There are a lot of new terms being thrown around marketing circles these days. Content marketing may seem innovative, but the concept has been around for generations. Anyone that tells you it's new is spinning a wild yarn. Content marketing is older than any person alive for a reason. It works.
So what does content marketing have to do with Star Wars? The story of George Lucas and his Star Wars saga is a cart-before-the-horse example, but it can teach us at least one valuable lesson about content marketing. If people love the content you create, they will not forget you.
Lucas didn't set out to sell toys as his life's dream, but his story proves that content marketing can succeed in ways that other marketing tactics only dream of achieving. A lot of hard work creating Star Wars and its subsequent sequels was his passion. Lucas was a storyteller, and the big screen was his canvas for telling grand tales that have become icons of popular culture. He did, however, have a bold sense of foresight when it came to the merchandising opportunities his stories would create.
He famously took a $500,000 pay-cut from his salary as the director of the original Star Wars film in exchange for the full rights to the merchandising for the movie, and the sequels he hoped he'd get to make later. Stop for a second. Half a million dollars is a LOT of money now. In 1977 half a million was a dizzying sum. 20th Century Fox didn't flinch at the trade. It cut their costs to fund a project they weren't sure was going to be successful and reduced their risk. 20th Century Fox was in the business of making movies, and this deal seemed like a no-brainer. It was a win-win for them, right? After all, who had ever made any real money from toys and merchandise related to a movie?
Fast forward to today, and the rest is history. Star Wars was a smash hit at the box office that began an empire (sorry, we had to make that pun) of sequels and merchandise. While the movies alone would have made Lucas wealthy, the merchandising rights made him a multi-billionaire. In a roundabout way, the Star Wars films were a content marketing success on an extreme scale that generated billions of dollars in merchandise sales. This new model of making money was so successful that it changed the way merchandise and movies were linked forever.
Did George Lucas set out to become a merchandising mogul? Likely not. Did he have the foresight to realize the content he was creating had the potential to make him wealthy? He certainly gambled that it would. That roll of the dice paid off in spades.
It's important to note that Star Wars is content that entertains. Creating something fun and enjoyable for people is just one approach to content marketing. In the world of business, education often the most successful, but if you entertain in the process that can't hurt if it fits your brand and message.
So what exactly IS content marketing and what does this story teach us about how it can grow a business? It's simple really. If you create content on a regular basis that people love, they will remember you and keep coming back to you. When they need what you sell, they'll come calling.
Content marketing is also a broad field. There are lots of types of content one can create. Star Wars is a film, and if the Internet has taught us anything, it's that video sells. Blogs, printed pieces, and even in-person meetings can be content marketing. There is no limit really as long as what you create and convey is authentic.
Creating content that is helpful earns the hearts of people who find it useful. The nice part? Brands that establish that kind of trust by helping people also get the business that comes with it. It may not be billions of dollars from the sale of toys and merchandise, but if the content is authentic, educational and helpful, it can certainly be a catalyst for meeting or exceeding your business goals.