Successful event organisers understand that high-quality marketing content is critical to raising the profile of events, boosting ticket sales and attendance.
When it comes to changing an audience's feelings towards a brand, a well-executed, widely-shared marketing film is one of the most effective tools available. This powerful combination of influence and reach can shift an audience from neutral, or even negative, towards the positive.
However, the essential ingredient that's often missing in many event films is story. Without story, the film will lack the relatable human element that's required to fully gain a customer’s attention—and persuade them to take action. Simply capturing a sequence of events will not move people in the same way.
The most powerful instrument of communication is story. Facts don’t affect anyone, incidents don’t affect everyone. If you want to persuade or influence people then you need to understand and master the art of story.John Yorke, Former Controller — BBC Drama Production
The mirror story
A fundamental difference between fictional storytelling and business storytelling is purpose. A fictional story has no purpose beyond itself. It’s there to create an experience for the audience. In business storytelling, there's a purpose. You want people to have an experience of story that gives them insight and moves them to want to take action.
This is where the 'mirror' story comes in. The mirror story is the one that is going on inside the viewer as they sense on some subconscious level that this story is really about them. It's about their needs, their problems, about what they want and what they need to do. The story is inspiration and motivation to go out into the world and do what that story would have them do.
Finding the story
Every person has a story. Every event has a story. Our aim as filmmakers is to seek and present these stories in a compelling way so that the viewer may find their own relatable experience.
Although superficially different, all stories share a similar shape; with safety, security, completion and the importance of home as their goals.
Examples of these might be:
- How delegates felt before vs after attending an event
- What their job is like day-to-day and how the event has brought them into contact with others who do what they do
- How the experience of attending the event or the people they've met has changed them
An archetypal story introduces you to one or more characters and invites you to identify with them. In the example below, a conference for speechwriters, a selection of delegates and speakers tell us about their jobs.
We learn that within many organisations there is little understanding of what a speechwriter does, even less appreciation for the idea of it being a specialist skill and that speechwriting can be a lonely profession. By attending conferences, however, speechwriters can meet with their peers in new surroundings and share information, insights and experiences. They are able to make valuable new connections and strengthen existing ones.
All of these elements develop in the unconscious mind of the viewer as the 'mirror story' and a connection is made. From occupational isolation to community, friendship and shared purpose.
Facts can be persuasive, but emotion conveyed through story is often what's needed for people to take action.