In my last post on content marketing, I laid out some data that made one thing pretty clear: content marketing works. More and more brands are starting to abandon their old-school outbound strategies and move towards an inbound, content marketing oriented approach. The data supporting it is only getting stronger, but some people still have lingering doubts: Why does Content Marketing work?
Content Marketing = Storytelling
The simplest answer to the question, “Why does content marketing work?” is storytelling. Content marketing works because it affects us as humans on a fundamental level. As human beings, we makes sense of the world around us by imposing patterns and stories on what we see. Joseph Campbell, a 20th century American anthropologist, noticed that these stories tend to have a similar structure, a structure he termed the monomyth, or the hero’s journey.
A hero’s journey is composed of three main parts: a call to adventure, meeting the mentor, and finally overcoming the challenge. Some of the most famous movies of all time were influenced by Campbell’s theory including Star Wars and the Matrix. But how does this relate to marketing?
Let’s break it down.
Your prospect = the hero. Your company = the mentor. Your product or service = how the hero overcomes the challenge.
One of the most difficult aspects of content marketing to understand is that the best way to sell your product and service is, well, to NOT sell your product or service, or at least not hard sell it. Still with me? Let’s look at an example of successful of content marketing so this seems a little more concrete. Take a look at this commercial aired by Apple in 1984 and look for the elements of Campbell’s Hero Journey.
This ad is considered one of the most successful in history and yet the only mention of a product is at the very end and then only briefly. Why was it so successful? Why does content marketing work? It embraced the concept of the hero’s journey. The girl running down the aisle (Apple’s prospect) is our hero. Apple is the mentor, and their product is the solution, the way to overcome the challenge.
Now we can’t promise you that embracing a content marketing strategy will let your company grow to the point that it holds more cash reserves than the U.S. Treasury (but if it does, we expect really sweet Christmas gifts). What a content marketing strategy can help you do is build trust with your prospects so that when they choose a product or service to overcome their challenge, your business will be the first they consider.