What does a Hollywood ‘A’ List actor and producer know about content marketing? Rather a lot, as it happens, if he happens to be Kevin Spacey. A couple of weeks ago, he gave the keynote closing speech to a major content marketing event in the US, the Content Marketing World 2014 conference, and he made a compelling point: “From Homer’s “Odyssey” to McDonald’s Ronald McDonald to “The Sopranos”, it has always been about the story. The story is everything, which means it’s our jobs to tell better stories.”
To be fair, Spacey had a lot more to say too – he tracked the huge changes in content consumption, messaging and audience demand the marketing industry must contend with. Today’s marketers live in a completely different world to their traditional predecessors, who could manage marketing messages so tightly that it was as simple as falling off a log to throw a veil over any product/service weaknesses and keep the communication totally positive.
Not so any longer. As marketing expert Justin Grey puts it in a recent article for Forbes, marketers now “have to be strategists, technologists, content curators, designers, salespeople and, of course, storytellers.” Unlike the good ole days of Ancient Greece, modern consumers are drowning in data, and an effective marketer simply has to be capable of distilling it into an engaging story.
Good content writing isn’t about slapping any old stuff studded with keywords onto a screen page. A marketer must now gauge how and when a consumer is more likely to make a purchasing decision (e.g., in the toiletries aisle of the supermarket or tweeting in front of the TV), and he or she has to sift through that ocean of information to select what’s relevant, before getting to work on the most engaging and effective way of communicating it in story form.
For Grey, a recent college education in marketing isn’t necessarily a reliable guide as to how versatile a prospective marketer will turn out to be. The qualities and capabilities to watch out for, he says, are fourfold. Marketers must be adroit content creators, able to craft compelling stories that fit the shrinking attention spans of today’s consumers. They must also be canny data analysts, designers with a nose for aesthetic trends and planners who can create campaigns rooted in consumer behaviours.