The True Detective Approach to Content Marketing

Rust Cohle

If you’re like me, you spent the bulk of this winter obsessing over True Detective on HBO. More specifically, Rust Cohle (i.e., Matthew McConaughey), one of two homicide detectives tasked with investigating a series of murders along the Louisiana Gulf Coast over a period of 17 years.

(Note to those of you waiting for the first season to come out on Netflix: no spoilers, I promise.)

Hailed as “the Michael Jordan of being a son of a bitch,” Rust won his way into our hearts by waxing philosophical on everything from life and death to religion and love—and the fourth dimension. While Rust’s nihilistic ruminations often came with a healthy dose of head-scratching, they never failed to deliver an equally ample portion of food for thought.

Take the following: “Someone once told me time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again.

(Here’s the part where I connect my new-favorite TV series to the world of content marketing. It applies, it does! Bear with me.)

For content marketers, the “time is a flat circle” concept brings up an interesting question:

When it comes to our marketing strategies, are we simply recycling the types of content assets we’ve known to be successful in the past?

What does it take to do something different from what everyone else is doing and “break the mold,” so to speak?

Here’s our short list of ideas:

  1. Send a team of journalists to cover an industry event with photo, video, and/or audio footage. To support clients participating in the supply chain industry tradeshow Modex, KoMarketing sent a handful of team members this week to Atlanta, where they conducted a series of interviews with manufacturers and distributers that will eventually become blog posts to promote on client websites.
  2. Schedule regular team training events to make everyone in the group feel well supported and free to express innovative ideas. Although I had to miss out on this one due to being out of town, the Ko team recently held an open mic session for members of the group to practice their public speaking skills. Mike Pickowicz won a coveted $25 gift card to Dunkin Donuts by mapping out his career trajectory from movie theater box office to internet marketing: big ups, Mike!
  3. Find your writing voice—and use it to tell a story that will resonate with your audience. Okay, so this one actually runs contrary to the point I’m trying to make about content marketing originality, but I bring it up for a specific reason: At its core, content marketing involves basic storytelling. According to Copyblogger, “it’s crucial that you write and use stories in your content marketing efforts as a way to differentiate yourself from the mass of mediocre media publishers out there.”
  4. Commission a piece of research that’s important to your customers. This is actually a suggestion from Joe Pulizzi’s excellent list of 31 ideas that can have an immediate impact on your content marketing. To determine what B2B buyers want from vendor websites, KoMarketing recently conducted a 30+ question survey that resulted in a 32-page report of findings. You can download the 2014 B2B Web Usability Survey here.

We’ll keep our list short for now (we’d be no better than Rust Cohle with his existential ramblings if we kept it up), but here’s a summary of a few other ways content marketers are keeping things original:

  • “Find one thing in your content marketing — or in any part of your marketing — that just isn’t working, never has worked, and realistically never will. Stop doing that thing” (Web Marketing Today)
  • “The greatest content ideas are usually derived from discussion and collaboration. Oftentimes one suggestion will spark another tangential thought, allowing ideas to build and morph into something new and exciting” (Search Engine Watch)
  • “Create a sense of urgency by telling readers that the information you are providing can only be used within a short time frame” (Technorati)
  • “Why not create a likeable brand hero and share their story in installments? While this tactic isn’t seen often, a well-written, longform story is sure to be an effective way to increase your subscribers and build some hype around your brand” (Business2Community)

The True Detective craze might be winding down now that Season One has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still talk about the show incessantly, does it? What I like best about the show (if I had to narrow it down to just one thing) is that, no matter how many times I watch each episode (now I’m making myself sound crazy), I can still find some small detail I may have overlooked that helps me understand the series in some new way.

Content marketing can (and should) work in much the same way. To provide our readers with the most engaging material that will both pique their interest in the short term and withstand the test of time, it’s important to get creative with the ways we energize our content. So here’s our short list of ways to do just that. What’s on yours?

“With other agencies, the tendency is to see a flurry of work initially, and then communication and accountability starts to fall off. Our KoMarketing account team is in contact with us almost daily – it’s like they’re sitting right here in our office. They’re truly an extension of our marketing team.”

Stephanie Weagle — Stephanie Weagle, VP of Marketing, Corero Network Security

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