What Star Wars can teach us about story telling
The original Star Wars movie provides a great example of compelling storytelling. An effective story contains four key elements that engage your audience and helps them relate to what you are trying to communicate. They enable you to champion ideas and drive more in-depth discussions, leading to action. The four ingredients to a good story are the situation, the opportunity, the action plan, and lastly the results – or SOAR. Using this technique, in under one minute, I present to you Star Wars – A New Hope, a SOAR story, through the eyes of Luke Skywalker.
"The Galactic Empire was oppressing the citizens of my galaxy. Rebels had stolen blueprints for a planet-destroying battle station, called the Death Star, which the Empire was constructing. The Empire thwarted the delivery of the stolen plans when the courier, Princess Leia, was captured. I became the unknowing holder of the plans, contained within a robot my uncle had bought. While seeking out the droids intended owner, Obi Wan Kenobi, I learned the importance of them too late, and I found the Empire had murdered my family."
I had wanted to join the rebellion, and with nothing keeping me on my planet, I was enabled to leave, learn the ways of an ancient religion called the Force through Obi Wan, and help deliver the Death Star plans.
We chartered a spaceship to deliver the blueprints to Alderaan, however, upon arrival we discovered the Death Star had become operational, and the planet obliterated. Pulled into the Death Star by a tractor beam, “Plan B” became rescue Princess Leia, escape the Death Star, get the droids to the hidden rebel base, and destroy the battle station.
Obi Wan was killed while rescuing the princess and the plans, but not before he was able to introduce me to the Force. The blueprints revealed an exploitable weakness in the Death Star and the rebels launched an attack, which I participated in, providing me with the opportunity to destroy the battle station.”
The last four paragraphs compressed a 121-minute movie down to a 35-second read, providing just enough information to the audience to communicate the four critical points of situation, opportunity, action plan, and results. If someone is interested in learning more, this technique compels him or her to probe. For example, you might want to ask Luke, “How did you escape the Death Star?” which would lead him to say, “Let me tell you about what Obi Wan did.”
SOAR is a powerful technique for product marketers when creating content like case studies, demand generation videos, and product demonstration scripts. Relying on features and functions is not enough – all of your competitors are already telling your prospects they have the best features and functions. SOAR enables meaningful conversations on how your products and services can cultivate customer success better than your competitors. For early-stage demand generation content, SOAR gets your prospects' heads nodding in agreement that they have similar challenges, and your company has the solutions they are seeking, moving them deeper into the funnel, and enabling them to self-qualify.
SOAR holds even more power than compelling storytelling; with a small tweak, product marketers can use this technique to sell programs and ideas to their cross-team dependencies. If you change results to recommendations, you now have a framework to present, “We as a company have this situation, it is creating these opportunities, possible plans of action include these ideas, and our professional recommendation is plan X.”
SOAR gives you a crucible to refine your ideas into three crisp slides so you can have a conversation, instead of a presentation, and guide your audience to your recommendation, versus telling them. You can create deep buy-in and a sense of joint ownership, which is critical for the success of product marketers.
By employing SOAR you and the sellers you support will be performing Jedi mind tricks in no time. You will build consensus faster, and demonstrate to your prospects that your company is the best choice to solve their business challenges.
The Force will be with you, now soar!