A Content material Components Is not Lazy – It is a ‘Hallmark’ of Bingeable Collection
Hallmark Media is aware of you don’t look a content material present horse within the mouth.
That’s why The Hallmark Channel and its sister networks will debut 33 movies this holiday season. (And for Hallmark, the Christmas vacation season began Oct. 21.)
Audiences tune in by the thousands and thousands – 80 million watched at least part of one in 2021. And the flicks don’t require large budgets.
And but, no Hallmark vacation film is all that unique. They share comparable plots. Some even share the identical lead actor (with a special character identify and job). Solid members pop up in supporting roles throughout the lineup.
The formulaic content material works so nicely that Lifetime, Netflix, HBO Max, GAF, Hulu, Uncover+, Peacock, and others have created their very own “unique” cavalcade of this vacation film style.
All of it combines to present a present to content material entrepreneurs – rethink the concept you could create progressive or fully unique content material to draw and preserve audiences.
#Content must be innovative to attract audiences, right? The success of @HallmarkChannel formula might make you rethink this in #ContentMarketing, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
The Hallmark film system
Love them, hate them, or don’t care, you’re in all probability considerably acquainted with a Hallmark film plot:
- A girl experiences a life change and travels to a brand new vacation spot that’s purported to be momentary. It’s typically a visit to go to household or a short-term relocation for a piece mission.
- Whereas there, she encounters a problem – the household enterprise is failing, or the proprietor of a property her employer needs to accumulate doesn’t need to promote.
- She additionally encounters a person with whom she has a battle – a childhood classmate who wasn’t good to her, an individual who works for her employer’s competitor.
- As she works to resolve her problem, she discovers the person is useful or isn’t the unhealthy man she thought he was.
- The couple realizes they like one another.
- She decides to remain, and the film ends with a kiss.
(Sure, every one of these motion pictures characteristic a person and a lady within the lead roles, with Christmas because the central vacation. This 12 months, The Vacation Sitter turned the primary Hallmark film that includes a same-sex couple within the lead roles. And Hannukah has been the featured vacation in solely a handful of the flicks.)
Why does it work to inform variations of the identical theme day-after-day for months and even all 12 months (Hallmark has expanded that storytelling mannequin from Christmas to all 4 seasons)?
Let’s discover how one can undertake a Hallmark method in your content material advertising and marketing.
1. Unique content material isn’t (all the time) required
Take a web page from Hallmark’s script and spend much less time making an attempt to provide you with unique concepts and distinctive content material. Acquainted content material remixed into new packages works simply as nicely and even higher to draw and develop audiences. Recognizable content material alerts make consuming content material simpler and set expectations for easy-to-understand and rewarding outcomes. (Hallmark motion pictures lend themselves to multitasking – you possibly can simply catch up even when you don’t concentrate for a couple of minutes.)
I’m not suggesting that none of your content material belongings needs to be unique or thought-provoking. You continue to want so as to add your model’s distinctive spin and a unique approach to the acquainted components in your content material. Sprinkle in a couple of unique concepts that can entice viewers members who all the time need one thing completely different whereas retaining those that depend on the acquainted to assist them heat as much as recent concepts and approaches.
Sprinkle original thoughts into your #ContentMarketing, but repeat familiar elements, too. You’ll help audiences warm up to the fresh ideas, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
2. One story isn’t essentially worthy of a marathon
Repeating a well-known tone, model, and story arc received’t assure content material success instantly. Hallmark aired solely 9 motion pictures in 2009 and added a couple of extra annually till it went right into a Countdown to Christmas film marathon stretched over two months.
After you publish or air a couple of items of content material based mostly on acquainted components, stand again and have a look at your viewers’s response. Examine your analytics: What number of impressions or views does the content material get in the course of the first week or month? How a lot time do readers or viewers spend consuming it? How often do they click on on the decision to motion?
Your analytics questions ought to join immediately with the targets of your content material advertising and marketing technique. As soon as you discover which content material kind, theme, or story arc resonates greatest, double down on that system.
3. No spoiler alerts wanted – it’s OK for the viewers to understand how the story ends
All Hallmark motion pictures have blissful endings. In the event that they didn’t, they won’t be as standard. Audiences benefit from the consolation of realizing how issues will prove. They don’t have to fret an excessive amount of that issues will prove badly for the characters.
In advertising and marketing, case research play an identical function. A model wouldn’t publish a buyer story that goes awry and stays unsolved. Audiences eat them despite the fact that they know the end result shall be optimistic. They need to know the story that introduced a profitable consequence to the client. What drawback did they should resolve? How did they seek for an answer? Why did they select yours? What advantages did they expertise from the answer? That’s the plot of a case research.
4. Acquainted faces assist
Hallmark motion pictures normally embrace a well-known face (or two). Most of the actors began their careers as youngsters – Lacey Chabert (Celebration of 5), Tamera Mowry-Housley (Sister, Sister), and Alison Sweeney (Days of Our Lives).
Hallmark additionally makes use of the identical lead actors – women and men – in a number of motion pictures in a single season. They merely change out the pairings so the identical actress and the identical actor don’t play in opposition to one another in the identical season. For instance, this 12 months, Andrew Walker did double responsibility, starring in A Maple Valley Christmas on Nov. 5 and Three Smart Males and a Child on Nov. 19.
Audiences admire seeing faces they know. Take into consideration that includes acquainted faces – sources or storytellers – all through your model communications.
In case you do a photograph shoot for a buyer profile that runs in a digital publication, for instance, make it possible for the client turns into one of many faces in your company web site. That method lets your viewers see somebody they could acknowledge out of your different content material and communicates an authenticity that inventory imagery can’t.
Or create a video sequence with one particular thought chief as host or presenter in each episode.
TIP: Enhance upon Hallmark’s system for range. Right here’s the place I don’t advocate copying Hallmark. The channel’s lack of range in casting – particularly for lead roles – came under criticism a few years in the past and even led to this 2019 Saturday Night Live skit. Since then, Hallmark has made some strides (although it nonetheless has an extended strategy to go.)
5. Take into account producing sequels to standard tales
Some Hallmark motion pictures show so standard that the channel creates annual sequels. Does any of your content material name out for sequels or perhaps a spinoff sequence?
In case you’ve profiled individuals or companies, you may do a follow-up content material piece to see what has and hasn’t modified because you final advised their story. Likewise, if a podcast episode spikes your obtain or listening numbers, take into consideration “what’s subsequent” matters and add them to the editorial calendar.
Or, when you discover somebody who shines in entrance of an viewers, take into account giving that individual a video or podcast present.
6. An even bigger viewers doesn’t require a much bigger price range
Hallmark vacation motion pictures entice about 80 million viewers for one holiday season, barely greater than Netflix sequence like The Crown or The Witcher, which value way more to provide.
Hallmark productions reuse taking pictures areas (simply as they reuse plot factors) and no matter else they will. They could get a package-deal low cost when actors’ contracts embrace a number of motion pictures, too.
Hold this method in thoughts as you ponder methods to do essentially the most together with your content material advertising and marketing price range. Discover the set of content material you’re planning and determine the sources you’ll must create it. Then, search for methods to avoid wasting by packaging manufacturing. For instance, when you’re planning to publish a month-to-month video, might you save money and time by writing all of the scripts and taking pictures them in a single batch? (You’ll want to contemplate whether or not your on-camera expertise ought to put on the identical garments or fluctuate their outfits.)
Or, if you recognize you’ll want to rent freelancers to write down a number of tales over the subsequent six months, you would possibly save time by discovering one certified author and making a single contract that covers all of the items. You can even ask for a bulk low cost.
7. Count on copycats
The appreciable success of Hallmark motion pictures prompted a number of copycats. This 12 months, Lifetime, Netflix, Peacock, Hulu, HBO Max, and others have dozens of those motion pictures. The rebranded Great American Family network introduced in a former Hallmark government and a few of the Hallmark stars (together with Candace Cameron-Bure) to create a brand new lineup of flicks. Discovery+ took the flicks to a brand new stage, that includes two movies with stars from The Meals Community property in minor roles. Heck, even QVC bought into the vacation film enterprise with Holly & the Hot Chocolate streaming on QVC+.
Be flattered when different manufacturers recreate what you’re doing, however don’t relaxation in your (not-so) unique storytelling laurels. Even when your system nonetheless works in your viewers, mirror on what tweaks you may make to maintain your content material present, related, and but moderately acquainted to your viewers.
Don’t rest on your storytelling laurels. Reflect on small tweaks to your formula to keep #content feeling current, relevant, and (yet) still familiar, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet
I’ll finish this text following the Hallmark mannequin and ship what you in all probability anticipated – an unambiguous decision. Followers, non-fans, and even haters of the Hallmark mannequin can be taught so much about what to do – and what to not do – by learning its success.
The ethical of the story: Audiences prefer to eat one thing acquainted. With a little bit of ahead pondering, you possibly can create cozy content material that works for them and your model.
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Cowl picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content material Advertising Institute
This text is an replace of the Dec. 19, 2021, model.