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Want True Fans? Stress Them Out in the Best Way [The Weekly Wrap]

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And that’s a wrap of the week ending Dec. 20, 2019

And that’s also a wrap of 2019 as the Weekly Wrap goes on a one-week holiday hiatus. Meanwhile, I’m thinking about why we should work harder to stress out our audience – in a good way. I offer my fresh take on an article that says marketers are increasingly creeping people out (and consider ideas on how not to). I talk with legend David Meerman Scott about what marketers get wrong about content – and what they can do about it. And I point you to an article about three toy brands that inspire fans with their content marketing.

Listen to the Weekly Wrap

The theme this week is fans – the coolest kind. Let’s wrap it up.

One deep thought: Why you should stress people out (2:30)

Modern marketing is filled with ideas on how we can encourage uninterested consumers to evolve into raving fans (think the diehard “fanatics” who costume up and paint their faces every time their favorite team plays – even when they’re not at the game). These fans embody the spirit of the word’s origin: the Latin term “fanaticus,” which means “insanely but divinely inspired.”

It may seem unrealistic for our “boring” or “niche” brands to create customers who will paint our logo on their faces and tailgate every weekend in our corporate campus parking lot. But one of the most profound things the internet has enabled is the ability for niche fan bases to flourish.

The internet has enabled niche fan bases to flourish, says @Robert_Rose Click To Tweet

Kevin Kelly, Wired’s founding executive editor, wrote about how digital technology (commerce, content, and community) enables the shared experiences that create fans (and you need fewer than you think to create a viable business model) in a 2008 essay called 1,000 True Fans. I examine how Kevin’s concept inspired many elements of content marketing today and why to create true fans, you have to stress them out – in the best way.

 A fresh take on marketing’s “uncanny valley” (9:07)

An opinion piece in AdAge this week describes a scenario plenty of consumers have noticed: “Many Instagram and Facebook users are convinced that the platforms are eavesdropping on their conversations and sending them ads related to a recently uttered word or phrase. Say ‘comfortable shoe,’ and next thing you know, an ad for Allbirds pops up in your feed.”

Instead of welcoming the targeted ads, consumers find these experiences unsettling and, as a result, the author writes, “marketers are marching directly into their own version of the uncanny valley.” The uncanny valley is a term often used in robotics and computer science to describe the dip in people’s comfort level when they encounter a nearly human image – a likeness that’s just a little bit off. People feel repulsed rather than attracted to the almost-but-not-quite real.

I offer my take on how marketers must be careful when it comes to the extraordinary array of “special effects” to gather data that helps us dynamically manage and display content. I talk about why the answer isn’t necessarily less technology.

Be careful about the special effects of data gathering to dynamically manage content, says @Robert_Rose Click To Tweet

This week’s person making a difference in content: David Meerman Scott (14:55)

For our 50th show, I talk with David Meerman Scott – one of the few people you can call a legend in this business. He’s spent the last two decades as a marketing strategist, entrepreneur, advisor to emerging companies, and VC strategic partner. He’s also a best-selling author of 10 books, including the seminal work The New Rules of Marketing & PR.

We had a great chat about fans, content, and how we met at the very first Content Marketing World (it involves the Grateful Dead), and the troubling pendulum swing toward “superficial” content marketing.

As David says, “There are so many people taking these ideas and abusing them. They’re essentially doubling down on the content marketing idea but doing it in a way that isn’t the way we’ve been talking about it. You get on someone’s email list and all the sudden they’re sending you five emails a day… It’s all about the transaction and not about being helpful.”

Too many people double down on #contentmarketing but do it badly – “It’s all about the transaction and not about being helpful,” says @dmscott via @cmicontent #weeklywrap Click To Tweet

Listen in on our conversation about how creating fandom can get the pendulum to swing back toward human connection. Then get more from David:

  • Visit
  • Find him on social networks @dmscott.
  • Look him up on Google (he’s the only David Meerman Scott, he says).

One content marketing idea you can use (32:10)

A CMI post that I’d love for you to take another look at this week is by our creative director, JK Kalinowski. It fits right into our theme of fans: 3 Toy Brands Unexpectedly Spark a Content Marketing Adventure. He tells of the aha moment sparked by a Netflix documentary – when he realized three favorite toy lines gave him his first exposure to content as a retail strategy – and what lessons they hold for content marketing today.

Love for this week’s sponsor: ContentTECH Summit

Join me this spring at ContentTECH Summit 2020, where we’re lining up in-depth workshops, keynote talks, and practical presentations to help you become a more effective, more strategic content marketer. You’ll get insights to help you provide a richer experience for your customers and build a more profitable, stronger business.

I hope to see you and your team August 10-12 in San Diego.

Check out the agenda today.

The wrap-up

I hope you enjoyed this final show of 2019. We’ll be back the first week of January with one tree-mendous thought yule be thankful for, one news item that won’t sleigh you but will have you asking for myrrh, and – oh deer – a present content marketing tip that will help your content strategy be named best in snow.

And, of course, it’s all delivered in a little less time than it takes for you to tape a banana to a wall and call it art.

If you like this weekly play on words, we’d sure love for you to review it and share it. Hashtag us up on Twitter: #WeeklyWrap.

To listen to past Weekly Wrap shows, go to the main Weekly Wrap page.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute