If you are like me, you fell head over heels in love with the hit ABC show Nashville and are extremely upset that the season has now come to an end. Aside from the impeccable story line, lovable characters, and phenomenal acting, there is an endless list of songs that just won’t quit, which brings me to the topic of this post: How ABC leveraged a successful content marketing strategy for a primetime television show.
As so many of us in the advertising industry are learning, developing a content marketing strategy is the newest version of marketing. In a nutshell, content marketing is the technique of creatively distributing relevant and valuable content to a specific target audience in hopes of attracting and engaging them more, thus driving profitability.
The ABC network really knew a thing or two about content marketing when they launched Nashville, which according to Nielsen ratings, was ranked within the top 50 among 140 regular broadcast primetime series and number 27 for women ages 18–49!
Based on what I have heard and read, here are five things we can learn from the ABC show’s content marketing strategy:
Find a hook that will appeal to a large group of people.
In recent years, country music has been slowly entering mainstream radio – just look at Lady Antebellum and Carrie Underwood. Country music has gradually escalated in popularity and Nashville seized on this opportunity by devoting a series solely around this genre and filming it all in Music City – a city unlike any other, chock full of history, excitement, and entertainment.
Know your audience.
Those who love country music tend to really LOVE country music, and gravitate towards anything that revolves around it. Once again, ABC realized that a television show based on country music was lacking in the primetime line-up, so they made it happen. Some could even argue that a lot of the characters on the show are representative to some of today’s country stars. Rayna James could be described as Faith Hill, the older, wiser country music singer who has been in the business for decades. Juliette Barnes is the young, free-spirited, fresh new talent to enter the country music world, much like Taylor Swift. These similarities are just another relatable and engaging aspect of the show.
Create valuable content that entertains your audience and gives them something more.
This can be summed up on one word: Music. The central theme of ABC’s Nashville is great music. Whether the famous actor/singer is on tour playing for millions, or the nobody crooner is playing for a small crowd at the Bluebird Café, (a real bar outside of downtown Nashville), there is tons of great music, all unique and written specifically for the show.
Find ways to monetize that valuable content.
The songs being performed by the actors themselves in Nashville are already written and produced for the show, so why not sell them? After cutting a deal with Big Machine Records, songs sung in Nashville were all made available on iTunes. As of December of 2012, Nashville had already raked in an estimated $1 million dollars in downloads, and the show kicked off just two months prior to that. Two complete Nashville soundtracks have also been produced and are available for purchase in stores and on iTunes.
Leverage social media to promote your products and/or service.
If I were to improve anything about Nashville’s content marketing strategy, it would be its social media presence. While there is a Nashville Twitter account as well as a Nashville Facebook page, these were used primarily to promote the upcoming episode, rather than the music available for purchase. These platforms would have been perfect vehicles for pushing more downloads from iTunes. They could have integrated promotions to their advantage, such as offering a handful of songs made available for a few select hours leading up to the new episode, or a contest that qualified viewers to win one of the two soundtracks. While they did a great job at making their posts visually interesting by integrating photos from the show in a majority of their updates, there was incremental value that could have been leveraged through these social platforms.
For the most part, ABC’s Nashville did a fantastic job with their content marketing strategy, and while Nashville is sadly no longer a part of my Wednesday evenings, I still have the pleasure of enjoying the music whenever I want. Rumor has it there just may be a Nashville tour in the works too!