Categories: Copywriting

Can you tell a 2 seconds story?

It is a rule of thumb (literally) that you have 2 seconds max to grab the attention of your target audience. Here is why you should do it with a story, and how.

As a marketer or advertiser, you may be selling an unkown gym product, a complex B2B SaaS app, or a regulated financial service.

And whitin the timeframe mentioned, you are supposed to inform, educate, influence and encourage the potential buyers.

I am not saying it’s impossible, but it strikes me as quite a challenge.

So you got the 2 seconds, what do you do? 

Allthough time is scarce, a lot of ads are trying to deliver all informtion at once.

You’ve seen it before. They containt endless feature lists, tribe lingo, ambigous call to actions, lots of dense information, generic imaging and unclear value propositions.

– You may hide a dead body on Google’s page 2 listing, but in these ads you can hide a cure for cancer in broad day light.

No, to grab the attention of your audience, tell a story that is understood at once.

Maybe 4 to 6 words, a contextual image, and some missing pieces can put a whole novel in the readers mind almost instantly.

These often creates the best stories, because they are created in our imagination. It allows us to personally live the story in our mind.

Successful books and movies often have present human elements of error, internal conflict and poor judgement. The human factor makes us empathize with the characters and their struggles, as we recognise them as our own.

For advertising purposes this provides an excellent starting point.

A relatable situation of your target audience problem is the ideal setting. The goal is to convey the feeling created by the struggle your target audience experiences without your service/product/solution.

And even better, if you are able to pin-point that exact moment of realisation.

Imagine when you find water dripping from the  roof, an sms about a warning lamp in your car, your wife saying your mother-in-law is coming to live with you. Cartoonist Gary Larson is a master of this trade.

Display that exact situation when the user understands and feels pain you can solve.

By addressing  a specific situation, you will be able to reach just the right people, at the right time, without call-outs, overselling or endless feature lists. In many ways it is like search, just backwards.

And the more acurate description, the more stopping power it has.

Let’s have a look at some examples.
To support them, I have added potential industries for context marked in blue.

Of course, you need to follow up on the story. Being a post, video, landingpage or article, the important thing is that you deliver on the promise.

Then the algorithms will do the heavy lifting for you and gradually refine the audiences.

Storytelling is a tool

It is not always the right one. But it works when you need to convey more information than the 2 second scrolling window allows.

This also requires knowing your customers. You need to understand their pains and challenges, and most important how they feel. When you know this, the scripts / texts tend to write themselves.

In conclusion, you should learn to tell a story in 2 seconds to:

  1. grab attention
  2. qualify user intent
  3. refine your audience
  4. lower your advertising costs
  5. build brand knowledge

It is likely this will also increase your conversions. But there are more factors to consider for conversion rates, which I will cover in another post.