What Marketing Lesson We Can All Learn from “Dirty Jobs”

Much of my career so far has been involved in content marketing in one way or another, though it might not seem that way until you give it some extra thought. Sports broadcasting is content marketing by definition, because the product and its marketing are one in the same. What better way is there to make you watch or listen to sports than experiencing them in the same manner?

In my Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year days, I didn’t summarize content live, but it still involved sharing news and information about college football (though most of it was not my creation, minus the copywriting). The idea behind the entire campaign was (and still is) that Liberty can get involved in a conversation its customers actually want to have about one of the topics people are most passionate about. Discussing last night’s victory and the Hail Mary that set it up are a lot more interesting than waxing philosophical about car insurance. By finding a relevant tie between what the fans like and the services the company provides, it’s no longer a stretch for the program’s community manager to talk pigskin with customers and try to increase insurance sales without a cheesy pitch.

As a blogger, I’m not trying to sell a product or service, but it doesn’t mean I can’t use it as a platform to sell my beliefs. After all, isn’t that basically what blogging and social media are all about? They’re discussions involving our thoughts and actions.

Content marketing may seem intimidating to people, especially those who don’t know the difference between a tweet and a status update, but it’s only a new structure for an age-old method of communication: story telling.

In Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” host Mike Rowe performs some of the most obscure, challenging or otherwise unique jobs. He (and the show’s producers) can make any job seem interesting. There’s a reason shows like “Deadliest Catch,” “Operation Repo” and “Storage Wars” have become popular. The occupations shown in those programs all exhibit a struggle and have either some serious drama or a few laughs peppered in. Alaskan fishermen have to battle the elements. Repo men have to take property that is often heavily guarded by crazy people. The auctioneers have to top the profits of their competitors by selling the treasure and junk in their new units. The auctioneers may not have as high stakes as the fishermen, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining to watch them bid, haggle and brag.

You don’t have to fight 40-foot waves at your job to make it interesting to people. You just have to find something the everyday customer doesn’t know about you, and present it in an appealing way.

You also don’t need to be a Stephen Spielberg-quality director, or have professional-grade editing in your video, audio or prose.

A lot of people hear the term “marketing” and automatically think they have two options: either spend way too much money, or spend nothing at all. It’s a TV commercial or a few flyers handed out, and nothing in between. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Throw the word “content” in front of marketing, and people get more confused than when they hear a Broadway play laid a Major League Baseball franchise to waste for eight decades (unless you really do believe in the Curse of the Bambino).

I’m going to make it easy for the skeptics to understand content marketing with the Content Marketing ACBC’s. (Yes, Anything Can Be Content.) If it’s legitimately intriguing, you can use it to tell a story. Even a simple sneak peek at something can garner a lot of attention.

I remember seeing an article on theahl.com a year ago all about the league’s scheduling process. I never would have thought that real people put the schedule together instead of computers, and I also didn’t necessarily think it would interesting to learn about. (It was.)

You’ll almost definitely be surprised at some of the things people find interesting. That’s a GOOD thing. It gives you more leeway to tell your story and build a real connection with your fans.

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