I’ll never forget the first time I saw the teaser trailer for Inception. All I can remember thinking was, “I have no clue what that is about, but I want to see it SOOOOOOOOOO BAD!”
Think of the most compelling trailers you’ve seen. They’re exciting and intriguing, they give you a hint of what the movie is about, but they generally don’t give away crucial plot points or show you how the movie ends. They leave you with burning questions that you’re dying to have answered…and the only way to get those answers is to go see the movie!
In a number of ways, the strategic objective of a message series teaser is quite similar: get people interested enough to show up and/or tune in. Here are some rules of thumb we’ve begun to develop over the years. It’s not a formula by any means, but it helps us assess whether a promo is doing its job.
Goals for Series Promos:
TEASE, INTRIGUE, ENTICE, ENGAGE.
- Spark a QUESTION in the viewers’ minds that can only be answered by…. showing up on Sunday, hearing the message, watching online, etc.
- Create TENSION around a common topic or felt need. Let it linger!
- Cast a WIDE NET; appeal to people regardless of spiritual background.
- Keep it SIMPLE.
- Appeal to EMOTION.
- Keep the viewers CURIOUS.
- Bounce from topic to topic.
- Use the promo as an opportunity to “teach” anything. (That’s what Sunday is for.)
- Give away the bottom line or crucial points of the message. (That’s what Sunday is for.)
- Resolve the tension in the promo. (That’s what Sunday is for.)
- Answer any questions in the promo. (That’s what Sunday is for.)
- Give away the gospel message in the promo. (That’s what Sunday is for.)
We don’t always get it right, but here are a few promos that we’ve created through the lens of these ideas:
Even in the rarer instances where we are creating a product teaser that uses clips of the messages, we try to maintain the same psychological approach:
For more discussion about trailer editing, check out this article from a 2012 issue of Filmmaker Magazine. It’s an incredibly in-depth breakdown of the method & psychology of trailer editing for movies, and has influenced me tremendously as an editor. Great read!