Can I tell you a secret? If your marketing content doesn’t hook your audience immediately, you’ve lost.
Maybe that’s not so secret, but I’ve got your attention now, haven't I? No one can resist feeling like they’re in on something hush-hush.
Why is an instant hook so crucial?
Think of a trip to the bookstore. You pick up a book, read the blurb and maybe the first paragraph, and decide if it’s worth reading. If it fails to capture your attention after a cursory scan, it’s reshelved, left to collect dust until the next patron flips it open and begins their own quick judgment.
You likely aren’t going to get a second chance to grab a consumer’s attention. The first impression makes or breaks your success.
A recent piece of content that hooked me was, to my surprise, an airline’s safety video. While not technically in the marketing realm, the British Airways’ safety video utilized techniques that can be applied to your marketing strategy.
A hook has to pop to work
To be unexpected is an excellent way to attract attention, especially when the information covered is widely agreed to be boring.
For example, if you’re a frequent flier, nothing’s quite as dull as listening to the safety information presented before takeoff.
While I always try to take an earbud out so the flight attendants don’t feel invisible, sometimes I can’t help but zone out.
British Airways is cognizant of the fact that no one really wants to be told the same spiel about seatbelts and oxygen masks and inflatable vests, so it innovated and put its most creative foot forward.
It made an engaging safety video that held my attention and was actually (and shockingly) enjoyable.
As it stands, the video has 198K views on YouTube, meaning people went out of their way to watch it in their spare time when they weren’t even on a plane. That’s the greatest testament to its effectiveness.
One reason the video pops is its humor and playful tone.
In the video, after a flight attendant announces that “attention is essential,” a passenger takes off her headphones, having missed the whole thing, and says, “What?” The flight attendant then says with a wink, “Of course our attention is not what it used to be.”
Humor is somewhat of a universal language. It hooks most audiences right off the bat, raising spirits and instigating laughter.
The safety video takes a lighthearted approach to a serious subject, relaying important information in a memorable way.
How can this be applied to marketing? Well, of course nothing about your brand is boring to you, but it couldn't hurt to spice up stats and basic product information that consumers might not have as much interest in initially. And if it's appropriate, inject some humor into your content, too.
Leverage celebrity to capture attention
People pay attention to celebrities. In the case of British Airways' safety video, anyone inclined to ignore it would do a double take at seeing stars they like on their screen.
It worked on me. I recognized two of the famous faces in the safety video, actors Ncuti Gatwa and Kaya Scodelario. Seeing Gatwa at the start of the video locked me in.
Gatwa is a suave, charming presence, there to promote seatbelt use by fastening one over his fashionable suit.
He also points out the light feature of the life vests, saying, “There is a light for attracting attention, and who doesn’t love attention?” I heard someone on the plane laugh out loud at that line (again, humor).
Scodelario appears a couple of times, too, cautioning people to take off their heels in the case of exiting via the emergency inflatable slide by removing a pair of green pumps while eating fries in a diner.
These appearances make the safety video feel cinematic rather than textbook-like.
This lives in the same vein as influencer marketing. We strangely trust certain famous strangers, so if you can get an influencer to back your brand, you'll already have a rapt audience in their fanbase.
Keep it fast-paced to hook your audience
If you’re in the popular camp that believes attention span is dwindling, you understand that content needs to be varied and fast-paced.
A stagnant video of one person in one room talking about a subject can feel like watching paint dry, while a dynamic informational video featuring multiple people and places is captivating.
In British Airways’ safety video, no more than a few seconds are spent on each scene, faces and settings constantly refreshed.
If someone is about to lose focus, the scene switch can rein in their attention.
If you're creating video content, keep this in mind.
Similarly, the safety video appeals to all audiences by including a diverse cast.
For the teens watching, perhaps the group most likely to ignore the video, a younger cast demonstrates how to put on life vests. And that's just one example of many.
It's important that audiences are able to relate to your content. That's the first step to caring about what you have to say and offer.
If you take a page from British Airways' book, you'll see that to hook your audience is rather simple: be different, be funny, leverage influencers when you can, and be relatable.
If a safety video can be engaging, anything can. It's all about how you package it.