What Does Hollywood Understand That Technology Businesses Don’t?

November 4th, 2013 by Matthew Rosenhaft Leave a reply »

I was watching some movies over the weekend and it seems every one of them follows the same formula: Introduction, Event, Crisis, Despair, Rally, Success, and then Group Hug.

  • “What seems to be the problem, ma’am?
  • “Dude, what’s your problem?”
  • “Doctor, we have a problem.”
  • “No problem, señor.”
  • “Houston, we have a problem.”

Why is that? Why does Hollywood present a major problem as the focal point of their movie when Business doesn’t? I mean, this sequence pretty much describes every technical project I have ever seen. Even down to the shooting off of the most annoying “characters” on the project team. “Can you shoot, Jim, our Director of X? That guy is a major pain in my #&%!”

But, do you notice that Hollywood really makes the smallest “pains” into the most dire conflicts, problems, crisis, and valley of despair?

“Nurse, we have to remove the growth now or the patient will die! Prep for surgery!” “But, doctor, it is a pimple! “ Yes, nurse, but she has a date with Jimmy Johnson for the Prom and this is her one chance to prove that she can survive high school or suffer the fate of returning for her reunions as an unpopular geek for the rest of her life!” Yes, pretty much the dramatic plot of every teen movie.

But why do they do this over and over again? Well, because it works!!

In action movies, there is the scene where everyone is half-naked, dirty, bloody, huddled together, just lost some secondary character to an over-the-top death that you would want your worst enemy to go through. (Well, except Jim, Director of X who you would gladly pay double to the vendor to take him with them when they leave after the project)

See, Hollywood understand “problem”, but technology businesses seem to only understand “cool” technology and “pain”.  Let me translate techie speak to business speak for a moment.

Cool = stuff our backroom, genius, socially awkward, R&D Thomas Edison types have been toiling away for a good while, living on an amazing array of junk food, pizza, caffeine drinks, and weird mushrooms that they grow in their unlit man-caves filled with action figures and weird music and lots of game explosions. It comes with features and functionality plus a good bit of intellectual property. In Hollywood, this is called special effects.

Pain = the icky feeling that customers feel before buying our stuff. This is otherwise known as the THEME MUSIC.  Note, it is not the wall of water racing your way or the serial killer who jumps out at you or the tornado/hurricane/enemy invasion/zombie apocalypse. THAT is a problem; the music is merely the way that you know you have a real problem.

Technology businesses seem to have a problem realizing that symptomatic pain is not underlying problem. Also, telling me the ROI and we will be more profitable isn’t the same as diagnosing what underlying problem that I need to fix.

Doctors get it. You come in for pain in your knee. You have tried to treat the symptoms with Advil for a week. It hasn’t fixed itself with time. You realize that the pain isn’t a simple, superficial hurt, but probably something more systemic.

(Business Translation: the dept has tried to fix the thing for a year, but they realize that it may be related to the problems that the 2 other depts. are complaining about to the boss. The boss is not doing anything about it because 1) hoping the pain goes away 2) not sure the 3 depts issues are related 4) not really sure what the problem(s) really are and 5) not going to spend a lot of money unless understand the root cause)

So, the doctor comes in after the nurse takes the “assessment” to figure out what is wrong with you. The doctor doesn’t walk into the room and immediately tell you that you need an “amoxtheuratictherapy” and major surgery to amputate your leg. They DIAGNOSE what problem that you really have based upon the symptoms to determine whether it is superficial, moderate, systemic, or bucket-list.

They don’t go from symptomatic pain = “knee hurts” to latest and greatest medical innovation that insurance doesn’t cover. Doctors live in the world of problem. Business executives live in the world of problem. Tell me the underlying problem or problems and I can build a plan. Hollywood lives in the world of problem. Give me the threat and I will build a movie plot around it.

Now, do that out in the market (movie trailers) before I have to get in the sales process (cool stadium seats) to understand that there is a great crisis that you will solve before my very eyes. Do that on large numbers and you get market adoption AND great box office numbers.

What problem(s) do you solve? Cue theme music, please.

Matthew Rosenhaft

Matthew is a Social Marketing Executive and is co-founder of Social Gastronomy, LLC and the Social Executive Council. Prior to founding Social Gastronomy, Matthew has over 18 years’ experience as an executive in marketing, product management, and sales. Matthew has an extensive background in the SaaS Software, Social Media, Mobile, IT Services, and Telecom industries. He has prior entrepreneurial experience as a founder and executive in several early-stage venture-backed technology companies, as well as, holds several US patents for a mobile marketing technology. Matthew is a prominent blogger and regular industry speaker on social marketing and strategy topics. Matthew’s blog can be found at www.socialgastronomy.com/blog. For more information on Matthew, you can check out his LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/rosenhaft or contact him directly at mrosenhaft@socialgastronomy.com.