Have you ever seen a photographer look through a rectangle of forefingers and thumbs to “frame” a potential shot?
Framing is even more important when using words to capture images.
Advertising, like every other kind of storytelling, should always begin with a framing sequence.
- From what angle will you approach your subject?
- What will be revealed?
- What will be excluded?
- Most importantly, what will be only partially revealed, requiring your reader to supply the parts that are missing?
In the prologue of John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, a character explains the attraction of the partial reveal: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks.”
“How much should a hamster weigh?”
We know from this framing sequence that Bobby respects the wisdom of Mr. Jenkins and feels comfortable enough around him to ask whatever is on his mind. And because Bobby feels comfortable, we feel comfortable, too. We find out later that Mr. Jenkins owns an air conditioning company.
Another ad opens like this:
“Mr. Jenkins told me…”
“Mr. Jenkins told me…”
“Mr. Jenkins told me to work on every system like it was for my mom.”
These 3 employee voices frame Mr. Jenkins as a person who loves his mother and who hires people who love their mothers. We also know that Mr. Jenkins believes his customers deserve care, concern, and commitment. But the ad doesn’t make these claims; we come to these conclusions on our own because of the partial reveal.
“I think I know why Ken Goodrich hired me to run his plumbing company.”
The famous owner of an air conditioning company is now in the plumbing business, too. And the person who runs that company for him is straightforward, plainspoken, and willing to tell us what he thinks. We arrive at these conclusions after just 14 words of framing. This is how the public was introduced to Zach Hunt.
The next ad begins:
“Zach, have you ever heard of the 7-year itch?”
This 10-word frame skyrockets our curiosity. We want to hear Zach’s answer and learn where Ken Goodrich is headed with this question.
“Five years before Teddy Roosevelt led the Rough Riders, Simon Schiffman stepped off the train to stretch his legs.”
Two heroic icons of American history 125 years ago… An unknown man steps off a train… Framing has set the stage. Now captivate your customer’s attention by surprising them with what happens next.
Roy H. Williams
PS – As a special treat, Indy Beagle interviewed Ray Bard – the world’s foremost expert on framing – and left you a tasty trail of bread crumbs to follow in the rabbit hole.
Brett Vance is a veteran combat and military test pilot who flies F-16s and commands the 514th Flight Test Squadron. But no battle has tested him as much as working to produce Jet Jockeys, his inspirational docu-reality video series showcasing aviators and aviation feats. Join roving reporter Red-beard as he interviews Brett Vance and his astoundingly talented wife Sherri – the program’s creator and executive producer – and learns about their flight plan for entrepreneurial success. It’s all sky-high at MondayMorningRadio.com.