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Designing the Experience: My Ongoing Experiments with Book Trailers and Storytelling

I’ve always been fascinated by Hollywood trailers. So much so, that 10 years ago, I was determined to develop a trailer for my next book at the time, Engage!. Since then, I launched every subsequent book with a trailer. You can see a compilation here.

With my latest book X, I broke that tradition. It wasn’t intentional however. I simply got so caught up with the launch and the following book tour that I couldn’t get to it. That didn’t sit well with me and so I decided to do something about it. Over the last several months, I started a few separate book trailer projects. The first two I’d like to share with you are experiments in that they deviate from my usual approach.

I wanted to share them with you here to get your feedback on which one I should use as one of the official trailers I’m set to debut.

For these two pilots, I partnered with Chief Nina Eric Prospero Torres of NinjaTropic to experiment with alternative takes on what a book trailer could be. In version 1, I emphasize the script and used imagery to visualize the narrative. Since this is a book about designing experiences in a digital economy, I aimed to find the right balance between words, visuals and music to evoke the senses and inspire an action or reaction.

Pilot v1

Pilot v2

Version 2 follows the same script and is visually similar to what you just watched. But with this one, I was distracted by a voice over artist who sounded a lot like Morgan Freeman. I just needed to hear what it sounded like because….Morgan Freeman! While he may not be the best imitator, it was an interesting experience and I’m curious what you think. The challenge here however, is the undulation and pace of a Morgan Freeman-like narrative slows down the experience and adds another minute to the trailer length.

Please let me know what you think and I’d appreciate it if you could share this post.

Thank you!

p.s. I’d also like to say thank you to NinjaTropic and Eric in particular. Thank you for your patience and openness to experiment!

Brian Solis is principal analyst and futurist at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet, Brian is world renowned keynote speaker and 7x best-selling author. His latest book, X: Where Business Meets Designexplores the future of brand and customer engagement through experience design. Invite him to speak at your event or bring him in to inspire and change executive mindsets.

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8 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Designing the Experience: My Ongoing Experiments with Book Trailers and Storytelling”

  1. Deborah Blanchard says:

    Let’s put it this way. I’d think seriously about buying the book after the Morgan Freeman version, although I thought the music got in the way of both versions. Use music, yes. That music, No. I’m not Gen Z or a Millennial, so maybe I like the other version because it gave me time for the message to sink in. But, at least for me, the narrative and graphics seem to work better together in the Morgan Freeman version. I would have to watch version one a second time to seriously consider buying the book (especially if I didn’t know the author well) and I doubt I’d do that.
    Interesting experiment. And I’d think about changing the music. It was kind of a relief when it almost disappeared for a minute near the end.

  2. Jenis says:

    1st version is very good, voice over of 1st version has pretty impact as well as it’s matches with background music….. only thing is background music is much louder at least decrease 1 level of volume…… Personally i don’t like 2nd version, voice over & low background music doesn’t go well with combination……

  3. Linda Lopeke says:

    Please, please, please do something with that soundtrack. It completely drowns out the voiceover from just before the one minute mark making it tortuous to listen to the trailer — a horrible customer experience, in fact.

    I’d go with the shorter version (#1) since we’re all marketing in an attention-deficit economy. The longer it takes someone to get to the point, the more irritating it is.

    But that horrendously loud sound track really ruined both trailers for me. So much so that I’d never have shared them anywhere or with anyone as much as I love to support the great work of fellow authors. And I do love your work and have shared it extensively in the past, so that just makes me sad. 🙁

  4. Kenny Lauer says:

    Next generation trailers will be actual experiences like Sony is doing for Spider-Man. Would be fun to think about how that would translate to your book. Great ideas

  5. I would use both, depending on where you will use it and your target group.
    Eg in soc med I would use #1, eg as an intro for a lecture about the book, I would go with #2.
    If to choose one, I would go with #1.

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