Recently on a Twitter Spaces session of Christina Garnett’s Unverified, we discussed Marvel’s storytelling techniques and how they can apply to marketing. It was a fun, free-flowing conversation ranging from customer engagement to creator rights. But it got me thinking about some of the tactics that Marvel used to use on the publishing side (long before these characters were household names).
Hook the audience
Legendary creator Stan Lee used to say that each issue’s only goal is to get the reader to buy the next issue. Ever the salesman, Stan Lee knew that getting readers to buy more books meant they could create more books.
This tactic should be employed with certain aspects of your marketing. Your blog is the best way to get people engaged and coming back for more content. If your content is valuable enough, people will want to keep engaging with it. Doing a series of blog posts, released at regular intervals, can be a good way to keep an audience engaged.
One key is consistency. Comic books come out every month. Back in Stan Lee’s heyday, Marvel was so focused on releasing new issues every month that every now and then there would be “fill-in” issues – issues that were outside of the ongoing storyline done by different creative teams – just to make sure that a new issue was released each month. The consistency was more important than the content. These days, your content has to be both consistent and high quality. But having an inventory asset or two might be a good idea for times when a deadline is going to be missed.
Get them up to speed
Another point to consider goes back to long-time editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter. Shooter knew that every issue was somebody’s first issue. He insisted that the basics were always spelled out. Every issue of the X-Men showed or explained what everyone’s powers were. Even if you have been reading the series for years, at some point someone had to point out Wolverine’s indestructible Adamantium claws.
Each time you reach out to your audience, there has to be something in there that gets new audience members up to speed. But it can’t be dumbed down to the point where someone who has been viewing/subscribing for a long time gets bored. It’s a fine line to walk. Knowing how to inform and entertain your audience will prevent them from feeling lost and frustrated (like Jim Shooter wanted), and it will keep them coming back for more (like Stan Lee wanted).