By Russell Sparkman published December 30, 2012

5 Content Marketing Lessons from Rick Springfield

[Editor’s note: Happy Holidays! This week, the editorial team at Content Marketing Institute wanted to share some of the best content marketing blog posts we’ve seen from our CMI Consultants. Today’s post originally appeared on Russell Sparkman’s New Media Insights blog, on Sept. 10, 2012.]

content marketing lessons from Rick Springfield.An unexpected surprise for me at last week’s Content Marketing World was the fun I had watching Rick Springfield enthrall the conference attendees at the Wednesday night party.

He gave an energetic, enthusiastic performance in which the audience was thoroughly engaged, from the opening power chords to the last notes of his mega-hit show closer, “Jesse’s Girl.”

Little did the crowd realize at the time that Content Marketing World founder Joe Pulizzi, in his own shrewd way, had slipped in a subliminal lesson in content marketing by inviting Rick Springfield to play the biggest night of the conference.

So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, here for the first time anywhere, 5 Content Marketing Lessons from Rick Springfield!

(For the full effect, imagine hearing power chords and the estrogen-driven shrieks of 40-something year old women!)

Lesson 1:
 Rock bands need rhythm & cadence, and so do you 

From the rhythm of each song, to the cadence of the entire performance itself, Rick’s band took the audience on a journey. The songs were played in quarter notes and eighth notes, in standard 4/4, and the performance unfolded based upon a set list that built to a crescendo with the highly anticipated performance of “Jessie’s Girl.”

In rock and roll band parlance, it was tight!

Key takeaway for content marketing: 

How “tight” is your content marketing? Probably not very…

There is a need for rhythm and cadence in marketing today, and this means the use of an editorial calendar. If you want to rock the social media and multi-platform world that we live, you have to have the discipline that comes through the rhythm and cadence of an editorial calendar.

Just like a rock band counts out a song with 1-2, 1-2-3-4, you need to learn this beat: 1-7-30-4-2-1. That’s the cadence of a content marketing editorial calendar based upon a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual mix of content.

Lesson 2: 
Rock bands don’t have silos, and neither should you 

Although Rick Springfield was the front man, he was tightly integrated into a content producing team (i.e., a rock band) that included rhythm guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboards, background vocals, a guitar tech, and a sound engineer.

Even though each of these members had an entirely different role, the overall orchestration of their roles together achieved the maximum effect of rocking the house.

Key takeaway for content marketing:

Imagine if each member of Rick’s band decided to “do their own thing” on each song. Noise, not music, would have been the result.

There are no silos in a rock band, nor should there be in your business. When marketing, PR, customer service, sales, and development do not operate as a holistic, collective unit, discordance ensues and overall performance suffers.

The only way you will “rock the house” with your communications efforts today is by breaking down the silos so that all touch points with product and customers are tightly integrated, each contributing in its own way to create a unified whole.

Lesson 3:
 Quality vs. quantity: A hit goes a long way 

In an interview about his role on Showtime’s “Californication” (where he plays a crude, raunchy version of himself), Rick says that “Rolling Stone” magazine identified “Jessie’s Girl” as the “Number 1 karaoke song of all time.”

There is something to be said about the enduring quality of a well-crafted, top-of-the-charts pop song (despite whatever personal opinions you may have about pop music in general). It takes clever writing, the creation of a great hook, an engaging performance, and shrewd marketing to create such a hit.

A hit such as “Jesse’s Girl” has served, along with Rick’s looks and onstage presence, as the basis of his career. He hasn’t had a ton of hits, but the few that he’s had have been of quality, and have served him well — his net worth today is $12 million.

Key takeaway for content marketing:

During the past four or five years, being a prolific blogger (blogging at least once per week, if not more) has been the go-to, cure-all for establishing everything from high search rankings to thought leadership.

While this is still an important strategy, marketers need to start thinking more in terms of quality than quantity. Whatever field you’re in is going to become saturated with blogs that largely echo one another, and it’s going to be increasingly difficult to stand out.

This means that creativity and imagination have never been more important, especially when trying to increase awareness and consideration of a product, service, or cause. Start focusing upon generating high-quality, creative “hits” to engage your audiences.

Lesson 4:
 Persistence pays off: Stay fit for the long haul 

Rick, who recently celebrated his 63rd birthday, has been performing rock and roll since age 13, when he started his high school rock band, Icy Blues.

As in any life, Rick’s has had its share of ups and downs. However, from the energy that he put into his performance, to the remarkable level of fitness he displayed (tall, trim and muscular), it appeared as if he truly enjoyed giving of himself to the crowd as much as they seemed to enjoy receiving his performance.

From Rick’s generation, there are plenty of “one-hit wonders” who aren’t in music any longer. However, by maintaining his health and maintaining his level of performance, Rick’s persistence contributes to his success.

Key takeaway for content marketing:

Content marketing is a lot more tortoise than it is hare.

If you’re lucky enough to burst out of the gate with a “hit,” you’ll only be as good as your last performance. In fact, you may never have another hit, but if you persistently produce quality content in an ongoing basis, over time your content marketing efforts will succeed. Stay fit, rehearse your chops, continue to learn new ones, and get out there and perform, and you’ll succeed in content marketing.

Lesson 5:
 Rock and roll is participatory, and so is content marketing 

Rick took several trips from the stage down into the audience. At one point he roamed the audience, with microphone in hand, encouraging select audience members to sing a lyric. In many ways, these bits of “user-generated content” were some of the most memorable moments of the night.

Key takeaway for content marketing:

Like Rick’s performance, it’s time to “get down into the audience” and actively get them to participate with you in content development. Don’t focus on how to make everyone a fan of you. Start focusing on how to become fans of your customers and constituents. Deepen their engagement with you by giving them great reasons to participate in creating great content moments with you!

Thanks, everyone, for a great Content Marketing World experience, and “rock on!”

Don’t miss out on all the content marketing value, and the fun, of the world’s premiere content marketing event. Register now to attend Content Marketing World 2013.

Author: Russell Sparkman

Russell Sparkman has 25 years of experience in visual communications (photography, video), the last 10 of which have been as the head of Fusionspark Media. Fusionspark Media specializes in content strategy, content marketing and content production across multiple platforms for B2B, B2C, non-profits and government clients. Fusionspark Media is based in Langley, WA, north of Seattle. You can follow Russell on Twitter @fusionspark and see him speak at Content Marketing World.

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  • http://www.callbox.com.sg/ Jayden Chu

    Great work! Lesson number 3 sure rings a bell for everyone. Too often, marketers are too focused on generating a lot of sales leads that they fail to check on quality. This is practically a waste of their time and effort, if i must say.

  • Jessica Robel

    Yes.. quality v quantity! Can’t wait for his free show this Tuesday! It’s going to be pure quality http://bit.ly/XtvyNc