5 Content Marketing Lessons to Learn From the Sopranos

Yes, I’m aware that it’s no longer the early-to-mid 2000s, but as most TV critics will invariably agree with me, The Sopranos is still one of the most memorable and well-crafted television shows of all time. There were a number of factors for its success, and those factors extend beyond the world of high-end television drama.

Much in the way that content marketers are responsible for producing articles, video, and infographics to please and appeal to their audiences, the crew on The Sopranos were responsible for attracting and retaining a target crowd. Learn from these five valuable lessons from the legendary TV series:

  1. Never become too predictable. Throughout The Sopranos, users are kept on edge, never being allowed to fully predict the next moves of the major characters or the season in general. Few people saw the twists coming near the end of season one, with the attempt on Tony’s life, or season five, with the fate of Adrianna. The minute your content becomes stale or predictable, your readers are going to abandon ship—no matter how loyal they have been to this point.
  2. Make emotions your priority. Tony Soprano is a violent, cheating, abusive, temperamental sociopath, yet at the same time viewers can easily sympathize with him. Emotional moments between family members—ranging from extremely positive to extremely negative—permeate the show and keep viewers involved for reasons beyond following a simple plot or waiting for onscreen explosions. Similarly, even though your content is going to be informational or entertaining, you need to keep an emotional appeal available to your readers at all times.
  3. Don’t get carried away with material. Part of the magic of the Sopranos was its conciseness. Its seasons remained at 13 episodes or less (now a standard for high-profile series), and it ended its run after season 6. More great content is rarely a bad thing, but try not to bombard your readers with overwritten fluff or too many posts to keep up with. Stay concise and to the point.
  4. Take risks. Conservatively following best practices and old strategies might keep you afloat, but the only way to become exceptionally successful is to take risks. For much of the first half of season 6, writers on The Sopranos put Tony, their main character, in a coma, where he experienced strange and symbolic dreams. It was a major risk that paid off in spades; had the writers stayed in safe and familiar territory, season 6 may not have been met with anywhere near the level of critical acclaim it still enjoys today.
  5. Stay true to yourself (and your brand). Finally, try not to worry about what everyone else is saying. Keep your content in line with your vision of the brand and your overarching campaign goals. The ambiguous ending of The Sopranos is still hotly debated and often criticized as being a “cop-out,” yet the show’s creators and writers stick by their decision. It’s impossible to please all the people all the time, but you have complete control over whether you stay true to yourself.

Apply these content marketing lessons to your own campaign in a live environment, and pay close attention to how they effect your ultimate results. As always, if you’re in need of some more specific advice (or a helping hand to ensure the proper execution of your own directives), you can reach out to me directly here.

photo credit: The Sopranos wallpaper via photopin (license)

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