My Freshmen year of college, my little-boy fantasy and slacker dream all came true at once when I took an English class that studied comic books and graphic novels.
Taken mainly as a way to lighten my workload, I was surprised to learn a ton about writing and storytelling.
One of the lessons that stuck with me was how important the space between frames are to the story.
And how the best stories and storytellers used the necessary gap between frames as a way to further the story and allow the viewers imagination to fill in the scene.
In comics, this is called closure and can be described as the “phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole.” Just like marketing campaigns, comics require the viewer to experience one thing and then fill in the gaps between the next.
This doesn’t just go for comics but all forms of storytelling. Like Colson Whitehead says in the NYT, “What isn’t said is as important as what is said. In many classic short stories, the real action occurs in the silences.”
And since marketing is about telling stories the same principles apply.
Which is why I loved this post by Seth Godin – The Theater of the mind where he says, “The most effective marketing story isn’t the one you tell to someone in your audience, it’s the one the person tells himself.”
Too often advertisers and marketers are focused on crafting the story and spreading it out into the world without thinking about how the individual will absorb it and internalize it and think about it once the link is clicked or the page turned or the channel flipped.
Most marketers are afraid to let their audience fill in the gaps because they are short on time and feel that they must have the messaged flashed in front of them 7 times before they’ll act.
Competing for shorter and shorter attention spans, marketers turn away from this and produce more and more direct messages that lack internal resonance.
But what we forget is that the messages that pique our curiosity and stay with us for longer than 3 seconds are the ones that leave room for interpretation.
What if instead of seeking to simply minimize the gap between message A and message B, you took a note from your favorite comics and instead allowed your viewer to fill in the gap themselves?