Well, he finally did it. Leonardo DiCaprio won his Oscar. The actor's relentless pursuit of the highest award in his field has come to fruition after years of effort. So lengthy and so noticeable was this pursuit, in fact, that it had reached memetic status, becoming something of a joke.
"Oh, Leo's taken another Oscar Bait role this year. Do you think he'll do it?"
"Nah. My money's on Film X taking it at the last minute."
And this year, he's finally struck home. Why do you think that is? And what kind of relevance would pop-culture happenings have to successful content marketing, exactly? It can seem like a bit of a stretch.
On the contrary; the success of DiCaprio mirrors why content marketing succeeds or fails, and whether or not you actually know your target audience.
Understanding Your Audience
I mentioned oscar bait in the introduction, and that probably bears half a sentence of explanation before continuing. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is responsible for handing out Academy Awards. The AMPAS has a voting body who decides on these things, and said voting body has a particular set of tastes and preferences for what makes a 'good' movie. Because these awards carry so much prestige, there are films created, targeted, and marketed specifically to this viewing audience. Because of content, marketing, themes, or a combination of all three, these targeted films often end up being known as 'oscar bait', since they're purposely designed to attract the interest of the voting body.
DiCaprio's been taking lead roles for films targeted at the voting body of the AMPAS for years. He's played morally conflicted characters, famous men from history, the magnetic and engaging, and the terrible and depraved. He's picked films that were targeted at the people who really counted in the pursuit of his Academy Award - the voting body of the AMPAS - rather than the greater audience of general filmgoers who would weigh any of his more recent works against the superhero movie of the season.
He picked the people whose opinion really counted when it came to achieving his goal, and he focused his efforts on catching their eye and appealing to them.
Inviting Your Audience Aboard
In running research on this topic and why the win came now, I came across a theory that actually holds water fairly well. In it, the writer postulates that the reason why DiCaprio's role in The Revenant is the winner is that said role invites the audience to share his position and struggle, instead of being a role where the character is 'cool' and above/removed from the audience, like he was in Wolf of Wall Street or The Great Gatsby. So, someone who shares their struggles with you, as opposed to a character who you'd look up to, but never consider as an attainable figure.
Why is such an open approach important? And how does that matter when you understand your audience and you know how to appeal to them?
Well, the end goal of the business-buyer relationship isn't simply in the sale. It certainly shouldn't be pitched as such - otherwise you'd stop investing in your customers after a sale was made, and that doesn't bode well for a continuing relationship. It's around five times harder to acquire new customers than it is to retain existing ones. If you want customers to emotionally connect with your business, you'll have to give them reason to, and this is commonly rendered and referred to as the storytelling component of your marketing copy.
When you tell the story of your business, you're not just telling customers how your business started in flowery language. You're weaving a narrative of your business' past and present, and inviting your customers to take part with you in forging a bright and shining future.
Inviting the people who matter to share and take part in your story is what was important to DiCaprio this year, and it's allowed him to achieve a longstanding goal.
So How Can An Oscar Win Teach Success For Your Business?
Do you know what your ideal customers are like? I'm not just talking of a broad spectrum target market, such as a group or single demographic slice. I'm talking about interests, concerns, and priorities. When you decide who your product or service is going to be marketed to, you need to consider the priorities and limitations of your ideal customers, in addition to more standard information, like age range, gender, or geographic location. Say for example that your business sells cars. The priorities of your ideal customers are going to influence how and what you market to them. Is their priority safety? Is it the accessories of the car? The performance capabilities? If your ideal customer considers safety the highest priority when making a purchase, then you're not going to focus your marketing strategy on how fast your top-of-the-line cruiser can go.
To find out this kind of information, you want to conduct research on your existing customers. Ask them what their priorities are when they make a purchase. Ask them what their concerns are. Ask them how they search for solutions, and what things influence their final decision. This kind of information is indispensable when it comes to determining what your ideal customers really want, as opposed to what you think they will buy based on.
And once you understand what your ideal customers are actually after, invite them on a journey where they'll see their needs met and the opportunity to take part in something bigger and better than what they would achieve otherwise. For a business like Who Gives A Crap, their customers aren't just purchasing recycled toilet paper that fits with their sustainable sensibilities, they're also helping fund better sanitation access in the developing world. And they're inviting customers to take part in that goal and their story.
The business that invites its customers to take part in the greater mission is the one that draws more customers to itself, and will see its goals achieved. It might take some trial and effort, but the payoff is worth it.
What Should You Do Next?
Do you have buyer personas for your business? Buyer personas are what you get once you compile all of the traits of an ideal customer together and you give them a name, because a name and a face are far easier to market to than a collection of traits. If you're not sure what your ideal customers should look like for your business, or you feel like your target audience needs narrowing down in order to see some more targeted results, then designing a persona for your business to market itself to is what you want to do. If you've never heard of buyer personas before, you can click here to read up more on them and how you build one, or here if you just want a free template to get you started.
What story do you tell your potential customers to get them on board with what you're promising? And I'm not just talking about "We started out with five people working from my shed on Wednesdays" here - I'm talking about the narrative you want to invite your buyers to take part in. Here, you're sharing how you're changing the world, and how the customer can get on board with that. Because they're the type of people to want to change the world. If storytelling as a marketable medium is something you've never considered before, or something that you want to take beyond "five people working from my shed on Wednesdays", then you can go here to see how it can be employed as a powerful tool for drawing people in. Or you can contact us. We're proficient in the kind of marketing that draws people to your business and forges a fruitful and ongoing connection.
By getting this right in your content marketing and in your business, you'll see blinding success rather than middling adequacy.