As the summer comes to a close, we can look back on our favorite blockbusters, look forward to the upcoming ones, and judge which ones reign supreme (hint: it’s not Fantastic Four =/). While we all have our preferences,we can look at some the current trends in the superhero movie genre and draw some inspiration on how we can use some of their techniques so we can be our own heroes for our brand or clients. Check out some quick tips and techniques to think about and see how content marketing can come to the rescue.

1) A little planning goes a LONG way

When Iron Man landed in theaters in 2008, it wasn’t just the debut of another superhero on our screens, it was the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There had been superhero movies and sequels to those movies, but nothing of the magnitude that Kevin Fiege, the main MCU producer, had in mind. His idea was to incorporate a larger number of superheroes and bring more of the stories from the comics to life on a much grander scale. In the comics world, crossovers are much easier and much more common – so why not bring this to the screen?

Where he succeeded was realizing this vision through a plan. Iron Man debuted in 2008 and set the groundwork for a string of connected movies that will come to their conclusion some time in 2018. 2018! That’s 10 years and something like 20 movies or so. Whoa. That had to have been a pretty thorough plan to pitch to the studio.  Even now, recent negotiations have allowed superheroes that were previously barred due to studio conflicts to enter the universe (::cough:: Spider-Man). The plan, however, is flexible enough that it allows for the addition of another movie and more characters without much stress.

Marketing, and content marketing, function best when they have a plan to guide the efforts. As we can see with the Marvel movies, an outline and plan can provide solid guidance in the long term. This isn’t to say that the plan you come up with has to be rigid. The best plans provide long-term guidance and structure, yet also allow for adjustments and improvements down the road.

When developing a content marketing plan, think about your keyword strategy, your audience and methods of promotion and distribution. Remember that, in an ever-evolving digital world, things are always changing, so allow room for adjustments and updates.

Our TakeAway: A PLAN is crucial to your marketing efforts. Develop on that provides long-term structure and room for adjustment and growth. 

2) Users appreciate a story

Perhaps some of the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – besides the wide appeal and large fanbase of comic book heroes – can be attributed to the story unfolding on screen. Each movie has its own story while also contributing the overall arch. It’s kind of like television on the big screen. But when you really think about it, a movie event of this magnitude leaves a lot of room for the audience to get exasperated and annoyed. So what keeps them coming back? For the sake of the argument, let’s say it’s the story – and, not only the story, but also the storytelling. Audiences come back to see what will happen next – and, of course, to be entertained.

In content marketing, a good way to structure your plan is to think in themes. Following this, each piece of content stands on its own, but also contributes to the larger overall theme. This makes it easier on your team to develop new ideas for content.

Furthermore, storytelling concerns itself a lot with how the plot presents itself – what happens and how it plays out. Consider the best way to present what you want to say. But don’t forget to keep your customers in mind. In content marketing, a users-first approach is never a bad thing. When you consider what your customers want to see and how your business or brand benefits them, and then create content that caters to that, it’s hard to lose.

Think about ways to provide critical information, but also be entertaining. Be stylish, but not too flashy. Be creative, but not outlandish.  In a digital world, there a number of tools and mediums you can utilize – slideshows, parallax scrolling, social media, email marketing, etc… Give it some serious thought.

Our TakeAway: Consider over-arching themes based on a users-first approach when creating content for the web. What do they want to hear? How will they see it? What’s the best way to say it?

2) Users appreciate a story

Perhaps some of the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – besides the wide appeal and large fanbase of comic book heroes – can be attributed to the story unfolding on screen. Each movie has its own story while also contributing the overall arch. It’s kind of like television on the big screen. But when you really think about it, a movie event of this magnitude leaves a lot of room for the audience to get exasperated and annoyed. So what keeps them coming back? For the sake of the argument, let’s say it’s the story – and, not only the story, but also the storytelling. Audiences come back to see what will happen next – and, of course, to be entertained.

In content marketing, a good way to structure your plan is to think in themes. Following this, each piece of content stands on its own, but also contributes to the larger overall theme. This makes it easier on your team to develop new ideas for content.

Furthermore, storytelling concerns itself a lot with how the plot presents itself – what happens and how it plays out. Consider the best way to present what you want to say. But don’t forget to keep your customers in mind. In content marketing, a users-first approach is never a bad thing. When you consider what your customers want to see and how your business or brand benefits them, and then create content that caters to that, it’s hard to lose.

Think about ways to provide critical information, but also be entertaining. Be stylish, but not too flashy. Be creative, but not outlandish.  In a digital world, there a number of tools and mediums you can utilize – slideshows, parallax scrolling, social media, email marketing, etc… Give it some serious thought.

Our TakeAway: Consider over-arching themes based on a users-first approach when creating content for the web. What do they want to hear? How will they see it? What’s the best way to say it?

3) Put your money in the right places

What good is a grandiose movie if nobody goes to see it (::cough:: Fantatsic Four ::cough::)? As I’m sure you’ve seen over the course of any summer in the last 15 years, the studios put a lot of money into promoting these movies. There’s the standards like television and radio commercials, but recent years have seen creative approaches to advertising like Snapchat ads and BuzzFeed sponsored stories. But further than that, Marvel has created an immersive universe that goes off the big screen to connected television shows, and, of course, the place where it all started: comic books. Depending on the level of engagement you choose, you can truly get an immersive fan experience.

Promotion is one of the 4P’s of marketing. It really shouldn’t be any different when it comes to content marketing. When creating your content marketing plan, be sure to account for a budget for content promotion. Once again, there are many methods for this: your social media outlets, paid content distribution services like Outbrain and Taboola, and of course topic bloggers. Beyond that, think back to the previous point – how can you can create an experience for your consumer? You can be cautious about this, but don’t always expect it be cheap.

Our TakeAway: Content promotion. Hey, it’s gonna cost some money. Plan accordingly.

4) Take some risks

At the time of the MCU introduction, the superhero genre was kind of stagnant. Not to say that they weren’t making money – Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, X-Men and others constantly pulled in hundreds of millions of dollars for their respective studios whenever they were released – but the genre was mostly reserved for popular, household-name superheroes and many sequels. Before the first movie, Iron Man wasn’t that popular of a character in the mainstream. Neither was Thor or Captain America. Of course, that all changed when the movies were introduced, but it was kind of a risky move. Even bigger of a risk was Marvel’s decision to add much lesser-known characters, like Guardians of the Galaxy and AntMan, to the cannon. Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprising hit both financially and critically. This proved to be beneficial for the universe, the studio, and fans alike. Risk-taking can have a nice payoff.

When it comes to marketing – content, online, or otherwise – sticking to the same old routine can hinder a greater payoff. Explore trends and see how you can fit. Make sure your business or brand is appropriate in the channel or medium and that the users don’t find you intrusive. If maneuvered correctly, you could see benefits.

Our TakeAway: Explore industry trends. Take some risks and see how you can fit in appropriately without being intrusive.

5) Take it up a notch

Other studios have taken notice of Marvel’s success and have decided to do the same. But they’re taking it up a notch. BAM! DC Comics are stepping to the plate with a universe of their own – the DC Extended Universe or DCEU. 2013’s Man of Steel was the official kickoff, but the next movie skips the basic levels and goes right to ‘Advanced’ by featuring the TWO most popular superheroes!

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is set to rival or eclipse the success of the first Avengers movie, but it takes it to a new level by bringing these two conglomerates. Following what is sure to be a success of a movie, the DCEU is sending out Suicide Squad. Once again, it’s banking on the universe to bring in audiences to see a film of lesser-known villains (although Jay Leto’s Joker easily sells the whole movie).

In the future, DC is taking a twist on the formula and supposedly releasing a Justice League movie, bypassing most of the solo superhero films and diving right into the juice. They’re experimenting with the tried-and-true formula, taking it up a level, and hoping they’re audience rewards them with continued support and renewed fandom.

When it comes to your marketing, similar to taking risks, find out how you can stand out from your competitors. Don’t be afraid to be different, but don’t neglect your base in the process. Once again, think about it from the consumer perspective. How can you surprise them in a good way?

Our TakeAway: Surprise your consumers in a good way.

 

This post was originally published at greatcirclestudios.com. See the original here.