Five Lessons From Legendary Horror Movies for Content Marketers

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Halloween season is just behind us. As a celebration of all things scary, everyone knows that a good Halloween party would be incomplete without a horror movie marathon on Netflix. Every year, we see an influx of horror movies, ready to keep us on the edge of our seats. However, few of them end up becoming long term classics. Watching House of Wax at midnight may cause more laughters than jitters, whereas watching The Exorcist could give you nightmares for weeks.

What does this have to do with content marketing? Quite a bit. As it becomes more and more prevalent, marketers are scrambling trying to find a way to stand out amongst the noise. In doing so, they risk forgetting the essential elements and may end up with a wilting strategy execution. This ends up being very costly in terms of sales, and also in terms of client engagement.

As we hide under the blankets, eating the discounted candy, there are some interesting lessons epic horror films can give us content marketers.

The Power of a Well-Executed Good Story

It’s not only about creating a good premise, but also about developing it properly. A content strategy, just like a movie plot, is as good as the work behind its execution.We have read movie critics and horror aficionados moan when a movie adaptation fails to live up to the hype, claiming that under another director or actor, it would’ve been better. If you have a great content strategy, and you love it, prove it by putting your best team in charge of bring it to life.

Keep the main goal in mind

And, yes, the main goal when we watch a horror movie is to be scared, at least for normal people. In our case, what’s our goal for each piece of content or for the entire strategy? Lead generation? Engagement? Loyalty? Once you have the answer to this question, then you can create content with this in mind.

In the same tune of scary feelings, don’t forget the emotional goal we want to achieve with our audience: make them happy, pull at their heartstrings, bring positive memories or food for thought. The only worse thing than a horror movie that makes us laugh, is one that makes us feel indifferent.

…but don’t forget the power of the unexpected

If done well, the plot twist is the jolt of energy that separate great movies from the rest. Classic horror films used this resource wonderfully: in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Norman Bates impersonating his mother, for example. Think about what can you offer your audience that would be out of the norm, but could be well received. Maybe a surprise Live cast, a freebie or a timely current events comment

Shock is not enough

Yes, the standard horror movie features a good dose of fake blood here and there, but it should be done with a purpose. Overdoing it in the shock department can, at best, make the movie seem forced and laughable, and at worse, make us too sick to go on.

In a similar vein, making content for the sake of being viral or controversial is a gamble that brands seldom win. As we’ve said before, customers are smart and are moving away from clickbait and the like. Focus on offering quality over quantity, and the engagement will come.

Attention to detail

A melody, a small trinket, an easter egg are some elements that can give a scene a darker tone. Would the great white shark from Jaws make us feel as uneasy without its accompanying tune? Probably not. Even in a fast-paced world, where messages have a short life span, taking care of details is key.

In conclusion

The horror movie genre has evolved a lot from the days of Nosferatu, and it will continue to do so in the future. However, technology and the latest strange creature won’t be enough to scare us without the basic points that make a horror story amazing. In the same vein, content marketing will continue to grow as new mediums and trends appear, but it will only succeed if it remains faithful to its essence.

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