What Project Runway Can Teach You About Content Marketing

7 Content Marketing Lessons From Project Runway 

NYC Bryant Park Fashion RunwayI have a confession to make. Project Runway is one of my secret pleasures. Even if you’re not a fashionista or a reality TV buff, Project Runway is worth your time because it’s has great lessons for content marketers.

In its twelfth season, the show starts with a group of contestants who are given a challenge to create a piece of runway worthy fashion out of different materials within a limited budget. The finished product is judged and one contestant is eliminated each show until the final three contestants are asked to create a line of clothes. Each season, one or more twists are added to keep the show fresh. As television shows go, it’s low budget but it’s developed a strong following.

Take a deeper look at Project Runway and you’ll find these seven important content marketing lessons.

  1. Requires strong creation skills. While some Project Runway contestants may be chosen for one or more unusual traits that will contribute to the workroom dynamics, the bottom line is that no contestant gets to be a finalist without being good at designing and sewing clothes because they get called out for a bad seam or a poorly installed zipper. Likewise with content marketing, execution counts!
  2. Must consider the entire look. You can’t win Project Runway based on your clothes alone. Presentation counts. Designers must give their masterpiece a full look including hair, makeup and accessories. A great piece of clothing can be hurt with a poor choice of accessories. Content marketers must consider the context in which their information is viewed and how it’s presented. (Here’s how to dress your content for success.)
  3. Create a branded format. Like small children who need boundaries and rules, contestants must develop a structure to streamline their content creation process and control costs. In addition to every season’s overarching theme, for example last season was teams, each show has a set structure. Contestants are given a challenge to complete within a given time and monetary budget. Heidi Klum appears at the beginning of each show and is the lead judge while Tim Gunn is the master designer who tries to keep the contestants on track. Marketers must also create a structure for their content which works within the constraints of the challenge.
  4. Use back story to make your content interesting. As part of the show contestants are asked for commentary about their peers. Often it’s gossip served in a way that makes the audience want to know more. Everyone loves this type of guilty pleasure. As a content creator, determine what type of back stories works for your products and audience. Gather input from other employees involved in the process. Don’t just stick to your company spokesperson or executives. Here’s help determining your business’ story.
  5. Integrate feedback. Just as Tim Gunn serves as a voice of reason in the Project Runway workroom, consider getting other input on your content creation efforts. Gunn is known for his classic comment “Make it work”.  During the season, the judges offer their feedback to the designers that they expect to be considered. Just as Project Runway requires a strong personal point of view, so does your content marketing.
  6. Stay within your budget. Project Runway sets limits on its contestants both financially and time wise. The same holds for any content marketer. Like the designers who must have a finished outfit ready to walk down the runway, think through how to get the maximum out of your limited resources. You can’t assume that you’ll keep getting more. Deadlines matter. Once you start to build an audience, you have a responsibility to them.
  7. Integrate promotion seamlessly. As Project Runway has gained a following and viewership, it’s expanded the prizes and sponsorships. Marketers take a cue regarding how to integrate your product and sales into your content. On Project Runway, it’s not just the prizes. It’s the makeup, hair and accessories that get regular mentions and focus in the show. The hairstylists and makeup artists discuss the products they plan to use and what they do. As a marketer, how can you re-envision your products.

Leverage the power of Project Runway for your content creation, this can be particularly useful if you feel that your content is getting stale. Get a cross section of employees together and brainstorm areas where your information needs work. Then break them into smaller groups and get them to come up with new ideas.

What other content marketing lessons have you taken away from Project Runway?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

PS – Want to learn more about content marketing? Please join me at Content Marketing World, the largest content marketing conference in the world this summer. Use Heidi100 to save $100 off the price.


 

 

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