What Musical Theater Can Teach You About Crafting a Content Strategy
Marketing Content Strategy

What Musical Theater Can Teach You About Crafting a Content Strategy


I’ll admit it, I’m a fanatical musical theater nerd. I’m the person who annoys her neighbors by belting The Book of Mormon in my bedroom with the windows open at odd hours of the day and pretending I know how to tap dance to Anything Goes on my wooden kitchen floors.

There’s no place in the world I am happier than when I am sitting in a moderately uncomfortable plush seat in a theater, and the lights start to dim, a quiet hush falls over the audience, and the violins launch into an overture. And while I spend a lot of my free time figuring out elaborate schemes that will get me to Broadway or the West End, as an editor at Skyword, I also spend quite a fair bit of time figuring out ways companies can best tell their brand story, much like a composer or playwright would.

Here are a few lessons brands can take from the glitzy world of musical theater when working to craft the perfect editorial content strategy:

The The “I Want” Song

Pretty much every musical has that one song the protagonist sings at the beginning of the show that very clearly states what he or she wants, what is standing in the way of that, and how he or she intends to remedy that problem. This song gives the audience a clearer picture of who the protagonist is and what they should wish will happen to him or her. If you need some examples, just think Disney. Whether it’s Ariel’s Part of Your World, Mulan’s Reflection, Hercules’ Go the Distance, or Quasimodo’s Out There, you learn the main themes and desires of your main character very early on in the show.

The same goes for knowing your audience. What would the people you’re trying to reach with your content sing about if they were given the opportunity to express their needs through song? Are they Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, worried about money and looking for ways to save up? Are they like Princeton in Avenue Q, looking for their purpose in life and career advice but lacking direction and insight? Or, are they Jack Kelly in Newsies yearning to travel to a new place such as Santa Fe?

The first step of reaching your audience is discovering who they are, since your content strategy will only succeed in helping your business if the content reaches the right people and resonates with them. Who are your protagonists? What do they want? What’s standing in the way of that? And, most importantly, how can you help them get it?

Just like in theater, you need to choreograph your content strategy.Choreograph Your Content

Just as important as all the singing that goes into a musical is the dancing. There’s nothing quite like a coordinated mid-song tap number or a dreamlike ballet to capture the audience’s attention and make them feel like they are a part of something special. However, without choreography, the actors onstage would just look like a lot of people flailing their limbs—albeit impressively.

Similarly, your content strategy needs to make sure the articles you deliver have some kind of underlying theme. While you certainly don’t want to report on the same thing every single time, your audience will not want to return to your content online if they do not at least have some sort of idea of what to expect. Does this mean you can’t add in a new dance move here or there? Of course not. The following are some things to keep in mind to keep your articles consistent:

  • Brand tone
  • Target audience
  • Style (whether AP, Chicago, MLA, or your own)
  • Point of view
  • Content categories

By keeping your content well-choreographed, you will draw in readers who will start to look to you loyally and trust the articles you produce.

Doing It Live

One of my favorite parts about live theater is that it is, in fact, live. No two performances are exactly the same. Unfortunately, this does leave room for plenty of mistakes and mishaps to plague the stage, but as long as they aren’t too dangerous, that’s all part of the fun. Live theater also leaves room for alterations, interpretations, and reshifting when something isn’t working—one show can be reworked many ways depending on its director, venue, and cast. When something isn’t working, it gets fixed.

When it comes to deploying your content strategy, mistakes will happen. A batch of promising articles won’t get the kind of traction you’re hoping for on social, or one miffed commenter can turn a whole article sour. However, the good thing is that nothing ever has to be set in stone. You have the ability to constantly hone your strategy until you find what works best for you. Crafting feedback is the best way to voice to your editorial team that something needs to be tweaked, and you can use myriad analytics to look at your KPIs to see what is helping your brand and what isn’t. Pretend you are a director watching a rehearsal from the middle of the auditorium to determine what can be improved and the role you play in improving it.

While there ain’t no business like show business, content marketing and all its intricacies could give it a run for its money. As you look for the best ways to tell your brand story to your audience, sometimes the secrets you are looking to unlock are clearly visible under a gleaming spotlight on stage. And, if you get it right, you might even get a standing ovation from your captivated audience members.

To learn more about how you can get started with connecting with your audience through content, check out these free content creation guides from Skyword.

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