As someone who studied theatre, I regularly get attacks of guilt that I don’t see more on the stage. When that happens, I go browsing theatre websites, account details in hand, ready to book the first thing that sounds appealing.
I dive head first down the sales funnel, in other words. But you’d be surprised how often the funnel spits me back out again. Here’s one of the plot synopses I ran into last time this happened:
An unexpected meeting at an airport leads to an intense, passionate, head-over-heels relationship. Before long they begin to settle down, buy a house, juggle careers, have kids – theirs is an ordinary family. But then their world starts to unravel and things take a disturbing turn.
This might not be a bad synopsis, technically. It might accurately describe the plot of the show. I wouldn’t know; I didn’t book. Because it avoids specifics so carefully that it might well describe the plot of any number of other shows, as well. Countless plays deal with relationships unravelling, and this doesn’t say what makes this story different.
By trying to make the story of the show sound universal, this teaser copy leaves out anything distinctive – making the story sound generic instead.
And because it’s trying not to give too much away about what happens, it doesn’t give the audience enough information to decide whether the show is for them.
Brands make these mistakes in their storytelling too.