Curtis James Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent, is a ruler in entertainment. A world famous rapper, actor, and novelist, he has conquered creative outlets many of us only dream of tapping into.
Here, I’d like to dissect the business ethos of this impressive celebrity, and show content marketers how they can apply his principles for success to the golden rules of content marketing.
50 Cent was shot nine times (including once – from close range — in the face). After his life-threatening experience, Fifty could have scurried into a place where he was anonymous; instead, he took the opposite approach: He turned the fear he experienced from his attack into motivation to lead a successful life.
While most of us are fortunate enough to work without the looming fear of a drive-by, the underlying principle of resilience certainly applies in content marketing. Our content can be in danger of becoming extinct for any one of a number of reasons — we haven’t found our correct target group; we struggle to find topics that resonate with our desired audience; we are not pushing content in the correct places; our competitors are drowning us out. However, these reasons should not be enough to convince us to abandon a high quality content strategy. When our content ideas come under fire, or just don’t work as we intended, we must recuperate, rehabilitate, reassess, and attack our professional goals with new fervor.
Let’s look at one of the most famous examples of brand resilience in content marketing. While Steve Jobs was renowned for producing sleek, efficient, and trendy products, he reached the forefront of the technology industry by being able to communicate the company ethos and what consumers would gain by using and associating themselves with the Apple brand. From early on in the company’s history, Jobs achieved this goal through Apple’s clever campaigns:
Part of being a strong content creator and curator is to enter the creative space where competitors are afraid to go. To do this, you must overcome your professional inhibitions — particularly when your competitors might halt because of similar challenges. When starting anew, go back to the basics, remind yourself of what speaks to people universally, and be bold in the face of challenge.
Diversify your talent
With over 38 million records sold worldwide, most of us know 50 Cent as an international rap music sensation. (Was ‘In Da Club’ anyone else’s anthem?) Curtis James Jackson III has also entered the film scene, acting alongside Terrence Howard, Nicolas Cage, Al Pacino, and Robert DeNiro. He created a vitamin water drink called Formula 50 with Glacéau, a company then bought by Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion — he (as a stakeholder) made $100 million from the deal after taxes. Curtis launched a condom line called Magic Stick Condoms, which donates part of the proceeds to HIV awareness. In 2005, he published his autobiography, founded G-Units Books in 2007, and has co-written two novels since then.
It’s hard to make the benefits of content marketing match up to Fifty’s prosperity, but his model is not overly complex. Fifty knows how to diversify his talent, how to network, and how to channel his energy into the avenues where his core audience resides.
In content marketing, our approach should mimic his method: Diversify your stories and storytelling method. A strong content marketing strategy is not limited to copywriting that (in the words of Sonia Simone) “could make unicorns weep.” Superb copywriting is indeed necessary, but the most effective brands also focus on providing stellar images, graphics, videos, interviews, talk shows, and webinars that are both data- and entertainment-rich. Rely on your words, but don’t underestimate the value of great visuals and other methods of communication that can strengthen your personal and company identity.
Once this step is mastered, find out where and how your target audience consumes (and shares) your talent and be present in those places.
Showcase your expertise and thought leadership
50 Cent talks a lot of smack. The guy seems to have more feuds with people in his industry than Lil’ Wayne does gold teeth. So what’s the reason he is still highly valued and taken as a serious professional? Fifty has experience and know-how. We can count on him — time and again — to produce exactly what his fans ask of him. Aggressive and catchy beats? Check. A new and surprising product with the trademark “50” in its description? Double check. Even with the looming danger of his enduring feuds, we trust that 50 Cent will pull through with exactly the kind of material his fans know he excels at producing.
As content strategists, our goal for acquiring and maintaining clients, customers, and partners should mirror this strategy. As experts, we must continually produce expert content to prove industry leadership; we must also strive to be reliable, sought after, and heard amongst the loud and competing voices of our industry.
Brian Solis is an excellent example of a professional who effectively demonstrates thought leadership in digital communication through content marketing. His blog features articles showcasing his knowledge of disruptive technology and demonstrating a thoughtful analysis on shifts in the industry. Each article provides in depth support of his claims and is well written. People care (and share) what he has to say because it is insightful and enjoyable to read. In addition to this blog, he guest posts on large tech publications, is an author, keynote speaker, and hosts a popular online TV interview series called, Revolution.
Involve yourself with the right people
A friend introduced 50 Cent to Jam Master Jay of Run DMC, which led him to Columbia Records, which eventually facilitated his discovery by Eminem and Dr. Dre, who took his career to the next level. Hard work and talent were indeed part of his road to success, but networking within groups that had contact with the most active and prestigious professionals in the music business was an essential element in attaining his desired fortune.
Interacting with the right people is equally important for developing a successful marketing strategy. Creating high quality content is the first necessary step; next is to ensure this content is seen and spread. The best way to do this is to be involved with industry leaders. People care about what these leaders have to say, and when your interactions with them are visible, your expertise will be confirmed by association. If you are a true leader in your industry, you will be able to identify other leaders in your field to converse, collaborate, and debate with. The longer you talk about pivotal industry topics, the more you will find yourself amongst a ring of people who can enhance your influence. Listen to what the people have to say, read their opinions and findings, then join the conversation.
Note: This is where Twitter becomes invaluable. Not only can you engage in a casual dialogue, you are exposed to the most relevant and pressing information in your industry. To help organize, create lists to separate and easily follow different types of leaders. If you write an article or guest post, be sure to include the Twitter handle of those you mentioned in the piece or who were generous enough to let you guest post on their site.
Surprise your audience
From surviving nine gunshots to his ventures as a condom creator and novelist, 50 Cent is a supreme example of a celebrity who keeps his fans on their toes. What will 50 Cent do next? We literally have no idea, but are sure it will be entertaining — and that’s one reason why fans love to follow him.
The foundation of strong content involves this same element of originality. It is important to be consistent and reliable, but without a creative approach, your audience will lose interest and your message may soon become irrelevant. The goal should not be to produce pop-infused fluff, but rather to provide useful content that educates, entertains, and endures. Especially when trying to convey a specific message, the strongest content marketers will do whatever it takes — by whatever means necessary — to convey this message to their target audiences. Just look at President Obama. While many may question his tactics, there is no denying that he is willing to get downright imaginative to reach his desired crowd. Did anyone else see that slow jams performance coming?
Politicians aren’t the only ones that are turning heads with their content marketing techniques. The organization Greenpeace has made large advancements in its social influence by producing well-crafted videos to spread the word about various Greenpeace initiatives. Most memorable are the Kit-Kat and VW videos, where Greenpeace dramatically altered social material already familiar to a popular audience to convey its organizational messages. Greenpeace is not a business, but it relies on content marketing principles, all the same. The organization excels in using high-quality and socially relevant videos to articulate its mission — and what the viewer gains from his or her participation in its initiatives. The content surprises, educates, entertains, motivates and is highly shareable.
50 Cent is not yet notorious in the ring of content marketing leaders; however, his tactics should inspire our approach to becoming leading content marketers. Pursue these goals like your life and career depend on it, and you are sure to be fruitful like our good friend, Fifty. Those of us who are hungry will, at least, go out trying.
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