What content marketers can learn from Bruce Springsteen

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I attended one of Bruce Springsteen’s Melbourne concerts last week. I’m a bit spoiled, it was the second time I’d seen him in under 12 months 🙂

While I enjoyed the concert immensely and was with ‘The Boss’ all the way, I couldn’t help but draw parallels to my work in content marketing, as a speaker, strategist and adviser.

Thinking about it, there are numerous lessons we can learn from one Mr Bruce Springsteen.

Here they are – what do you think?

1.  STORYTELLING

Hey, Eddie, can you lend me a few bucks 
And tonight can you get us a ride 
Gotta make it through the tunnel 
Got a meeting with a man on the other side 

Meeting Across The River, Bruce Springsteen

When it comes to storytelling in modern music, there’s none better than ‘The Boss’. Not only does he tell vivid and evocative stories via his songs but at the Melbourne concert I attended, he spent some considerable time telling yarns to the audience, sans music. They lapped it up!

Message for content marketers: Infuse storytelling into your content wherever possible; it will not only be a key differentiator for your brand but is the most effective way to hook human beings!

2.  PASSION

springsteen-content marketingNo-one could ever accuse Bruce Springsteen of not putting his heart and soul into his songs, his recordings and performances. Indeed, you could argue the fact Springsteen’s passion oozes from every chord he plays is a key reason why he’s so wildly popular and has been for decades.

If Springsteen ‘dialled in’ his performances, people would pick up on it in a heartbeat!  The best content marketers create content that crackles with heart and soul. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be created by people who have passion for their subject and a desire to share their story and ideas for the world.

Message for content marketers: Stay away from producing content that’s ‘by-the-numbers’, or seems like it’s written for Google’s robots. Find those people inside your organisation who are passionate about what they do and are enthusiastic about sharing stories and ideas with the broader world.

3.  VALUE

With concerts that consistently last for 3.5+ hours, Bruce is probably the best value-for-money performer in the world. Not bad for an old man in his mid-60s (what will you be doing at that age do you think?)!

Not that content marketers charge for the content they produce, but they are asking for something i.e. people’s valuable attention, and sometimes their email address. Therefore, your content needs to consistently deliver good value otherwise you won’t get a second chance.

Message for content marketers: Keep the content creation ‘bar’ high – yes, we need to be pragmatic and not every bit of content will ‘knock it out of the park’ but we always should be looking at ways to improve our output.

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4.  BODY OF WORK

When it comes to creating and sharing content, I’ve long been a big proponent of focusing on the long term, that it’s all about a brand’s content output over a period of years, not the instant smash video that goes viral and gets everyone excited but then comes the letdown: there’s nothing else of worth in the pipeline (and let’s face it, the fact your video went viral could well have been a bit of a fluke)!

So how does Bruce Springsteen stack up in this regard? Better than most you’d have to agree!

He started cranking out albums in the mid-70s (‘Born To Run’ was released in 1975, can you believe it?) – some 40 years later, he’s still at the top of his game and it’s all to do with his consistent musical output. Sure, not every post has been a winner – some of his albums have been less-than-enthusiastically-received by the record-buying public, but in terms of longevity you’ve gotta hand it to the guy!

Message for content marketers: Eschew obvious short-term wins (i.e. blog posts with ‘link-bait’ headlines that gives you a spike in traffic but little else) and instead focus on the end-game – building a body of quality work that informs, educates, inspires or empowers your audience.

5.  MIX IT UP

BruceSpringsteenThe great thing about a Bruce Springsteen concert is you’re never sure what you’re going to get. At the concert I went to, Springsteen played the entire ‘Born To Run’ album from start to finish; the night before, he opened with Highway to Hell with Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, and then proceeded to play the ‘Born In The USA’ album in its entirety. Happy days!

Message for content marketers: Get creative! If you blog, throw in a video every now and then. Maybe start using SlideShare as a way to get your content out to a broader audience. Include infographics, stage a Google Hangout On Air, record an audio clip and distribute via SoundCloud.

6.  FOCUS ON THE AUDIENCE

And finally, every up-and-coming band or artist can learn from how Bruce Springsteen understands and respects his audience.

From the selection of his songs (he will often perform songs suggested by members of the crowd, plus he mixes up old and new with aplomb so everyone will get something from the concert) through to his insistence of bringing random audience members up on stage for their moment in the spotlight – Springsteen ‘gets it’. We, as content marketers, should too!

Message for content marketers: In days gone by, whenever brands created content, nine times out of 10 it was about them and their products and services. I look around now and still see companies falling into that trap. Don’t let that be you! Take the time to understand your audience, and then deliver valuable content that is of relevance and interest to them – you will be rewarded for your efforts!

There you have it folks, what you can learn from ‘The Boss’.

Any other lessons you’d like to share from his concerts? What are your fave Springsteen songs or albums? This conversation could go on forever!!

 

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