Content Arrival is a mind-bending marketing film that communicates the complexities of marketing and buyer behavior on many levels. It’s about content languages and the delicate relationship between user experience and SEO. It’s about marketers breaking down the old PPC and CPC barriers and immersing themselves in a new content first culture to understand an alien race—an enhanced, highly-intellectual customer—who uses technology and a supremely honed bullshit meter to make decisions. This alien-like buyer persona shape shifts from researcher into buyer at a press of a button. They can communicate needs and wants with a highly animated set of hieroglyphics called emojis and communication patterns can come in as little as 140 characters.
In Content Arrival, 12 vessels land in various locations throughout earth, carrying lifeforms known as heptapods. They derive their name from the seven Apple devices (iPod Shuffle, iPad, iCloud, iMac, iWatch, iWatch, and iPhone) that are attached to their limbs. They are peaceful and want to interact with brands based on significance, not outdated strategies and spam. Their nonlinear perception of marketing campaigns tells them they’ll need our help thousands of years from now. We need to make progress with our marketing through more creative and user driven content so they will engage with us and not turn away.
One vessel has landed in Bozeman, Montana. A Bozeman agency named Total BS Media has been asked to make the first contact. Their extensive study of inbound marketing and content linguistics has labeled them as a pioneering content agency in Montana.
Total BS Media’s journey will take them into how the heptapods’ minds work, how they communicate, and how they perceive marketing. This storyline may sound like a familiar alien genre narrative, but the film's subtle use of commentary around antiquated marketing tactics subvert the usual routine Hollywood blockbuster.
If you are looking for Will Smith to launch an open attack on the heptapods with paid AdWords and explosive pop-ups, then you need to watch Algorithm Day.
Spoiler alert: It doesn’t end well for Will. Willsmith.com disappears from Google in a final scene entitled Googlegeddon.
Content Arrival is more concerned with a deeper, grander theme about the intimate connection between content and user experience. It’s a story about building authentic brand stories and the tremendous responsibility when marketing to your audience. The theme rests on a line uttered in one of Content Arrival’s closing scenes, by one of the main characters, Total BS co-owner, Sarah. “If you could see your whole marketing plan laid out in front of you, would you change things?” she asks future client Acme Corp.
Put another way, would you rob someone of their outdated marketing and public relations strategies, and yourself of the marketing retainer, if you knew one day you would all feel revenue loss?
The question haunts the narrative because Sarah is harboring a terrible secret. She knows link building will die young. She knows this before she even entertains the conception of a link building strategy with Acme Corp. When Sarah tells Acme their links will die, Acme is furious. They assume Sarah could have warned them or refused to build the links and change the future. But Sarah made a choice, even knowing the eventual outcome. A choice that would vibrate throughout marketing blogs and webcasts for decades to come. A choice to create awareness against spammy and scammy search engine optimization to prevent others from learning the hard way.
Sarah’s understanding of the heptapods’ content languages and the need for a more personalized user experience changes her sense of cause and effect. It turns her perception of marketing into a two-way mirror, that is illustrated through brief flashes that visit a time when the links were living, almost as if Sarah is predicting the click of each link. The story transforms Sarah’s life into a series of out-of-order marketing philosophies, including the death of link building and the introduction of the Panda Algorithm.
While Total BS Media immerses themselves in the heptapods’ language, the rest of Montana, including Acme Corp, share knowledge about press releases, PPC, and other outdated disciplines to find a quick fix to the heptapods’ unsettling presence. There is tension among brands, and even a few rogue CPC soldiers try to blow up Total BS Media’s attempt to interpret and convince leaders that content languages are needed.
Marketers are already theorizing about the plot and whether it means that those who learn the content languages can alter their futures. In a universe where free will exists in the form of following through on a marketing plan you know is doomed to fail, does the choice not to alter it, mean you affirm it?
Underneath the technical complexity of the explanation is a profound truth. What if the experience of knowing the future changed a marketing outcome? What if it evoked a sense of urgency, a sense of obligation to act not precisely as she knew she would, but to alter the results based on the heptapods need for high-quality content? Sarah understands what it will be like to create a link building scheme and that she chooses to do so anyway, knowing that it will inevitably lead to link death, but the death will create a rise for new marketing meaning and hope.
Content Arrival isn’t just about specific marketing tactics. It’s also not a commentary on big data, the necessity of Facebook advertising or Snapchat’s IPO, or any other hot-button marketing topic that uses our ability to see the future and force our present path to diverge. It’s about acceptance, understanding our marketing choices as they relate to our audiences. Any single marketing tactic could be as valuable or meaningful as the next. It all comes down to the buyer persona and a strategy that incorporates the right tactic, with the right message, at the right time. When you make decisions that support the easy path, the quick fix or are simply a knee-jerk reaction to declining sales; you are shaping a future that cannot be sustained. You are inevitably making choices that go against the principles of a user first experience.
The heptapods understand the nature of user experience and customer behavior and this encounter is for our own good. They need our help now to start moving away from the inauthentic stories and outdated spammy marketing and move towards understanding content languages. The understanding of content languages will allow marketers and brands to build a stronger customer first plan where SEO and content unite. The world where content solves problems rather than serves as a distraction. Content with purpose and personality to keep customers engaged and to build loyal and lasting followers.
You have the power to change the course of your marketing through Inbound Methodology. By learning the content languages and applying them to your personas, your SEO will rise, your conversions will increase, and your customer acquisition costs will become clear.
Content Arrival is a provocative and cerebral drama that takes the basic needs of humanity and marries them with a marketing approach and set of content languages that will work for years to come.
Are you using content languages? Or maybe just scared of an alien that has recently taken up residence in your backyard. Either way, let's talk about it.