The stretch of winter after the holidays can be long and hard. In my corner of the world, where we’re currently covered in snow and ice, the inclination is to hibernate. And I’ll tell you what: If I didn’t have Netflix to binge watch during this time of year, I don’t know where I’d be.
Wherever you may fall on the House of Cards spectrum (toe dipper, occasional watcher, or full-on devotee – like me), if there’s one thing to say about that show, it’s this: It’s memorable. Because Frank and Claire Underwood? Are super scary.
Why? Well, for one thing, because they’re homicidal maniacs. But also because they’re cold, calculating, and razor sharp – they’re unrelenting and unforgiving in their pursuit of the presidency.
Now, I’m not suggesting that content marketers follow the Underwoods’ lead per se (because that would be nuts), but their brand of “ruthless pragmatism” does deserve to be held under the microscope.
Here’s a look at 5 game-changing strategies content marketers can steal from House of Cards (note: I’ll refrain from any major spoilers in the following, but if you haven’t gotten on the HoC bandwagon yet, what really have you been doing with your life??):
The Long Game
When I think of Frank Underwood, I’m reminded of Walter White. On the surface, he seems like an all right guy, doing what he needs to do to survive in his chosen profession (politics does play dirty, after all). But what’s terrifying about Frank is his Machiavellian approach to his political ascension: no matter his opponent’s counter move, he always seems to be one step ahead.
Content marketing can (and should) take on a similar long game. As outlined by public radio producer Ira Glass, becoming truly great in any creative pursuit takes years of practice. Why should not same not be true of content marketing? His advice? Stick with it – even when the going gets tough. “The most important thing that you can do is do a lot of work,” he says. “Do a huge volume of work. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will catch up and close that gap, and the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.”
Want to read more on the content marketing long game? Check out the following:
- Content Marketing: What Separates Success From Failure? [Rand Fishkin Interview]
- Why Content Marketing Is a Long Game (and How to Play It)
The Right Timing
Regardless of how you feel about Frank Underwood as a person (ahem), you have to hand it to the guy: He does his homework. The Frank + Claire Underwood duo wouldn’t enjoy half the success they do without putting in the time and energy required to take down literally everyone in their path. The key to their success? Timing.
The most successful content marketers, too, invest significant time and research on the front end to drive results for their clients. From ideation all the way to social promotion, content marketers must devote hours of research and meticulous writing and editing to determine what kinds of posts will do well – and when. But the work doesn’t end there: Savvy content marketers keep themselves organized and on schedule (whether through an editorial calendar or other means), information that also lets their readers know when to expect content.
Want to read more on content marketing timing? Check out the following:
- How to Use Data to Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy
- How Bad Timing Is Damaging Your Content Marketing
The Road Less Traveled
It’s true that politics does (at least on the surface) demand a certain by-the-books approach, but Frank Underwood isn’t one to let the so-called “rules” dictate strategy. In fact, it’s Frank’s blatant disregard for the rules that allows him to propel himself forward, leaving casualties in his wake.
Much has been written of the need to “break the mold” when it comes to content marketing, but it bears repeating nonetheless. To survive in today’s competitive digital landscape (I wrote in a recent blog post there are 150,000,000 blogs currently in existence…that’s bananas!), content marketers need to find some way to differentiate their content from what’s already out there. There are many ways to approach this (and, as can be expected, responses will vary depending on who you ask), but here’s how I do it: I spend a good amount of time researching what I don’t want to do and let that dictate what it is I do want to do.
Want to read more about content marketing innovation? Check out the following:
- The Worst Content Marketing Is What Everyone Else Is Doing: How to Get Ahead and Stay There
- Strategies for Content Marketing Differentiation: Stand Out From the Crowd
- A Content Marketing Innovation Cheat Sheet
The Unwavering Commitment
If there’s one on-screen relationship that is just baffling beyond belief, it’s that of Frank and Claire Underwood. Uh, can we say sleep with one eye open? But that’s almost the beauty of it: No matter how much these two may want to cut each other’s throats, they remain the King and Queen left standing when everyone else has fallen.
I know what you’re going to say: Content marketing + social media = happily ever after. In fact, “Content is fire, social media is gasoline,” as Jay Baer has said. But this idea can take on a much broader meaning as well.
For content marketers (and any marketer, for that matter), what’s important is to clearly define goals and priorities and remain committed to pursuing them. Whether it’s website traffic or brand exposure or social buzz, etc., executing on the goal(s) requires a steadfast commitment at every step of the way.
Want to read more about establishing content marketing goals? Check out the following:
- How to Build a Better Content Marketing Strategy
- 3 Tips to Inform Your Content Marketing Strategy (Courtesy of Skyword/Outbrain)
- What Is Your Content Marketing Aiming For? 5 Goals to Consider
The Ruthless Pragmatism
So, okay. It’s kind of laughable that the Underwoods would call, oh, I don’t know, treachery and homicide “pragmatism,” but there you have it: They do. While deceit and disloyalty abound (forcing both Frank and Claire, on more than one occasion, to come up with some pretty clever fixes to the holes they’ve dug deep), this approach ultimately serves them well. Why? Because they never once take themselves out of the driver’s seat.
“Hunt or be hunted.” It sounds pretty aggressive for content marketing, but bear with me here. In my mind, the mantra works in tandem with the unwavering commitment discussed above because, really, it comes down to knowing what you want and stopping at nothing to get it.
For content marketers, this may mean building a robust social following, becoming a thought leader via third-party columns, or simply producing and executing the type of content proven to drive results. Whatever the case, it’s important for content marketers to use this ruthless pragmatism to not only get them to where they want to be but to continue moving themselves forward. Sky’s the limit!
Want to read more on (ruthless) content marketing pragmatism? Check out the following:
- How I Reached 100,000 Visitors With These 7 Rules
- How to Get Your First 1,000 Followers on Every Major Social Network
- Why You Suck at Guest Blogging (and What the Pros Do Differently)
Content marketing and House of Cards. What do they have in common? You could argue “not much” – but you’d be wrong.
Looking for some useful, practical tips to shore up your organization’s content marketing strategy? Look no further than Seasons One and Two of HoC – the opportunities are endless (or maybe I just watch too much TV and think that everything can be related back). But, if you’re still not convinced, don’t forget to tune in to Season Three on February 27th!
What sorts of game-changing strategies can you steal from House of Cards? What would you add to my list above? I’d love to hear your thoughts and perspective in the comments section!