And the Nominees for Best 2013 Content Marketing Ideas Are…

January 16, 2013: academy-awardFor many, January is a time to dust off last year’s list of resolutions and get a strategy in place for the new year.  While the end of the previous year may have served as a time for reflection, the forward momentum into the year ahead comes with a whole new set of goals and priorities.

This year, as I got to thinking about the ways in which we’ll make our B2B content marketing collateral stand apart from the crowd and ultimately drive results for our clients, I turned to the 2013 Academy Award nominations.

Why?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at the nominees for Best Picture (since I’ve only seen four of the nine films nominated, I’ll stick to discussing just those…that and get to watching the other five before Sunday, February 24 rolls around!): Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Les Misérables.

This is an eclectic collection of films (retired musicians and prehistoric creatures and revolutionaries, oh my!), but, in spite of their stylistic differences, each can offer us insight into creatively approaching content marketing in the year 2013.

Amour: Despite being a love story, Amour is not a romantic or flashy film.  This French drama focuses on an elderly couple’samour relationship after the wife suffers a stroke that paralyzes one side of her body.  Amour, in its simplicity and subtly, tests the limits of strength and compassion to remind us that enduring love is made up of thousands of seemingly insignificant moments over the course of a lifetime.

B2B content generation can sometimes feel like a test of endurance as well.  Between measuring content marketing ROI and identifying the target audience’s preferences, some marketers may find themselves wanting to give up and pay a visit to the content marketing fairy, as Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi suggests.

But, with content the engine of search, social, outbound, and web marketing, establishing the right relationships and driving the best results comes down to showing up to the job every day and putting forth the effort.  In fact, for our clients that produced four or more new content assets on their website per month in 2012, organic search traffic rose an average of 58 percent year over year.

argoArgo: Argo is a nail-biting thriller about the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.  When the U.S. State Department begins to explore options for an escape plan, CIA operative Tony Mendez comes up with the hair brained idea to disguise the escapees as Canadian filmmakers scouting “exotic” locations for a sci-fi fantasy film called Argo.

If Argo teaches us anything, it’s that thinking outside the box has its merits.  When it comes to brainstorming B2B content ideas, get creative!  The Online Marketing Institute recommends taking advantage of social media resources such as LinkedIn Answers and Google+ Communities to get some social-friendly content ideas from the discussions taking place.  Or, for new ideas about how to present content visually, keep current with Pinterest, the “ultimate visual content curation tool.”

Beasts of the Southern Wild: In this American fantasy drama, prehistoric creatures called “Aurochs” roam the southern Louisiana bayou community where six year-old protagonist Hushpuppy lives with her father.  When the so-called “Bathtub” community is flooded by a relentless storm, Hushpuppy has to figure out how to survive in an epic story of strength, determination, and courage.

What lesson can B2B marketers learn from Beasts of the Southern Wild?  The value of telling a story.  After all, storytellingbeasts-of-the-southern-wild “sets a rhythm in motion to allow your readers to finish what they’ve started.”  And, with just seconds to capture your readers’ attention before they move on to the next piece of content, you’ll want to make sure your storytelling enchants your audience.  According to Robin Bonn, Business Development Director at content marketing company Seven, the year 2013 will see “more heroes [who] achieved their brand story in an imaginative way and [inspire others] to replicate that.”

Les Misérables: If you’re anything like me, you’ve loved Claude-Michel Schönberg’s musical ever since you were a child and received the cassette tape recording in your Easter basket.  Since its birth 28 years ago, the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo’s voluminous novel has appeared countless times on stage and on film.  But Les Mis Director Tom Hopper’s decision to shoot the actors singing live (as opposed to having them lip sync to pre-recorded songs) has given the 2012 film an immediacy and depth absent from prior on-screen adaptations.

les-miserablesRepurposing old content or rethinking strategies that have or have not worked in the past can offer marketers a solution to coming up short on content ideas.  Ann Handley, chief content officer at Marketingprofs, recommends “reorganizing, rewriting, and remixing” old content to get the creative juices flowing: “One key to making the task easier and more sustainable [is to treat] everything you create not as a ‘one and done’ but as a critical piece of a larger whole, an important link in a sustainable content ecosystem.”

So, in other words, if you start by investing in a video, you may well find yourself, at year’s end, with a collection of related videos and a handful of blog posts.  “The finished content can be engaged over a long period of time,” writes Joe Pulizzi.  “It has a shelf life.”

As you watch the 85th Academy Awards this year (or even hit the theaters to check the remaining movies off your list before the big day as I’ll be doing), be sure to give some thought to creatively approaching this year’s content initiatives.  Do you have ideas about content generation for the year 2013?  What has worked in the past and what will you be doing differently this year?

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