Star Trek: 10 Content Marketing Lessons

To Boldly Create Content Your Fans Adore 

Star TrekWith its mission, “To boldly go where no one has gone before,” Star Trek has built an enduring brand around amazing content.

Content marketers can learn a lot from this on-going science fiction franchise that includes five television series, twelve feature films, hundreds of novels, comics, games, figurines and more.

Here are ten lessons content marketers can learn from Star Trek.

  1. Keep your mission in focus. While Star Trek has continued to reinvent itself and evolve, at the heart of the franchise has been its mission of promoting progressive ideals and mutual understanding through innovative storytelling. Each addition and enhancement to the Star Trek catalog has consistent core attributes while specific characters or time periods may change. Similarly, as  a content marketer, you need to remain loyal to your overall business objectives.
  2. Listen to your audience. In the first three television seasons, Star Trek received mediocre Nielsen ratings. When NBC threatened to cancel the series after the second year, a viewer mail campaign forced the network to keep it another season. In today’s media landscape, you must listen to your audience including your prospects, customers and fans as well as to your naysayers to discern what they really want from you.
  3. Leverage the power of universal story arcs. Across the Star Trek oeuvre, traditional story themes and character archetypes are employed often with references to well known works, such as Gulliver’s Travels and the Odyssey. Therefore, while viewers may not be familiar with the specific tropes of science fiction, they can still relate to the story. To bring your content marketing up to warp speed, integrate universal story plots into your brand that your audience can connect with and remember. Where appropriate don’t underestimate the power of classic fiction.
  4. Be human. Underlying the Star Trek story are human feelings and emotions. Entire story lines revolve around half-human characters, such as Data and Seven of Nine, discovering how to be human. Bottom line for marketers: Skip the corporate Borg speak and talk like a living person.
  5. Understand your story’s context. The original Star Trek television series broke new ground with a multi-racial, multi-national cast. Star Trek  adopted naval metaphors that viewers understood although the show was distinctly anti-war in outlook. The core team in the original series consisted of a captain, a science officer and a medical officer – a concept borrowed from the Science Fiction classic, Forbidden Planet. Lesson for marketers: we live in a real world with real problems. If you don’t acknowledge this in your content marketing, your stories won’t connect with your audience.
  6. Use a variety of content formats. While extending Star Trek from a television series to other television series and feature films may seem like allied content types, it’s also been transformed into animated cartoons, books, comics, games, figurines and live events. Consider the different options you have to transport your existing content into other formats that appeal to new audiences and enhance your relationship with current fans.
  7. Explore new worlds. Just as the original Star Trek series tested the boundaries of acceptable broadcast standards, the franchise has continued to pioneer and push new ways to re-imagine their story by testing new formats, creators and talent. To keep your brand and company fresh, continue to try new ways of presenting your content and adapting to new methods.
  8. Enable fans to participate and extend your brand. Star Trek embraced its loyal fans, lovingly known as Trekkies, who’ve made the brand part of their identity. The franchise extended beyond household television viewing to conventions where fans dressed up as the characters in homemade costumes. Over the years, the cast has shared their love for the series with the fans. If you’ve got a brand with died-hard fans, consider how you can support their love for your brand and products. Hint: It’s not about money! It’s about being a part of the experience and creating new ones.
  9. Maintain control of your brand. Star Trek is an American science fiction entertainment franchise started in 1966 by Gene Roddenberry. Note that Star Trek is broadly positioned to enable its owners to continually expand its reach with new formats and stories while staying true to the brand. Having sold Star Trek product, I know that they maintain strong control over the rights and ensure that the brand is used consistently.
  10. Measure your results. Through all of the Star Trek series, the captain’s log was used as a narrative device to position the story for the audience. Further it served as a record of each journey measuring their progress towards the overall objective. Similarly with content marketing, you must track your results back to your initial goals. To this end, it’s useful to incorporate a call-to-action.

While not every brand can achieve the Star Trek franchise’s level of success, take a page from the Star Trek operating manual and integrate these ten lessons into your content marketing efforts to expand your engagement.

What is your favorite Star Trek learning that can be applied to content marketing?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo Credit: Image from Star Trek: The Original Series episode Is There in Truth No Beauty? © 1968 Paramount Pictures.

Note: All of the Star Trek links are to Amazon affiliates.

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