When I graduated from college, I went into the Entertainment business, and it was prescient. I was attracted to it not for any noble reasons, but because, hey—it’s show business. What could be more fun? I went to movie premieres, had champagne in Cannes with supermodels, saw rockstars in tiny studios, and saw the world. A fine way to spend my twenties.
Little did I know that time working with entertainment brands, broadcasters, and movie studios would be such perfect preparation for the perfectly competitive world we live in online. Clearly, the Entertainment industry remains in most ways an oligopoly. But the lessons learned competing there are very relevant to what we all are trying to do online.
We all are in show business now. As David Meerman Scott says “Any property that successfully aggregates an audience through content is a media company. “ That’s what we’re doing, so it makes sense to look at how Media & Entertainment companies have done it over the years.
A few lessons from show business that we all need to learn:
- Be distinctive. Narrow and deep beats big and general. It’s very hard to please everybody.
- Be where your audience is. Don’t ask them to use formats or platforms they don’t like.
- Reformat. When you take your content to a new segment, recut it to suit local needs.
- Sequels and Franchises work, but only for a while. You will lose the trust of the audience if you milk your ideas too hard.
- It’s all about talent. Some people have more star power than others.
- Word of mouth matters. You want people telling their friends about how good your stuff is.
- Scheduling matters. Don’t release your big movie the same day your rival releases their big movie.
- Storytelling wins. Study everything Pixar does.
- Guest stars can get people to check you out. Borrow audiences where you can.
- The money’s in the publishing/syndication. It’s a hit-driven business, so you need a big portfolio. The big hits make up for the misfires.
- Service the superfans. Star Trek made fountains of money for Paramount, and that money wasn’t coming from the cool kids.
- Promote your stars. Don’t be afraid to talk about how good you are.
- Good artists borrow; Great artists steal. There are no original ideas. Just good execution.
What we do online is nothing new—on a certain level, we’re all carnival barkers trying to get bodies inside the tent, where we make money from them. Entertainment and Utility are the two great levers we have to get someone into that tent. If we can combine the two, we’re really getting somewhere.
Show business is about creating something appealing, getting it distributed to the right audience, and getting paid. That’s what all of us are trying to do. So while the world has changed in the last few years, there’s much to be learned from those who have gone before us.
You’re not the first person trying to figure out how to get the public interested in your content.
Photo Credit: Flickr
Adrian Blake. Strategy. Social Media.