Every Monday night, you can find me stationed on my couch in front of my TV for two hours straight. It’s my Monday night ritual—it’s The Bachelor night. I rarely miss a week and I’ve even organized my workout schedule and after work activities around the TV show. Being hooked on this show for years, I’ve often wondered, what’s making me tune in each week?
It isn’t that I just love, love, and it’s not because I think this is how true romance is supposed to play out. (Note to boyfriend: Where’s my helicopter date to a private island?) Believe it or not, it’s the storytelling. Here are some things I’ve learned about storytelling via the best show ever.
Set the Stage. One of my favorite episodes of each season is the first episode—the limo introductions of the ladies. Some women will get a video package to go along with their limo introduction, and seasoned viewers know that these are either the women who are going to go all the way to the end of the season, or they’re the “crazies” to watch until our Bachelor decides to give them the boot. While I find it entertaining to watch the ladies give their best one-liners as they introduce themselves to their future husband, this also sets the stage. You learn who these women are, they share a bit about their dating history, and you see if they’re “there for the right reasons,” or if they’re just there for their 15 minutes of fame. Based on their introductions, I form some expectations of where their love story will lead them. In the world of marketing, a story’s introduction sets the foundation of what’s to come and piques one’s interest enough to keep them reading or seek more information about a product or service.
Play the Game. Part of what I enjoy about the show is trying to figure out who the Bachelor will eventually choose as his bride-to-be. As the show goes through the season, I analyze the connections he’s made with each lady and predict who he will gift a coveted rose to at each rose ceremony. A good story will draw someone in and make them become a part of the story, too. I’m not just a viewer of The Bachelor; I’m an active participant weighing in on the relationships from the comfort of my couch.
Show Me Something I’ve Never Seen. The Bachelor travels to locations I’ve never seen and some I may not have even heard of before. It might be a stretch, but dare I say that I actually learn something from this show? Before this season of The Bachelor, I didn’t know you could experience zero gravity in a life-like space shuttle (now that I’ve seen this, I have no interest in trying it). I also didn’t know how many hours of daylight Finland gets. A good story will open your eyes to new things or new experiences.
Keep Me Hanging. This show has nailed the art of the cliffhanger. This season, they dangled the surprise visit from Andi, Nick’s former flame, in front of us and made us wait until the following week to find out what her intentions were. Spoiler alert! I waited a whole week just to find out that the visit meant nothing at all! Maybe your version of a marketing cliffhanger isn’t as salacious as a former almost-fiancé hunting someone down and “randomly” showing up at their hotel room. Marketers often employ the tactic of sharing just enough information about a product or service to get someone interested in it and entice them to contact the company, fill out a form on a website or download a piece of literature.
The Entertainment Factor. I watch The Bachelor for the sake of mindless entertainment. The ridiculous dates, the cat fights, the superficial dialogue, the fashion—they’re all entertaining to me. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, your stories should be entertaining in some way. Your marketing stories can tug at the heartstrings, make someone think about something in a new way or make someone laugh, all in an effort to connect with your audience.
The Bachelor has a loyal following for a reason. The stories we share about our products or services might not have much in common with the telenovela-esque plotlines on the show, but our stories can use some of the same tactics the show’s producers use to draw viewers in week after week.
Caroline Bogart is digital content architect at AKHIA.