Content Marketing lessons from Spacey, O’Brien, C.K. and Silent Bob

Content Marketing lessons from Spacey, O’brien, C.K. and Silent Bob

Who are you taking content marketing lessons from?

Kevin Spacey has been the center of the content marketing conversation lately, after speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival and recently at Content Marketing World 2014.

But he’s not the only one to drop wisdom about the present and future of content, that’s why in this post, I decided to go back and revisit the learnings I’ve had over the last few years from guys like Louie C.K., Kevin Smith and Conan O’brien.

Anybody wants to do the Hip Hop version? Let’s do it baby! =D

Kevin Spacey: Story

Content Marketing lessons from Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey has been very open about how House of Cards was born, from talking it to the networks, refusing to go with the usual (and very unsuccessful) pilot model, to finding a home in Netflix and breaking all the rules about how a TV series is produced, promoted and delivered.

For the first time, a TV series drops an entire collection of 13 episodes at the same time, and for the time, a show that is “Internet-only” (not available on TV) is nominated for an Emmy.

The reason for its success is the story, as Kevin says, but taking in consideration the following points you’ll agree with me that the delivery was genius.

He said in a speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival:

  • The audience wants the control
  • Give people what they want
  • The format, the device and the length are irrelevant
  • The audience is waiting for you to give them a story
  • Tell better stories
  • If they like it, they will carry it with them and share it

Kevin Smith: Uniqueness

Content Marketing lessons from Kevin Smith

If you don’t know who Kevin Smith is, you probably remember the character that made him famous on screen, Silent Bob.

To me, Kevin was one of the first ones to discuss content, probably without the actual term as we know it today, in different ways. For example, a few years ago I heard him talk about producing and distributing content on the Internet rather than television or film, when probably no other person was even thinking about it.

I’ve been paying attention to him since then, and today he continues to openly discuss very unconventional thoughts around the subject, but this is probably my most important learning from him:

“from now until I drop dead, I’m only ever gonna make a flick that only I would/could ever make. JERSEY GIRL, ZACK & MIRI, COP OUT – while I love them all, these are movies anybody could make. Like ’em or hate ’em, nobody else but me could’ve (or would’ve) ever made CLERKS. Or CHASING AMY. Or DOGMA. Or RED STATE. Or CLERKS II. Or MALLRATS. Or JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK.”

Kevin posted this on Facebook at the very end of 2013.

He was able to develop a very unique style, his movies are truly completely different. More than building an audience, he was able to create a niche of his own.

Is it clear that you have developed a style? A voice? And, do you have respect for that when you published something? Are you true to that voice?

Next time you publish something, read it one last time and see if you can find yourself in the words.

Conan O’brien: Audience

Content Marketing lessons from Conan O'brien

We all know the story about how Conan O’brien left The Tonight Show and moved to TBS. What fewer people know is how hard his beginnings in television were, to the point of almost having his show cancelled more than once or having to seat interns as an audience to be able to tape the show.

Conan worked very hard to overcome that and build an audience. His audience became so strong that by 2010, when he found himself legally prohibited to be on TV after leaving NBC, he was able to take his show on the road and selling out the entire tour on Twitter, where he grew a following of 300k in 24 hours.

My biggest learning from Conan is that the platform is not as relevant as you think. You audience, on the other hand, is one of the most important assets of your brand.

Conan found himself without a platform, but when he created one that didn’t exist just to reestablish the connection with his audience, they went crazy.

He then went to TBS, where he just extended until 2018, but do you think it would really make a difference if Conan decided to move to Comedy Central tomorrow? Nope. He became bigger than the platform because he built a hardcore audience.

Louie C.K.: Ownership and Distribution

Content Marketing lessons from Louie C.K.

Louie C.K. started by doing a standup for HBO, of course after working for a few years in clubs, opening for Seinfeld and writing for guys like Conan, Letterman and Leno among others. Can you imagine getting a phone call from HBO?

So he did a couple of shows for networks. A few years later he tried a different process in which he produced his own show and sold the rights to Comedy Central and Epix.

But Louie changed standup comedy forever by eliminating the middleman. He produced his next show, but this time he decided to release it himself. He made it available on his own website for $5 and made more than a million dollars in a few days. He went on to publicly split the profits between production, charity, his team and himself.

Louie didn’t only take charge of the production, he also took ownership of the distribution channel by leaving the obsolete DRM model out.

The format was then followed by other comedians, and that innovation gave him comedy royalty status.

But that’s not all. When HBO offered him a new special, one of the conditions from Louie was that he could also distribute it on his website.

So my biggest learning from Louie C.K. is this:

  • Do you own your content?
  • Do you own the platform where you are publishing it, or are you on rented land?
  • What could you do different in your own production?
  • What other unconventional ways do you see to distribute your content?

It’s not always easy… You can be a NBA superstar and not be allowed to tweet.

Who else?

Who else has helped to shape the present and future of content, how it is produced, marketed and delivered to the consumer? Share in the comments section.

  • Love this! I had been meaning to write an article about just this sort of thing. Conan O’Brien has been phenomenal at leveraging social media once he left NBC. He even took on LinkedIn and kind of made it cool. By the way, Twitter is the best place to follow comedians. They use it to test out one liners – and keep the rest of us laughing.

  • Only Conan can make LinkedIn cool! =D

    BTW, I’m loving your email course, just finished reading lesson 2.

  • Ooh! I’m so glad.

  • John Ballard

    Re: Conan….”He then went to TBS, where he just extended until 2018, but do you think it would really make a difference if Conan decided to move to Comedy Central tomorrow? Nope.”

    Respectfully disagree. It would absolutely make a difference.

    Nice piece. 🙂

  • Thanks for your comment John. Why do you think it would make a difference? Isn’t there a huge difference already between NBC and TBS?

  • Great insights, Francisco. My favorite line from your piece was this: “The platform is not as relevant as you think. Your audience, on the other hand, is one of the most important assets of your brand.”

    Internet marketers like to talk about content marketing like it’s something new but as you’ve written about here, we Internet folks have some catching up to do — and some real lessons to learn — from entertainers and storytellers who’ve been doing this for a long, long time. A nice reminder, thanks. 🙂

  • Absolutely. If you need to improve your public speaking, go a little outside the box and see what you can learn from Richard Pryor too, right?

    Thanks for your comment! =)

  • Jared Martinez

    I love the Kevin Spacey piece. Truly, it is about creating a worthwhile and meaningful story, a story that elicits emotion from the audience. You can very easily cite Spacey in regards to platform relevancy. RE: his closing line – damn those peanuts!

  • That’s a really refreshing article about content marketing. My studies were related to audiovisual content creation before pure brand content marketing and it sticks with me until today. I never really took the time to think about content marketing like that though.

    Thank you for this article! It’s inspiring.

  • Thanks for your comment Aurelie, I’m happy you enjoyed the post.

  • Mary Mashburn

    Great article! Love the insights from people who are not plainly defined as “marketers.” Also, I admire that you as the author, respond to comments and other users. Refreshing to see that you’re interested in your readers’ thoughts and opinions as well.

  • Samantha Berry

    Awesome article, Francisco. Kevin Spacey was spot on when he said you need to provide the audience with a good story and make that content readily available to them, which is becoming easier with each day of this digital age. Conan realized his entire audience was on Twitter and saved his livelihood by interacting with his audience through this channel and live performances. Thank you for a great read and the valuable tips on owning your content.

  • Addie Baldric

    These are some great
    pointers Francisco Rosales.
    I am especially interested in content writing at the moment as it is something
    that I haven’t been making good use of… Buy
    Personal Statement

  • Rochel

    Content marketing issues are the key elements to make the process of understanding as well as guiding someone in the way so that they could know the products or any other things for better business along with enterprise. In that case this is obvious that every thing related to make the entrepreneurship fruitful and productive before mentioned course of actions are very much needed point of view. Some writing essay company also can help. It does not seem unreasonable to suggest that this is a very much important issues to all.

  • Kathy

    This article is worth reading 🙂 Do not miss a chance to Buy Personal Statement