Halloween is right around the corner. Now feels like the best time to look at some sage advice by the horror world’s great writers, directors, and producers. It’s advice marketers, or anyone interested in writing, can take with them. Let’s dive right in.
Content marketing involves a lot of writing. Most content marketers come from journalism backgrounds, so they’re already comfortable with writing, and likely big readers. If, however, you’re interested in content marketing and you come from a more technical background, you should probably take the advice of horror writer, Stephen King. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There's no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut,” King says in his book, On Writing.
For those of us who choose to be content marketers, we do it because—yes, it’s our job—but also because we enjoy creating content. Jordan Peele, who won the Oscar for his horror film, Get Out, has some insights for us here. “That’s my advice with dealing with writers block. Follow the fun. If you aren’t having fun, you are doing it wrong,” Peele says. And he’s got a point. If you’re finding the content you create is a bit dry, so will your audience. Remember that you’re not creating content solely for an algorithm. You’re creating content for people, who want something that is enjoyable to read, watch or listen. And this goes for those who are in the B2B space, which is notorious for creating content that ends up zoning readers out.
Whether content marketers are working on a story, or they’re developing a marketing campaign, there’s always the possibility your content won’t be well received, or that your campaign may fall flat. Don’t sweat it though. “By the time I was fourteen (and shaving twice a week whether I needed to or not) the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing,” King says.
Part of being content marketers entails taking risks, and that means using an array of storytelling techniques. Some may work for your audience. Some many not. What’s important is that you continue creating content as needed and not let failing stop your momentum. Besides, content marketing is a long-term game. You never know when that blog post that was collecting dust on your website two months ago may hit the algorithm lottery.
Shirley Jackson is one of the horror genre’s greatest writers. Her horror novel, Haunting of Hill House, is still considered one of the best haunted house novels written to date. The late writer offered advice that content marketers can take to heart. A big part of the content marketer’s role is to develop a calendar of stories that get published out in a regular cadence. But that means you need to constantly be on the lookout for story ideas.
Here’s what Jackson had to say about that. “A writer who is serious and economical can store away small fragments of ideas and events and conversations, and even facial expressions and mannerisms, and use them all someday. It is my belief, for instance, that somewhere in the back of my own mind is a kind of storeroom where there are hundreds of small items I am going to need someday, and when I need them, I will remember them,” she said.
As content marketers we need to have our notebooks handy for jotting down ideas when they come up, whether in meetings or during a daydream. Jackson believed in the power of being observers, and that can be immensely helpful for content marketers pumping out valuable content for their audiences.
The Halloween movie franchise is one of the most influential in the horror genre, and beyond. Even if you don’t watch horror, you may have seen Michael Myers rear his masked face in memes or GIFs.
Halloween was first released in 1978, but the franchise continues producing more films, with one out this year, and another one slated for October 2022. Moustapha Akkad produced the original series of Halloween.
The late producer and director understood the importance of the audience when it came to creating content. “For four years, we didn't do any 'Halloweens,' ... But I believed in it. It's not a genius creation or anything. But whenever Halloween season comes around audiences want something like this,” Akkad said.
Akkad knew that audiences wanted something that would give them a good scare around Halloween time. And he delivered with the first Halloween movie. The film cost around $300,000 to produce, and it made more than $70 million at the box office when it was first released in 1978. To date, the Halloween film franchise has grossed more than $640 million worldwide. Akkad understood his audience’s insatiable appetite for horror and the success of Halloween is proof of that.
What we can glean from this as content marketers is recognizing how important it is to understand what your audience wants. If you can figure that out, your content has a high chance of being successful.
I help companies grow by telling their stories.