Cards Against Humanity is mostly known as a game that’s “…lewd, disgusting, appalling, and inappropriate in so many ways?—?but it’s also really, really funny.” Unsurprisingly, one thing it’s not known for is being strategic. But it is, when playing to win.
In CAH, players tend to gravitate toward the most offensive pairings they can find in order to elicit the biggest response. Sure, this usually works great the first few times around, but as the game progresses, we learn more about each player?—?both by what cards resonate with them and by which cards they play. Once you learn that, you realize that if you want to win, you need a strategy to tailor your pairings for the wry, unassuming type as well as the bold guy with bravado.
One of the most valuable steps you can take in your Content Marketing strategy is to focus on audience development. An audience can deliver business value all its own, even if only some of them become your customer.
In “Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers”, author Jeffrey K. Rohrs (Vice President of Marketing Insights at Salesforce.com), calls audiences “assets?—?valuable business assets.” And they are, for one simple fact according to Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute: “Without the audience, we cannot drive revenue of any kind.”
In CAH, you’ve spent time cultivating your friends and gathering them together. You’ve chosen your invite list to maximize fun. In content marketing, you find your audience through content creation tailored to the people you want to reach. Though audience development is different, in both cases you get to collect something?—?data. You may start off knowing a little about each of the people you’re playing with, and you’ll use it early in the game. But with each new round, you’ll learn more about each person, from both the cards played by you and those played by others. Both are get-to-know-you games!
In Connecting Content Marketing Experiences, Robert Rose introduces the idea of “connected experiences.” As our audience members visit our various owned content properties, from our main website to our blog to any other content platform, we have the opportunity to learn more about them and deliver a relevant?—?and connected?—?content experience to them. Success depends on having the right technical solution in place.
Rose gives a prime example of this through a pet supply company. It created, “an integrated series of content-driven experiences between its educational blog, its sales-focused e-commerce site, and its customer community. Relevant and knowledgeable blog posts appear next to catalog items to help educate shoppers, while e-commerce is embedded seamlessly into some facets of editorial on the blog to make it easier for shoppers to access products.”
While Rose is giving us an e-commerce focused example, Connected Experiences are just as applicable for B2B’s, especially when considering how long long the sales cycle can be and how many people can be involved in the process.
Similarly, in CAH you can think of each person playing to you as a content platform unto themselves. And if your fellow players are astute, you’re guaranteed a connected content experience because everyone in the room is compiling a mental inventory about what resonates with you and what doesn’t. And as they play their cards throughout the game, your content experiences will become increasingly relevant.
So, it’s safe to assume that you can’t win a game of CAH by only playing cards that cater to your own tastes. Likewise, you can’t build and engage an audience without delivering a content experience that is relevant.
But, as Ardath Albee explains in Digital Relevance,
“Relevance is a tricky construct. It’s not something you can buy and own. Relevance is a skill that must be developed and hinged both over time and in response to real time shifts in the market.”
In CAH, fellow players are looking for a fit, and you want to deliver in fine fashion. When considering card pairings, you’ll probably wonder, “Are they political? Religious? A fan of Michael Jackson? Do they react positively to offensive or literal suggestions?” All of these will serve to inform your strategy.
As the game progresses, you quickly learn that there is no such thing as a neutral content experience?—?your pairing either delights or it doesn’t.
It sounds intimidating. You don’t want to create a negative experience, right? And you want to connect with your friends. But the good news is that every pairing you produce will generate feedback in the form of data, and even negative feedback is valuable. CAH is not a static game, and neither is content marketing. Every time you put out a piece of content you risk taking your hits or hitting your target. But take our hits and hit our marks we must, because success demands we learn and grow.
Once you have your feedback, you can use it to adapt your content strategy. And once you publish the content based on this data, you can use it to collect even more data, even if the content isn’t resonating with your audience. There’s value in both knowing what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t.
At the end of the day, we can learn something about content marketing from playing Cards Against Humanity. Whether we are building rapport with an audience of friends or customers (and why not both!) it can always be said that creating great content experiences is the name of the game.