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Content marketing lessons from Hollywood

Content marketing lessons from Hollywood David Zaleski
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Is a movie trailer content or advertising? How about interviews with your favorite stars? Do you even mind sitting through TV show commercial spots?


More and more, the marketing industry is realizing that content is the next big game changer for genuinely connecting with the public. Every brand will need a content marketing approach in at least the next two years. The question still remains: How do you do it right?


Marketers are starting to look to the west for perhaps the most successful example of branded content marketing that has ever existed: the entertainment industry.



Entertainment marketers are experts in this field. The line between content and advertising is already blurred, and consumers are clamoring for it. Why? Entertainment marketers are marketing products (TV shows, movies, video games, etc.) that people actually want to learn about. They create compelling narratives in their marketing strategies. Advertising campaigns are stories.


When was the last time you were attracted to an online banner ad about an upcoming movie? When was the last time a movie poster really engaged you? They probably haven't, and yet marketers in other industries still rely on display ads and billboards. It's time to take a page from Hollywood.


Brands need to become storytellers. Every brand has a story to communicate. From Coca-Cola to GM, there is a compelling narrative in every brand's history. The entertainment industry is showing the rest of the marketing community a blueprint for what truly successful content marketing can look like. Find your story and deliver it to the consumer in a compelling, creative way.


In this exclusive interview, Christy Tanner, SVP and GM of CBS Interactive Media speaks with iMedia at ThinkLA's Trends breakfast in Beverly Hills, California. She discusses how the entertainment space has refined its approach to content marketing over the years, and how certain creative initiatives can be delivered that don't feel like advertising at all.


What is the future of entertainment marketing? According to Christy Tanner, it's about driving the fan experience 24/7. It's about creating a fan who will passionately advocate for your brand. It's about turning consumers into loyalists. There's no doubt among marketers that the most powerful form of marketing is word-of-mouth. Achieving manic word-of-mouth marketing is the goal in Hollywood and should be the goal of content marketers in every industry.


There's obviously a difference between a customer and a fan. If a fan likes you but isn't buying from you, it's kind of a waste. Right? Wrong. If you create a fan base (whether they buy from you or not), you are creating walking advertisements for your brand's message. Fans will spread the word. When you're in love, you can't help but shout it from the rooftops. Fans will take any opportunity they can to talk about something they are passionate about. If you create a 24/7 fan experience with your content, the fans will share with their friends and those friends may become your paying customers. Treat your fans right and don't always expect a sale conversion right off the bat.


Christy Tanner continues our conversation at ThinkLA's Trends breakfast by explaining why having the fan experience be a 24/7 undertaking is vital to content marketing success.


The next big challenge for marketers will be marketing to the new generation, "Generation Z." Christy Tanner says this is a special challenge because in many ways everything is changing yet staying the same. What does this mean? It means that the ways we are consuming content is rapidly evolving. How, where, and on what we are watching our favorite show or reading our favorite magazine has taken a huge shift, especially for Generation Z. To this group, a TV is not just a device for viewing shows or movies. It's a multimedia device that connects to streaming content, video games, online communities, Facebook, and the rest of the web. Almost everyone in Generation Z has a smartphone. This is an amazing shift from previous generations, and it's created a hyper-consuming public.


While the way we consume has changed, the substance of what we are consuming has basically remained the same. The bar for great content has never been higher because digital has made everyone a content creator. It's more challenging for brands to break through the clutter, but content is still king. You need to be creating content that teaches something your audience didn't know before. You need to package it in an entertaining way. And most of all, you need to keep it non-promotional. It's OK to have your logo on articles and other branded visuals, but the marketing you should be trying conduct is brand tone and voice. Content marketing is about giving your brand a personality. It's a long-term game, so don't be obsessive about page views. Be obsessive about time on page and community engagement (comments, shares, etc.)


The entertainment industry -- just by virtue of its content -- can advertise in ways that don't feel like advertising. While it may be challenging at first, your brand has the potential to do the same. Be engaging, thoughtful, and most of all creative in your content marketing approach, and you'll grow a fan base, not just gain page views.


Christy Tanner ends our conversation by explaining why the industry is seeing massive proliferation in content-consuming methods, and why focusing on content quality will help you stand out from the competitive pack.



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"Hollywood sign on Santa Monica mountains in Los Angeles" image via Shutterstock.

David Zaleski is the Media Production Manager for iMedia Communications, Inc. He graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Film & Television Production, specializing in editing, animation and television lighting.  Before...

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