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4 Content Marketing Lessons to Take from Horror Movies

10/24/23

Content Marketing

At this time of year, you’re probably preparing your biz for Black Friday and/or the holidays. So many emails to write for your sales! So much content to write to hype up your new launch

But wait. Spooky season is still here. And there are some helpful content marketing lessons you can learn from your favorite horror movies, believe it or not. Lessons about creating on-brand content, standing out from the crowd, and more.

Don’t believe us? Keep on reading. If you dare.

Stay on-brand to attract loyal fans

Ask someone to name five horror movies, and at least one of them will belong to an iconic, long-running horror franchise. Think Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th. Why are these franchises so popular, even when the sixteenth sequel involves the villain fighting dinosaurs on the moon or something bonkers like that?

For the most part, the movies in these series stick to familiar themes and ideas. The bad guy is almost always the same, right down to how they look, speak, and scare. The heroic main character is often the same person updated for the current times. Hell, even the musical score is the same. (And it should be if it’s really good, like in Halloween.)

This is not to say that you should duplicate your content word-for-word. But familiar content is not a bad thing. It can actually help you build a loyal following, and position you as an expert in your space. You become known for your content, like Michael Myers is known for lurking silently and awkwardly in the background. 

Stick to your content pillars, and get creative with how you write and deliver your content. That might mean using video instead of text, a social post instead of a blog, you get the idea. Don’t worry that you’re sounding like a broken record. You’re being on-brand.

Keep some surprises up your sleeve

I, Jess, do not like horror movies with jump scares. That one scene with the guy in Insidious? No thanks. The ones in The Conjuring or The Babadook? GTFO. However, I can appreciate a well-done jump scare from afar because they succeed in what they set out to do. 

Instead of jump scares, I prefer psychologically traumatizing horror movies that ruin your life. Twist endings that you really don’t see coming like The Sixth Sense or Us or The Mist? Hell yes. Those are examples of powerful storytelling

How can you apply jump scares and shocking twists to your content? Look for ways to interest, surprise, and intrigue your audience with your content. Use waitlists to get people to sign up for upcoming content, sales, or events. Host giveaways so your audience can engage with your brand.

If you have a new offer launching soon, think of creative ways to build hype for it. Look at movie marketing campaigns for some inspiration. When The Blair Witch Project came out, the filmmakers posted “missing” flyers of the three stars in the movie all around college campuses. That’s a pretty viral marketing move for a film that came out in 1999. 

Fast-forward to 2022, where the Scream team created fictional TikToks to promote their reboot. The user, Sarah, makes content about horror movies on TikTok…until her best friend goes missing. And surprise, surprise: Ghostface is on the loose in her town.

Stand out among your competitors

We’re not sure how many horror movies there are out there, but it’s like, a lot. So why do certain movies stand the test of time? They’re always the horror movies that people recommend to each other, that make top ten lists, and that people watch every year to get in the Halloween spirit.

There’s the original Scream, for example. It’s one of the best because it’s so self-aware and funny, but also because it’s still scary AF. It makes you laugh with its meta references on the horror genre, yet it also scares the daylights out of you from the moment it begins — and poor Drew Barrymore answers that phone. 

Psycho is another example. It’s often considered the first slasher movie ever, which is huge since it came out in 1960. How did Alfred Hitchcock create such a masterpiece? There’s the unsettling music, the nontraditional narrative, the charming villain. But there’s also the fact that Hitchcock didn’t let latecomers enter the theater if Psycho already started. That made people think, “Damn, what am I missing if I don’t get there on time?”   

So…what makes your brand unique? What sets you apart from another business that offers the same thing to the same audience? And why should your ideal client choose you over that other brand? Take note of what your competitors are doing, and do it differently and better. 

Reboot your existing content for a new audience

Now it’s time for the most controversial topic regarding horror movies of all: reboots and remakes. No, they don’t all suck. There are hidden gems and fan favorites that are actually pretty dang good. Reboots or remakes that are actually decent, like The Ring, Dracula, and It.

Remember when we talked about familiar content and content pillars? Staying in your lane and creating on-brand content sometimes involves repurposing or refreshing your content. That’s not a bad thing. It’s actually a smart strategy.

Refresh your older content, and you’ll get a boost in traffic. Your search ranking will likely improve. You’ll stay relevant and continue building authority and trust with your audience. Repurpose your content (yes, that’s different from refreshing) ensures you get the most mileage out of your content, and more time to spend on other parts of your biz.

Your refreshed or repurposed content should bring something new and better to the table. New information, sources, links, or formats. Don’t do it for the sake of doing it. That’s how you get a terrible reboot or remake that no one asked for and no one wants to see. Looking at you, The Mummy 2017

Killer content marketing tips from your favorite scary movies

Create on-brand content. Refresh and repurpose that content well. Keep your target audience on their toes with interesting, intriguing content. And figure out how to set yourself apart from the competitors in your space.  

Use these tips inspired by horror movies and you’ll not only survive the ongoing battle of content creation, you’ll slay. Don’t, and you might find yourself alone, lost in the dark, and wondering what to do next with your content. And what that creepy sound was.

Jess Hammons, Uncanny Content Writer and Meme Enthusiast
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