The Battle for Content Supremacy or Re-Tweet of the Jedi
Do you often have a bad feeling about this? Or do you take the ‘farm-boy’ approach to digital marketing? How do your customers view the content you produce and where do you fit into the universe as we know it?
These aren't the likes your looking for, move along . . .
In the battle for content supremacy it’s not always a straightforward question of good versus evil, but more of a complex debate around the fact that do we really understand how to communicate and what makes us stand out from the crowd? I’m sure most people given time would be able to answer it easily enough but put on the spot you may struggle to come up with something worthy of how you actually feel.
By they’re very virtue most businesses completely understand what it is they do, but tend to get more than a little confused when trying to communicate that very thing to the public at large. In an increasingly over saturated digital world it’s not enough to just consistently ‘Tweet’, ‘Share’, ‘Message’, ‘Post’ and ‘Email’ reams of information whenever we can, we need to think bigger and have a clear and concise content strategy that is in line with our overall business objectives. OK that sounds easy, doesn't it?
We now have more routes to market, more ability to produce our own content, its more affordable and there are certainly more platforms to shout from than ever before. So, with all this increased opportunity and cheaper technology why do so many of us still get it so wrong? Well let me tell you, because we never saw the hidden messages wrapped up in the Star Wars universe that’s why.
I felt a great disturbance in the force, posted it on my Facebook Stories and hoped it went away . . .
So, why was Star Wars Episode IV a New Hope the first Star Wars film to be made? Well not because George Lucas thought nobody would notice he was starting at number four and certainly not because secretly he had already made episodes 1-3, but almost certainly because George new that the back story of his space opera was nowhere near as exciting as what happened in the second and third acts. A premonition that he backed up himself by making the three inferior prequels many years later.
So, he did something that nobody else had done before and started telling his story half way through. He had the whole saga planned out and had figured out that in the unlikely event that he ever got to make any more Star Wars films <sic> people would be far more likely to be on board if he started at pace and didn’t dwell on the various why’s, when’s and wherefores’ and trade federation embargoes – he could catch up with that later, if he got the chance.
OK – what am I getting at? my point is that too many businesses’ dwell on telling customers about their history and backstory or what product they have that can ultimately make your life better, without first developing a relationship with an audience and making them feel like they want to know more. Of course many businesses’ have tradition and history, which is important in building buyer confidence and showing integrity, but it doesn’t have to be the beginning middle and end of your story. In today’s multi-platformed digital world it isn’t enough to just make a video once and let it sit on your website until, well, forever! If you do, before long it’s boring, dated and irrelevant and certainly not cool and retro – despite what you may think.
Content marketing ain't like dusting crops boy . . .
It’s important to remember that you need to build an audience, get them to buy into your universe, make them believe it’s real, leave them wanting more. Then, once you have that audience make sure they are fed and watered regularly and as you give them more they’ll want the T-Shirt, the pen and the toilet-roll holder. They'll start to want more and buy into anything, even three inferior sequels and Jar Jar Binks. That's not to say once you have an audience where you want them you should sell them Jar Jar Binks! As before long even the mightiest force is vulnerable and your Empire is taken over by a bigger evil and made to wear Mickey Mouse ears and say ‘Have a nice day’ - I digress.
It’s rather a simplistic view granted, but a lot of content, particularly video still operates in this below way:-
Tell your backstory and let people know you have integrity and know what you are doing.
Show them how the thing you do can make someone’s life better and that your cheaper than the other guy.
Reaffirm your message - you can trust us because we know what we are doing – we are honest – honest!
Eat, Sleep, Tweet, Repeat.
There is no reason at all this has to be the model - for me the problem is not only the fact that we get confused about what to do and when to do it, but also the fact we get wrapped up in the solution before we understand the problem. Developing good consistent content is a little like trying to get your X-Wing out of the swamps of Dagobah using the force – difficult, but not impossible and that is why we fail.
Help me Obi Wan Kenobi your my only hope of more followers . . .
Essentially, most of us take one of the below three approaches in how we deal with content marketing and to become a Jedi we first need to understand all three and learn from our mistakes.
1) Luke Skywalker Tatooine Complex or the - Farm Boy Approach
You think about content a lot and you know you should be doing more about it, but you believe it’s too difficult, too expensive and it’s up to other braver businesses to do all that stuff. A weird old tramp even gives you a light saber video camera, but you never get it out of the box, then you simply give up and go back to farming, after all that's what you know best.
2) Han Solo Smuggler Complex or the - I've Got a Bad Feeling About This Approach
You've actually produced an expensive video and had a photographer take some shots of you and your team at work, but you didn't really think it through and don’t know what to do next. In the short term it drives a small amount of revenue growth and people tell you they like it. But, the content stays on your website for years and starts to actually do more harm than good - you start to get a bad feeling about it, but you don't really know what to do. You start to distance yourself from its very existence and even start hiding from the fact you ever made it at all, you keep telling yourself once you have enough budget you'll update it - but it’s always a secondary priority. Eventually, you take it down, and either become a farmer or get frozen in carbonite.
3) Darth Vader Emperor Complex or the - Force Choke Approach
You're not actually that bothered about the quality of your content or whether you have anything useful to say. You are single minded and driven by the notion that you know what you do is great and people 'should and will' hear all about it. So, you decide on a ‘take over the universe’ approach and start communicating stuff, a lot of stuff, over and over again. If this approach doesn't work (what do you mean of course it will) you will just keep Tweeting, Facebooking, Snapchatting and Instagramming the same pictures and updates until your customers are choked into submission or run away and hide on an Ice Planet. Meanwhile, your competitors form a rebel alliance and take the best bits of what you do and then do it much better - this ultimately leads to the demise of your business Empire and most probably the loss of an appendage or two.
The answer to this be what it could . . ?
4) The Master Yoda Jedi Complex or the - Do Or Do Not Approach
You understand your immediate surroundings and short term goals, but don't pretend to understand the whole universe. You take a discovery and learning approach to how to use content to create value, community and growth, through sharing, knowledge and collaboration. You don't just do something for the sake of it; if it doesn't add value and it’s not part of the greater plan then you don't do it. However, you don't dismiss anything - you think about where it may work in the future or how you can learn from the experience. You understand that building long standing relationships and trust will ultimately mean your story reaches beyond the boundaries of your immediate base and will show what you are all about to the entire universe without having to force choke anyone. You involve customers in your story for mutual benefit and train staff to carry on your work when you retire and become one with the force.
Balance is restored all is one with the force . . .
So there you have it - my slightly left of field view on how my own personal obsession with Star Wars can (maybe) help you better understand your business and improve the way you communicate it to your small part of the universe.
Having engaging, relevant content that your audience values is something every business knows they need and just making a noise on social media really doesn’t help.
Today’s business landscape has never been so saturated. So don’t just add to the noise, start to tell your story. Generating a belief through a storytelling approach and just thinking a little more strategically can really help. Stories bring the world to life. Stories define when logic refuses to. Stories inspire, lead and yes, influence behaviour.
So next time you think about marketing, communicating or just talking to the world remember to use the force Luke – or at least acknowledge it exists!
Richard Watts is a content creator & freelance Ne'r do well, all random views are his own and are no fault of his friends, family or parents.