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If you’ve played any modern, non-casual games recently, from Halo to Warcraft to Mortal Kombat, you’ve likely seen cutscenes, short videos that help advance the story.

Here’s an example of a cutscene from the end of Act I in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor:

These cutscenes provide bridges in the story, taking you from one burst of action to the next. However, some games lend themselves to an entirely new level of cutscenes; there are enough of them and the story is strong enough that, sewn together, you end up with an actual movie. Here’s an example, an hour long, from Halo 4:

The average game company puts minimal effort towards cutscenes, if it invokes them at all. The excellent game company, recognizing the power of storytelling, uses cutscenes so well that they are a story unto themselves. These cutscenes are so compelling that we enjoy watching them for their own sake.

Consider how you approach your marketing. You have campaigns, the big things you do: end of year sale! Quarterly closing deals! Holiday special! These are the big moments, the big events which you rightfully invest a lot of effort. In video game parlance, these would be the action sequences where you as the player would be fully committed, fully participating.

The question is, what’s in your marketing ‘cutscenes’? What are the storytelling pieces you create when you’re not executing major campaigns?

These might be:

  • Your daily social media updates
  • Your daily blog post
  • Your weekly email newsletters
  • Your ongoing digital ads
  • Your earned media hits
  • … in short, the little bits of storytelling glue that are woven between your campaigns.

    Here’s an exercise to try. Take your last 10 social media updates and your last 4 newsletters. Print them out. With a pair of scissors, cut out and remove anything promotional and campaign-related.

    What’s left? If all that’s left is the logo and footer, then you have no cutscene content, no glue, no story between the story.

    The next test: how much of your cutscene content is good enough to stand alone? If you sent out your social media updates, your newsletter, your blog posts, do they get shared and commented on? Do people care enough to save your newsletters to read again later? If the answer is no, your marketing cutscene content needs improvement.

    Your marketing ‘cutscene’ content should be robust enough that if you never executed a major campaign, you’d still tell a coherent, compelling story.

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