Archive for April, 2013

Are You a Courageous Client?

Late last year, Metro Trains in Melbourne launched a public service campaign with this wildly successful and hilarious music video called Dumb Ways to Die:

Here are three elements that I suspect contributed to its viral success:

It has a distinct voice. People are drawn to stories with a distinct voice and unique perspective. Public praise for the video included comments like, “darkly cute,” “adorably morbid,” and “mixing cute with horrifying.” It catches your attention immediately with a head caught on fire, and it keeps your attention for three full minutes because you want to know all the other dumb ways they’ve thought of to die!

It’s very simple. The music is catchy in a can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head kinda way (my kids were singing this for days). The characters are simple, the setting is simple, and the visual details are kept to only what drives the story forward. The animation style shows a brilliant restraint in this respect.

The big payoff is at the end. I love how they confidently massage this story for three full minutes, trusting me to stick around for the Big Idea they communicate at the very end: be safe around trains. They trust this simple little story to communicate their message with very little hand-holding, and early results indicate success: Metro claims the campaign contributed to a 30% reduction in “near-miss” accidents during the first three months of the campaign.


It takes a courageous client to produce content like this, one who is willing to hold their story with an open hand and let it go where it needs to go.

Are you a courageous client?

Who Should Be the Hero of Your Story?

When I was a kid, all the neighborhood boys wanted me to play the helpless princess trapped in a tower so they could rescue me. I would sit in the neighbor’s weeping willow tree forever, waiting for those stupid boys to slay the dog dragon and free me from my captors.

Meanwhile I really wanted to be Princess Leia, who I thought was badass for leading a rebellion despite making a poor hairstyle choice.

When our clients come to us, sometimes they act like those stupid boys who fall over themselves to be the hero (no offense to boys or clients), but it’s our job to woo them into making their audience the hero.

Here’s why:

When you rescue someone, they become your fan. But when you make them the hero, they become your champion.

When the story you tell builds on someone else as the bad ass hero, it’s like you’ve given them super powers to change the world around them.

That’s not something people quickly forget, and it’s much more likely that they’ll brag about your product or service as a result.

How To Talk to Anyone. Really.

A few months ago I found myself backstage with a best selling author and all-around genuinely nice guy in California.

In the 3 minutes he had before his presentation, he offered a simple acronym I still pass along to most first-timers I meet at networking events — and the occasional folks plagued with I-Don’t-Have-Anything-To-Talk-About-But-Me.

“SPEAK,” he said, “S.P.E.A.K. Story, Passion, Encourage, Assist, Knowledge.”

Hear their Story. “What’s your story?” They came from somewhere; they’re going somewhere. Find out more!

Listen to their Passions: “What are you passionate about?” We’re all opinionated about something. Find out what makes them tick.

Encourage them: “Now that I’ve heard your story and your passions, it sounds like you’d be good at ____.” Exercise your listening skills. If you’ve been paying attention this will either make them cry “Aha!” or “Exactly!” (That’s the part we’re especially fond of.)

Offer to Assist: Do you know someone they should meet? Do you have an awesome new app that would solve all their problems? Offer your help. Don’t be stingy. You always have something you can give back.

Have them share some Knowledge: “What’s the best advice you would share with the world from your experience?”

Guess what people find most relevant? Themselves. Everyone can talk about themselves.

Making relevant video content is no different.

Speaking to a very specific audience, addressing them appropriately, and and inspiring them — will lose nearly all its steam if you’re constantly waving the “Me Me Me” flag.

Talk to your audience. Ask questions. They’re real people; talk with them, not *at* them.

Happy April Fooliversary!

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Today marks the one year anniversary of our official launch!

It’s been a great year thanks to our many clients, fans, and creative peers.

If you’re in the Seattle area, we’d love to see you at our Hump Day Happy Hour – check our Facebook page for dates and details.

To everyone else, keep in touch by subscribing to our newsletter or saying hi on Twitter (we love a good distraction).

Cheers to another great year!

(p.s. Show us some love by leaving a comment!)