4 Marketing Lessons from “The Pursuit of Happiness” Movie

So I was at home last night enjoying a #Melbourne cool breeze with a glass of white wine in hand, and a Netflix selection was only one remote click away. It was one of those nights where I couldn’t make up my mind, so I choose a feel good movie this time around.

“The Pursuit of Happyness” was the winner. A feel good movie by Will Smith about a man faced with great adversities. A true story about a man named Chris. Chris has been through hell and back trying to make a decent living for himself and his family.

You’re probably wondering by now about how this relates to marketing? Continue Reading.

What inspired me to write an article about this movie we all love, was the brand storytelling. The brand being Chris, and the story about the adversities he faced and how the characters in his life played a role in his rise and eventually overcoming these difficult times.

You and I and probably everyone we know will almost always cheer for the underdog. We are suckers for a feel good answer to the question raised in the beginning of the movie. Does he come out on top?

From a marketing perspective, your target audience and product buyers are the movie viewers. Your brand being the underdog hero character, and YOU my friend and business owner are the storyteller.

We all buy feelings not products. Our buyer decision-making process lives in the emotional realm. We buy things or services because they make us feel a certain way. Reflect on the following storytelling principles for successful marketing. Lessons that I’ve learned from watching this movie.

  1. Stay True
    Chris’s character was extremely consistent and true to his values. He wasn’t moody, he didn’t deal with difficulties haphazardly, he always had us cheering for him, and he didn’t confuse us. We almost knew how he would react to a stupidly difficult situation.In other words, even your brand stories must adhere to the three primary steps of brand-building: consistency, persistence, and restraint. If your brand stories are inconsistent, they’ll confuse consumers who will turn away from the brand in search of another that meets their expectations for it in every interaction.
  2. Find your brand catalyst
    In the movie, Chris’s son was probably his strongest catalyst. He did everything in his power to be there for him, to provide for him, and most importantly be a good father. We find ourselves cheering for the kid. Our hearts broke when he had to spend a night in a public toilet. We smiled when Chris taught him a lesson about never letting anyone tell you that you can’t do something. We’ve cheered for both of them.You don’t need to create a fictional mascot to tell your brand stories. The important thing is to create characters that enable your audience to become emotionally connected to them to such an extent that the audience wants to follow their character arcs. That could be an employee, a customer or even yourself. Evoke emotions that people relate and connect to.
  3. Mind your story’s arc
    What makes a story a compelling page-turner? A well-crafted story arc does. It’s the promise of a compelling answer to the question proposed in the beginning. This movie excelled at that. Raised the question if Chris makes it out on top. The middle was about all the adversities he faced at every turn. The resolution was about how he managed to stay true to himself and overcame them all, and went on to be a successful stockbroker.Beginning, middle, and end. This is your character’s story arc, and you need to take your customers along for the ride. If they enjoy the ride, they’ll stick around, tell other people about it, and come back again and again.
  4. Process optimisation
    Chris’s internship job was his ticket to a better life. But he was outplayed by the others gunning for the same job because he was extremely time poor. The others put in 9 hours on the job, and he could only spare 6. What does he do? He quickly learns that by not hanging up the phone between calls, and not taking water breaks, he could save a lot of time doing the same amount of work only in 6 hours compared to his competitors, thus levelling the playing field, and actually tipping it in his favour.Telling your brand story could be time consuming. Have a closer look at your business. Find out what tools out there that might help you achieve these goals. Find the time wasting aspects of your business and eliminate them. Plug the gaps if any, because time is the most expensive thing in life, once lost you can’t get it back.

Maybe you should watch the movie again. Put on your marketing hat and see it with fresh eyes. Watch with intent and maybe you could learn something else that relates to your business or life. And if you do, please don’t be shy to share it with us, maybe we all could learn something new.

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