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Looking for some inspiration for your content marketing campaigns?
As marketers, innovation is extremely important – but getting new ideas and finding inspiration can be difficult. In this blog post, discover 5 inspiring TED Talks that can help boost your content marketing strategy: from getting amazing ideas to becoming a better storyteller, these Talks will help you become a better marketer.
“Make me care!”
You might not know who Andrew Stanton is by his name alone, but chances are, you’ve laughed and cried at numerous of his movies over the years. In fact, if you’re a 90’s kid, he’s written and directed what may be one of the biggest, most impactful movies of your entire childhood: Toy Story.
Over the years, he’s written and directed 3 Toy Story Movies, WALL-E, Finding Nemo and a huge array of other movies that have shaped people’s lives, across generations.
Just like you’d expect from a storyteller of his calibre, Andrew Stanton grips you from the first few seconds of this TED Talk. He starts with a story, of course, narrated in a surprisingly accurate Scottish accent and then goes on to explain what he’s learned about storytelling in the 30+ years that he’s been writing for TV and the big screen.
“Change is fundamental in stories. If things go static, stories die. Because life is never static.”
The most important thing that he teaches us about storytelling is quite simple: make people care.
This is what ultimately makes content powerful. Whether it’s a TV show, an online video, or a content marketing campaign, the content will always be more powerful when you make your viewers, your readers or your listeners care. And remember: “storytelling has guidelines, not hard fast rules.”
“Probably anything else that you’re hypothesising about your consumer right now, is going to be more useful than gender”
Imagine for a minute that you don’t have to work today and instead, turn on your TV.
You’ll likely notice a pattern very quickly: daytime TV is filled with ads that are clearly geared towards women: cleaning products, washing machines, baby products – most of them, using highly gender-specific messaging.
Or, think of the last football match you saw (soccer or American football, both work); most of the ads during those matches will feature men drinking “manly” drinks, men using “manly” shampoos and other similar advertising, all of it geared towards a group of people that only share one trait: their gender.
This is something that a lot of marketers tend to do; we’re taught to focus on our customers but often, gender is one of the defining characteristic that we base our marketing strategies on. And we’ve done this for so many years, that it’s ingrained into our culture. But is it actually an effective marketing strategy?
Gaby Barros, of the Boston Consulting Group, claims that this is actually short-sighted and, in fact, it actually “distracts you from the fun things that could be driving growth from your brands.” And no, it’s not just because it can be offensive in the current climate or because it uses and propagates gender stereotypes, but because data actually shows it doesn’t work. Unless, of course, you work in a very gender-specific product category.
“Gender as a shortcut is actually not great. Using a gender view for all of your marketing activities is just plain bad business”
As leading experts on customer insights, her team decided to build an algorithm to understand what customer traits we should be focusing on. And they’ve run this algorithm in hundreds of situations, even targeting countries with very traditional gender roles. Their findings? It turns out, “almost anything else is going to be more interesting to you (as a marketer) than gender” and by focusing on gender, you’re actually missing out on some truly important facts you should know about your customer.
“(know that) If you take chances, if you take risks, that in those risks will come opportunity.”
Morgan Spurlock is known for his extremely immersive filmmaking experiences, whether it’s eating only McDonald’s food for 30 days or sentencing himself to 30 days in jail (out on good behaviour after 23 days!) to see what the prison system is really like.
For his Ted Talk though, he focused on a completely different topic: brand sponsorships and marketing in general.
His movie – The Greatest Movie Ever Sold – explores the world of brand sponsorships. His goal was to get sponsorships for every part of this movie and essentially, show people what goes on behind the scenes. His Ted Talk too, followed a similar pattern: before he even announced what the talk would be about, he advertised this sponsorship opportunity and even put the naming rights for it on eBay. His findings? Most brands are more than happy to sponsor projects – unless people can actually see what happens behind the scenes. They tout transparency, because that’s what people care about – but only when they can do it on their own terms. But some brands were willing to take a chance on his projects and they actually saw pretty amazing results. His conclusion?
“When you train your employees to be risk averse, then you’re preparing your whole company to be reward challenged.”
And that in today’s world, brands need to embrace transparency.
EMC bought the rights for his TED Talk for $7,100 on eBay – did it work? If you look at his views on YouTube and on the TED Talks website, then yes: it got over 7 million views in total.
“3 things: tastemakers, communities of participation and unexpectedness”
What makes content go viral? This is a question on most marketers’ minds. Pretty much every marketer dreams of making that campaign – the one that everyone talks about, that everyone shares online. But achieving that is very difficult; almost impossible, in fact. The best place to start is to understand what makes content go viral. And that’s what Kevin Alloca, YouTube’s head of Culture & Trends, attempts to explain in his TED Talk.
“In a world where over two days of video get uploaded every minute, only that which is truly unique and unexpected can stand out”
And turns out, there are a few different elements that help make a video go viral; but probably the most important one is, quite simply, unexpectedness.
This is a very valuable lesson for marketers; if you want to stand out, if you want your content to succeed, then you need to come up with something new, unique and unexpected. Getting such ideas though is not that easy – but the next TED talk in this list can help with that:
“Great ideas fade into view over long periods of time”
Whenever we think of people who have great ideas, we think that it was all based on that one a-ha! moment. They thought and thought about it and one day when they were alone in the shower, or having some coffee on their porch, that amazing idea finally came to them, seemingly out of nowhere. Turns out, that’s probably not true.
Steven Johnson’s TED Talk is all about great ideas and where they come from. Most importantly, his goal was to find out what environments “lead to unusual levels of innovation and unusual levels of creativity?”
And his findings show that great ideas don’t come from sitting alone and thinking and thinking and thinking. Rather, they come from so-called “chaotic environments” where people from various backgrounds and with different interests and opinions, gather together. They come from coffee shops and weekly conference meetings where people talk about the problems they can’t solve, the issues they’ve faced. And they don’t just come from nowhere – even when we’re convinced that they are.
As you start planning your next content marketing campaign, take inspiration from these TED Talks to help you develop better strategies, more compelling content and in turn, help you generate better results from your campaigns.
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