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Inside and Storytelling

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In this episode of marketingXP—Inside and Storytelling—Rachel shares how the masterful storytelling in the game Inside reflects how marketers should craft the customer’s hero journey. Listen to the episode to get started or ramp up your marketing analysis and, if you’re looking to impress a client or executive in your life, access the PowerUp for this episode >>>

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:08] Welcome back to a new episode of the marketingXP podcast. I am your most humble host. Well, I’m not that humble, but Rachel Moore is my name. Sometimes I’m not that humble, but I humbly come before you with things I’ve learned about marketing and how they relate to video games I have played, or am playing. I am really excited about this episode today because whenever a video game surprises me uh, which happens. I don’t know. It doesn’t happen that often. That is what we’re talking about today. So as I’ve been nailing down the format for these episodes my first thing I’m gonna go over is the game that I played because we’re tying gaming into marketing.

[00:00:47] Yes, there are tie-ins. They absolutely can connect and there are several ways it does.

Inside – Game Description

[00:00:52] So the game I’m talking about today is Inside. All right, so Inside was developed and released by Playhead in 2016. Now, I had tried to play this game months ago. I stopped just a few seconds in, and here’s why I am not a big fan of the side scroll format of games

[00:01:13] Now. I loved Super Mario Brothers when I was growing up. That is absolutely a side scroll. But as video games have evolved, I very much prefer, like when I’ve got kind of a three dimensional world and I’m able to like, move around in it, you know? I’m a big fan of RPGs and shooters and stuff, like first person shooters and things like that.

[00:01:33] Side scrolling is, you know, it’s not . My thing. So when I first started playing Inside, the first I got 20 seconds into it, I was like, this isn’t for me. I don’t want this. So I quit. Now I did go back into it, so I was just futzing around on Game Pass.

[00:01:51] So I did go in and try inside. Now I stuck with it for longer than 20 seconds, and this game surprised me also. It’s amazing. It’s incredibly dark. All right.

[00:02:04] I really thought I was just gonna be this little kid. Just going side and like, okay, he’s got a, I, I guess I’m in some dark woods. I mean, he’s, maybe he’s gotta get through stuff. And then the further I went to the right, I scrolled to the right.

[00:02:16] I was like, Ooh, ah, and y’all, I even had some jaw dropping moments, like within the first hour of playing. I was like, oh my gosh.

[00:02:24] Here’s why. So. First of all, it’s a super simple game, if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. Even if you are like me, not into side scrolling, it’s great. So here’s the thing. Inside when you start playing it, you can move left to right and you’re supposed to be going to the right, correct?

[00:02:41] You can jump, uh, you can grab, and that’s about it. There’s literally nothing else you can do. You have no tutorial to get yourself through that. You kind of have to figure it out and try buttons. So super simple and that, you know, that could convince you to say, well, is there much to this game? , yes. There’s much to this game.

[00:03:03] So you start moving and you are in a dark forest, okay? There’s also no spoken word. Your character does not talk. It’s really you moving through an environment. Here’s the magic of it, that as you start moving through it the world you’re moving through starts to slowly tell you more about what you’re doing there and what is going on. It’s incredibly dark and you’re just like, wow, this, this is going in places that are having me raise my eyebrow, and is this scary? Is this horror, what is happening here?

[00:03:39] And the way that the story, without communicating words to you. Without a tutorial, without that stuff starts telling you more about what you’re supposed to do and the world that you find yourself in, and the danger that your character is in and that they have to move through.

[00:04:00] Chef’s Kiss, it’s gorgeous. I can’t wait to go back and play it some more. I’m actually stuck at a puzzle, , but that’s what I’m talking about y’all. It is . It’s fantastic. It made me think of the movie UP by Pixar and in the first, you know, 10 minutes Carl and Ellie meet as children, and then you get a montage of their life moments together.

[00:04:25] And it’s no words, it’s just music and visuals and . I still cry. at that. At that whole montage, Pixar did a masterful job of making you feel something and telling you a story that you are completely now invested in without saying a word. You see it all happening before you with these two people, and now you’re super invested for the rest of the movie.

[00:04:52] And that’s where I think Inside is just gorgeous. I . I feel so silly that I didn’t give it a chance past that first 20 seconds when I first started it, and now I’m in it and it has me riveted. It’s gorgeous. So. That’s Inside again. It’s by Play Dead. It’s on Xbox Game Pass right now, I believe.

[00:05:14] At least we downloaded it. Highly recommend it even if you’re not into side scroll and I do love puzzles. Tomb Raider series is the franchise is one of my favorites. Drake Uncharted also.

[00:05:24] So I do dig puzzles and there are puzzles in here. It’s, it’s fantastic.

[00:05:28] So. How does this correlate to marketing? You may be asking. I’m so glad you asked. Thank you. .

Top of Funnel Marketing

[00:05:34] So first of all when it comes to marketing, I. If you’ve worked in marketing, you’ve heard of marketing funnels, right? And it really is like, if you think of a funnel, any kind of funnel you might have as a household item or something. So you’ve got a wide top so that’s meant to capture, you know, without mess, capture as much as possible.

[00:05:50] But it’s gonna direct everything into a narrow, narrow, narrow, narrow, narrow. Marketing works the same way, except I almost think of it like a sieve, where you’ve got people coming into your funnel, they’re interested right out the gate, but you’ve got kind of narrow that interest down and you’re still gonna get the good stuff. Those are the customers that you will ultimately acquire and close and convert. So now they’re a paying customer and they get into, you know, your flask. Let’s go with a flask.

[00:06:18] Who doesn’t like a good flask, but that’s how the marketing funnel works. You try to capture everybody widely up here, but as people get further into your brand, you wanna give them more touch points that continue to be more relevant to them, to keep them interested, but also are like, okay, this really does meet my needs or this is really my pain point, and could you change my life for the better? I’m not trying to be hyperbolic, when I say change my life for the better.

[00:06:44] I mean you are changing someone’s life. That’s why I always love B2B marketing when people think that needs to be a lot different than B2C marketing. You’re talking to people, people who maybe are being kept up with stress and anxiety at night because they need to solve something. Maybe they don’t have budget or maybe they don’t have the tool.

[00:07:00] You can actually solve that for them and make their life literally easier. So it is important, but that top of the funnel is the toughest. So I mentioned earlier how I first started that game and I skated out within 20 seconds. I was like, this isn’t for me. Right. So I left the funnel. That beginning of the game was the top of the funnel for me. And I was like, ah, no, I’m out. But I did come back, I came back months later because I was bored. And I was like, none of the other games looked interesting.

[00:07:28] That also can be part of your funnel if you like, just have that one little thing about your brand that’s like, that grabbed me and a little bit more than maybe your competitors did, right? But I did come back. That is how marketing can work. It is a long game. I know we all have these customer life cycles that we want to be super short. Of course you do. The faster you can get somebody to get in the door and get converted and start paying you. Is gorgeous, but you have to realize, and for anyone who works with C levels or clients there, you definitely wanna go for the fast stuff.

[00:07:59] And my last episode talks about paid versus organic marketing. And if you wanna grow, go farther faster, paid can often help you with that. But marketing is meant to be a long game. You will probably always be bringing in customers who have seen you and tried things out and gone a little bit, you know, gone a little bit down your funnel, but not all the way.

[00:08:19] For years, months, years, whatever. But finally, wherever they might be in that particular moment, now they’ve decided to kind of go a little further with you. And that can be, make the difference with bringing them down into your funnel. That’s why you need to craft more of that content for throughout the funnel, throughout that person’s journey, through your product or brand, so that they have a reason, that is different than it was a few months ago or a few years ago. Now they’re willing to go with you. Okay, so top of the funnel, and that’s why I equate me with that top of the funnel with coming back to this game. I.

Crafting marketing ztouchpoints

[00:08:55] But also I wanna correlate it to, to that first 20 seconds of this game where you’re just moving to the right.

[00:09:01] There’s nothing happening. It looks like, okay, I’m gonna be traipsing through this forest for however long. I don’t know if this is gonna be interesting or not. That’s also top of funnel. But here’s where Inside blew my mind and here’s where your your branding can continue to blow people’s minds as they go further in.

[00:09:19] . You can tell that whoever crafted this game was super careful and took a lot of thought into developing and building the world that the character in Inside is going through. Because remember, you have minimal controls, minimal ways you can move or interact with the world around you.

[00:09:39] Sheerly by showing you the new environment as it unfolds. As you get further to the right, as you keep going to this world, you start to see the world you’re in, and why you . have some challenges ahead of you and kind of why it’s so important for you to outrun these people, why it’s so important for you to, to be able to blend in with other people around you, to get past certain checkpoints by whoever the authority is in this game.

[00:10:06] It’s gorgeous and you can tell it’s so well put together that whoever designed this game knew how they wanted people to feel and learn. How to interact with this game as with every single second that they go into it. Marketing has to be like that. And this is where I can do better at this. I think all of us can do better at this.

[00:10:29] Where you might go put out like, okay, well I have a landing page for new product I’m gonna put out there and it’s on my website and I’m gonna go share social post about it. Tada I’ve just marketed it and surely people will come. Mm-Hmm. , no. I think it would make a lot more sense for people, for marketers to do this where.

[00:10:47] and we try to do this as best we can, where we try to imagine if we were our customer, what would we wanna see from our brand? And it’s super challenging these days, right? Because we are dealing with a web, not necessarily a funnel, even like a two-dimensional funnel, but we’re dealing with a web.

[00:11:04] People can interact with your brand on social, on your website, over a podcast. . Over downloading a white paper, through a review that’s on a totally separate site that you don’t have control over, but you have a profile that people leave your reviews about. You know, maybe you do print, maybe you do events.

[00:11:19] There’s just this multitude of things any of your potential customers can, can be touching all those points in a radically different order than the other person next to them. So you wanna make sure you’re crafting every one of those touchpoints in order so that it makes that story and it’s compelling.

[00:11:36] Even if they depart and then come back, they still feel like this is written for me and this is designed for me to follow into your brand and toward that product, toward that solution. So I ultimately win. I win the game. I convert as a sale, and now I’m your customer.

[00:11:53] Frankly, this comes down to storytelling, which is gonna be the last thing or the point I make, but. What if we were like, okay, let’s, let’s tell the story. Like it’s almost like we’re making a linear video game that has beginning with the character and at the end they win the game.

[00:12:07] And that’s them being our customer. What are those different points that will tell them that they’re winning, that’s incentivizing them to keep coming back. Right. And I think it goes so much farther than, oh, let me post a blog. Let me give them a white paper to download. What if we got more interactive with stuff, right?

[00:12:22] Where there’s some incentive, there’s ooh, like gamifying and things like that. And I hate saying the word gamify ’cause I think so many brands out there just throw that out as some magic solution that they don’t really understand. Gamification, since we’re talking about video games. Is just so widely defined, so broad and really all it comes down to is saying, I want a serotonin bump after taking an action that makes me feel good about myself, which is gonna make me wanna continue on, right?

[00:12:52] It’s a serotonin infusion. That’s what it is. And so I’m going to definitely try to do that as I create my own branding, my marketing funnels, and I hope you do the same.

Our Customer is the Hero

[00:13:02] So this brings me to the final point. I’ve done, one of the first episodes of marketingXP was about storytelling.

[00:13:08] And here’s where I’m gonna go with that is because I think it’s super easy to fall into the mistaken perspective that when you’re marketing to potential customers, that you, the brand, are the hero in their story. You’re not. You are not the hero. The hero is the customer. I look at the game Inside, that main character, the only main character is a little boy.

[00:13:35] And this little boy has to traverse through all these different scenes and environments where you have people, adults chasing you, dogs chasing you, you’re trying to, you have to like go and just skirt authority and you have to like sneak into places. You have to escape danger.

[00:13:52] You have to encounter some truly kind of horrifying scenarios where you do a little mind control. Whew. It’s weird. I just have to know how this ends and what’s going on with it. But that little boy character is the hero, okay? The game is not the hero, the boy is. So if you’re a brand and you’re crafting the experiences where you are like, Hey, I’m delivering this product to you, I’m the hero.

[00:14:15] No, you’re not. And I bet video game developers out there see this the same way they know this. In their gut. They know this, in their mind and their hearts, is that the player is the hero, not them. That’s where we have to remember with marketing the customer at whatever stage they’re at is our hero and we wanna help them win the game.

[00:14:36] it’s like I’ve played God of War. Ragnarok is a good example where you’re like, okay, I’m gonna outfit myself and upgrade my blades of chaos.

[00:14:43] I’m gonna up upgrade all those things. That gives me the certain powers that I need, right? We are that, the brand is that, you are equipping the person to go win the game.

[00:14:53] That’s where we come in. Okay. But yeah, our customer is the hero. So that’s why I think video games are awesome to keep that in mind if you’re also a marketer, because you’re like, dude, if I just look at this from a video game perspective, what’s gonna keep me playing this game all the way through the story to the end?

[00:15:11] I would love to know from anyone too, what are games that you have played all the way through?

[00:15:15] I bet most people, you know, you have your favorites who are like, I stuck with that game and it was super hard, but I played right through to the end. But that’s what you want your customer to do. You want them to play through to the end, and they’re the hero, not you.

[00:15:28] All right, so that is this episode of marketingXP.

[00:15:32] Every episode of this podcast is on YouTube. It’s on my YouTube channel, marketingXP.

[00:15:37] This is also an audio podcast available anywhere you like to listen to your favorite podcasts. So please feel free to subscribe to all those. Subscribe to my YouTube channel, subscribe to wherever you listen to this podcast.

[00:15:49] And rate. I love ratings. I firmly believe in this correlation between video gaming and marketing

[00:15:56] It’s also too like why I think people who are marketers should always read fiction because it just helps your empathy muscle stretch and be in shape because you always have to be putting yourself in the place of someone who’s not you. But that’s why I like video games because I get to be someone else for a little while and it’s very cathartic.

[00:16:15] ALl right, everybody. Thank you for listening, watching whatever, however you were ingesting this.

[00:16:20] Feel free to visit marketingXP. It’s on my website, podcast.

[00:16:29] I wonder what I’m gonna play next. If y’all have any suggestions., Whether or not it has anything to do with marketing, I bet I can find a way that it correlates to marketing and that’s why this is called marketingXP. Bye everybody.

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