7 Content marketing lessons from 007

James Bond mania has broken out as Spectre hit our screens this month. So what content marketing lessons can we learn from the greatest spy hero of all time?

When we consume the James Bond stories, we are immersed in the brand. The music, the action, the girls, 007 is a brand so strong anyone from the playground to the nursing home knows it. So what are the tricks to making generation after generation fall in love with a brand and creating content that captures the world?

With the release of the latest Bond film Spectre hot on everybody’s lips and smashing box office records, what better time to delve into the iconic British phenomenon to uncover some content marketing lessons. Be the hero of B2B tech marketing and try out some of these tips from Bond, James Bond…

1. Supreme storytelling

There are few stories more thrilling than the tales of James Bond. Every new film unveils a fresh action sequence that shocks, amazes and excites us to the edge of our seats.

OK, but you’re selling data security, how is this a lesson for you?

In content marketing as long as you are ENTERTAINING you won’t be far wrong. No matter what’s happening in the Bond films, it’s entertaining and Bond is doing what he does best. That’s not a bad goal for your content marketing efforts; you too have a license to thrill, even if it is with data security.

Your content may not be designed for entertainment purposes, but you can still inject each content piece with a captivating narrative, give your audience a reason to read on to the end. Virgin Media sell internet and television packages, but they tell a magical story that focuses on the end product.

2. Multiple authors, one story

The James Bond legacy is unique in its multitude of authors, actors and directors. Bond himself has had many faces from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, and the novels have been penned by an amazing six authors. Yet the smooth, savvy Bond character, with all his spy hero credentials, transcends it all in impeccable fashion.

You can adopt this culture into your content marketing as long as your core “character” is strong enough. If you have the luxury of a plethora of content writers and contributors, lucky you! Don’t be afraid to open up content opportunities to different members of your organisation or industry. Simply ensure you have a robust set of guidelines and brand pillars to guide your writers and safeguard your identity, and many voices will become one. James Bond is many actors, one man. You can have many contributors that make one brand. Educate your team and equip them with the tools they need to buoy up your message through their content.

IBM’s A Smarter Planet blog takes contributions from a whole range of IBM employees and guest bloggers. The variety of authors keeps it fresh, interesting and diverse, but the inherent messaging is consistent throughout. Each post slots nicely into the style guidelines, making for a pleasant user experience.

3. All in the details

Each new Bond film is brimming with the details that that make us feel at home in the cinema. Whether it’s the accent, the suit, the unfathomable gadgets, the girls… these details all combine to create the Bond experience. If a new Bond appeared who in fact liked his Martini stirred and not shaken, oh the uproar!

Identify the details that define your brand; tone of voice, design, titles, logos, etc. Just like each new Bond movie, use these details to stay true to your brand throughout each new content piece.  Then ensure consistency across all your content assets make your audience feel at home in any content type.

Take this nice little video from Dropbox. Everything from the font and script, to colours and illustrations, are synonymous with the Dropbox brand, and these details let the audience know straight away that this is an authentic Dropbox production.

4. Be unmistakable. Be memorable.

There are loads of great spy stories out there; the Bourne movies, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The 39 Steps; so much so that spy movies/novels is its own genre. But the beauty of Bond is that he carries absolutely killer trademarks that make him memorable and unmistakable.

Think ‘The name’s Bond, James Bond’ and ‘Martini. Shaken not stirred’. These gems are simple, easy to remember and original. They have such power now that each one in isolation screams James Bond. That strength of identity is difficult to achieve, but content marketing gives you an opportunity to develop your own trademarks. Consider how each content piece feeds into your brand to help make you memorable. What is your 007 differentiator?

HP used their content marketing to create the meaningful trademark ‘bend the rules’ with an epic video series. This trademark reinvented the HP identity as innovators who empower people to change the world. Now, just as 007 is not merely a number, an HP laptop is no longer just a laptop. It’s a means to bend the rules and achieve something great, all thanks to a meaningful, original trademark.

5. Embrace evolution

24 films over 53 years; James Bond is a legacy, but it is not history. This month, Spectre had the highest grossing opening week of all time in UK cinema. Bond popularity is booming and he’s anything but old fashioned.

The secret to success? Relevance. Half a century on from the first Bond film, Spectre is cutting edge, modern and relevant. The times have moved on and James is just as on trend as ever.

Take a leaf out of the Bond book and make sure your content strategy has a healthy attitude to change and a dedication to keeping up with the times. As shown by Bond, there’s a difference between reinventing yourself and staying relevant. You can stay true to your brand while being flexible and trying new things. He’s still James Bond, but he’s had several new cars since 1962.

If people loved a content series you published three years ago, think about how you can bring this up to date and publish it in new and engaging formats. Find out how your audiences consume information and keep ahead of trends. Use social listening tools to find out what your audience are talking about and own that conversation. There are many tools and methods for getting to know your audience and making sure your content is relevant to them.

6. Connect emotionally

The original Bond author, Ian Fleming, said of his protagonist, ‘I quite deliberately made him rather anonymous. This was to enable the reader to identify with him. People have only to put their own clothes on Bond and build him into whatever sort of person they admire.’ Bond is loved the world over because audiences have a unique and individual connection with him.

OK, not many folk will get emotional over a whitepaper on cloud-hosted desktops, but if each individual reader feels like you are talking directly to them and can help them with their own specific set of problems, then you will achieve that Bond connection. To do this, you need to identify exactly who your audience is and what their problems are on a granular, personal level.

Conference calling software Powownow have tapped into employees’ personal struggles. The emotional connection makes this seemingly boring product relevant to real life people.

  7. The star treatment

The release of every new James Bond movie is truly a global event. There are premieres, press coverage, promotional tours, so many reviews, huge social media engagement, a website full of news and blog posts, a mobile game, merchandise, and lots of brand partnerships from Gillette to Belvedere Vodka.

You might not have a premiere for your latest webinar on data connectivity, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give it the start treatment. The Bond promotional activity is aimed at reaching its audiences wherever they are and stirring interest. Your webinars (and all content pieces) are the James Bond movies of your industry, so you need to make sure you’re using the right tactics to reach your audience and more importantly the right message. Make your content look and feel like the star it deserves to be.

We aren’t suggesting you apply this star treatment to every piece of content. If you genuinely think it’s great then make sure it has the support needed to make it a box office success. Imagine a world where no one knew of James Bond. Don’t do this to your content. Make sure it reaches your audiences.

Now there’s no need to overkill. James Bond doesn’t use all his tricks in one go and we’re not expecting you to execute all seven of these points in your next content marketing strategy. But it’s a good place to start and using any one of these tips will propel you towards the level of success enjoyed by Mr Bond. If you’re ever flagging for inspiration or not sure what you’re doing wrong, just think “What would Bond do?”.