Content Marketing Lessons from Straight Outta Compton

A lawyer for Suge Knight, the former music mogul who’s facing murder charges for his alleged involvement in a fatal hit-and-run collision, is attacking the hit movie Straight Outta Compton for not being as authentic as the film’s producers are making it out to be.

The N.W.A. biopic, directed by F. Gary Gray, has been lauded for its attention to detail. “It was, no question, the most important movie I’ve ever done,” Gray said in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. “But the execution had to be right in so many ways.”

To the production team’s credit, everyone involved with the project worked hard to get it right. The actors, for example, re-recorded N.W.A.’s entire Straight Outta Compton gangsta rap album to help them get into character. Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., spent two years working with an acting coach and dropped 20 pounds to play his dad in the film; and Easy-E’s widow, Tomica Wright, provided the actor playing the rapper with previously unseen video footage that helped him nail the late MC’s personality.

It’s hard to guess at the motivations of Suge Knight’s lawyer, who says he’s sure Suge wouldn’t like the film, even though he hasn’t seen it yet because he’s in prison.

This kind of knee-jerk criticism sounds a lot like charges routinely hurled at content marketers, who also work very hard to deliver story-driven content that resonates with niche audiences—charges usually being made by people who don’t understand the two attributes necessary for content marketing to be successful: high-quality content and a long-term commitment.

To say content marketing doesn’t work is to dismiss a marketing channel that surpasses SEO and PPC in search popularity, according to a recent Forbes article. To say it doesn’t work is to say you’re only interested in marketing that’s quick and easy, requiring minimal effort on your part. Good luck with that.

Yes, content marketing requires a lot of time and consistent effort, two things many small businesses underestimate when they first begin to dabble in this area. That’s because—unlike SEO and PPC—you’re not dealing with an algorithm, you’re dealing with people. And they possess sensibilities that can’t be hacked, exploited or otherwise electronically manipulated.

These people—your customers—have feelings and reactions to content, and it takes time for both the marketer and the audience to discover that sweet spot where both parties are in the groove.

Taking the time to reach this point can be frustrating, but it’s worth it. Just as a rapper has to learn what it takes to turn a casual listener into a fan, your business needs to learn what it takes (content-wise) to turn a prospect into a customer. But once that happens, there’s no going back.

To get there, your business needs to strategize and deploy a content marketing campaign that’s just as well conceived as any other major undertaking you’ve committed to. Generally, this comes down to focusing on two components: consistency and quality.

Keep It Consistent

As anyone who’s tried without thinking it through can attest, content marketing demands a significant amount of time and effort. Anyone who says otherwise is misinformed. But you can spread this burden by democratizing your business’ content creation.

Rather than dubbing someone in-house your “content guy,” or making content creation the brainchild of a single department, extend this responsibility to include people throughout your business. Doing so will ensure you always have fresh content in the pipeline, and it guarantees the inclusion of multiple perspectives, which will keep your content from getting stale.

Of course, consistency doesn’t happen by accident. You’ll need to map out a content calendar as well as your promotion strategies—and you’ll want to be as specific as possible. That means zero ambiguity, hard deadlines and a carrot/stick plan for making sure everyone involved stays on task.

To prevent burn-out among your content producers, make a point of significantly varying the types of content your business is producing. That way, they’re always faced with a fresh challenge and a different outlet. Some of the most popular content projects are blog posts, case studies, infographics, slide decks, ebooks, white papers, surveys, videos, and memes and images.

Once your plan for consistency is in place, it’s time to address the quality of your content.

Make It Quality

When it comes to quality content: you get what you pay for. That’s why small businesses tend to handle their content creation in-house and larger organizations tend only to outsource to professional copywriters, designers and videographers.

Regardless of who’s creating your content, your first step should be to make sure you’re covering the right topics. Start by thinking about what your audience wants from you. This can be done by developing in-depth buyer personas and customer journeys, so you have a solid understanding of who your target audience is, and what content they’re most interested in receiving from you.

Understand, of course, that people download content because they want help addressing some problem, not because they’re necessarily interested in you or your business. Few people download brochures for plumbing services, for example, but pretty much anyone with a leaky faucet would download something called “The Definitive Guide to Fixing Leaky Faucets.”

So, aim to be a problem solver. And, bear in mind, many studies have concluded the content which is shared and engaged with most is long-form, in-depth pieces that are backed by third-party research and statistics.

Not everyone will be a fan of your content, but if you create it with the needs of your audience in mind—and remain authentic to who you are and where you’re coming from—you may soon have a hit on your hands.

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