Once upon a time… It might be the most cliché beginning to a story, but the traditional lead-in has withstood the test of time. Beyond the opening line, how do you create a narrative that engages an audience enough to make them advocates?
In this episode of Here’s What I Know, we speak with MarketScale Senior Digital Marketing Strategist Terry O’Connell, Post-Production Manager Shannon Willey and Digital Marketing Strategist Jon Baer about lessons in storytelling from HBO hit series Game of Thrones. The show has thrived by turning its audience into engaged advocates who continue to share its story.
Drawing inspiration from classics of literature and epics of history, Game of Thrones succeeds in its storytelling through subverting narrative archetypes with a heavy dose of realism. Characters, whether beloved or loathed, are at equal risk, and they face impossible choices with unclear consequences and far reaching effects.
It is important to tell stories that audiences can connect with in a genuine way, beyond a gimmicky sales pitch. Viewers do not want to be sold, they want to relate to a story that is relevant to them.
In narrative storytelling, continuity is of utmost importance. Without continuity, narratives lose impactful substance and storytellers alienate their audiences. There are clear threads in the underlying story of Game of Thrones, but to some extent the reason this story so impactful is continuous discontinuity.
In marketing, continuity plays an equally important role in branding. The best brands have a well-formed narrative – an underlying story that demonstrates a need, and how the object of the brand satisfies it.
Without continuity the brand invariably breaks down, and the marketer loses their audience. Continuity is a shield that must never be abandoned, by marketers and storytellers alike.
Change is acceptable. Disorder is not.
When customers and prospects become personally invested in a story, they become advocates, influencers, partners and ultimately marketers. Game of Thrones understands the power of its fans as its own advocates and marketers.
Listen to more episodes of Here’s What I Know for the stories, brands and culture behind marketing.