Content Marketing Guru...Kevin Spacey?

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WhiteSpace Creative recently sent two writers to Content Marketing World 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio. With 2600+ attendees from across the globe, the conference is the nation's largest event solely dedicated to content marketing. Perhaps part of the draw this year was that the closing keynote speaker was the Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey.

In the weeks preceding the conference, we wondered, "What the heck does Kevin Spacey know about content marketing?" And, Spacey opened his keynote address with the virtually the same question. Turns out, he knows a lot.

Create conflict.

Spacey quickly proved his relevancy by pointing out that as an actor and director, he has the same goal as content marketers – to tell a story. "Conflict creates tension," he said, "and keeps people engaged in your story." Spacey cited Nike's "Just do it" campaign, pinpointing how it creates constant tension between a person's desire to change and that little voice in his head that says it's easier to stay on the couch.

Be authentic.

Spacey spoke a lot about how he challenged himself with the role of artistic director at The Old Vic in London. The opportunity helped him evolve into a more intimate and realistic storyteller. Keep your immediate audience in mind, and stay true to your brand voice. He cautioned, "We turn off when something doesn't feel authentic."

Value content over platform.

As the leading role in a Netflix series that gives the audience the "freedom to binge," Spacey had a lot to say about platform. His insight included, "For kids growing up now, there's no difference watching Avatar on an iPad or watching YouTube on a TV or watching Game of Thrones on their computer. It's all content. It's all story." As content marketers, we need to put story first. Platform, channels, measurement – all of this is secondary. Write a good story, and people will listen.

Kevin Spacey uses the F-bomb and so can you!

Like all talented speakers (and content marketers), Spacey didn't just lead by instruction; he also led by example – by the actual delivery of his content. Early in his keynote, he rattled off a list of industry buzzwords – ROI, SEO, the purchase funnel – and, remarked, "That's right, I know your F—ing terms." In fact, Spacey's entire speech was an impeccable balance of eloquent insights and F-bomb-peppered commentary.

Should you start dropping F-bombs in marketing collateral to engage your audience? Ok, maybe not. But, the takeaway here is important. Be direct when you tell a story. Be human in your writing. People don't respond to formulaic buzzword-riddled content. People respond to people.

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