Tag Archives: Content Marketing Lessons

Content Marketing Lessons Learned from U2


Even if you’ve never in your life cared about the rock band U2, you may well have heard about their latest escapade: Earlier this week, the group—long associated with Apple, at least since appearing in the company’s classic iPod commercials in 2004—showed up at the grand unveiling of the iPhone 6, and they came with a big announcement: They had a new, surprise album ready to release. And release it they did: With one push of a button, Apple boss Tim Cook released the album to the entire iTunes user database.

In other words: If you have an iTunes account, you own the new U2 album—a “gift” from Apple. The album is available for free for a full five weeks, and has automatically downloaded to users’ iTunes libraries. About half a billion people, give or take, now own this new U2 album, making it, by most reckonings, the biggest album launch in history.

Haters Gonna Hate

You might think you know what we’re going to say, at this point—that this album launch is in some way a case of exemplary content marketing. That’s true to an extent. U2 has created original, compelling content; has imagined a really attention-grabbing way to promote it; has made the content available for free; has clearly succeeded in building buzz, both on social media and in the offline world; and will likely see this buzz translate into more of their old albums sold and more concert tickets purchased, as new listeners discover the pleasures of U2 through this new album giveaway.

Yet, there is a bit of a cautionary tale here, too. U2 has been on the receiving end of no small amount of snark this week, backlash centered on the release model. Giving away their Songs of Innocence album as an automatic download, some have argued, borders on the creepy; others have said it smacks of desperation. There are even some accusations that U2’s methodology is a violation of iTunes user privacy. (This is, strictly speaking, not really true; you may not receive the album as an automatic download if your privacy settings prohibit such things, so the consumer does have a say in the matter.)

The influential music blog Pitchfork Media describes the release method as “indisputably queasy,” for instance; the review goes on to say that the men in U2 have aligned “with their old friends Apple to insert their new album, Songs of Innocence, into all of our libraries without consent. By updating the old Columbia House Record Club scam to the digital age, U2 and their Cupertino buddies have created a new avenue of opt-out cultural transmission, removing even the miniscule effort it takes to go to a website and click ‘Download.’”

The Importance of Choice

This all illustrates a subtle yet significant component of content marketing: When it’s done right, content marketing is all about conveying your brand’s message without necessarily coming right out and saying it. To put it another way, content marketing should cause consumers to feel like they’ve found your brand—not like you’ve targeted them and hounded them.

That may be part of why people don’t like the U2 album release model: The band and Apple left no room for the consumer to play a part, to feel like he or she contributed to the process. There’s no sense of choice here. It simply feels as though a product has been forced upon us—and while it may seem ungrateful to complain about a free product, it’s nevertheless legitimate to critique the shoehorned nature of this product launch.

The lesson for content marketers, then, may just be this: Don’t try to force anything on your consumers. Let them find their way to you. Give them just enough information that they can make the choice on their own—and yes, perhaps, opt out if they really want to.

To learn more about the intricacies of content marketing, contact Grammar Chic, Inc. today: Call 803-831-7444, or visit http://www.grammarchic.net.


Filed under Content Marketing

Three Content Marketing Lessons We Learned from ‘Mad Men’


“Advertising is different now,” you’ll hear people say. “It’s not the way it was in Mad Men.” That may well be true—certainly, advertising and marketing have changed considerably since the 1960s—but nevertheless: There is much that we can learn about digital-age content marketing by watching the beloved AMC program. And since Mad Men is poised to return in just a week’s time, there’s no time like now to think through some of the show’s most resonant content marketing primers.

You’ve Got to Pull Some Heartstrings

In one of the show’s most famous Don Draper pitches, our favorite ad man is tasked with creating an advertising campaign for the latest slideshow projector. He tells the Kodak executives that one of the most powerful concepts in advertising is “new,” but that there is something else even more potent—not sentimentality, exactly, but a kind of emotional pull toward a life that once was. He proceeds to exhibit the slideshow technology by showing a series of photos from his own life, including loving shots of Don with his wife and their children.

The Kodak executives are a little bewildered by it, admittedly, but among those of us watching at home, there’s not a dry eye to be found. The lesson is simple: Don has captured our attention—and created an emotional attachment to his product—by pulling at the heartstrings. He understands that, more than humor and more than gimmicks, people respond to earnest emotion.

This is something that research has confirmed time and time again: The ads that get the most traction, and the Facebook posts that get the most shares, are the ones that are emotional, not necessarily snarky or comical. That’s something you can take with you to your content marketing campaign: Creating a strong, nakedly emotional pull is important.

You Can Turn Weaknesses into Strengths

At one point in the Mad Men saga, Don Draper and his fellow ad men are faced with a perilous challenge: How can they continue to market cigarettes following a dire warning from the Surgeon General, telling consumers that cigarettes are pure poison? Here Don has one of his most inspiring ideas. Every other ad agency is going to be looking for ways to minimize the Surgeon General warning, he says—but he plans to play it up. Rather than mount a half-hearted argument that cigarettes are healthy, he instead markets his client’s brand—Lucky Strike—as dangerous and rugged, risky in a romantic sort of way.

This is great insight for content marketers: You can take your weaknesses and turn them into strengths. Instead of shying away from them, embrace them. You may be timid to tell people that your business is a small or a new one, but don’t be. Play up your youthfulness and enthusiasm, your new perspective and the personal attention you can give to clients. Take the things that might define you in a negative way and present them in a more positive light.

You Can Flip the Script

Finally, who can forget one of Don’s most beloved advertising mantras: If you don’t like what they’re saying, then change the conversation.

He illustrates this principle too many times for us to count them, so we’ll simply note that you, too, can change the conversation about your brand. The first thing is to know what people are saying, of course—which requires some social listening—and from there, you can create content that effectively recasts the conversation. Does your industry suffer from a bad reputation? Create helpful content that shows the value you can offer to consumers. Would you like your company to be known for its green initiatives, its customer service, or its short lead times? Create content that’ll tell that story.

The bottom line is that there is much you can do through content marketing to recast the way people see your brand. To learn more, we invite you to contact the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today! Visit www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444803-831-7444.


Filed under Content Marketing

Content Marketing Lessons from Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show


Those of us who stay up late saw the start of a new era last night, at least as far as TV talk shows go: NBC’s beloved late night institution, The Tonight Show, welcomed the perennially youthful Jimmy Fallon as its new host, following the departure of Jay Leno earlier this month. Fallon’s first night behind the big desk was star-studded, with appearances by everyone from Will Smith to Robert DeNiro, U2 to Lady Gaga.

And at the risk of stretching it: We also think the rise of Fallon is packed with content marketing lessons—unintentional, but not unhelpful!

Kindness Wins in the End

For starters, consider Fallon’s fairly meteoric rise—from SNL cast member to Late Night host, and now the boss of late night television’s premier property, where is he widely expected to find great long-term success and to solidify himself as a true television icon. What’s the secret to Fallon’s success? According to his own announcer and sidekick, Steve Higgins, in the final episode of Fallon’s Late Night, the answer is simple: Jimmy Fallon is sweet and kind, and those traits win out in the end.

That seems to be the consensus about Fallon—that every good thing that’s come his way is due to his niceness—and that’s a pretty good takeaway for those who do content marketing. The point, always, is to remove yourself from the equation, to write content in which you’re simply glad to be offering something helpful or fun for your readers. Being sweet and kind with your content—as opposed to surly, salesy, or self-promotional—sounds like a winning formula for success in the long run.

Humanity is Winsome

While late night talk shows are known for their snark and sometimes even their cynicism, Fallon’s first Tonight Show struck a sweet note: He began his show with a sincere word of thanks to his fans, a shout-out to his wife and daughter, and even a loving salute to his parents, who were in the audience for the first Tonight Show taping.

People like Jimmy Fallon because he is relatable—because he comes across as an actual human being. That’s a good trait for a TV host, and it’s a good trait for companies doing content marketing. People don’t want to do business with a faceless, corporate entity; they want to do business with, and read content from, another person. Let the humanity of your company shine through in your content.

You’ve Got to Stand Out

With that said, it’s also important for your content to stand out. Fallon stands out from other TV talk show hosts in more ways than one, but foremost among them is his use of hip-hop troupe The Roots as his house band. Certainly, they’re a wildly different band than, say, the CBS Orchestra or Leno’s old musical posse, and they are integral to Fallon’s own success.

In much the same way, content marketing works best when it doesn’t resemble what everyone else is doing. Your brand needs a voice of its own, and a point-of-view that nobody else has. Whether you’re marching to a hip-hop beat or coming up with moves all your own, you’ve got to make your content sound like nobody else’s.

Meeting People Where They Are

More than any other late night talk show host—including even Jimmy Kimmel—Fallon is present on social media, building buzz for his show and cultivating a community of fans via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more. In fact, Twitter is an integral part of Fallon’s program, so much so that there is even a Tonight Show app tie-in, offering a more direct, Twitter-enabled connection to Fallon and his team.

That’s a big part of why Fallon is so popular among younger audiences: He’s gone where they are, making himself a huge presence on social media. In much the same way, you need your content marketing efforts to go where your audience is, which may mean LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, or some combination. Knowing where your potential fans are, and meeting them there with winsome content, is 90 percent of the content marketing battle.

Of course, Jimmy Fallon’s success is not entirely his own; he’s got a rock-solid team to back him up. In much the same way, you need to back your content marketing efforts with a professional, results-driven team. Grammar Chic, Inc. can be just that. To learn more, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444.


Filed under Content Marketing