He used that lens to tell a story, one where the stylistic choices he made to use recurrent objects created a certain effect. You know, what kept you glued to your seat and pulled you into the screen. That effect.
[Scarlett Johansson and Javier Barden reenact Rear Window - see original trailer here. Photo from Vanity Fair USA, homage to Hitchcock.]
How can we do the same with our marketing conversations? How can we be there by being focused on the other, the customer? How can we make experiences both memorable and very personal? With the point of view, the guiding light of the editor and conversationalist/storyteller.
Hitchcock's movies offer audiences two key ingredients - fear and fantasy - always tempered with good doses of humor and realism. In fact, the more realistic and reasonable the beginning, the more compelling the twist. There are 11 recurrent themes in the director's portfolio we could draw from:
- Ordinary person. Placing an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances. We call that a persona. By creating an ordinary persona, one your readers can identify with, they will experience empathy for themselves. It is you here who needs to show understanding of what they are going through - their problems and issues. That's why social media is such a powerful force. People like you and me are telling stories we can all identify with.
- Wrong person. The case of mistaken identity leads to all sorts of twists in the plot. Think about treating an influencer at a level or two above what you would normally consider. Help them be the hero, and they will bring you to the table.
- Likeable "villain". The villains in Hitchcock's movies appear refined and charming. Raise your hand if you thought that sales calls are interruptions. Today I received a perfect example of a charming one. He was polite, did not beat around the bush, got to the point without apologizing or trying to conceal what he was selling. We can market like that through conversation. Of course we are in the market to sell and make money. Nothing happens until someone sells something.
- Stairways. These to me symbolize the unknown with marketing. Where do they lead? There is the allure of the glossy brochure, the courting through interactive marketing, then, at some point, we'd like some action. The stairway is where the prospect decides whether to follow. If we've done a good job at creating the right amount of positive resonance, they may trust us. Careful that it doesn't become the fire escape route.
- Mothers. Well, you know that inside every department in every company there is a hierarchy in the decision-making chain. Have you done your homework and gotten buy in from the people who have the power to say yes? The magic here is to work with the people who have the power to say no, not around them. The fastest way to kill your opportunity is to go around someone to their boss, who relies on them for a recommendation. Remember that. Take it to heart.
- Distilled wine. This is an interesting concept. Hitchcock included brandy, a form of distilled wine, in all his movies. We live in an age of snack culture, where people consume media in small bites. Yet people are willing to invest time and effort on things that are valuable to them, things they want. How can you distill the information to be the right one, at the right moment?
- Sexuality. This is the want part of the marketing equation. Need leads to commoditization, want leads to consideration. Think about a smooth marble countertop, a red Ferrari, a shiny white MacBook, this is achieved with design. How can we design experiences that people want to have? Look at entertainment - Le Cirque du Soleil, a Broadway show, a prestigious gala dinner. People want to be there. They must.
- Observer. The classic point of view most evident in Rear Window. There will always be people up front, participating actively to conversations, and people who are on the fence, watching what is going on and forming their opinions. You may not be able to involve them directly. Yet, the mere fact of being aware they are there, will prompt you to address their potential concerns.
- Breach of a rule. This is obviously the crime - normal and expected in a thriller. Breaking the rules works best when you've taken the time to know them, learn about the boundaries, research behaviors and reactions. Then figure out the opposite - zig instead of zagging - for example. Don't do it just to do it differently. Be smart about it. Know why.
- Heroines. Don't forget that many purchases today are made by women. We think differently, so much so that in Kawasaki's book The Art of the Start, he advise start ups to consult with a woman to vet a business plan. Why? Women don't have the killer gene. They are thus much better judges of the viability of a business model - and of a purchase.
- Silent scenes. This is the moment you are shutting up and your customers are talking. It's the best moment, the one you have worked for all along. This is were the conversation is starting for which the rest was a warm up. It's tempting to try to oversell. When the customer is talking and giving you an opportunity to help them, it becomes all about them. Forget shiny brochures for a moment. Make it a working session.
Use what you have, and make the most of it, just like Hitchcock did in many of his movies. Can you remember that Rear Window was filmed from the angle of one single room? How about Lifeboat? His cameo here was in a newspaper ad for a weigh loss product. Masterful.
Surely we too can learn to tell a story so compelling and creative, that it will have our customers waiting in anticipation. How can we be there by being focused on the other, the customer? How can we make experiences both memorable and very personal? They are the stars, we're the cameo.