A lesson in simplicity (and a few thoughts on online fundraising)

Somebody tagged me on this movie via Facebook a few days ago−a deceptively short  film about the strained relationship between an elderly Greek man and his son. Here, in 3 minutes of film, the director has managed to pack more emotional intensity than in most feature films I have gorged myself over the last year.  Watch (and weep).

So what’s the connection with online marketing? This may be one of the best demonstrations of online campaigning that was not designed to be online campaigning. Here is a movie that was shot on a shoestring budget, which made its fame on Youtube, and which has catalyzed a strong emotional reaction from its audience (it reduced to tears pretty much everyone I know who has watched it, including myself)−for some, the Holy Grail of successful online engagement.

Now what if, instead of credits, the final frames faded to black and gave way to 1 or 2 sentences urging viewers to be better sons? Or to make a donation to a charity helping elderly people?

I suspect that even individuals who are not sensitive to such causes would be tempted to reach for their credit cards. As the movie has close to 2 million views, imagine the ROI. Reducing such a beautiful movie to financial terms seems harsh, but there are powerful lessons here for us trying to engage people to rally to causes:

  • Keep it short: People don’t have time to spare.
  • Keep it simple: For the same reason as above, don’t engage consumers with a complicated premise if you only have a few minutes (or even less) of their time.
  • Don’t dramatize the issue: Let the issue reveal itself and stick to the facts. One of things that makes the movie so powerful is that it is completely believable.

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