Photo courtesy of Fox (the company, not the agent).
OK, I’m about to reveal the true level of my geekdom. And, if you’re interested in improving your content marketing chops, you’re coming with me.
I’m a huge fan of The X-Files. It’s one of the few TV shows I fell in love with from the pilot episode and the rest of the world actually did too. Thanks to the magic of Netflix Instant Watch, I’ve been binging on re-watching the series for the last several months, and it’s still great.
The show evolved over the years it was on the air, but for the seven years when it was most popular, there was one truly unbeatable aspect of it that kept viewers coming back.
It wasn’t the scary, disturbing plots, (although they were really cool); it wasn’t the slam-bang special effects, (although they were pretty impressive); and it wasn’t the occasional goofy humor intermixed with the spine-tingling horror, (although that’s always a match made in heaven.)
No, in my opinion, the most impressive aspect of The X-Files (and the aspect that directly relates to improving your content marketing skills,) is the complex, yet deeply satisfying, relationship between Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
Before we continue, take the quiz…
So, which kind of content marketer are you? Mulder or Scully?
Based on your answers to the above quiz questions, you’re either a Mulder or a Scully content marketer. Read on to see what that means and how to maximize the impact of both!
Who is Fox Mulder?
Fox Mulder is the believer. A man fully convinced in his beliefs (of alien life and the existence of a world outside of what science can explain) to the extent that he has dedicated his life to finding the truth about these things.
He is a man of action. Quick to pull his gun and start running after anyone – man or monster – who may hold the key to uncovering the truth he seeks.
He’s rash, impetuous, willing to try anything. And these qualities gain him some incredible success: he’s always the one who sees the monster, watches the UFO speed away, or in some other way catches a glimpse of “the little man behind the curtain.”
But, he gets himself in a lot of trouble along the way, too. He gets beat up, shot at, abducted, not to mention constantly being on the verge of losing his job.
If you’re a content marketing Fox Mulder, you’re a fast-acting tour-de-force who’s willing to try anything because of your fervent desire to see the results that you know content marketing can bring you. You’re focused and determined, ready, willing and able to give your content the time and energy it needs and deserves because you know it’s going to bring your business to the next level and beyond.
And you’re right. But there’s a problem.
Who is Dana Scully?
Dana Scully is a medical doctor who joined the FBI after med school. A scientist who therefore views the world through that lens.
She is analytical, critical, a skeptic who needs to look at the evidence and has difficulty looking beyond it in search of the truth.
She is strong, independent, determined to do what is right. But, in her own way, she’s also constantly seeking answers, even if she needs to bend a few rules to get at them.
She’s the yin to Mulder’s yang. A skeptic to his believer. A voice of calm reason to his energetic paranoia. And – this is important – she knows her way around the FBI rulebook and politics, and knows how to work the system.
So, while Mulder heads off alone to chase a lead, Scully stays at the morgue and examines the body. While Mulder runs after the monster or chases the UFO, Scully pulls out her cellphone and calls for backup. While Mulder gets punched in the face, Scully draws from a safe distance and yells “FREEZE! FBI!”
And she’s gotten Mulder out of trouble more times than we can count because when Assistant Director Skinner (their boss) needs answers for the men upstairs, Scully always has the folder with the little bit of evidence they managed to scrape together so the case can be filed and the X-Files can live to search another day.
If you’re a content marketing Dana Scully, you’re all about strategy and analytics. You’ve got a solid plan from the start and you’re working that plan slowly and methodically. You’re aware of the studies that tell us the best time to tweet, the most effective headline formulas, the best post frequency. You’ve identified your audience and you’re keeping a finger on that audience’s pulse through a hundred visits to Google Analytics every day.
The only trouble is, you’re not really getting anywhere.
Because you can’t do it alone.
Mulder and Scully Together
You see, the reason Mulder and Scully were able to accomplish so much is that their dichotomous personalities completed each other so well. Mulder couldn’t have succeeded without Scully, and Scully couldn’t have without Mulder.
Without Scully, Mulder’s just a crackpot who believes in aliens and (unfortunately for all of us) has a badge and a gun.
Without Mulder, Scully is a potentially boring desk jockey who examines dead bodies for evidence and writes a neat report.
Together, they can save the world.
So what does this teach us about content marketing?
To succeed at content marketing, you need to embrace both sides of the Mulder/Scully equation:
- You have to have a strategy in place. A framework of content that works together and builds on itself.
- But you also have to be impetuous sometimes. Try something crazy. Just throw it out there and see what happens!
- Know your audience like the back of your hand, and spend some time on analytics or you’re flying blind.
- But don’t get so caught up in analyzing everything that you forget to act! The more the DO, the more there is to ANALYZE!
- You’ve got to use your head. Great content elicits thoughts and conversation, and it’s based on a solid understanding of how people think, learn and make decisions.
- But you have to use your heart too! Passion for your topic and your audience is key. If you don’t appeal to your audience’s emotions, you’re dead in the water.
When the impetuous believer in you starts to lose heart, your analytical skeptic can pull together the necessary evidence to keep you going. And when your analytical skeptic gets too bored, your impetuous believer can light the fire again!
Content marketing is a long-term commitment. A difficult road, sometimes. And it’s not for the feint of heart.
But the truth is out there.
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