Kevin Spacey Unravels the Power of Storytelling for Content Marketing

By Sandra D’Souza

Award-winning Hollywood actor and producer Kevin Spacey discusses the impact of storytelling for content marketing at the recent Content Marketing World 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Not-So-Secret Sauce for an Effective Content Marketing

“Good content marketing has always been about the story,” said Hollywood actor and producer Kevin Spacey at the recent Content Marketing World 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  In his opening remarks, he voiced out a question that everybody else in the room was afraid to ask: What was he doing there? Responding to his own question, he confirmed that when we took away all the layers, everyone from marketers to movie stars were all looking to connect with their audiences. He then amused the crowd by stating that he even knew all their ‘f-in’ buzzwords – authenticity, engagement, SEO!

Spacey was singled out by the Content Marketing Institute as the closing keynote speaker for the event because of his understanding on the role of storytelling for successful content marketing, said Joe Pulizzi, founder of the organization. After all, the actor tops the bill for the web television series “House of Cards,” a drama about politics, maintaining a stellar performance.  Spacey uses this experience and similar others to highlight the difference that storytelling makes for content marketing. Great stories enable companies to engage their audience, which then allow them to genuinely put forward their products and services without turning it into a sales pitch.

So what makes for an attention-grabbing story?  In his speech, the actor explains that it consists ofconflict, authenticity and consideration for its audiences. A convincing narrative with well-built tension could pique the interests of people, and keep them coming back for more. Nike plays this well in encouraging people to get up from the couch and pursue their dreams.

Tackling the unexpected may be difficult but rewarding. “Our stories become far more interesting when they go against the settled order of things,” he explained.

Aside from this, a convincing tale also needs to be authentic to reel audiences in. To explain this point, the actor narrated the advertising move on Volkswagen’s VW Beetle to boost its sales in the U.S. Advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach opted to take some risks and emphasize the true benefits of the German brand’s small cars amid the popularity of large vehicles back in the 1960s. Rather than hide the car’s small dimensions, the ads promoted the cost and parking advantages that came with it, and it paid off beautifully!

Another example is the more realistic and truthful plot of television shows nowadays, demanded by an audience who want to see ‘real’ characters. They no longer need to be nice and wholesome in order to be liked – just look at Walter White and the popularity he gained for his transformation! To apply this analogy, brands need to stay true to their image to earn the trust of their prospects.

What also constitutes as a compelling story is one that allows audiences to become part of the narrative itself and exercise more control. This was evident in the recent Ice Bucket challenge, that successfully helped to raise awareness and $100 million in donations for the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease.  The campaign was effective because it allowed audiences to take part in a major advocacy through a simple contribution, and one they could make their own.

With these principles in mind, you can create great narrative that will boost your company’s marketing efforts. Use these fundamentals to build the right story surrounding your brand and soon enough, you’ll be attracting a wider audience for your company.

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