A Content material Formulation Is not Lazy – It is a ‘Hallmark’ of Bingeable Sequence | Infinite Tech

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Hallmark Media is aware of you do not seem like a present horse in your mouth.

That is why The Hallmark Channel and its sister networks will premiere 33 films this vacation season. (And for Hallmark, the vacation season started on October 21.)

Audiences tune in by the tens of millions: 80 million watched no less than a part of one in 2021. And the flicks do not require large budgets.

And but no Hallmark Christmas film is that unique. They share related parcels. Some even share the identical lead actor (with a special character identify and job). Solid members seem in supporting roles all through the lineup.

Formulated content material works so properly that Lifetime, Netflix, HBO Max, GAF, Hulu, Uncover+, Peacock and others have created their very own “unique” cavalcade of this style of Christmas films.

All of it combines to offer content material entrepreneurs a present: rethink the concept it’s essential create progressive or fully unique content material to draw and maintain audiences.

#content must be innovative to attract audiences, right? The success of the @HallmarkChannel formula might make you rethink this in #ContentMarketing, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. click to tweet

The Hallmark Film Formulation

Love them, hate them or do not care, you are in all probability considerably conversant in the plot of a Hallmark film:

  • A girl experiences a life change and travels to a brand new vacation spot that’s alleged to be non permanent. Usually it’s a journey to go to household or a short-term relocation for a piece undertaking.
  • Whereas there, he’s confronted with a problem: the household enterprise is failing or the proprietor of a property that his employer desires to amass doesn’t wish to promote.
  • She additionally meets a person with whom she has a battle: a childhood classmate who was not good to her, an individual who works for her employer’s competitors.
  • As he works to resolve his problem, he discovers that the person is both helpful or not the unhealthy man he thought he was.
  • The couple realizes that they like one another.
  • She decides to remain and the film ends with a kiss.

(Sure, virtually all of those films characteristic a person and a lady within the lead roles, with Christmas because the central vacation. This yr, The Vacation Sitter turned the primary Hallmark film to characteristic a same-sex couple within the roles. And Hannukah has been the featured vacation in solely a handful of flicks.)

Why does counting variations on the identical theme work daily for months and even all yr (Hallmark has prolonged that narrative mannequin from Christmas to all 4 seasons)?

Let’s discover how one can take a Hallmark strategy to your content material advertising and marketing.

1. Unique content material just isn’t (all the time) required

Take a web page from the Hallmark script and spend much less time attempting to provide you with unique concepts and distinctive content material. Acquainted content material remixed into new packs works simply as properly and even higher to have interaction and develop audiences. Recognizable content material cues make it straightforward to devour content material and set expectations for easy-to-understand and rewarding outcomes. (Hallmark films lend themselves to multitasking—you’ll be able to simply catch up even if you happen to’re not paying consideration for a couple of minutes.)

I am not suggesting that any of your content material belongings must be unique or thought-provoking. You continue to want so as to add your model’s distinctive twist and a unique approach to the acquainted components in your content material. Sprinkle in some unique concepts that attraction to viewers members who all the time need one thing totally different whereas retaining those that depend on the acquainted to assist heat them as much as new concepts and approaches.

Sprinkle original thoughts into your #ContentMarketing, but also repeat familiar elements. You’ll help the public get familiar with new ideas, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. click to tweet

2. A narrative just isn’t essentially binge-worthy

Repeating a well-recognized tone, model, and story arc is not going to assure fast success to your content material. Hallmark aired simply 9 films in 2009 and added a couple of extra every year till it entered a Countdown to Christmas film marathon that spanned two months.

After posting or streaming a couple of items of content material based mostly on acquainted components, take a step again and watch your viewers’s response. Examine your analytics: What number of impressions or views is the content material getting within the first week or month? How a lot time do readers or viewers spend consuming it? How typically do they click on on the decision to motion?

Your evaluation questions ought to join on to the targets of your content material advertising and marketing technique. As soon as you discover what kind of content material, theme, or story arc resonates greatest, double down on that system.

3. No spoiler alerts wanted: It is okay to let the viewers understand how the story ends.

All Hallmark films have joyful endings. In the event that they did not, they may not be as in style. The general public enjoys the consolation of understanding how issues will end up. They do not have to fret an excessive amount of about issues going flawed for the characters.

In advertising and marketing, case research play an identical position. A model wouldn’t submit a narrative of a buyer gone flawed and remaining unresolved. The general public consumes them despite the fact that they know the outcome might be optimistic. They wish to know the story that caused a profitable consequence for the shopper. What downside did they should resolve? How did you discover a resolution? Why did they select yours? What advantages did they expertise with the answer? That’s the plot of a case examine.

4. Acquainted faces assist

Hallmark films normally embrace a well-recognized face (or two). Lots of the actors started their careers as youngsters: Lacey Chabert (Get together of 5), Tamera Mowry-Housley (Sister, Sister) and Alison Sweeney (Days of Our Lives).

Hallmark additionally makes use of the identical female and male lead actors in a number of films in a single season. They simply change the pairings in order that the identical actress and the identical actor do not play in opposition to one another in the identical season. For instance, this yr Andrew Walker pulled double obligation, starring in A Maple Valley Christmas on November 5 and Three Clever Males and a Child on November 19.

Audiences recognize seeing faces they know. Take into account that includes acquainted faces (sources or storytellers) in all your model communications.

Should you do a photograph session for the profile of a shopper that seems in a digital publication, for instance, make it possible for the shopper turns into one of many faces of your company web site. That strategy permits your viewers to see somebody they’ll acknowledge out of your different content material and communicates an authenticity that inventory footage cannot.

Or create a video collection with a particular thought chief internet hosting or presenting every episode.

TIP: Enhance Hallmark’s range system. That is the place I do not suggest copying Hallmark. The community’s lack of range in casting, particularly for lead roles, was criticized a few years in the past and even led to this 2019 Saturday Evening Dwell sketch. An extended strategy to go).

5. Take into account producing sequels to in style tales

Some Hallmark films are so in style that the channel creates yearly sequels. Does any of your content material name for sequels or perhaps a spin-off collection?

Should you’ve created profiles of individuals or corporations, you possibly can observe content material to see what has and hasn’t modified because you final instructed your story. Equally, if a podcast episode will increase its variety of downloads or listens, take into consideration “what’s subsequent” subjects and add them to the editorial calendar.

Or, if you happen to discover somebody who shines in entrance of an viewers, contemplate giving that individual a video present or podcast.

6. A much bigger viewers would not require an even bigger finances

Hallmark Christmas films draw about 80 million viewers in a vacation season, barely greater than Netflix collection like The Crown or The Witcher, which value far more to supply.

Hallmark productions reuse filming places (identical to they reuse plot factors) and no matter else they’ll. They might get a bundle low cost when the actors’ contracts additionally embrace a number of films.

Preserve this strategy in thoughts as you ponder learn how to get probably the most out of your content material advertising and marketing finances. Discover the set of content material you are planning and determine the sources you will must create it. Then search for methods to avoid wasting by packaging the produce. For instance, if you happen to plan to submit a month-to-month video, might you save money and time by writing all of the scripts and taking pictures them in a single batch? (You will want to contemplate whether or not your on-camera expertise ought to put on the identical garments or fluctuate their outfits.)

Or, if you recognize you will want to rent freelancers to jot down a number of tales over the subsequent six months, it can save you time by discovering a certified author and making a single contract that covers all components. You would even apply for a quantity low cost.

7. Anticipate copycats

The appreciable success of the Hallmark movies spawned many imitators. This yr, Lifetime, Netflix, Peacock, Hulu, HBO Max, and others have dozens of those films. The famend Nice American Household community introduced in a former Hallmark govt and a few of Hallmark’s stars (together with Candace Cameron-Bure) to create a brand new line of flicks. Discovery+ took films to a brand new stage, that includes two movies that includes stars from The Meals Community property in minor roles. Heck, even QVC acquired into the Christmas film enterprise with the airing of Holly & the Scorching Chocolate on QVC+.

Be flattered when different manufacturers recreate what you are doing, however do not relaxation on the (not so) unique laurels of your storytelling. Even when your system nonetheless works to your viewers, take into consideration what changes you possibly can make to maintain your content material recent, related, and fairly acquainted to your viewers.

Don’t rest on your storytelling laurels. Ponder small tweaks to your formula to keep #content current, relevant, and (still) familiar, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. click to tweet


I am going to finish this text following the Hallmark mannequin and ship what you’ve got in all probability been hoping for: an unequivocal decision. Followers, non-fans, and even Hallmark haters can be taught quite a bit concerning the do’s and don’ts of learning its success.

The ethical of the story: the general public likes to devour one thing acquainted. With just a little ahead considering, you’ll be able to create welcoming content material that works for them and your model.

Need extra content material advertising and marketing suggestions, concepts, and examples? Subscribe to work or weekly emails from CMI.


Cowl picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content material Advertising Institute

This text is an replace from the December 19, 2021 model.

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A Content Formula Isn’t Lazy – It’s a ‘Hallmark’ of Bingeable Series