4 CONTENT MARKETING LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM SAUL GOODMAN
"If you're committed enough, you can make any story work."
Yes, yes, Saul Goodman is a fictional character...
I fear that I’ve developed a ‘weird crush’ on Bob Odernkirk during the course of season 3 of Better Call Saul (BCS). However, I've also been thinking about content marketing (as it's my job to do that on a daily basis). And when I started to think about it, I realised that Saul Goodman - aka James (Jimmy) McGill - is all about the content.
The nature of his work is to order the right words into sentences; sentences which ultimately get people to do or believe something. He is not only a man of many words, but a man of image; adapting his persona according to his target audience.
He is a reactive chameleon of content.
So, what can we learn from this shape-shifting anti-hero?
1. It’s important to make your content ‘audience appropriate’
It’s one of the most important things about creating content – is it going to hit the mark with your audience?
"Our clients will always be our best resource"
Saul couldn’t be more right. Those with whom you already have some kind of business relationship with hold the key to steering you on the right path when it comes to pitching your content at the right level.
Through interacting with your intended audience as part of prospecting (via your sales team), delivery and / or client account management, you can gain the inside track on what your audience is talking about – it could be their ‘pain points’ for example, or the next hot topic (due to make some kind of impact on them or their business perhaps).
In addition, you should also look to your marketing stats. Depending on the volume (which could be the length of time you can measure back to and analyse /compare against and / or the range of data you hold), you’ll be able to glean some useful stuff. It may come to be useful for informing what’s on your content planner for the coming month, or even year.
"Confidence is good. Facts on your side, better."
2. HOW YOUR content LOOKS = as important as the words
Saul is about the suits, the adverts, the image… He thinks about where he puts his advert, what it says, but also how it looks.
Just take a gander at his early law practice advert, as James McGill:
He’s targeting the well-to-do; he wants to look professional and the body language is formal - it’s understated. The colours are dark and dull. He almost blends into the advertisement…
Call James M. McGill: he can assist you with that troublesome real estate quandary.
Now look at his later advert, as his alias Saul Goodman:
The colours are garish, the target audience is ‘the common man’. The body language is direct. He’s a real person who’s got a receding hairline and a high-street, cut-price suit.
Call Saul Goodman: he can help you make bail - after you were pinched for stealing that car.
Now let’s remember that episode of BCS where he tried to sell off his TV advertising space. He knows he has to reach out and attract a certain type of audience in order to sell these slots, so what does he do?
He transforms himself into ‘Gimme Jimmy’; dressing as a regular bloke, donning aviators, and glued-on facial hair. A bunch of star wipes are deployed on the final cut of the advert to really drive home the message of ****DON'T MISS THIS UTTER BARGAIN, YOU NORMS****
“You can't afford not to be on TV! Look at you, you're a triple threat! Great services, great products, and most of all, that face! You're a star!”
So, the words you use are important, fo sho. But, the way you choose to broadcast your content and the format is equally important.
In terms of the format, here are some questions you should be asking yourself:
- Does the format type suit the intended audience?
- Is it ‘fit for purpose’, in terms of where it’s going to end up being shared / distributed?
- Is it easy to ‘digest’ as a piece of content for the intended audience?
In terms of the look and feel of the content:
- Does it adhere to the branding style of the creator / company / organisation?
- Does the format type suit the content?
- Is the way the content is laid out the best it can be? E.g. if it’s a blog, is it correctly formatted with spacing, called-out headings, punctuation etc…
It’s no good to have a brilliant infographic or white paper with great messaging and ‘take-aways’ if it looks like c**p.
3. It’s better to have some content issued, than none at all
"Perfection is the enemy of perfectly adequate" Saul says.
Content marketers can be caught in a dilemma – do you seek to issue something which looks and reads as 80-90% perfect, but can go out at the optimum time, so as to make the absolute most of any success coming off the back of it?
OR, do you wait until everything is 100% perfect and then issue it, thereby risking the level of impactfulness of that content, and potentially missing the boat altogether if the window to issue it was pretty limited in the first place?
Personally, I’d always go with the first option. Of course it’s always better to be able to issue content which is 100% perfect, but if it’s pretty much there - bar a few minor tweaks invisible to the untrained eye - why not get it out at the absolute best time? That way, you can start to monitor and measure the effectiveness of the content you’ve just released, have a longer running time for the content, and therefore make the best of its total shelf-life - after all the effort that went into creating it!
And if it’s digital content, you can look to make those minor tweaks after it’s out, because websites can be edited whenever. Fact.
4. Not all content is worth creating
I can say with confidence that, after more than a decade of experience working in print and digital, it’s never that quick to create any piece of content (that is, unless you’re creating something using Canva or the like to compose a super-quick visual message which can be pumped out within five minutes).
"Sometimes you have to say something out loud to hear how crazy it sounds."
It doesn’t matter who comes up with an idea for content in your business or organisation. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. And there’s no point running with it if it’s going to fall flat on its face – it’s just not worth the time and effort.
If you’re operating with limited capacity to create content, it’s even more important that each new idea is sense-checked before someone starts crafting it.
Another thing to watch out for is the internalised view of what will be good content. Going back to near the beginning of this article, If it’s not based on something you know your audience wants, and / or any statistical evidence, then the likelihood is – it’s best filed in the bin.