When was the last time you watched Star Wars? Do you remember the first scene where we were introduced to Darth Vader? These scary “stormtroopers” had just assaulted and boarded some kind of transport spaceship, annihilated a bunch of other guys in a laser gun fight, and then in walks the scariest guy of them all. Dressed in black from head to toe, complete with cape and a full helmet that accentuated his breathing, in walks Darth Vader. Dum dum duh dum goes the music, right?
While I love Star Wars, the point of this article is less about the films and more about the brilliant musical score from John Williams. John Williams has composed such memorable film soundtracks as Jaws, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and more. He is known as “America’s composer” and has five Oscars, two Emmys, three Golden Globes and eighteen Grammys.
The technique in musical composition that is critical to a film score, and for which John Williams is a master, is the Theme. Key characters or references in the film are to have their own theme. Darth Vader, and then later, by extension, the Emperor and Imperial forces, had a theme which Williams called The Imperial March. Throughout all of the Star Wars films, if you listen, you can hear this theme emerge through the score at key points.
Being a master at the use of a Theme doesn’t mean that you simply come up with a nice tune and then play it evey time you want to reference that character. It needs to be creatively and sometimes subtly worked into the underlying score. With some of the Star Wars themes, like Luke and Leia’s, you might just catch a soft flute rendition that’s almost an echo, but through which so much it communicated.
Businesses need to work themes into their content marketing.
It starts by identifying what the themes of your business are. In a film, themes are most often attributed to the hero and the villain and perhaps a love theme if there’s a love interest. In business, our themes typically revolve around the services we provide and, more importantly, the issues we solve for people.
Somewhat akin to targeted keywords, we want to make an effort to tie our blog posts and articles and other content to these major themes.
Take a look at HubSpot, a company that specializes in providing businesses and content marketing agencies with a platform for managing their entire online marketing campaign (I am not affiliated). HubSpot has identified four critical aspects to a successful content marketing plan: Generating traffic, Lead generation, Lead conversion and Analysis. Every article and eBook that HubSpot creates revolves around those four themes and is tied to their product in some way. They’re a true example of practicing what they preach.
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Your business blog should be filled with articles that speak to specific issues or news events within your industry, but if you’re able to identify a small number of specific themes, and include them in all that you’re writing in some way, that will bring an incredible level of focus to your blog and content marketing.
What Makes a Good Theme?
Emotional Connection to Themes
First, it should be something that both you and your customers can have an emotional connection to. This is why, for businesses, themes will usually be less about a specific service or product, and more about a specific need that is addressed.
In a former life, I worked for a pool and spa company in Ohio called Litehouse. The marketing for Litehouse, at least at the time, was outstanding, if traditional. Radio and Television and print ads were used to attract and educate consumers. What made them great was that the ads all carried themes of “family fun.” Don’t buy this pool because it looks great or is a good deal; buy this pool because of the amazing family time you’ll be able to have in your backyard all summer! The theme and the ads actually supported entire lines of products, including pools, outdoor furniture, gazebos, toys and more. So the theme wasn’t about a specific product or service, rather, it was about the emotional connection parents would make to the idea of providing a fun, safe, family environment in their backyard.
Another important consideration is that your theme must be sustainable. You need to be able to write about it and reference it over and over. The summer fun and family themes worked for Litehouse year after year. In the Fall and Winter months, we sold spas and pool tables and Christmas trees, so the themes changed somewhat, but were still sustainable.
In Star Wars, Williams didn’t compose a theme for the bounty hunter, Guido, who tried to kill Han Solo. Guido appeared in just one scene and any musical theme that would have accompanied his character would never have been recognized since it could never be repeated. By the same token, you are going to need to repeat your themes over and over again. The more creative and subtle you are, the better. The themes you choose, therefore, must be ones that can be repeated and worked into a variety of messages.
The final consideration to your themes is that they must develop over time. I originally referenced the very first time we see Darth Vader on screen. If you go back and actually watch that scene and listen to the background music, it’s dark and ominous, but it’s not yet the full-blown Imperial March that we are treated to later on in the movie. As the film develops just how evil Lord Vader is through the storyline and character development, the musical themes that accompany his actions also change and develop and grow.
Now listen as Darth Vader once again enters the scene, only this time it’s in Rogue One, set just before the events of A New Hope.
Chronologically within Star Wars that scene occurs before the first one, but in real life it happens after decades of thematic development.
Our content marketing themes must develop in the same way. We must create content that takes our readers on a journey and educates them. And one of the most important reasons for blogging is to educate yourself and bring clarity to your own thoughts, so the added benefit is that our themes and ideas should change and develop in our own minds and business as well.
Weave your themes into your blog posts and the eBooks that you create for targeted customers to download. Reference your themes in your social media activity and in as much of your traditional advertising and marketing as possible. Look for creative ways to integrate your business themes into all of your communications and watch your marketing achieve a greater level of focus.