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Storytelling for Business – How to Incorporate the Tried-and-True Techniques of Hollywood Filmmaking to Win Over Your Audience

Anyone can create a story,

but can they create it in a way that the person listening will remember it? 

Having the ability to develop memorable stories and use them to connect with others will give you an advantage when trying to gain consensus at work, manage your relationships, and even convince people to buy your product. For example, I’m sure you can remember a joke you heard when you were a kid. A joke is nothing more than a small fact-based story; it stimulates a heavy emotional reaction, laughter. A dynamic sales pitch has the exact same components of a joke. That is why most commercials utilize themes related to our strongest human emotions – comedy, sex, and fear. They need to quickly give you a story, facts, and anchor those into an emotion, so it locks in. In the same way, a smart sale funnel starts with providing basic knowledge about a company in a very complementary and flattering way. It then moves on to talk about an extraordinary product and explain why that product is relevant now. Then it gives you an opportunity to capitalize off of the current relevance of the product by offering an incentive.

Most sales funnels even offer multiple incentives while adding pressure, such as a timeline, to solidify the sale. For example, “Get 25% off for the next 15 minutes.” Hollywood also uses the same type of sales pitch; they just frame the product in a different way: “… in theaters this Friday”. Disney Classics is famous for ‘opening the vault’ and offering some older beloved titles for sale for ‘a limited time.’ These examples are just very crafty sales pitches. In fact, Hollywood has spent more money than any other industry on understanding how to craft a good story and connect with people’s emotions.

If the idea of learning how to better incorporate these tried-and-true storytelling techniques into your business and marketing strategy is appealing to you, please join the Pepperdine Institute for Entertainment, Sports, and Culture for an online workshop on Storytelling for Business February 10, 2021 (registration link at end of post). Led by husband-and-wife team Christiane Kinney (JD ’98), a leading Los Angeles entertainment attorney and the President of Kinney Law, P.C., and Seán Kinney, an award-winning filmmaker, creative consultant and creator of The Kinney Method (TM) for story doctoring in conjunction with Dr. Stephen Rapier, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, this workshop will break down how Hollywood structures and crafts a story that is quick and compelling. Additionally, the instructors will analyze how Hollywood produces a story in the most dynamic way, discuss how to craft a trailer (aka ad) to reach the widest audience, and, lastly, provide participants with hands-on experience relating these distinctions to a sales funnel. Read on if you’d like to learn more about how this exciting interactive workshop came to fruition!

“The idea for this workshop came from a unique situation. I was a jury foreman on a trial that was extremely boring. As a filmmaker, I couldn’t help but think that both of the attorneys could really use some lessons on how to tell the story of their client. When I went home after the first day of trial, I asked my wife, Christiane Kinney (JD ’98), who is a respected trial attorney, about any story structure training that she had received in law school. Her answer shocked me, she informed me that you receive no such type of training during law school. So, we decided to write a book to help litigators use the same principles of Hollywood to tell their stories better at trial. For decades, Hollywood has programmed audiences on how they should ingest stories, and when different parts of the story should be presented. There are specific formulas that films and TV shows use to best capitalize off of these formulas. Our book focused on using and communicating those formulas for trial attorneys to be able to win over their audience, and in their specific case, the jury.

As we wrote the book, I also learned more and more how similar creating a story for a trial is to a movie trailer is to a sales funnel. I used to work in Buena Vista Home Entertainment in the department that did trailers. I learned that a trailer is nothing more than a quick sales pitch designed to make people want to see a movie. According to my uncle Kennan Woods, known as the world’s greatest salesman: “A sales pitch is the key to life. Anytime anyone does anything, it always starts with a sales pitch.” A student who wants to get into a good college must write a college essay, and, when a man proposes to a woman, he is pitching her on spending their lives together. In this interactive course, we will teach you and breakdown the main patterns of Hollywood so you will be able to engage your audience in the direction of your choice, have them love your company’s story, and secure better sales. We hope to see you there.”

As a special thank you to the Pepperdine community for hosting this workshop, please use discount code STORYTELLING at checkout to get 50% off the registration fee.

Registration Link:

Author of the article
Seán Kinney
Seán Kinney, Co-Instructor, Storytelling for Business (02/10/21) Award-winning Filmmaker and Creative Consultant and Amy Zwagerman, MBA ’18 and Project Manager, Pepperdine Institute for Entertainment, Media, Sports & Culture
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