How Whales React To Pink Floyd & Why It Should Matter To You
“You know, there has to be a diagonal symmetry in a legit crossword.”
Gautam, my engineering batch mate, was always the one with such hidden nuggets.
As part of an organizing committee, we were making puzzles for the literary festival "Ripple 2004" in college.
“Damn! we have to make it symmetric then, I suppose.”
I said shaking my head in dismay and added more boxes to the crossword grid on paper.
I hated rules, I hated Gautam at that moment for introducing new ones.
We were assembling an impossible set of crossword clues for participants to solve; or rather not. Oh, the kick that we would get when they tried harder to solve the next clue, and the next; and finally gave up on it. “Damn! I knew it” they would say, on finally hearing the answers in the auditorium.
Back then we were so engrossed in making those crosswords like our lives depended on it.
It was not trivial, it was profound. Why else would we take those extra hours to make every crossword symmetrical? We thought we would never get a chance to do this again.
We were wrong.
In 2016, we were back to designing weekly crosswords for EduSports’ content to be published in The Hindu, a national newspaper with a segment for school kids. And yes, we created those quizzes again as if our lives depended on it. And livelihood.
"Always tell your stories like it's the most profound thing in the world."
Content that we generate are like stories we live, they have a pattern, a face and character. It is like life, but not life. It is said, “stories are trivial and life is profound". But for storytellers, it is the other way round.
Story is more important and profound than life itself.
I would like to break the myth of profound Vs trivial here. I say – Trivial is the new profound as far as storytelling is concerned.
The Long tail of trivial content -
Content is the game of aggregate, it is never about that 'one shot in the dark', but many shots in the dark, until you hear that bull cry and you know that’s the right direction to hit.
Therefore, all those who say that they understand their customers’ need / hunger for content, are glib liars. I do not understand my own need for content, let alone my customers. I do not know what I will like tomorrow.
All I can do is interact with them and be honest about my idea of entertaining/informing them in that particular time-space continuum and take feedback, and look at trivial things to make profound changes.
Profound is obvious. Trivial is fresh.
Imagine, I have a business of Audio Output Devices (speakers) for marketing, and all I do is talk about 'sound' and science and philosophy of it. After a while I will have only speakers, and no audience (well, quite literally). But if I can add trivial stories about how we took the speakers 4,000 feet under water to record the reaction of whales to the music of Pink Floyd's "Echoes", I will have an 'interesting' and 'interested' lot of people, hooked to this story.
Trivial is risky. Profound is dull.
Content marketing is more like farming than planting a money-plant. It is a business of aggregation – of talents, of art, of stories, formats and insights, of attention spans and social interactions.
It is a crime to believe that every good story will be discovered, just like expecting every seed to sprout in a perfect stem.
So better spread them all, give them all the perfect conditions to grow and make the soil fertile because being like a fertile land is a more powerful content strategy than being a tree that gives the fruits.
Which means content is the game of curating, not so much of creating– I can’t possibly hire a graphic novelist, a cruciverbalist, a chef, a chiromancer, a game architect, a filmmaker and a carpenter, just because they could all generate fantastic and engaging content. I can only give them a room to perform once I am ready with the insight to see what they create out of it.
"Those, who try to become a team of creators, have already become a museum."
So next time, when you are holidaying and see people trying to immerse a set of giant speakers in the middle of a sea, you might want to check when they are going to share their story. And if it does not matter to you, be assured it does matter to someone, as if their life depends on it.