, and in the case of TV, there were only 24 hours in a day.
- That meant that there was significant value in being someone who could figure out what was going to be a hit before it was ever created, and then investing to make it so. This is what Hollywood have been doing for decades.
- The Internet is instead defined by abundance. The goal is not to pick out the hits, but rather to attract as much content as possible, and then algorithmically boost whatever turns out to be good.
- There were three strategies available to media companies looking to survive on the Internet. First, cater to Google (heavy emphasis on both speed and SEO). Or cater to Facebook (heavy emphasis on click-bait and human interest stories with viral potential). Both approaches, though, favored media entities with the best cost structures, not the best content.
- The third way: going directly to users. Success here is about delivering superior quality in your niche — the former is defined by the latter.
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"Who the hell are you?"
I'm Gianluca, an Italian filmmaker based in Los Angeles. A while back you opted into my email list through my website Storyforma. I like to send out genuinely useful content about working and living as a creative in the digital age.
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