Marketing Lessons from Pixar

August 27, 2012
Storytelling lessons from Pixar that apply to content marketing

From its humble roots in 1979 to the filmmaking giant it is today, Pixar has always depended on excellent storytelling to attract and retain an audience. Many of the mantras they’ve shared over the years also happen to make great content marketing advice.

It’s not about you

“You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.”

I catch myself on a daily basis saying some variant of, “Well, that’s what we would [do/say/want], but what would the user [do/say/want]?” The repetition may irk my co-workers, but it’s an important distinction on which to focus.

Every piece of content you create should answer your audience’s question: “What’s in it for me?” Your prospects don’t care that your new product uses Widget-6500 technology and comes with a free flat-screen television; they do care that it solves their budgeting issue, or helps them better serve their own customers and make a bigger profit.

Focus on your customers’ needs and your content will be more successful.

Keep moving forward

“Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.”

I’ve previously phrased this as “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” If you keep tweaking a blog post or whitepaper or marketing campaign in hopes of making it perfect, you’re going to be tweaking for a long time. Don’t send out something that’s unfinished or poorly executed; but don’t let yourself become so paralyzed with indecision that you end up with tattoo thinking.

Be honest

“If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.”

“Unbelievable situations” are inevitable — things break, items aren’t delivered, promises aren’t kept, things go wrong. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Don’t hide things, don’t be obtuse. If you mess up, own it, and try to make it right. Your customers will appreciate it.

No effort is a waste

“No work is ever wasted. If it's not working, let go and move on - it'll come back around to be useful later.”

Whether it’s a blog post you can’t finish or a marketing campaign that isn’t coming together, sometimes things just don’t gel. Save your work and get back to it later — the only thing you might need to get it done is a little time and fresh perspective.

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[Image: superstriketwo]

Comments

"It's not about you" was one

"It's not about you" was one of the hardest concepts to teach. Once you get people to that point in their thinking processes, the game changes for the better.

And it's an ongoing process

And it's an ongoing process as well; you have to constantly be reminding yourself that you're writing for your audience, and keep their priorities in mind.