If you don’t get that we need to start publishing, things are going to get ugly for us. The world has changed. You have to know and believe that the world has changed, adapt, or risk extinction.
Earlier this I had the pleasure to kick off the 2015 NewsCred Content Marketing Summit with a presentation on the Future of Storytelling.
I opened my talk with a video montage that took us back to the beginning of storytelling (watch the video below at 0:50 mark).
What’s so cool to me is that the video was created by Dan Rudy on my team, a young and extremely talented designer. He used images we all recognize. We remember these images because they’ve touched our hearts in some unique way.
The video is meant to inspire the creative genius that lives inside each and every one of you out there, to think about how we can use creativity and technology to better engage and reach new customers with stories they might like and could even love. Because we know the world has changed and we need something different.
The commercial web is only 25 years old. The first social network, LinkedIn, has just recently celebrated its twelfth birthday. But in such an amazing short period of time, new technologies and social media have changed the way we think, work, live, and the way we connect with one another.
Unfortunately this change has created a gap between what we as consumers are looking for and the kinds of marketing brands produce, the kind of marketing that we as content marketers produce. We know the answer to how effective our marketing is today, and unfortunately the answer is not a very positive one. But we have a solution. It’s about creating content that connects with your audience, the people who matter for you and your business, through the stories they love.
Think about all the ads you’ve seen recently, and try to estimate in your mind how many of them are actually compelling? A recent study showed that only 1% of millennials said they would be willing to engage with a brand if they had a compelling ad. This means out of 100 messages only one will actually reach the millennial generation. The next generation is even worse, they are even more resistant to ads.
What we need to do as content marketers is we have to stop doing what doesn’t work, and start doing what does work. We need to stop creating the things people don’t want, and start creating things people want. That’s our job.
Instead of paying to interrupt your audience, pay to create stories that reach your audience based on common interests. The promise of content marketing is to earn your audience instead of buying it.
Steve Jobs understood this. In 1985, Jobs bought Pixar from George Lucas. Pixar preceded to produce an unprecedented string of multi-million hits one after another. They figured out how to harness the power of creativity, how to bring the new technologies in digital animation to reach us, with stories that we love.
Now let’s talk about the value of what Jobs did. He bought Pixar for $10 million in 1985, and in 2006 he sold Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion. Disney then preceded to produce another string of hits.
So how did they do this?
Build An Amazing Team
In his book, “Creativity, Inc.,” President of Pixar, Ed Catmull, wrote about how a business can harness the power of creativity and make it scale and sustainable. According to Catmull, the solution to overcoming the unforeseen, unseen forces that stand in the way of inspiration, is to build amazing teams. The things that get in the way of amazing teams is a lack of candor and trust.
So, the secret to harnessing the power of amazing, sustainable content is to build amazing teams. The hero of your story should be your team, and the hero of their story is your customers.
But that’s not the way it works inside businesses today, is it?
On average, 60-70% of content inside your organization produced by your team goes completely unused. It’s not because the content is not effective, it’s because it never gets the chance to be effective. The content is created because your boss or executive said so.
It’s really important to understand that the only business result of creating promotional content your bosses or executives want, is that we stroke their ego and that’s it. It has no real value or benefit for our customers because it’s not what they actually want.
We are accountable for pushing back, accountable for fighting for the content that our audience is looking for. We know the world has changed and we need something different.
Make Your Customers The Hero Of Your Story
We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in, and be what they are interested in. We need to stop interrupting what people want, and create what people want.
I get that we love our businesses and products. We’re part of these amazing brands that have created valuable products with tons of customers and massive revenue bases. They’re like our babies. We love our babies and we want to talk about how awesome they are.
The problem is that most brands get consumed with this part of the story. I’m not saying that this shouldn’t be talked about, we should talk about why we’re better and what makes us unique. But if you put your customers at the center, you start to realize we need to earn their trust first before we can talk about why we’re better. If we don’t, our customers will only ignore our messages. This is how we all react to people who just like to talk about themselves. And you know it.
In my kick-off presentation at the 2014 NewsCred #ThinkContent Summit, I talked about content marketing being the gap between what brands have traditionally produced and what audience is actually looking for. This gap is an opportunity for us content marketers to produce the content that consumers want.
As Ann Handley said, we need to take the brand out of the story, and put our customers at the center and make them the hero of our story.
Give your audience a ‘wow’ moment when they engage with your content, like a Pixar film.
Future Of Content Marketing
The future of content marketing is visual. Visual content is overtaking the world. If you look at the increase of visual content on the web, it’s growing at a massive rate. So you need to have a plan for visual content.
Visual content marketing is fun. We can all learn a thing or two from Taylor Swift. She’s social savvy, and she relates with her audience in a real, human way, and in a self-deprecating way while having fun with it. She is who she is. Her brand exudes fun, humanity, and authenticity.
Content marketing of the future will be entertaining. If you’ve seen the LEGO movie, you know this is the way we’re moving. House of Cards by Netflix, Amazon’s Alpha House, and RedBulletin by Redbull. These are companies who are creating content that their audience is looking for, and they are monetizing it. The content has become the product they sell.
I believe if you do all of these things, if you believe this is your mission – to create content that people love, and to connect with your audience, the people who matter, through the stories they love – you can and will capture your audience’s attention, and bring them to engage with your brand.
Will you make your customers the hero of your story?
Watch my talk on “The Future Of Storytelling” below. If you like what you read here and see in this video, let me know in the comments. I’m writing a book called “Publish Or Perish” and would love your feedback:
Are you interested in engaging and converting new customer for your business? Contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help.