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From the Trenches

Content Marketing Lessons From Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Yvonne Lyons | December 17, 2015
Rudolph Content Marketing

The holidays, they’re fun no matter what your religious persuasion or lack thereof. C’mon. Don’t be a scrooge. Most people are just a little perkier at the holidays. The kids are excited. Things are sparkly. People are trying to sell you things at a discount. The world offers you a little time off. What’s not to love?

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the endearing, often hokey, holiday television for kids. From “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to “Frosty the Snowman,” it’s classic stuff — not good stuff, but classic. And there are quality lessons to be learned in all of them … well, some of them. (Pantophobia, for instance, is the fear of everything. Thank you, Lucy.) But where are the holiday lessons about content marketing hidden?

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Duh.

Everyone knows the basic story of Rudolph. Red nose, big storm, saves the day by pulling Santa’s sleigh. Yay, little reindeer. But if you dive into that little Claymation gem again this year, you will see that, after poor Rudolph is ridiculed by those bully, cool-dude reindeer, he runs away to the Island of Misfit Toys and meets some new friends who are, perhaps, not working exactly as one would expect them to. Hello, content marketing lessons.

Stay with me. Are there aspects of your 2015 content marketing plan, for instance, that didn’t work quite as you had hoped they would? I’m guessing there are. They may resemble some of Rudolph’s friends in some ways, and may be able to teach you some things for the future.

Here is what Rudolph and his little misfit toy friends can offer about what might have gone wrong and how to avoid those pitfalls for 2016.

Keep your plan grounded. One of Rudolph’s sad little friends was a plane that couldn’t fly. If your plan just never got off the ground in 2015, you’ll just have to look at 2016 as an opportunity to try again. But if you haven’t started yet, you had better get rolling. A plan should include marketing goals, an understanding of your audience, competitive research, editorial and distribution planning, a consensus on how you will measure success, and more. Get all the details on what you should include by downloading “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide.”

Check the wheels on your train. That train on the Island of Misfit Toys, it had some square wheels on the caboose, and that makes the ride a little rough for the passengers. Likewise, if you make the plan but miss some of those fundamental elements I mentioned above, it will be a bumpy ride. If you are going to make a plan, make the whole plan and do it right, or don’t bother.

Staff your team with the right elves. Maybe you just don’t have the right people to help you execute that kick-ass content marketing plan of yours. You created a great plan in 2015. And you thought you had the right team assembled to make the machine run, but people flaked out on you, right? It happens. They get busy, or excited about the effort but not so much about the work. But maybe there is someone hiding out, just wishing he or she could contribute to your effort … like an elf named Hermey who is really desperate to extract the teeth of an abominable snowman. Find that enthusiastic little dude and get him on your team for 2016. Or hire him freelance. There are freelance elves out there — both writers and editors —just waiting to make you successful.

Don’t miss the boat. Remember that little boat on the island that couldn’t stay afloat? Ok, he doesn’t have a speaking role, but he’s there, I swear. (There’s also a cowboy who rides an ostrich, a bird with a fish tail, and a toy pistol that shoots jelly. You gotta pay attention.) If you make a plan and you still feel like your efforts are sinking, maybe your content is the problem. Are you selling instead of telling? Mailing it in on the creation? That’s not going to work in the noisy reality that is today’s market. You are going to have to plan well and execute well, and that means only creating remarkable content that provides real value to your audience. Need tips for your editorial team? Try these:

Guide the sleigh. Be a leader. Or if you need help, hire a leader. But don’t be a sheep and expect to succeed at this kind of an effort. Content marketing isn’t rocket science, and although you can get a lot of killer lessons on it from kids’ TV shows, it also isn’t child’s play. Two million blog posts a day won’t let the followers shine through. Be smart and use your plan to guide your team and your efforts through 2016. Get some help from a solid content marketing firm if you need it, but don’t half-ass it and think you can get traction and make it to your goal. It won’t work.

I’m not trying to be a scrooge, just telling it like it is. Because lying will get you onto the naughty list.

If you need help getting your 2016 strategy and planning efforts going, download our eBook, “Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A 10-Step Guide,” then get in touch.

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About Yvonne Lyons:

Yvonne Lyons is Right Source’s vice president of creative services, overseeing content and design for all of our clients. She ensures that all creative produced at Right Source is of the highest quality and is aligned with our clients’ business strategy and goals. Yvonne received a bachelor’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University in writing and literature and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, branding, and communications.