“Welcome To The Fall”

The Fall: A key step in a narrative customer journey.

Every conceived story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Even stories based on real life events fit into this formula. Human beings like structure, and everything needs a conclusion. You could argue that TV soap operas never end. In reality, soap operas are essentially a series of story arcs set to the beginning, middle and end structure. In the beginning you setup your main character or protagonist and the world they live in. Then you throw something at them that is a great source of conflict (the antagonist) and takes them out of their comfort zone. After confronting this conflict and overcoming it the main character is better off for it and returns to a peaceful life. This has great similarities with what we call the narrative customer journey in video marketing and is important to consider in your pre-production.

There are many forms of narrative structure and some may vary. For example, some films the main character may sacrifice themselves to defeat the antagonist and achieve a greater good.

When it comes down to it, the story should dictate the kind of structure it follows. Characters define the story and in turn the story defines it’s own structure, then a formula can be applied to flesh out and tighten a script.

The Hero’s Journey

A very popular form of structure was born from Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero With A Thousand Faces which was then adapted by Christopher Vogler is the Twelve Stage Hero’s Journey. This is essentially a detailed character arc for a story’s hero and added onto the traditional three-act structure. Some of the most successful Hollywood films such as Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz use this character arc to drive the story. In essence, the customer journey in video marketing doesn’t differ that much. There is however a very interesting stage in most stories that the hero’s journey ignores. Furthermore, it is underused in video marketing: ‘The Fall’ 

Customer Journey in Video Marketing - A Star Wars Hero Journey

The Fall

Creating an interesting story arc all comes down to yin and yang. You cannot have the good without the bad. Imagine everything went perfectly in our lives and there was no bad or conflict. Then we would have nothing to compare against to what good actually is. The same applies to stories, if there is no struggle and no conflict then our character does not grow as a person. So in most stories that I have observed, we have a low point or what is known as ‘The Fall’. That is where our character(s) is at their lowest, they have hit rock bottom, the situation is dire, the antagonist is closing in and they are close to failing their objective.

A Cinematic Example

The Fellowship of The Ring is a great example of this when our heroes arrive at Amon Hen. The orcs are hot on their heels, their mentor Gandalf is gone. The group mistrust one another and they feel the strain of the journey. Even Boromir betrays Frodo by attempting to forcefully take the ring from him. This is the Fall, and it persuades Frodo to do the right thing and leave the Fellowship, travelling to Mordor alone. He makes this decision in the short but brilliant scene between him and Aragorn.

Customer Journey in Video Marketing - Lord of the Rings, Aragorn Example

Overall, things are looking dire for our protagonists and the thought of failure is what drives them to push back one last time. They fight back, or put a plan in action to recover and defeat their antagonist. Going back to the Heroes Journey, this is the catalyst that leads to The Reward.

Reward (Seizing the Sword)

The hero defeats the enemy, survives death and finally overcomes their greatest personal challenge. Now you see the Hero transform into a new state. He or she will emerge from battle as a stronger person and often with a prize.

Customer Journey in Video Marketing - Frodo Smiling Reward

The Reward may come in many forms: an object of great importance or power, a secret, greater knowledge or insight, or even reconciliation with a loved one or ally. Whatever the treasure, which may well facilitate their return to the ordinary world, the Hero must quickly put celebrations aside and prepare for the last leg of his journey.

Customer Journey in Video Marketing

So how can we apply this to the customer journey in video marketing? Simple, highlight the bad and show your brand or product as the good. Show characters overcoming a personal obstacle with the help of your product. Show a character with a problem and how your service is the solution. Make your audience see that without your product or service, it would be impossible to collect the reward. To make achieve this, your audience needs to care about your characters, relate to them and want to see them succeed. Your video is not about you, it’s about your customers and how you have helped them along the Heroes Journey.

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