The traditional marketing mix follows the 4 P’s model: price, product, place, and promotion. But marketing within that model requires some finesse. Especially in your content marketing mix. So give your marketing some rhythm.
A good beat makes you want to move. It’s inspiring and motivational. There might not be any words, but you want to start dancing none-the-less. Powerful marketing is like powerful music, it will inspire you and move you.
Here is a song with an easy listening and reading rhythm. Hit play and read on:
I apologize if you don’t like electronic music. Find your beat and listen as you read through this post for the full experience.
Rhythm: an ordered alternation of contrasting elements; the place of sounds in time; a pattern in time.
Contrast, that’s what rhythm ads to your marketing. You can have an ordered pattern and steady delivery of content, but if there is no contrast (no rhythm) in that pattern, readers will lose interest quickly.
Let’s examine the elements of rhythm so you can infuse your marketing with the kind of beat that gets people movin’.
How These Elements of Rhythm Work in Your Marketing
Beat: A unit division of musical time.
Beat is the foundation of rhythm.
Everything has a beat. We have a pulse, nature has seasons and cycles. Physicists theorize light is a pulse with frequency. Digital technology is created with “on” (1) and “off” (0) beats.
Life would be nothing without a beat. Melody cannot exists without a beat. And your marketing won’t succeed without a healthy, measurable beat.
Beat in marketing is your content. Without your content, there is no marketing. It’s your content that draws readers in and engages them, provokes their emotions and leads them to action.
If your content is boring, you won’t ever see them again. But if you’re entertaining, educational and worth spending five minutes on, they’ll open all of your emails, read most of your updates, and even pay attention when you offer them something special.
Your marketing rhythm is created by a beat of content. The next questions is, “What makes a great beat that get’s people movin’?”
Tempo: the pace of the beat.
The energy of a song stems from it’s tempo. The songs in your studying playlist are slow and relaxed. Your work-out playlist is faster and louder. In the same way, your marketing tempo creates energy in your audience.
Energy in marketing stems from the pace that you publish and promote content. Each piece of content also has it’s own energy level.
There is no one-size-fits-all marketing tempo. Each audience will have a unique tolerance level. Does your audience require a high energy, fast paced tempo? Then send them daily updates. Or do they prefer a low key, relaxed tempo? I would hold to a monthly schedule in that case.
Each piece of content also has a tempo. If you’re quoting new facts and stats in each paragraph, that’s a high tempo piece. But other content may require more time to thoroughly loosen up understanding for just a couple stats. That’s a lower tempo piece.
Know your audience. What do they respond to best?
Accent: Strengthening or weakening a beat.
A bland beat with no change drives me nuts. That’s why songwriters intentionally strengthen some beats and weaken others. There’s actually a natural accent that our brains will give to a steady beat, helping us organize the monotonous sound.
Think about your heart beat. BUP-bup. BUP-bup. BUP-bup.
One strong beat, one weak beat. Good songs use accents to help direct the energy of the tempo and create a deeper emotional experience. This is where most beats will hook you as well. If the accents are timed well, it creates a catchy rhythm.
Accent your content. Strengthen some pieces and weaken others.
Weak content is not lame or boring. It’s just shorter, less copy or less video play time. Think about memes, vines, short blog posts, witty display ads, or easy-tweet facts.
Stronger content would be meatier blog posts, comprehensive guides, eBooks, tutorial videos, case studies, etc.
You can’t constantly serve eBooks and guides, expecting everyone to stay glued to them. But you’re not going to nurture any traffic into leads or sales on a strict diet of memes and display ads.
What’s the right mix then? Find your bread and butter. Which content gets the best click-through from social sites? Use that as your foundational beat. Establish your tempo and accent that tempo with a longer, meatier piece one week, and a shorter, punchier piece two weeks later.
Create some contrast, keep it interesting. That’s what keeps readers engaged.
Rubato: Literally translated as “robbed time” – the flexibility of the tempo.
Here’s the definition britannica.com uses:
Subtle rhythmic manipulation and nuance. In the application of rubato, the written note values must not be disregarded, and the performer eventually returns to the strict underlying rhythm from which the rubato deviated.
Rubato messes with the pace of the beat. You see this a lot in jazz music, or even a hardcore-metal breakdown. But it all has to come back to the predefined tempo.
The marketing application would be “real-time marketing”. It’s a powerful moment in marketing when you can respond to a tragedy, victory, cultural quirk, or any kind of event that a whole lot of people experienced at once.
You have to break your content tempo to promote this kind of content, and the break in routine will generate interest in itself.
That’s speeding up your tempo. Would there ever be a time to slow down your tempo? Maybe during a certain holiday or season. Or use it as a curiosity tactic; slow down your tempo and drop some hints at a new offer or big changes coming.
As long as you return to the regular tempo that your audience is comfortable with, you’ve just created a spontaneous, genuine moment with your audience that goes a long way to proving you’re a credible human being.
The Glitch Mob song from the beginning of the post may have stopped playing by now. Here’s another great song from Herbie Hancock that you can continue reading to.
Time: The regular pattern of stresses in musical form.
At the beginning of any piece of sheet music are two numbers, one on top of the other. These numbers indicate how many beats per bar. This time signature determines where the natural stresses are on certain beats in the music.
For example, count out 4 beats.
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4.
Now count out 3 beats.
1 – 2 – 3 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 1 – 2 – 3.
Notice the difference? (If you’re listening to the Herbie Hancock song above, notice how the 3 count didn’t match?) Did you unconsciously give certain beats more emphasis? A song written to 4 beats sounds much different than a song written to 3 beats. Some songs will even switch times in the middle of the song, but the time signature is always well defined.
Your content should follow a similarly well defined schedule. The editorial schedule helps you stay consistent. It defines your tempo and helps you return to that tempo if you ever deviate. It allows you to plan accents, which is especially important if you want to write a longer content piece that requires heavier research.
I use Google calendar and refer to it everyday for my blog. I also disregard it often. I don’t always want to write about what I’ve scheduled in for that week, or something happens that I want to write about before I continue with anything else. But my editorial schedule allows me to plan out these deviations and helps me stay on track when I’m distracted or procrastinating.
Metre: Indicates the number of beats in a measure and the value of the basic beat.
Time and Metre are often used interchangeably in music, but I’ve set them apart in this post. Both play a specific role in your marketing rhythm. Metre is more about measuring rhythm than anything else.
All of your marketing needs to be measurable. Marketing is measured by many metrics. The best marketing is focused on action oriented metrics: Sales, shares, comments, sign-ups, inquiries, etc…
Without that measurement, your marketing is wandering aimlessly through media. Anyone who interacts with your content is lost. That’s not even marketing.
Marketing gives people a reason to respond. The response is the result of interesting content and a catchy rhythm. How are you going to know if your marketing has rhythm when you can’t measure how people are moving to it?
Pick a solid objective for each campaign and each content piece. Create a rhythm designed to help people move in specific way. Do you want a waltz, samba, swing, rave, disco, or Texas two-step?
Even though the end is always in sight, you don’t have to always be pointing your audience to the sale. Lead them to the next step. Make it a logical next step, smooth and easy flowing. That way you can put a solid number to your readers engagement. And as you lead them through each step, it won’t be hard to measure the ROI of any marketing piece or campaign.
Syncopation: The displacement of regular accents associated with given metrical patterns, resulting in a disruption of the listener’s expectations and the arousal of a desire for the reestablishment of metric normality.
Different from Rubato, syncopation is off-beat but still in tempo. You’re still in pace, but the beat is different. You are expecting two short beats but they play one long beat.
Skilled musicians use syncopation to break up the melody and the rhythm. It will create tension between what you’re expecting and what you’re hearing. If syncopation is going to work, it has to come back into a beat that makes sense.
When done properly, syncopated moments in music are astounding. At the moment of resolution, everyone listening to the song is impressed, relieved, and energized.
Syncopation is a great skill to master in Marketing as well. Unexpected content that’s off beat. The blog post that starts out in a way that seems so unrelated to who you are and what your message is. But you tie it together in a new, wonderful way. Create tension and deliver resolution.
It generates curiosity, getting more click-throughs. It has your readers wondering where you’re going and what the point is. Hold that wonder just long enough so that when you connect the dots and line it up with a theme that makes sense, your audience is so impressed, they want everyone else to experience it.
Hold the curiosity too long and you’ll lose readers. Syncopation isn’t easy. It takes laser focus on the real point while being able to maintain a distinctly different storyline. It can’t be used too often because your readers will grow used to the tactic, making it difficult to impress them.
Master syncopation, use is sparingly, and you’ll have a killer tool to spice up your marketing rhythm.
The traditional marketing mix is still a good foundation for content marketing strategies. But marketing is so involved now that you have to deliver a catchy rhythm that moves your audience.
Master the elements of rhythm in your marketing and you won’t have to struggle to find engaged readers.
In music, rhythm is often a natural instinct. It’s hard to learn musical rhythm. Natural marketing rhythm is an instinct as well, but it unlike music, it’s not hard to learn.
Through testing and listening to your audience, find out what they find interesting and what tempo they move to easiest. Create a marketing rhythm that fits their natural patterns and see who will dance with you.
Have you found your marketing rhythm? How difficult was it to establish?
Give us your story in a comment below. And share this post! Let’s hear how others have found their rhythm.
[Originally posted on December 1, 2014]