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The 1 Thing About Content Marketing Only the Best Brands Get Right (Prime Example: Slash)

Content marketing is pull, not push. So is building a relationship with an influencer who can help tell your brand’s story in an authentic way.

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BY Jeff Haden - 11 Oct 2018

The 1 Thing About Content Marketing Only the Best Brands Get Right (Prime Example: Slash)

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Once upon a time, popular musicians didn't need to do a lot of media. Jimmy Page (if you don't know the band he was in, shame on you) didn't do many interviews. Sure, he'd talk to an outlet like Rolling Stone... but even, then you got the sense he did so grudgingly.

Things have clearly changed. The explosion of new music -- and new outlets where people can listen to music -- means musicians do countless interviews, videos, podcasts... Even iconic artists see promoting their music as almost a full-time job.

Except for Slash, the Guns N' Roses guitarist who recently released a new album, Living the Dream, with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. (It's great.)

Do a quick search for interviews Slash has done. You'll find a few. But not many.

And you won't find him doing Carpool Karaoke. Or playing classroom Instruments on The Tonight Show. Or, well, doing basically anything not directly related to his music.

And, except when performing with his bands, he almost never plays guitar on camera.

So why did he recently appear in this video for the always excellent Ernie Ball Presents series? And why would he let Ernie Ball, the third-generation, family-owned company that makes guitar strings, guitars, pedals, and other accessories, film him for the first time in his private creative space?

Because artists -- or, really, just about all of us -- are much more willing to open themselves up when the project, the theme, or the "ask" is core to a genuine passion.

It's hard to create innovative content that attracts an audience, tells the story of a brand, and helps an audience connect with that brand and its products.

Of course, that's the essence of content marketing.

That's why doing content marketing right is really hard.

And that's why why getting influential people to genuinely, wholeheartedly support a brand can be really hard.

Unless the brand first supports those people -- not by trying to ride the latest trend or dream up an unusual (read hopefully "viral") way to capture the attention of a mass audience, but by highlighting what truly makes that person great.

Pretend I'm a great musician. Want me to participate in a wacky stunt in a NYC subway? I probably won't.

Ask me to talk about something I truly care about, that I genuinely believe in, that helps define who I am... that makes me tick?

I'm there.

Advertising means creating content you (desperately) want people to see; it's push. Content marketing is pull: Content marketing means creating content people want to see -- and will actively seek out on their own.

The same principle applies to partnering and working with influential people. If you have something you want them to say or do, you have to convince them. If you allow them to say or do what they want to do, they don't have to be convinced.

Build a relationship with Slash and he might openly share how a guitar is a tool and a conduit for expressing himself on an emotional level. He might discuss his influences. He might talk about what inspires him creatively.

Why? Because music matters to him. It's important to him. It's a lifestyle.

It's who he is.

The same is true for everyone who see themselves as musicians. There's a culture and an ethos that helps define how they see themselves.

Which, on a broader level, is what connects, in a genuine and authentic way, people to any brand.

And is what great content marketing does better than any other form of marketing.

Want an influential person to to help tell your brand's story? First develop a relationship.

Then see your "ask" as a pull, not a push. Make your content core to who that person really is.

That's how you genuinely connect with that person -- and with your audience.

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