We live in an age of unrivaled opportunity. But with that opportunity comes a caveat: You need to be kick-ass at what you do.

If you aren't, someone or something better will come along to swallow you up. Dim the lights and queue the credits.

The best product or idea in the world won't save you unless you have the ability to captivate your customers with clever and competent marketing tactics.

The good news is it doesn't have to be this way.

I've scoured the industry and interviewed some of best minds in Hollywood to give you the practical techniques used to captivate millions around the world. What I discovered could save you valuable time and energy, inspire your next project or even directly motivate you to smash through the status quo.

Here are the three marketing secrets I've learned from Pixar, South Park and Star Wars--and how they can rejuvenate your business:


I sat down with Pixar film developer and director Ryan Lynch.

In TV and film, as in marketing, we all naturally and subconsciously know what a good story is. As Ryan notes, the goal is to move your audience to action by stirring emotion. The last thing you want is a tepid reaction that leaves people scratching their heads wondering what they've just seen.

To combat this, Ryan and the team at Pixar always strive to unearth the fundamental tenets of human nature in their stories. "We've been telling stories for centuries to each other. That's the way we evolve," says Ryan.

Within a marketing context, over-thinking can hinder and cripple campaigns. Remember to fuse your marketing strategies with the basic 'good' and 'bad' forces that have inspired stories for millennia. These are the elements that connect businesses to customers - by speaking to them on a fundamentally human plane.

The Secret: Follow Pixar's advice. Capture audience emotion by keeping your marketing messages tuned into the simple, underlying aspects of human nature to which we can all relate.

South Park

I spoke to Harvard University graduate and scientist-turned-filmmaker Randy Olson about the power of storytelling in marketing. His advice: Get to grips with the ABT structure.

The ABT structure is quite simple. It consists of a single sentence structured with connector words like "and," "but" and "therefore."

The first act of a TV show or movie is the introduction--the "and" part of the story. In a marketing sense, this lays out the story and prepares for the journey and call to action.

The second act is the transition to the journey itself. The word "but" becomes a catalyst to spark this journey, as it contradicts and engages with the narrative centers of the viewer's (or customer's) brain.

The third and final act brings the story to a gripping conclusion with a "therefore..." statement. South Park creator Trey Parker uses the 'rule of replacing' for each episode, substituting the word "and" with either "but" or "therefore" to enhance the story by adding conflict to a conclusion.

The Secret: Use the ABT structure as a catalyst to a) introduce your idea, b) ignite your customer on a journey that engages the narrative centres of their brain, and c) end with a powerful call to action.

Star Wars

I'm going to leave you with a little slice of genius from Hollywood storytelling coach Michael Hague. Michael has consulted on films such as I Am Legend and Masters of the Universe--in other words, he really knows his stuff.

Michael states that the ultimate goal in storytelling (and in marketing) is to elicit emotion from the audience. If your audience doesn't feel anything, you can't expect them to move into action.

Star Wars captures this motif to perfection. In the original films, Luke Skywalker is driven by both an inward and outward motivation. An everyday hero, Luke's outward motivation is to destroy the Sith empire and restore peace to the galaxy. Inwardly, he's desperate to prove to himself that he's worthy and capable of becoming a leader people can depend on.

The Secret: Make your customer the hero in your brand story. Your customers' outward motivation is the physical (rational) product or service they receive. The inward motivation is their emotional sense of achievement and proof of belief in themselves. Overcome a shared challenge together to see an even greater level of connection.