The interactive site takes a new and different angle, explaining data security through the lens of a data heist. The website puts the reader in the hacker’s viewpoint, which helps them truly understand vulnerabilities and challenges with security. The piece looks expensive, but that helps underscore that Microsoft takes security very seriously.
Key takeaway: Don’t use a strategy because it’s widely adopted by other content marketers. Look at what everyone is doing, and then take a lesson from Spielberg – try something different.
4. Take Risks, Embrace Failure
Attending the University of Southern California film school was a dream of Spielberg’s. In fact, the aspiring filmmaker applied and was rejected three times. Some (probably most) would have become discouraged, but instead, Spielberg took another route – an unpaid internship at Universal Studios in the editing department.
This position led to an opportunity to create a short film that quickly won awards and harnessed attention. A studio VP took notice and awarded Spielberg a seven-year directing contract. So, what’s the lesson for content marketers?
You’re charged with producing results, driving engagement, generating leads, and a variety of other goals. With so much pressure to create success, it’s easy to play it safe and avoid testing new strategies. But even if a new strategy fails, you might discover something unexpected and amazing along the journey.
For example, Sir Alexander Fleming was a scientist who witnessed the death of many soldiers from sepsis in World War I; he was keenly interested in antibacterial substances. In 1928 he was investigating the properties of staphylococci, a type of bacteria. Before leaving on a vacation in August of that year, he had stacked all his cultures of staphylococci on a bench in a corner of his (famously messy) laboratory. On returning, Fleming noticed that one culture was contaminated with a fungus, and that the colonies of staphylococci immediately surrounding the fungus had been dissolved. He had discovered what came to be called “penicillin.” [Editor’s note: hurrah for messy labs and long vacations.]
Key takeaway: Some of the greatest discoveries are made from mistakes. Test new marketing strategies frequently, and if they don’t succeed, study the reasons why in order to make new discoveries.
5. Rally Against First Assumptions
Steven Spielberg explains that when he starts a new project, his assumptions are usually wrong. Neil Patel wrote something similar recently. He describes the dangers of assumptions here:
Want to hear one of the worst things that a marketer can do? Guess. … Guessing rather than knowing often produces serious marketing mistakes. Why is this true? Because our guesses are often wildly inaccurate and strategically dangerous. A guess-based approach to marketing could plunge your business into disaster.
So how can marketers use this information to create better content? In Patel’s article, he explains the most common guesses that marketers are making, including:
- Making assumptions about their customers
- Guessing about their social media strategy
- Making assumptions about general trends based on surveys
For example, let’s say you read that a company experienced a 35% increase in website conversions by simply changing one color on the landing page. Therefore, if you were to change the button on your page, you conclude, it might drive similar results. Instead of trusting this assumption, make the change, then create a split test to measure results. And be aware that even if a general trend is dead on for most companies, it could be dead wrong for your unique situation.
Key takeaway: Identify and challenge your assumptions about existing content marketing strategies. Is there anything you’re assuming? If so, identify such assumptions and challenge each one, for better results.
The Best Ideas Start Out Bad
Spielberg explained “All good ideas start out as bad ideas; that’s why it takes so long.” This famed movie producer has much to say about ideas and creativity that apply for content marketers, but among the many lessons is to continue looking, listening, and seeking new opportunities to reach your target audience.
A topic may be old, like in Spielberg’s alien movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” but new approaches to old topics create surprising levels of engagement. Spielberg said:
Every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear.
Collaborate with others, seek overlooked strategies and iterate freely to design more effective marketing strategies with greater impact.