In the 1996 cult classic “Scream,” the characters find themselves living out the “rules” of horror movies. The hook – that if you played by the rules, you could make it to the end of the film alive – was a fresh idea at the time. Even though Hollywood has since done it to death (pun intended), that premise still plays well when it comes to content marketing.
Like a horror movie, content marketing has the potential to work really well (think “Saw”) or go horribly wrong (think every “Saw” sequel). Successful content marketing, like a good horror flick, takes risks, packs some surprises and entertains.
So what are the rules that can help you avoid a content marketing horror story? Here are a few to keep in mind:
1. Cross your best friend and you will pay
Disloyalty gets punished in horror films. The shy girl who turns her back on her nerdy best friend to be accepted by the “in crowd” is likely to be the first one to die when the monster/villain shows up in town. Think of your customers as your best friend and don’t leave them in the dust. Always treats them with loyalty and respect.
2. Stupid dialogue is its own punishment
Did you ever notice how the first character to die in a horror film is often the most doltish one? He’s the character that irritates you with the dumbest dialogue. He’s written that way so you don’t feel bad when the alien pops out of his chest. While you may not be doing it intentionally, when you produce poorly written copy, it’s the content marketing equivalent of dumb dialogue. Your content is going to die a gory death, and no one (except you) will feel bad about it.
3. Overconfidence kills
Despite warnings from other characters, the cocky dude boldly throws open the mysterious door and is immediately attacked by the ax murderer. With content marketing, it pays to listen to advice from others. Never over-estimate your own brilliance. While you may know your business and your message best, feedback and advice from others can help ensure you deliver that message in a way that’s welcome and successful.
4. It takes multiple tries to kill the villain
If a horror movie villain had a glass jaw and went down easily the movie would be over in the first 15 minutes. Customer apathy is often the villain you’re trying to defeat with your content marketing campaigns. Rarely does anyone succeed on the first try. It takes a sustained, carefully planned effort to get your message to the right audience.
If you keep these rules of the game in mind, you’ve got a good chance to not only survive, but to create something that will keep people talking long after the show is over.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October, 2012. The post has been updated for relevancy and clarity.