SCORCH Agency

How Content Marketing is like Broadway Theater

Rodney Pruitt

Good musical theater can teach us a lot about creativity, expression, and the promotion of new ideas. The best theater pushes boundaries, confronts conformity, and creates memorable and inspiring characters. As content marketers, these are skills that are essential to the growth of our brand, agency, or client. As Hamilton creator and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda prepares for his final performance on Saturday, July 9, he leaves behind a production that transcends Broadway through its thoughtful, contemporary perspective on American history. To commemorate Miranda’s last performance in the show that has revolutionized the stage, let’s take a look at how content marketing is like Broadway theater.

Choreography sets the stage and is our secret weapon.

No good content marketing campaign comes without ample planning and staging. Conducting research, planning content calendars, and building documents are all part of a choreographed dance that helps create a successful campaign. In theater, choreography adds a visual element that captivates audiences and aids in the telling of a story. What would Wicked be without Elphaba “defying gravity” at the end of Act One? One of the most intricately choreographed musicals of the last 20 years, The Lion King, brought a familiar story to the stage and offered visual elements that had to be carefully planned and executed (walking on stilts as a giraffe can’t be an easy feat). In both theater and content marketing, choreography is essential to the formula of success. Like a Broadway show, each content marketing campaign is uniquely choreographed to create a story that resonates with its audience.

We focus on the story.

Who would have thought that a story about one of our nation’s Founding Fathers —a 260ish year old white dude with an aptitude for freestyling—would be one of the biggest draws in Broadway history? But if we look beyond Hamilton, we realize that theater is known for innovative storytelling and building to big moments. In content marketing, we focus on the story, whether that be the story of a small startup looking to grow, or a client’s new project or product. In every production, character development is strategy that moves the story forward. Musicals lacking character development are often critically panned. In our realm, if strategies and tactics aren’t developed enough to sell stories, influencers (and the industry in general) may frown upon our efforts. Every detail is important and much like the stage, every element must fall into place in order to captivate our audience. Speaking of audience…

We know who they are, value them, and engage them.

Knowledge of your target audience is crucial in entertainment and content marketing.
Knowledge of your target audience is crucial in entertainment and content marketing.

Have you ever seen the connection between a Broadway star and his or her adoring fans? The humility and care that stage actors display speaks to the experience they want audience members to have. Theater is meant to take audiences on a journey that helps them emotionally connect and interact with their stories. As marketers, one of our main goals is to make sure our audience segments connect with our brand or product, which means communication is key. Musical theater communicates through song, crafting stories through wordplay. Marketing communicates through words and visuals, creating powerful brand campaigns and narratives. A question that must be answered in both the production of a show and the creating of a new campaign is “what do we want our audience to think?” In order to do that, we have to know who they are and what they already think.

A good production, much like a good content marketing campaign can bring awareness, change perspectives and entice audiences. People seek out innovation in theater and marketing because they want to experience something different. Hamilton’s twice a week #Ham4Ham lottery and free street performance allowed the actors of the show to interact with and reward fans, who could win a Hamilton ticket for a “Ham,” or $10. The lottery system was actually pioneered by another another groundbreaking musical, RENT. This system not only brought attention to the musicals, but brought attention to the show creators and actors as humble professionals dedicated to making each experience a positive one for their audience. In content marketing, we build brand awareness by engaging with our audiences and building trust.

Broadway theater creates an opportunity for fans to experience an alternate reality of storytelling, emotion and innovation. As the theater continues to expand and challenge notions of traditional entertainment, the content marketing space is becoming less concerned with antiquated formulas, and more concerned with creative opportunities to reach audiences and build narratives. Content marketers should continue learning from theater and its uncanny ability to resonate and actively engage with audiences.