Katie L Fetting // Feb 14 2013
When he’s not streaking through the Danger Zone on an Impossible Mission, the world’s biggest movie star (yes, still arguably) veers Far and Away from his core competency, occasionally taking a mega-risk with his Eyes Wide Shut.
Corniness of that opening sentence aside, Tom Cruise makes for a compelling model of how to run a brand: while his trademark relates to an über-successful motion picture career – and yours (likely) doesn’t – there are many things a business can learn about reputation management and content strategy from him.
And just what is the “content strategy” of Tom Cruise’s career? It’s fairly simple. Mr. Cruise delivers to his core audience while attracting new fans with moderately risky creative choices, still keeping himself fresh for critics and colleagues with strategic, iconoclastic roles that challenge the core Cruise brand.
My boss Ian Lurie subscribes to a 70-20-10 approach to on-site content (a slight refining of Jonathan Mildenhall of Coca-Cola’s famous value and significance strategy). I also subscribe to this philosophy for the following reasons:
1.) It is a deliberate and thoughtful method of planning useful, entertaining and responsive branded material.
2.) He’s my boss.
Just what is the 70-20-10? Per Ian:
Like Tom Cruise, you must manage your brand identity through choices in content. The days of the “EAT HERE” ad campaign are no more. There are too many alternatives.
Like it or not, everyone is now in the content business. Involve and evolve… or dissolve.
Risk mitigation doesn’t mean you don’t TAKE risks… It means you manage them, deciding where to pull your punch, and where to hit ‘em with a massive uppercut.
I’m sure 10% content scares Tom Cruise, too… And do you what? Those movies generally DON’T do as well… at least at the box office. But what they do REALLY well is improve his brand – its reach, its durability and its reputation.
The role of Les Grossman in “Tropic Thunder” SAVED Tom Cruise after the notorious couch-jumping incident. The performance made him accessible; it showed people he could laugh at himself. Now they’re talking about developing a Les Grossman movie… and having tried and succeeded with that role, Les Grossman no longer represents 10% content for Mr. Cruise.
The most successful 10% content can (and should) be replicated, joining the 20, and sometimes even the 70 (for a good example of that, consider Tom Hanks… from comic goofball to two-time Oscar winner).
Unless you are happy with your business’ status quo (and OK with the risk that status may decline), you need to put out content that occasionally scares you. Not foolishly, but strategically, deliberately, measurably. The audience gets bored of the same old, same old. Growth can be painful, but it’s worthwhile.
Let Tom Cruise be an example for your content strategy, or understand that you’ll never attain A-list status. Instead, you and your business will be relegated to the direct-to-video shelf.
But, then again, maybe you like Jean Claude Van Damme.
Katie earned her marketing degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has subsequently written for a wide swath of websites, newspapers, and film production companies. Read More