Movies are visual stories and at Turtl, we hold storytelling close to our hearts. After all, stories are great teaching tools and when important messages are disguised as stories, the messages are more easily understood.

We tell children stories to teach them about the morals of life. In business, we use case studies to provide a better understanding of the challenges faced. 

With that in mind, what can we learn from some of the finest films the silver screen has to offer? Let’s take a look at some Best Picture Academy Award winners and explore how these lessons can be applied to your marketing content to make it… well, Oscar-worthy.

The King’s Speech (2010)

Lesson: Developing your voice takes time and hard work

When creating content, it is important to think about how that piece of content will make people feel. Seeing things through the eyes of your audience will help them to feel understood. Thanks to the rise of social media marketing, people are making more powerful connections every day – connections that were once reserved for close family members and friends.

The King’s Speech sees ‘Bertie’ striving to make those connections with radio listeners, in his first war-time address to the country. There was a long, turbulent journey to that point. 

Put simply, to be heard, you must have the courage to step up to the plate. Bertie was never destined to be King George VI but took on the responsibility when his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne. People needed to hear their leader – just like audiences need to hear a clear brand voice. Your marketing content must give readers something to rally around. 

Developing your voice can take time. Firstly, work to identify your audience and their interests. Once established, help solve their problems by providing what they need. By having a true understanding of your audience, you will know which emotions you can tap into. By focusing on positive emotions, you place your audience in the center of your content strategy.

Titanic (1997)

Lesson: What is below the surface also matters. 

When the famously doomed liner hit an iceberg while crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the crew onboard believed the damage to be minimal. This was because they did not see much physical damage to the part of the ship that was visible. In reality, the catastrophic damage was below the waterline.

We are all familiar with the idiom ‘tip of the iceberg’. It was Ernest Hemingway, who believed that the deeper meaning of a story should not be evident on the surface but still hold power, which can link the story of Titanic to content marketing.

On the surface, you may have decreased web traffic, a loss of sales, or even unhappy customers. These are all measurable and pretty easy to see. However, below the surface lies the majority of the problem. Beneath the waterline, may lie lower-quality products, budget restraints, and unclear messaging.

Skipping steps, cutting corners, and speeding up the process against your initial judgment can have detrimental effects. In Titanic, they were ahead of their schedule so decided to go even faster in an attempt to “make the morning papers” by arriving in New York ahead of time. Instead, their speed put them on a collision course with disaster.

The Godfather Part I (1974)

Lesson: Keep your network close, but your competition closer

In The Godfather, Don Corleone is respected for his decisiveness. The strength of his character commands respect and I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” shows viewers and characters alike a clear message.

In marketing, giving audiences an offer they cannot refuse, reduces barriers to lead generation. Meaningful content has a higher value and, as a result, it will be more shareable. By creating meaningful content, you build foundations for positive relationships.

Make sure people understand the value of what you bring to the table and how you can help them resolve their pains, more than any competitor. If you think you might need more time to delve deeper into a topic, create a content series – (The Godfather Part II from 1974 also won a Best Picture Oscar). 

More engaging content can mean more people wanting to share their personal information, in order to get more from the content. You can then use this data to tailor your content more towards your audience interest, helping to stand out among competitors. 

But like how Don Corleone himself explains, “ask with respect!

Chicago (2002)

Lesson: Don’t be afraid to stand out 

Over the years, many musicals have won a Best Picture Academy Award. Films such as Oliver (1968), The Sound of Music (1965), My Fair Lady (1964), and West Side Story (1961) all took the title. While each of these films was different in the storyline, they all had one thing in common. They had a catchy soundtrack. 

By being memorable, you (and your brand) stay in audience heads and you can be catchy without needing actual music. Instead of music, make it all about an enticing headline. When thinking about ideas for catchy titles, odd numbers in titles make people want to read more. Visually, 91% of people prefer visual content over plain content so be sure to use interactive visuals such as videos, quizzes, and polls.

Being able to create content that stands out is only possible when you understand the message that needs to be conveyed. What do you want your audience to take away from your content? What do you want them to learn? How are they supposed to feel after consuming your content?

Lacking any physical jingles, the power of imagery is essential. Out of context, a film called ‘Chicago’ could easily be open to ambiguity as nothing about the Illinois city says 1926 women’s prison. Visuals matter. Being unexpected helps you to celebrate what makes you unique and communicating this adds value to your content.

Forrest Gump (1994) 

Lesson: Unleash the power of storytelling

Storytelling compels people to listen. Just like this 90s classic, drawing audiences in with emotional appeal and relevant content will keep them coming back for more. Life can be unpredictable, so making sure you are up to date with what your audience wants is key to creating content people will want to interact with. 

In marketing, if a crisis arises, you need to be reactive and adaptable at short notice. After all, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Remember, change is not always a bad thing. Ask yourself what changes are on the horizon and which are already in motion. Think about how these variables will impact your audience and be ready to adapt to the curveballs of life.

Personalize adaptations to chase customer attention the way Forrest chases Jenny. Persistence is key, and they may just end up falling completely in love with your brand. You are never going to be able to reach everyone and trying to do so will be a tireless effort, reaping little reward. Instead, take your audience on a personalized journey. Cultivate authenticity by flattering your audience and using data insights to personalize each user experience.

And the Oscar goes to…

All great films have a protagonist and a far-away objective. This is where marketing and movies collide.

Take your audience on a journey of discovery (like the characters in these films) and resonate your content with your audience to achieve your content marketing goals. Marketing inspiration is all around you, but what will you learn from the next movie you watch?


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