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What Can Content Marketing Learn from Stephen King?

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 3/13/13 1:26 PM

How Stephen King Might Create Buyer Persona Profiles

Buyer persona profiles seem to be in fashion these days with the push for content marketing to become relevant and compelling, not keyword stuffed and boring. Creating content, whether that is writing blogs, interacting on social media, filming videos, creating infographics- is all just storytelling in many forms. Stories need characters, and the function of a buyer persona is the character in your business' story.

I was reminded of this by my darling cousin Madeline Koufagazos who is going to college and because of her major was one of a few invited to a meet and greet with one of my idols, Stephen King. I was so proud of her when she got a chance to ask him a question, because what she asked is what I would have asked as well. (Therefore anyone who hires her is wise and fortunate!)

Her question at 41:34 in the video below is: "When you are do you create a character and not write the same old character?"

At first his first response was to explain things about people's personalities, their mannerisms and how it was important to understand your own influences. He starts to describe one of the characters that he created. He seems to look up and realize that his message isn't getting across or that he wasn't answering the question of 'how', because he pauses and says loudly (at 45:12), "You begin by observing. I mean, you have to look! You have to see and not just walk and let it all go by, you have to look at and see who people are."

He goes on to describe behaviors he observes in people, a practice that I call 'people-watching'. When the moderator says that it seems that you are fueled and powered by curiosity, not answers, Mr. King agreed saying,"That's right, you want to see them grow and do their own thing. One of the things that drives me crazy about second rate fiction is when the writer will wind a character up and make them go through certain paces, and I think- why don't you just go back to cutting out paper dolls?"

Where Content Marketing Falters and Fails

What is the one word that ties the concepts in fictional writing and characters to revenue, numbers and business?

RELATIONSHIPS. Content marketing is just a tool in your toolbox. Where most business get stuck and falter is in the creation of content, how to use the tool? If you understand that content is the connector in the relationship between the business and the customer. Words can have the power of persuasion. But here is where I believe the 'catch' is.

Your Brand and Customer Story is Not a Commodity or a Tactic

In his blog post Content Isn't King, Creative and Talented People Are, Rex Hammond wrote about the hardest part of 'content marketing';

"What’s the hardest? The exhausting, expensive and incredibly detailed work that goes into understanding the essence of a client’s true business objective. More importantly, a similar journey in understanding everything there is to know about the person on the other side of a transaction — and fulfilling their desires, not just the marketer’s. The hard part is having the willingness to tell a client that no amount of content is going to make a bad product good. The hard part is knowing what can and cannot be accomplished with carefully planned and skillfully executed media that include excellent words, design, art, video, audio, code, etc. — with skillfully executed being king."

The hard work isn't really in the creation of the content, it's knowing what content to create and how to deliver it to the right people. That is why buyer persona profiles are so important. This is also why it is so critical that your buyer persona grows and develops, just as the person who is your customer does.

How do your buyers craft your story?

Topics: content marketing, buyer personas