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5 things marketers can learn from Hollywood

5 things marketers can learn from Hollywood Lauren Friedman

Hollywood has its content creation process down. It has a detailed understanding of its audience, knows what worked in the past and what didn't, and takes those insights to continue producing stellar results. Whether it's a blockbuster hit or an Academy Award-winning movie, there's a lot we, as content marketers, can learn from Hollywood. Here are five important lessons marketers should keep in mind.

Update a post from the past

Hollywood is all about sequels. Just this year we've got "Bridget Jones's Baby," "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2," "John Wick: Chapter 2," "Now You See Me 2," and the list goes on. But why are there so many sequels? Well, Hollywood takes what's worked in the past and recreates it or continues the story in a sequel. This simultaneously engages a new audience while continuing to serve the existing one.

We can take what Hollywood has learned from sequels and apply it to our content marketing strategy. Update a blog post that has worked (and is still working well) for you. For example, if your list of marketing trends in 2015 is performing well, update it for 2016. Check your analytics and see what content is most visited on your site and which pieces you can update or put a new spin on (think creatively!).

Build out an influencer strategy

Word-of-mouth marketing has never been more important. Praise delivered by word-of-mouth is the most effective form of advertising, especially when it comes from a respected voice with a large following. We can learn a lot from Hollywood and celebrity endorsements of brands and products -- and these endorsements are most valuable when they are authentic. For example, Oprah Winfrey has a list of her "favorite things," which promotes some of her favorite products. This, of course, works very well for the items mentioned and allows Oprah's audience to learn about new products she endorses.

Marketers can learn a lot from celebrities and the PR teams behind them. Building out an influencer strategy -- whether it includes celebrities or not -- is crucial to reach a relevant, broad audience. Identify thought leaders and influencers in your industry. Develop a good working relationship with them and identify authentic opportunities to work together to leverage their existing audience and reach yours. Remember to consider what's in it for them so the relationship can be mutually beneficial.

Tell a story

The key to pleasing an audience is to tell a compelling story. Whether that's through a beautifully crafted screenplay or a strategic marketing campaign, a storyline is crucial. Make good use of your audience insights (what they're interested in, what their challenges are) and combine those insights with an interesting storyline. We know by now that people engage most when they feel something, and a story is the best way to incite that feeling.

A great story cuts through the clutter (and we all know there's a lot of clutter out there right now). Marketers need to tell stories that not only get attention, but hold attention long enough so the brand matters to them. Best practices always say "show, don't tell" and that holds true with content marketing.

Put money behind it

We often hear about films that cost $100 million to make and sometimes even more to market. Movie studios put money behind the creation of a trailer, advertisements on audience-relevant websites, and more. And it pays off.

Marketers may be a little more reluctant to pour that kind of money into their content, but it's important to understand that promotion is worth the investment. Especially in the new social media world order where every piece of content is "pay to play," marketers must put money behind their content in order to reach not only their existing audience, but new audiences as well. Build out paid promotion plans for your content and work across teams to get as much bang for your buck as possible.

Distribute your content widely

Hollywood knows how to distribute content. From theaters to Blu-ray to Netflix to cable and beyond, there are always many, many ways to see a movie or a show. That means the content gets viewed by people in a variety of ways. We've heard it before: "Be where your customers are." Distributing content on multiple platforms helps to ensure different audiences are reached.

When marketers produce content, they should be thinking about which outlets they could tap into to re-post the content. Put up excerpts on LinkedIn. Transform your content into other formats for outlets like YouTube or SlideShare where it makes sense. The more places content lives, the more people will see it and engage with it.

Lauren Friedman is the head of Global Social Business Enablement at Adobe.  She's a digital and social marketing authority, with extensive experience working with Fortune 500 brands to integrate digital and social media into their overarching...

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Commenter: Mary Bows

2016, November 30

Lauren - great analogies between successful film and branded content marketing. Thank you!