By Guest Contributor Carlijn Postma
Author of Binge Marketing, Carlijn Postma, gives us an overview of her original binge marketing methodology which allows you to make your brand and marketing as binge-worthy as a Netflix series.
In the first episode I explained that we should look at the content of our brand or organization as if it was a television series. Creators of series know exactly how to retain the attention of the audience. Now we need to learn how to expand the attention.
BUILDING AN AUDIENCE TAKES TIME
As Joe Pulizzi mentioned at Content Marketing World 2019, it can take up to 18 months to develop a loyal and engaged audience. So yes, we are talking about a long-term strategy here. I also understand that brands have to get results on their short-term goals. And as my Dutch content marketing friend Jos Govaart replied: 18 months don’t fit in Q1. True.
That only adds up to the fact that we should not wait to start developing an audience. Now how do you do that? We know for a fact that you can’t develop an audience with only one piece of content. You’ll need more than one. People need to have reason and opportunity to come back for more content.
In the context of Binge Marketing we talk about episodes. One episode cannot create an audience. A series of episodes can. People returning for the next episode, or just keep on watching episode after episode. Because it is of interest to them, it inspires them, or it is really relevant. That’s why you should create content in series. And when you start creating your series, you should already to think about the next season. Do you want to know why?
WHAT’S YOUR HERO JOURNEY?
For my podcast ‘The Hollywood Way to Content Marketing’ (soon to be online) I interviewed Martin Koolhoven. Martin is an internationally awarded film maker and director from The Netherlands and he knows a lot about making movies. Amongst other things I asked him why some movies can have sequels and why some can’t. He explained that almost every story has a character arc. This is also known as the ‘hero’s journey’.
The hero in the movie lives in his ordinary world, there is not much going on. Then he faces one big challenge and experiences resistance to face it. At the exact right moment, the hero meets a mentor who helps him cross the threshold and face his fears. He meets new friends, enemies, gets tested… gets tested a bit more… will he survive this or not? Yes! Now he only has to get back home to his ordinary world. Going through one or two more challenges and that is it. By all the things the hero experiences on his journey the character grows. At the end of his journey he is more mature, enriched by the experiences from his journey. In short: he became another person than he was at the start of the movie.
So, if you want to do a sequel, or as I mentioned, another season, you have to think about the end of your series. Are you using a character with a character arc? Can it grow even more in season 2? Or will you take an example of James Bond. As Martin Koolhoven explains
“James Bond is a very strong character, but he has no character arc. He does not learn from his mistakes; he doesn’t get older and wiser. That’s why he can have adventure after adventure. And thus, sequel after sequel. The movies still have the same story arcs, just not the character arc. The hero does not grow.”
CHOOSE YOUR CHARACTERS WISELY
- Do you have the same character in every season? In every episode?
- Does it have a character arc? Does he or she grow?
- Or is every episode about another character?
And remember: we live in an era where you create a database of content and your audience can hop in every moment. Not only when you air your commercial because you have the message, time and budget to do so. It is not a linear campaign anymore. Your audience will start watching, reading or listening to your episodes at the time it is relevant to them.
Your choices around the character(s) are related to your ‘job to be done’. Why are we creating these episodes? What is our main goal (in 18 months from now)? If you are in a high involvement business, like for example mortgages, it is likely that you have to take your audience through a lot of episodes before they consider themselves your audience and your client at some point. This pleads for a character arc the audience can identify with and where they can grow together with the hero in the journey. Martin Koolhoven also mentions the ‘valuable emotions’ people can experience by watching a movie. Emotions that do find their way into people’s memories and experiences without having gone through them themselves. This is how valuable your content can be for your audiences. And also, why it can take up to 18 months before you’ve created your own loyal audiences.
So, with what kind of series are you going to create your audience? Is it a series with a character like James Bond? No real character arc, simply a very strong character type that can perform in different stories? Different episodes?
Or is your content about one character going through different stages of the journey and learning and growing along the way? As I mentioned this can be very effective on high involvement issues. But I don’t see that a lot yet. My guess is that we are still creating content for our short-term goals. Get the message across and start with the new message (or campaign).
BUT WHAT IF OUR GOALS IS TO CHANGE BEHAVIOUR?
Like we have to with the current pandemic, but also regarding the energy transition, preventing (more) climate change, creating a circular economy or even to get people who never voted before, to vote. It could be helpful to work with a character that does have a character arc. An inspiring character, or group of characters that take the audience with them through his journey. This can be the fuel for a long-term commitment from the audience.
BUT OF COURSE, YOU CAN CHOOSE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS IN EVERY EPISODE
My colleagues at The Post created multiple episodes for insurance company FBTO. The series of FBTO focuses on the special stories and dreams of ‘doers’: the people who get the most out of life and pursue dreams and ambitions. We see how they make decisions, make practical choices and seize opportunities with both hands. Like selling all property and start living in a tiny house or a grandpa that started a band with his grandson. Stories with characters that are an inspiration to others. Everything is possible. In this series the characters go through a character arc in every episode. And a season consists of different episodes and therefore different characters. This is a choice they’ve made to start building an audience. But FBTO can still expand the stories by adding a ‘1 year after…’ for example. As I mentioned earlier, we live in an era where we build on a database of content and the audience can choose when to start watching.
What I also see a lot in The Netherlands is a series of commercials where we follow families or individual characters experiencing everyday things. But I still don’t see a lot of character arcs. Maybe there are opportunities in this area if we really want our content to matter and create valuable emotions with our audiences.
If you do know examples, please share them with me via firstname.lastname@example.org
NEXT EPISODE PREVIEW
Now you can start thinking about your character(s) then I’ll help you make your Christmas content binge worthy for your audience in the next episode.
Fun fact: the character arc in humoristic movies tend to end with a character gone through all stages, but failed on many occasions, leaving him at the same point he started his journey.
Do you want to binge all knowledge and tactics right away? Order Binge Marketing, the best scenario for building your brand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CARLIJN POSTMA is a Dutch content marketing strategist. As founder of The Post, a leading content marketing agency in the Netherlands, she translated her unique binge marketing methodology into practice. Her efforts for the content marketing profession have not gone unnoticed. Carlijn Postma is a much sought-after speaker on international stages. In 2014, she was ranked 27th in the international list of most influential people in the field of content marketing. And in 2017, she was awarded with the title ‘Content Marketing Woman of the Year’ in the Netherlands.
How do you build a brand in a time of information overload where the media are so fragmented that you can barely get the attention of your audience? And how do you ensure that everyone tells the same story on all those channels? Carlijn Postma takes you to the place where content is the product and where people know how to attract and retain an audience: Hollywood.
Binge Marketing is not another stuffy marketing book, but a refreshing look at modern marketing so you can be sure that people will want to listen to your story. Not just one episode, but as a loyal and committed reader, viewer or listener. Compare your brand with the scenario of a very good television series and consider every single statement and marketing activity you put out there as an episode of that series. As a true show-runner you can build on your own loyal and involved audience.
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