Build Excitement Around Your Content Campaigns the Star Wars Way

December 19, 2017

Star Wars

That sound you hear? No, it isn’t laser blasts from an incoming TIE Fighter, nor the guttural roar of a distressed Wookiee.

Now that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out in theaters, the buzz is reaching frenzied levels. You can see it, hear it, sense it -- like a disturbance in the Force reverberating throughout the system.

The allegiance and investment from fans that Star Wars continues to enjoy is nothing short of magical. When The Force Awakens came out two years ago, kicking off the latest cinematic trilogy, it shattered a variety of box office records. Merchandise bearing the franchise’s logo will always sell like crazy. The most trivial online news headlines containing any reference to a Skywalker or Solo invariably pile up clicks in bunches.

In light of this, it’s not so hard to see why Disney was willing to pony up $4 billion to acquire Lucasfilm and its most prized brand entity five years ago.

A Force To Be Reckoned With

There are a number of reasons for the unparalleled popularity of this enduring pop culture phenomenon.

There’s the nostalgia: The first Star Wars film hit theaters in 1977, and the prequel series launched about 20 years later, so multiple different generations can tie it back to their childhoods.

There’s the fantasy: With its expansive mythology and lore, Star Wars is able to transport us to another place where the characters and themes somehow feel entirely familiar and relatable.

But there is also masterful marketing, which plays up the franchise’s other strengths and builds frantic excitement around each new release, and should help The Last Jedi match or surpass the commercial success of its 2015 predecessor.

Content Marketing Promotion Tips from Star Wars

As you seek to generate palpable enthusiasm around your content marketing efforts, here are a few lessons you can apply from a galaxy far, far away…

Tease the Tease

It felt silly. Lucasfilm didn’t just release a trailer to introduce us to Episode VIII -- they first released teasers for the trailer. Yes, you read that right.

Hitting the internet a day before the actual movie trailer aired as a television ad, these brief videos kicked the hype train into motion by dangling tiny snippets of footage in front of salivating fans. Suddenly, a TV commercial the following night became appointment viewing.

Now, let’s be honest: only a brand with the kind of rabid built-in devotion of Star Wars can really pull this off. When you go over the top with promotions, it will irritate and repel. But the approach utilized here does serve as a reminder that many of us could stand to be more thoughtful about creating awareness around upcoming initiatives.

Got a piece of big rock content on the way that you’re confident your audience will love? Play it up! Find clever ways to tease it across different channels. Mention it in blog posts and LinkedIn updates where applicable. Create unique assets, like infographics or short videos, aligning with the core themes. And then, don’t be afraid to tease those assets with a compelling draw.

There’s a fine line to walk, but when brands are too shy about promoting and previewing, they often fail to give major content projects the visibility they deserve.

Pick the Perfect Channel

The impact of that first trailer for The Last Jedi was maximized by its placement, during a big Monday Night Football matchup early in the NFL season. With millions of viewers around the country already tuned in and engaged, the sneak-peek found a sizable and hungry audience.

With most content marketing campaigns, finding a large audience is less important than finding the right audience. So when trying to generate interest, align your messaging and promotion with the specific segment you’re trying to reach. Certain social media networks -- and certain demographics within those networks -- will be more receptive to particular topics and angles. Apply filters and adjust your copy so that you can speak directly to distinct subsets.

One relevant example of a company hitting the right note: SolarWinds, a software firm in Texas, ran a giveaway with a Star Wars-themed multitool on LinkedIn, and their following -- mostly IT professionals who proudly describe themselves as nerds -- ate it up. The company’s Demand and Marketing Manager called the campaign’s engagement “probably the highest I’ve ever seen for any campaign that I’ve run across any platform.”

Not everything needs to incorporate Star Wars, but the point is this: By integrating your audience’s personal hobbies and affinities, you can capture their attention and give them a reason to care about your content.

Don’t Give Away Too Much

Rian Johnson, director of The Last Jedi, tweeted ahead of the big trailer reveal that he was “legitimately torn” about encouraging fans to tune in for it. That’s an understandable dilemma; when you put so much time and effort into carefully crafting a final product, you don’t want to lessen the eventual impact by giving away crucial elements in the promotional materials.

Let’s say your marketing team is putting together an illuminating eBook that will feature a number of exclusive, eye-opening statistics. If you share those stats in the tease, you reduce the incentive to actually download the file. But if you don’t share any, people won’t know what they’re missing.

To strike the perfect balance, ensure that you are presenting just enough to create that feeling of FoMO while keeping all the best spoilers (so to speak) hidden.

A few ideas worth considering:

  • Release the first couple pages of a new eBook before publication, with no form-fill or even download required, so that readers can easily dig in and get a taste.
  • Post one unique insight from within an upcoming whitepaper or webinar on social channels each week leading up to launch -- this is a great method for recurring promotion and ongoing awareness.
  • Create fresh turkey slice content that covers branching components of the main focus, reminding readers that they’ll be able to fully explore the subject soon.

Every time a great piece of content goes largely unnoticed due to a lack of proper buildup, millions of marketers cry out in terror. Avoiding this outcome doesn’t require any Jedi mind tricks -- just a sound strategy.

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