Meet The Anti-Hero!

Part of our Hero's Journey Mentor Series designed to help marketers make their customers the heroes of their brand storytelling.

Marketers are successful when they convince target audiences that the brand the marketer represents is the hero of the market. In turn, this only works when a marketer shows the target audience that partnering with the brand will help the audience member succeed in their own journey. This might sound difficult, but the truth is, most companies have a story to tell that will resonate with the right audiences. But it’s also important to remember that you can’t turn a Batman into a Superman…or vice versa. Rather, a marketer’s savvy often needs to lie in educating brands about the best way to tell their story, versus changing the brand story to fit what the audience wants to hear. We’ve touched on many ways to tackle this mentoring role here on our blog, a journey which has brought us to the Anti-Hero.

The Anti-Hero’s Origin

In popular fiction, the anti-hero often takes the place of the typical hero, from Hamlet to today. We’ve traded in John Wayne for the Man with No Name. I’m pretty sure almost everyone likes Wolverine better than Cyclops. There’s Shrek. Jack Sparrow. Beatrix Kiddo. Han Solo. And remember when we mentioned Batman? These are just some examples of anti-heroes in a leading role.

These characters capture our imagination, attention, and sometimes even worship because they succeed at their goals without the commitment to morality that can sometimes make us a little skeptical to more traditional protagonists. They bring results, but without the holier-than-thou moralizing, like the guilt trip Darth Vader gets served by Luke on Death Star 2.0. Maybe there is goodness in us…but do we always have to be going on about it? Now, would we like Han as much without Luke? Could there be Shrek without Donkey? Of course not! Anti-heroes need strait-laced heroes to be inspired by, too—which is where a marketer’s role as anti-hero comes in.

The Anti-Hero’s Approach to Content Marketing

The fact is, everyone is hot on content marketing right now, and for good reason. The average person consumes over 11 pieces of content before they make a buying decision, and 74% of companies said that content marketing increased both quantity and quality of leads in 2018. In fact, Gartner anticipates that by 2021, we won’t even talk about “content marketing” as distinct from “marketing” anymore, because this approach will simply become the expectation of audiences. Sounds great, right? Well, until you consider that only 33% of B2C marketers have a documented content strategy, only 42% of B2B marketers are listening to their audiences’ feedback, and between both groups, 45% of content creation is done on an ad-hoc basis (read: as an afterthought). What does all this data boil down to? We’re doing a lot of talking as marketers about the good things we should be doing, but no one is living up to those expectations. Enter: the anti-hero. Let’s put a pin in some of the key qualities of this persona as they relate to a content marketer:

Unorthodox: a content marketer anti-hero always needs to be pushing the envelope. Is everyone in your client’s market vertical spamming out blogs or social media stories? Go your own way with video (expected to be 80% of web traffic by the end of 2019), long-form content, or even print media, all channels that are experiencing a renaissance at the moment.

Imperfect: The anti-hero content marketer knows that done is better than good. In a market where 60% of marketers or marketing teams are creating at least one piece of content on a daily basis, you can’t waste time worrying about if every piece is perfect before moving on to the next one.

Relatable: Content marketers as anti-heroes know that authenticity is the #1 quality that causes content to resonate with consumers. Sure, your message may not please everyone—but if that was what you wanted, you wouldn’t be an anti-hero, would you? 

Now that you know a little bit about what being a content marketing anti-hero looks like, you might wonder about how to put some of this advice and insight into practice. In the next issue I’ll share some insights with you about one of the hardest-hitting, most honest tools in the arsenal of an ass-kicking anti-hero: the content audit. Until then, stay tuned, brave one!

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