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Marketing Showrunners

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By: Jay Acunzo on March 24th, 2019

How Marketers Can Create Better Episode Endings to Prompt Show Subscription

Marketers are terrible at goodbyes. Whether we’re addressing a viewer or listener, whenever we finish our podcast’s or video show’s episodes, we rarely end with enough oomph.

Sometimes, we’ve dedicated so much time to everything else, that we simply fail to allot the necessary mental calories to the ending. Other times, we just drop people off a cliff and kill all momentum. Then, of course, there’s the over-stuffed ending, full of 12 calls-to-action to subscribe to our show on your podcast player of choice, or smash that subscribe button on YouTube (and don’t forget that notifications bell!), and while you’re at it, we have a newsletter, and take a demo of our product, and we’ll be speaking in Dallas next month, and give us a rating and review, and of COURSE share this episode on social media, I mean we aren’t luddites here!

Cough. Gasp. Wheeze. Choke. Enough! I can’t take any more CTAs!

Put simply, the ending of our episodes is the biggest missed opportunity for marketers in our shows today. Someone has dedicated meaningful time to us — which is quite the Herculean task in our digital world today — and then, in horrifying, dismaying fashion … we squander it.

Allow me to do my impersonation of an entrepreneur telling their story on Shark Tank: 

“There’s got to be a better way!”

(Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Don’t try the veal though. That’s some cruel stuff right there. ANYWAY…)

I do indeed believe there’s a better way. It requires zero extra budget — just some creativity. I call it…

The Goosebumps Walkaway

I’m a sucker for bighearted sitcoms. (I know, I know, so shocking if you’ve heard any of my podcast). Some of my favorites include The Office, Parks and Rec, Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, and New Girl. And it was that last show that revealed a concept we can all steal from — one that made me go, This is EXACTLY our problem! The concept was something the characters called the Goosebumps Walkaway. Here’s what they meant…

In the show, the perpetually anxious, angry, and disheveled Nick (played by Jake Johnson) falls for the beautiful-if-cynical Reagan (Megan Fox). In one particular episode, Reagan is about to move away from their home in LA. It’s her last day, and Nick tells his roommate Schmidt (Max Greenfield) that he wants to leave a lasting impression as she leaves so she remembers him and can’t stop thinking about him. He’s gonna “hit her with a goosebumps walkaway.”

“I don’t know who he is. Is he an old-fashioned baseball player?” replies the perpetually quippy but confused Schmidt.

“The goosebumps walkaway is the line that the guy says to the girl in the movie that gives her goosebumps,” says Nick, “and then he walks away forever. It’s that line that–”

“–that haunts her,” Schmidt chimes in, a knowing smirk crawling across his face.”That consumes her, that rings in her ear for all of eternity, granting you … immortality.”

“You’re damn right!” Nick shouts.

Unfortunately, delivering a goosebumps walkaway is no easy feat. Later in the episode, Nick botches his attempt to share a memorable line to Reagan. He approaches her while she’s at the sink in the bathroom for no apparent reason and shouts, “Sayonara, Sammy! Sayonara … Sammy.”

Then he awkwardly steps past her into the shower and slowly pulls the curtain shut. (“Who the hell is Sammy?!” Nick later complains to Schmidt.)

Like Nick, we all want to be remembered. We want to create content that others don’t just consume — it consumes them. It sticks and stays and grants us … immortality. And yet, also like Nick, we often botch the chance to do that well. When it’s time to say goodbye and end an episode with a powerful moment, we instead shout our own versions of “Sayonara, Sammy!”

Enough. Yes, all kinds of “best practices” exist for how to upsell and create CTAs and move someone from Thing 1 to Thing 2. They tend ot focus on what you should say. But I’d argue that the best way to create a thriving base of subscribers — nay, superfans — has nothing to do with WHAT we say at the end and everything to do with HOW WE SAY IT.

I think one of the most powerful but underused things we can do in our projects is to conclude with more power. End with an inspiring lesson from your story, a hopeful or future-facing comment from your guest, or a rally cry that you as a host deliver. Whatever you do, however you execute, focus less on what you say and more on HOW you say it.

What can we all do to give them goosebumps, to leave them feeling an emotional and intellectual tie to what they just experienced? THAT is how you get someone to come back time and time again. Ending more powerfully would prompt others to think, “Wow, I want more!”

As sitcom writers are wont to do, a second storyline emerges in that same episode of New Girl that “just so happens” to relate to Nick’s goosebumps walkaway idea. In that storyline, Schmidt scolds his and Nick’s other roommate, Winston, for his ridiculous and clashing choice of clothing. Winston has just removed his sweatshirt to reveal a bizarre tank-top, and Schmidt is worried about what people might think.

Winston responds to Schmidt: “When are you gonna stop worrying about what other people say? When I look into my suggestion box, it’s full. People have a lot to say about the way I live my life, but there is only one comment that I pay attention to. Know what the card says? It says, ‘Great job, keep it up!’ And you know who filled out that card? ME! You know how I know? Because I recognize my mother frickin’ handwriting!” (He then spikes his sweatshirt to the ground and marches confidently out the door.)

Says Schmidt, mouth hanging open: “Now that’s a goosebumps walkaway.”

Ask yourself: What’s mine?

What are you doing in your work to make others FEEL something or THINK something at the end of an episode? Are you leaving them wanting more? Or are you sharing a bunch of housekeeping, or demands, or momentum-killers?

Instead, what if you kept that momentum going?

Hit ’em with a goosebumps walkaway.

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Founder of Marketing Showrunners, host of 3 Clips and other podcasts and docuseries about creativity, and author of Break the Wheel. I’m trying to create a world where people feel intrinsically motivated by their work. Previously in content marketing and digital strategy at Google and HubSpot and VP of brand and community at the VC firm NextView. I write, tinker, and speak on stages and into microphones for a living. It’s weird but wonderful.

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