What Kevin Spacey Can Teach You about Content Marketing

Good content marketing is not a crap shoot – it has always been about the story.

That was the phrase actor Kevin Spacey used when he spoke at Content Marketing World last month.


What in the world does a Hollywood actor know about content marketing?

More than you might think.

While Spacey might not be an expert at writing headlines, researching content ideas, or Google’s latest SEO shenanigans, his quote above tells me he gets the underlying principle that drives that stuff.

That puts him ahead of about 95% of the content marketers out there.

All these people – the ones who don’t get it – are preoccupied with keywords, social shares, and meta tags. They’re missing the forest for the trees.

If they spent half as much time improving their storytelling as they do obsessing about the other stuff, they’d build stronger (and more profitable) connections with their visitors.

Good stories have drawn people in since the dawn of civilization. They still do. And they still will… regardless of changes in technology.

It’s easy to identify a “good story.” It sucks us in. It makes time disappear…

But it’s tougher to put your finger on why that story was so good. Most of us don’t reverse engineer the process.

It’s worth the effort if your goal is to bond with visitors through content. Figuring out what makes a story good is the first step to using those strategies in your copy.

I’ll spend a lot of time exploring those elements in this blog…

But one Spacey touched on at Content Marketing World deserves this post for itself:

Conflict creates tension and keeps people engaged, and the best stories are filled with characters that take risks and court drama.

Conflict is essential.

Your product or service can’t make someone’s life better if there isn’t an itch to scratch.

A lot of businesses are trying to hook people with cool premises. That might hold attention for a few seconds, but it doesn’t pad wallets. There isn’t enough tension!

Where’s the biggest opportunity to introduce tension into your content?

In the gap between your prospect’s life now and the life they could be living – if they only bought your product or service.

You need both of these elements for it to work.

There isn’t tension if you just talk about how much your prospect’s life sucks right now. That’s just pain.

And there isn’t tension if you just talk about an idealistic future. That’s just fantasy.

It’s the combination of the two – the now and the “what could be” – that ratchets up the tension and sets the pace for a compelling story.

After you paint that picture, that’s when the fun starts. That’s when you can convince people to jump across that gap and do business with you.