Some performers take the stage all by themselves, with no props or partners to lend support, and capture their audience with a riveting solo act. Hilarious standup comedy routines and enlightening TED Talks exemplify this ability in action.
As a content marketer, there are occasions where a well written piece will take off on its own, with no help required beyond a powerful message presented clearly. But more often, spicing things up with added elements of interactivity or visual pizzazz provides a necessary added boost in today’s busy digital environment. And incorporating the right strategic partners is a reliable way to increase your program’s reach and impact.
When I attended my first Digital Summit Minneapolis two years ago, Seth Godin delivered the opening keynote. He employed a technique that still stands out in my mind to this day. Following a fairly brief monologue, he pulled out a plush cube toy and tossed it into the audience, encouraging the recipient to ask him a question and then throw it to anyone else around them in the crowd. This went on for about 30 minutes.
With one ultra-simple prop, Seth brought freshness to the familiar and turned his audience into part of the show. This represents a broader goal for modern content marketers of all stripes, and one we can achieve digitally through various emerging tactics.
Plenty of other practitioners are mastering the art of elevating experiences through audience immersion today. Whether through props (multimedia, interactivity, augmented reality) or partnerships (influencers, user-generated content, co-creation), they add an extra flare that makes content irresistibly engaging. How?
Ahead of Content Marketing World 2019, TopRank Marketing teamed up with Content Marketing Institute to create an insight-fueled interactive experience: The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth. One of the most vital topics covered — and one that will surely be a central focus at CMWorld 2019 — is picking the right props and partners to propel your content. Today we’ll touch on some key insights from those leading the way.
3 Pointers on Adding Punch to Your Content Act
#1 – Choose Influencers that Align with Your Strategy
Siegfried and Roy make the perfect pairing. So do Penn and Teller. But if you remixed those combinations, it probably wouldn’t work out so well. (Poor old Teller would be silently limping away from a performance covered in tiger scratches.)
At TopRank Marketing, we obviously believe in the power of partnering with influencers. But in order for this strategy to pay dividends, you need to put serious thought and research into the selection process. It is essential to identify influencers who align with what you’re trying to do, have the relevant topical expertise, and will resonate with the audience you’re trying to reach.
“Finding ideal influencers for impact means discovering those with on-topic credibility, the ability to publish, an engaged network and a willingness to share,” says our CEO Lee Odden. This collection of qualities is harder to find than you might think, but once you do, compelling collaboration awaits.
It’s a mistake to base influencer selection solely on celebrity or star power. In many cases the most fitting partner will be someone with a smaller but more tightly attuned and aligned audience. Lee often says “everyone is influential about something,” and sometimes the most relevant thought leaders are living outside of the spotlight. For now.
#2 – Put On an Eye-Catching Show
In his extended interview with us, Andrew Davis had one overarching message for video marketers: show, don’t tell. We are often not doing enough to take advantage of this medium’s visual nature, he argues, and as such we’re leaving opportunities on the table.
“Instead of a talking head or another interview, how can you SHOW me?” he asks. “Spend more time shooting the rest of the story and immediately, you’ll take your videos from drab to show-stopping.”
Bringing a TV producer’s mindset to the discipline, Andrew advocates for shooting plenty of B-roll footage that you can intercut with your main narrative to keep the action moving throughout. This applies beyond video content, as well; we should always be looking for ways to catch a viewer’s eyes, even (especially?) when dealing with written text. Don’t forget about the importance of sound, either.
Delivering a high-quality, visually interesting video production doesn’t necessarily require deep expertise or a lofty budget. As we wrote last year in offering up video marketing tips for beginners, your efforts will benefit from proper preparation, creative use of resources, practice, and purpose.
#3 – Appeal to Audience Emotions
The most effective way to create a memorable experience for your audience is to engage them emotionally. There are many different ways to approach this — through humor, suspense, sadness, etc. — but the bottom line is that you need to make them feel something.
Annie Granatstein, who runs WP BrandStudio for the Washington Post, is at the frontline of emotionally connective content. With a purpose of elevating experiential storytelling through diverse multimedia integration and other emerging technologies, BrandStudio is a model for modern marketers everywhere.
“One example is an investigative multimedia feature covering the opioid crisis for Optum, blending emotional videos and evocative imagery with interactive infographics to educate our audience on the epidemic and solutions,” she says. You can explore that experience here.
As content marketers, we have a vast assortment of tools and tech at our fingertips, and they can bring our initiatives to life in unprecedented ways. It’s all about choosing the right ones for what you’re trying to accomplish. As you weigh the merits of techniques like motion graphics, 360-degree experiences, augmented reality, and photo tours — all mainstays in the BrandStudio mix — think always about which will be most effective for building those crucial emotional connections.
By striking the intersection of influencers, visual appeal, and interactivity via technologies like VR, we can bypass the barriers of traditionally dry verticals and earn emotional investment from our audience, as Lee discussed earlier this year at B2B Marketing Exchange:
Enter the Era of Integrated Content Experiences
As Seth Godin remarked in his aforementioned Digital Summit keynote, “When a system changes, the people who come out ahead are the people who change.”
Content marketing is changing. The bar has been raised when it comes to engaging our audiences in an era of attention deficits and content saturation. Building meaningful emotional connections by integrating the right influencers, multimedia, and interactive elements presents the key to delighting audiences and driving action.
You’ll learn plenty more about the changing content landscape at Content Marketing World 2019 when the curtains open on Sept. 3, 2019 in Cleveland. Before then, you can find plenty more guidance on taking your programs to the next level in our interactive experience, The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth.