Why is Taylor Swift so darn inspiring? Is it because she writes great music? No, absolutely not, don’t be ridiculous. Is it because she dances in the front row of all music award shows like she’s made out of Meccano? No again, that’s incredibly annoying. Is it because she’s managed to accrue millions of adoring fans all around the world in spite of her insufferable music and Meccano dancing? Yes, yes it is.
“How the devil has she done that?” I hear you ask. Well, as I found out at the TFM&A event in the Olympia London exhibition centre last week, it’s because she’s a freakin’ content marketing genius.
Last Thursday, I sat in on a presentation given by Sticky Content’s CEO Catherine Toole who told a room full of industry folk why Taylor Swift and other pop stars like her can teach us all a thing or two about content marketing. Citing the likes of Bono, Will.i.am and Psy, Catherine offered her top techniques to steal off some of the world’s most bafflingly successful musicians.
It’s no secret T-Swift tailors her tunes to appeal to a very specific age bracket. Teeny boppers can’t get enough of Shake It Off, We Are Never Ever Getting A Bracket Tether or any of her other smash hits, because these songs focus on the stuff that speaks to teenagers; stuff like being dumped, or going to the mall, or going to the mall and then being dumped.
I can’t imagine our girl Tay-Swif is still concerned with teenage crushes or going to Zara with her besties, but she sings about it because she knows that’s what her fans want to hear. So, she gives it to them by the boatload.
The thing Swifty-T does best is understand the mind set and issues facing her audience and empathises with them. By employing a bit of creativity in your content, you can do the same in a B2B environment.
Know your niche
For this tip Catherine looked to U2 and Bono for inspiration. I know, no one’s done that for decades, but this was Catherine’s point. You see Bono was fully aware that people’s interest in the band had waned ever since they appeared on the Batman Forever soundtrack, probably even before that.
So U2 decided to revert back to their roots and release an album filled with old-school, stadium-filling, sing-along classics. Now, clearly they failed, but Bono recognised that U2 needed get back to doing what they do best – he wanted to return to their niche.
Catherine pointed out that the success of a content marketing campaign relies on knowing your niche. The trick is not to try to appeal to too broad a market. Instead, concentrate your efforts on your areas of expertise and what your consumers expect from you.
Is Will.i.am a good singer? No one knows. Not even he knows. He’s used autotuner for so long he’s completely forgotten. His own mother doesn’t know him from Johnny 5 anymore.
I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I’d chuck every penny I had on him being crap. Really crap. But the funny thing is, Will not being able to sing has actually done wonders for his singing career – he’s managed to sell nearly 10 million singles in the UK alone. How he’s managed this remarkable feat is by teaming up with other, more talented musicians like Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson, and Catherine argues you can do the same in content marketing.
Get the best out of your B2B strategies by inviting your peers to collaborate with you, which will maximise your reach and give your brand awareness levels some uplift. Big-name corporate organisations such as Virgin and GE have seen huge success through mutually beneficial partnerships with other brands.
Get to the point
Catherine says your customers and clients shouldn’t have to wade through blocks of non-specific text to get to the nitty gritty. Basically, all they’ll want to know is what you’re selling, how much it costs, what it can do and how they can get it, so that’s exactly what you should tell them, and tell them straight.
Remember that Swedish mixed-gender pop group with loads of classic hit singles? No, the other one. Yeah, Roxette. Well their biggest selling album, filled with catchy tunes like It Must Have Been Love, was called Don’t Bore Us – Get to the Chorus. Roxette understood what their fans wanted to hear and got right to the point. Likewise, you should understand what your audience wants to hear, and then let them hear it.
The UK and US pop charts have never been known for ranking many Korean pop stars, so when Psy released Gangnam Style, it was a bit of gamble. But, as Psy’s bank balance will confirm, it pays to be bold.
Nowadays many brands allow for a certain amount of risk in their content marketing campaigns, whether that’s being humorous, a bit radical, or slightly contentious. A perfect example of a brand incorporating risk into its strategy is Coca Cola, whose 2020 content marketing strategy has 10% of its campaigns committed to being ‘high risk’ approaches. You should always keep a keen eye out for opportunities to raise a few eyebrows.
So when you’re devising your next B2B content marketing strategy, be bold, get to the point, collaborate, know your niche and show empathy, just like some of the worst current musicians I’ve ever heard.