Watch More TV and Become a Better Marketer

TV shows use classic persuasion techniques to keep viewers glued and engaged. Affiliate marketers can learn a lot from how successful TV shows maintain their viewership. Let’s break it down!

Any well done persuasion flow begins by seizing and holding the prospects’ attention. A TV show often does this by showing a short coming-up highlight reel, so you know what exciting things you’d miss out on if you stop watching.

Your local news has been using this persuasive hook for decades very successfully.

“Find out what death is lurking under your sink after the break”

Sure, we all mock it when they do it, and we’ve experienced it enough to know there’s no real reason to stay tuned to find out what horrible death awaits us under our kitchen sink. But we usually do anyway! It works.

In a piece of sales content (video sales letter, sales page, social media advert, landing page…) this would be our attention-grabbing headline.

Now that the TV show (or news affiliate) has grabbed our attention, the next thing it must do is work to keep it. After all, every TV show wants to make sure their target demographic watches till the end. In order to do that, they have to make sure the content is engaging and keeps our interest.

As a digital marketer, we would call these the lead and the story. In marketing, we use the lead and the story every day to connect with our prospect. We want to show them that we can relate, how similar we are to them, and that we understand them.

Just as that TV show you’ve been watching is building up to a dramatic, enticing ending, as marketers we must do the same. We call that a Call To Action.

So what is the TV equivalent of our marketing CTA? It’s that cliffhanger you stuck around to watch, and now you’re hooked. You must know how it ends. You must find out how the protagonist fares, and this creates the all-mighty loop that keeps viewers (prospects) hungry for more.

How do viewers feed their appetite for answers? By watching the next episode, of course, and so the loop continues.

To Be Continued…

TV shows have long known how to grab and hold the attention of an audience. They know how to take those eyeballs and give them content they want to see, and they know how to presell their call to action.

It’s the same for those of us in sales and marketing.

In our marketing materials, we use a big idea in the headline to grab attention.

In the lead, we explain why they need to keep reading or watching our marketing material. We tell them what we’re going to do for them and how it will impact their life.

Friends TV Show Had The Best Marketable Headlines

Every episode of Friends followed a similar and relatable naming technique beginning with the phrase…“The one where/with…”

“The One Where Everybody Finds Out.”

“The One With The Rumor”

“The one with all the Thanksgivings”

“The One With Unagi”

Each episode title/headline focuses on one idea to hook your attention. After all, don’t you want to know what everyone finds out or what unagi actually is or what that rumor was all about?

The producers knew to keep each title/headline simple. People need simplicity. If a title was instead… “The one with Unagi and the all Thanksgivings where everyone found out the rumor”.

Well, that’s just too much. It’s confusing. Difficult to remember and relate to, so ask yourself the next time you’re staring at your sales materials – are you keeping it simple and relatable? Too much at once is overwhelming for anyone.

In copywriting, we call this the golden thread or the rule of one.

Use a single idea that is relatable and interesting to grab attention. Present that one focus in a simple way that everyone can understand, even if they’re just browsing and don’t stop to read the entire headline.

The reason for this simplicity is rooted in neurology – how the brain functions. We don’t read everything we see – that’s exhausting, so instead we scan, and we browse, and we glance. Keep it simple, so one doesn’t require any extra cognitive load or critical thinking to absorb and react to your message.

Long before TV, authors and publishers have been using this tactic for centuries in the form of book titles. Short and easy to understand and absorb, but engaging. Captivate their interest in a short burst, so they’ll want to stop, pay attention and focus on what you have to tell them.

Believability Is A Necessity

When writing your headlines using curiosity or shock, it’s very important that the rest of your content be believable, easy to read and have a natural flow. Without believable answers in your content to that shocking and intriguing headline, your readers/prospects will feel cheated.

Your headline must focus on one thing. That one thing can be presented as a solution, promise, shocking factoid, curiosity and many others, but it must be followed up with actual answers in your content.

Your headline must be as succinct as that TV show title. The reader wants to immediately understand what’s in it for him or her so be direct with them!  Once you have their full attention, and they’re properly enticed and motivated, we can move on to your lead which is where you explain to the prospect how and why your content is worth their valuable time.

Promises Must Be Kept

Every TV show has the same promise with their viewers – entertainment. Conflict. Drama. Comedy. Those characters we’ve come to know and love will have conflicts every week, and we’ll watch them overcome those conflicts every week. It’s the same formula, but it entertains us, and we’re strangely comforted to know it’s the same formula every week. Highs and lows for our beloved characters but, most of the time, we know they’ll be okay until next week. When we’ll watch again.

When a TV show breaks that promise with viewers, the ratings dip, and they face cancellation.

Now, the punishment for an affiliate marketer who doesn’t make good on his or her promises is far swifter. Those valuable prospects leave your sales page or landing page or unsubscribe from your funnel, and you’ll never see them again. Instant loss of business.

If you’re interested, here’s a good YouTube video from a well-known copywriter on writing those cliffhangers I mentioned earlier in this article. It’s a 6-minute watch, and it’s worth it.

So what are the best TV shows to watch to become a better marketer?

If you want to be able to spot the persuasion devices used easily, stick to formulaic TV shows such as sitcoms or procedural dramas such as the CSI and NCIS shows.

We all know that as human beings we learn best through experience – I know I do, so the next time you’re sitting back and watching your favorite TV show toss on your marketing cap for a bit. You can still enjoy your show as an active viewer while noticing all the similarities to our daily challenge that is digital and affiliate marketing.

Besides, it’s more enjoyable than reading another marketing book!

Picture of Annika Doroshenko
Annika Doroshenko
Annika is the ultimate remote employee spending much of her time traveling with her husband and friends. When not traveling or working with her digital marketing clients Annika and her husband call a little town outside of Copenhagen, Denmark home.