What do you care about? Beyond your friends and family, of course. What do you love to do? If you had a whole day to yourself—with no work or family responsibilities or budget restrictions—how would you spend it?
Maybe you’re a sports fan and would spend the day tailgating then watch your favorite team play. Avid mystery reader? Perhaps you’d go to your neighborhood bookstore to pick up a new title then head out to the park or a coffee shop to spend the afternoon turning pages. Or perhaps you love to hike. Would you spend the day in the mountains wandering the back-country trails?
Whatever you’re passionate about, it most likely began as a spark. Something about it piqued your interest. You wanted to know more.
For the sport fan, you started watching the games. Then the post-game interviews. You get together with friends when the games are broadcast and make a day of it. You wear the team t-shirt…and cap. And not just on game days. You follow the players and coaches on social media. You read the local sports reporters to get their take on the season.
The more engaged you are with the team, the more interested you become. The more interested you become, the more you want to know. It’s self-fulfilling in a way. And a sports fan is born.
Making Your Content Sing
I’m a music lover. There was always music on in my house as a child. And I listen to music all the time to this very day. My dad was the music man. He was always playing something on the stereo, and he’d crank the tunes in the car just to make my mom mad.
Before he passed, one of my favorite things to do with my dad was play DJ with all the old albums. We’d hang out on the weekends and stay up for hours taking turns playing our favorite songs.
Dad was into classic country: George Jones, Kenny Rogers, Conway Twitty, Merle Haggard. Willie Nelson. While I grew up on country music, and still listen occasionally, I’m really a rock-n-roll girl. Foo Fighters, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Daughtry, Fuel, Filter, Silversun Pickups, Muse. I’ve seen them all in concert—some multiple times. There’s something about the energy of a live show to make you feel alive.
I really have a deeper appreciation for Foo Fighters and Thirsty Seconds To Mars. Why? Because the more you know, the more you care.
Something From Nothing
In the HBO Original Series, Foo Fighters Sonic Highways, the band commemorated its 20th year by traveling coast to coast in search of the most epic recording studios to inspire their eighth album. They visited Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C. where they tapped into the styles and heritage of each city as uncovered by the recording artists that made those locales famous.
One song was recorded in each city, with every track featuring local legends. Founder/frontman Dave Grohl experimented with the lyrics in an unprecedented way by waiting to write them until the last day of each session so he would be inspired by the experiences, interviews and personalities that became part of the process.
Grohl says the series chronicles the journey to unravel the band’s musical identity while simultaneously creating a musical map that details the family tree of American music. “It’s not just the making of our most ambitious album,” he says, “It’s a love letter to the history of American music.”
And you could feel this love as each episode unfolded, with music legends talking about the impact their hometown surrounding had on their music, which in turn continued to build the rhythmic and tonal traits that became intrinsically linked to that area. The visuals and commentary combined with the music told an amazing story and brought you deeper into a world that most never see.
Because I know the back story to every song on the album, I have a deeper appreciation of the meaning and history of the songs individually and the overall work as a whole. The more I know about it, the more I care.
This Is War
Thirty Seconds To Mars also takes us into a world that most never see—the harsh truths of the ugly, inner workings of the music industry—in the documentary Artifact.
The band didn’t set out to make this kind of film. It began much more innocently. They were starting to make their third album and thought it would be cool to document the process. Then they discover their record label (Virgin/EMI) is suing them for $30 million dollars for breach of contract. And everything changed.
The film follows singer/actor Jared Leto and bandmates as they fight the relentless lawsuit and write songs for the aptly titled “This Is War” album. It’s an emotional ride where you can feel the pressure build month after month with the looming lawsuit. And while there is resolution, there are still the issues of art, money and integrity that continue to plague the music industry today.
Once again, because I know the backstory, the songs have much more meaning than they did prior to watching the film. (Twice. It was that good.) The more you know, the more you care.
Real Connections Lead To Real Conversations
So what does all of this have to do with creating content for your brand? It’s all about making connections.
People have this innate need to connect with one another. Find commonalities. Enjoy the same things. Fight the same fights. Discover a niche. And ultimately belong.
Your content should invite customers and prospects into your world and make them feel at home. Give them insights they can’t get anywhere else. Have authority yet have warmth.
They want to get to know you and your brand. See behind the scenes. Experience your successes and failures. Learn lessons with you.
Great content is not about being perfect. It’s about being real.
Because we’re in the business of selling promotional products, a lot of our communication is naturally about product. And that’s ok. But if you only communicate about the latest products that are on sale, then you end up as the guy or gal who sells cheap products.
Is this the story you want to tell?
I don’t think so.
Look at the kind of stories you are telling—either your personal brand or company brand. Are you giving customers a way to connect with you in a meaningful way? Are you helping them learn more about what makes you “you?” Are you giving them something to care about?
Look back to the sports fan analogy in the opening of this article. Now translate this to your brand. The more engaged your customers and prospects are with your brand, the more interested they become. The more interested they become, the more they want to know. It’s self-fulfilling. And a fan of your brand is born.
I used a personal example as a focus for this post to showcase something that is special to me—music—and that I might have in common with some of you. Perhaps you had a musical connection with a family member, or have attended concerts, love rock n roll, or watched the Foo Fighters or Thirty Seconds To Mars documentaries.
If you have had any of these experiences, now we have a connection. It gives us a place to start a conversation. And isn’t that the point?
What’s your experience? How are you creating content to make your audience care about your brand? What techniques have you used? What worked—and what didn’t? Share your experience in the comments below to keep the discussion going!
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