With Halloween fast approaching, I find myself taking a walk down memory lane, back to the days of trick-or-treating with friends from my neighborhood, lugging around pillow cases filled with candy that would usually last until early spring.
During one of these waves of nostalgia, I made a connection between Halloween and my job as a content marketer…and then another…and another. In fact, some of my fondest Halloween memories have a direct correlation with content marketing best practices. While I had a number of connections that came to mind, I’ve narrowed it down to five. Hopefully, some of my memories will help you draw some connections between Halloween and your career, as well!
How this relates to Halloween: Sure, it’s easy to go over to the local costume shop just a few days before Halloween and buy the last pair of plastic clown shoes and rainbow-colored wig. However, thinking outside of the box is always more fun, and a homemade costume is always well-received. Growing up, my family was big on homemade costumes. I’m pretty sure my brother’s “Ghostbusters” costume (see image below) was the talk of his school and most likely won him some kind of classroom award.
How this relates to content marketing: Just as everyone in grade school dresses up on Halloween, it seems as if every company and marketer has a way of sharing their opinions via blogs, social media, and much more. This means content needs to offer some sort of value, or be different in some way to stand out from the pack. Strong, original pieces of content (much like original Halloween costumes) will likely generate buzz and could even drive links (and referrals) from reputable sources.
Learn from the Competition
How this relates to Halloween: My father always enjoyed decorating our house for Halloween as I was growing up. One year, we were driving around town and saw someone had a really awesome spider web on their house. The following year, as the decorations were being pulled out of storage, my Dad asked me to help him with a little project he was working on. The “little project” was a gigantic spider web made out of white rope that covered the ENTIRE front of our house (complete with a creepy inflatable spider in the middle of it). While we knew we got the idea from another house in our town, we completely outdid their original effort.
Disclaimer: Our rendition was even more intense than this one! (Image source)
How this relates to content marketing: The same can be said for content marketing. It’s important to not get overwhelmed by the idea of producing fresh content on a daily basis. Take some time to read industry-related content and LEARN from the competition (RSS feeds, like Feedly, are a great way to stay on top of what’s being published in the industry). Doing so may spark a format or topics of your own that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred to you. Remember, successful content marketing doesn’t always require the re-invention of the wheel.
Offer Something Worthwhile
How this relates to Halloween: One of my neighbors used to make us “tell her a funny joke” just to get a couple Bit-O-Honeys. As the years went by, and our trick or treat route remained relatively unchanged, she became one less house we visited. So why did we (and others) skip over her house, year after year? Well, the trick-or-treaters realized there were houses down the road that offered “king sized” candy, without the all the hassle.
How this relates to content marketing: As a content marketer, it’s important to maintain a positive reputation as an author or publication, just as it’s important to pass out the kind of candy that will make trick-or-treaters want to come to your house! Published content should align with exactly what the industry is looking to consume because there’s plenty of competition and other resources for an audience to spend their valued time reading. It’s critical to keep the reader/audience in mind before clicking “publish,” as something that doesn’t offer much value could damage reputation and decrease the reader base.
“Please Take ONE”
How this relates to Halloween: Anyone who has ever trick-or-treated has seen this. While it’s a nice gesture if you aren’t home (or are just too lazy) to serve the neighborhood children, leaving a bucket of candy on the front step likely won’t be very productive for any of the parties involved. I can’t put in to words the amount of times I walked up to a doorstop that had a “take one” sign, only to be disappointed that the group before my visit likely dumped the whole bucket into their collection.
How this relates to content marketing: Don’t just write to hit deadlines. Much like the “please take one” sign, writing “lazy” content will likely lead to a disappointed reader. Editorial calendars are a great way to stay ahead of the curve, remain organized, and ensure content is well-thought-out in advance.
Don’t Get “Egged”
How this relates to Halloween: One of my neighbors (very nice people), never seemed to be around on Halloween. So, like a lot of houses do when they aren’t around or simply don’t want to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, they often left their house dark. Well, needless to say, one year, on November 1, they had a surprise waiting for them on the front of their house. Yup, they were egged. Apparently the local teenagers were fed up after a number of years of not participating, and decided to call them on it.
How this relates to content marketing: If you aren’t careful about facts you are reporting on, or end up publishing something that can be proven as untrue, be prepared to get called out by your readers. Especially in “niche” markets, there tends to be a highly-educated reader-base that is proud of their industry; publishing inaccurate material could lead to an active comments section and as a result, diminished brand credibility.
So, as you get your children ready for Halloween, or just happen to find yourself reminiscing about childhood memories as I was doing, don’t forget to think of the ways it can be tied to content marketing! If you have any memories or stories of your own (that tie to content marketing), feel free to share with us in the comments section. Happy Halloween!