Sunni Hickman is the creative powerhouse behind the Harlem Globetrotters 2021 relaunch. Orchestrating a team of hand-picked specialists, she ushered the iconic brand through a renewed focus on Black culture, baller life and social justice, engaging new and existing audiences with contemporary updates to the team’s look, games, and cultural commitments. Prior to joining the Globetrotters as the VP of Marketing and Sales, Hickman led an extensive career in entertainment brand marketing, including roles with Herschend Family Entertainment and The Dollywood Company.
Consumable Content vs. Relatable Stories: What Customers Really Want
By Sunni Hickman, VP Sales & Marketing of the Harlem Globetrotters
The rules around content marketing have begun to chip away at its true power. Pieces of content are dispersed throughout digital channels, seemingly separated from long-form content, which is fed only to audiences with the appetite to delve fully into the experience. Short-form content, often the sweet spot in brand strategy, is valued for being easy to consume in the digital space in which we all operate.
It’s become almost clinical. At its core, however, content is created to tell a story. Customers, fans and followers gravitate toward experiencing the whole of a story rather than being fed pieces of it. When that experience is authentic, they will bring that story to others, creating another new audience. For this reason, content strategy needs to first start with the basics and then flow across channels synchronously. A few considerations can optimize this scenario.
SEO isn’t the Goal
For some businesses, SEO may be important. But the days of languishing over keywords, shoehorning them into content to appeal to the algorithmic gods are past us. What a digital crawl finds remarkable doesn’t compare to the electricity generated by a truly impactful, relatable story. In studying viral content-generated campaigns, the common denominator isn’t copy loaded with trending vernacular; it’s telling a story so well that others want to share it on your behalf.
Channel Customization Matters
When designing a content strategy that fits a website, a blog, social channels, press releases, email and paid ads, it can be easy to become overwhelmed, opting to run the same content across many or all outlets. But doing so doesn’t maximize the opportunity that each presents.
Social media, for example, is primed for video; the more exciting, inspiring or entertaining, the better – and the more likely to be shared. Video content is also key for a website but in a different form. Given the lack of competition for eyeballs presented by a social media feed, online content can take time to tell a story, introduce a person or show the work being done behind the scenes of a business or organization.
Small Teams can do Big Things
Despite the digital reach of the multitude of channels available today, the work to manage them still tracks back to a team of humans with a finite number of hours in the day. It can seem impossible, but this is where storytelling is once again shown to be the north star of content.
When working synchronously, even the smallest content team can find ways to impart a message to an audience by sharing ideas and spotting opportunities. A blog post may inspire a social series. An event may prompt a video capture. A callout via email may solicit a customer story. By keeping internal channels open, the few can indeed market to the many.
Content planning for the new year is already underway. A strategic approach based on the stories a brand has to tell may require more forethought and patience, but the result will no doubt lead to a richer experience for both brand and consumer.
About the Author