The closing of Content Marketing World came upon us all today, with the closing keynote by none other than Mr. Frank Underwood himself: Kevin Spacey.  You might be thinking, “What does Kevin Spacey know about Content Marketing?”  Well, to all of our delighted surprise, quite a bit:  he was both eloquent and quick-minded in his speech, and noted that there are many similarities in the acting world that relate to some of the principles that we as content marketers  embrace.

Mr. Spacey (Um… Kevin?  How does one refer to an Academy-Award winning actor who’s standing on a stage in Cleveland addressing a tech marketing crowd?) focused on the importance of story as the most important piece of content marketing.  The first thing he said is one of those simple truths that, in the quest of KPI’s and traffic and keywords, we marketers can sometimes forget:

The story is what’s important, and it’s our job to tell the story.

He then went on to give us the Kevin Spacey hitlist on what makes a good story, both from the narrative standpoint and the creative process standpoint:

  1. Conflict: there are choices that the characters must make.  For example, he cited Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan.  It creates a conflict within all of us to be what we want to be, or to be better.  Like, we tell ourselves: “Get off the couch, and go work out, lazy” he joked.
  2. Our own response to our own conflict:  As an example of this, he told a story of how he took on the artistic directorship at the Old Vic, an old London theatre, where he’s been in residence since 2003.  He moved there, after a soul-searching conflict in his own development of ideas. He noted that our stories become richer when we go against the “order of things” to create something bigger/different/unexpected.  I loved this story, as it gave us an inside look into his life and creative process.
  3. Authenticity:  Never trying to be something that you’re not. In other words, be true to your brand; your qualities as a company.

Some other noteworthy nuggets of truth in his talk were about his world, marketing and how they relate to these three ideals.  With ‘House of Cards,’ for example, Netflix embraced content marketing and brand over ratings.  He rounded out his talk with these key takeaways:

  1. What’s most important?  The audience: as storytellers, we are nothing without our audiences.
  2. The device and the length is less important than the story.  (The audience doesn’t care about the platform, they care about the content.)
  3. The audience wants control – and that’s what we see in their choosing Netflix and other platforms on which they can binge watch, absorbing the content any time they please.

So, never underestimate what you might learn from a keynote by a famous actor — especially when that actor is the incomparable and knowledgeable Kevin Spacey.