Content marketers are in the business of attention economics. In the onslaught of information today, each piece of content must become almost a one-man band of interest, intrigue, and relevance to stand a chance.
Whether directly or indirectly, hype makes content seem important and exciting. Yet we marketers treat its power with skepticism. Here at Tendo, we believe hype gets a bad rap. But if done well—which means not exaggerated self-promotion—hype can engage your audience and sustain your message louder and longer. There’s no reason hype can’t leave a powerful impression on your audience.
Using hype to sustain your customers’ interest
The creators of “Rick and Morty,” an Adult Swim television series, have used some crazy marketing strategies. They’ve held fundraisers, thrown events, and created two video games. Even the “Rick and Morty” Instagram account is an intricate game where fans can use tags to explore and find collectibles. The marketing team has provided lots of opportunities for the audience to engage. But they’ve done it with an ear fine-tuned to the sarcastic and nihilistic tone of the show that appeals to fans.
The best example is from the empty time between seasons. After a ridiculous cliffhanger to end Season 2 in October 2015, an after-credits scene announced the next season wouldn’t arrive for at least a year and a half. During that time, after a false alarm and another push back, the internet mushroomed with fake release dates and rants cursing the creators. Then with just a tweet, Season 3 was released on April 1, 2016, becoming an epic non-April Fool’s Day prank. Those who found the new episodes and shared their excitement were scorned by the cynical fanbase, until everyone realized the truth.
In this case, the “hype” came from some creative ambiguity, and understanding what the audience would appreciate. And the hype did its job: It was the catalyst for sustaining interest and encouraging the customer to move ahead in the buyer’s journey. Even in B2B marketing, content strategies aren’t complete until they engage the customer—and continue engaging the customer.
How hype can drive successful business outcomes
On the B2B front, like “Rick and Morty,” Juniper Networks created a mobile game called “Deception Force” that entertains but also offers insights into data center security. Media intelligence service Cision made a funny, casual eBook (aka manifesto) about public relations in the digital world that’s somehow both breezy and hefty. And The Mosaic Company, which provides soil enrichment solutions for farmers, developed a podcast mystery series, leaving clues for listeners on its website, social media channels, and within each podcast episode.
Taking risks with content and finding creative ways to hype worked for these companies. They don’t just tell you, they show you, and they invite you to participate. Their methods and content types are varied, customized for their particular audiences. By engaging customers with a compelling story expressed uniquely in a variety of ways, these B2B companies became thought leaders.
Content that adds genuine value is still paramount. But in the attention economy, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention. So it’s no longer just what you are saying, but how you say it that counts. And that means the method has become as important as the message itself.