What do content marketers and sharks have in common? In a word: efficiency. To quote Richard Dreyfus in Jaws, “It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that’s all!” Like sharks, as content marketers, everything we do contributes to the content we create. Whether we’re using personal passions like Shark Week to add relatable wrinkles to valuable topics, or recounting relevant business experiences and best practices in a more direct narrative, who we are informs what we produce. With that in mind, to better understand what makes a good content marketer, we’ve broken down some specific skills into the anatomy of nature’s best predator, the shark.
On top of the standard senses – touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing – sharks also have a special sixth sense enabling them to detect the electric fields around them through a unique organ called the Ampullae of Lorenzini. This ability allows sharks to target prey in the murkiest of water, or well beneath seafloor sediment as if by magic. Similarly, good marketers have a sixth sense of their own, namely, marketing analytics, which reveal exactly what’s working and what’s not. Research shows that 79% of leading marketers use analytics to track how specific pieces of content preform, which, over time, allows marketers to know exactly what will work and what won’t in advance.
Unlike your average fish scales, shark skin is made up of tiny, tooth-like plates called “denticles.” Literally meaning, “small teeth,” sharks’ denticles make for an extremely tough, resilient outer layer of skin while also streamlining sharks to be beautifully efficient swimmers. As only 54% of marketers report being effective or very effective at creating high quality content, like sharks, content marketers need to have tough skin to take the bad with the good, while also being able to move quickly on optimizing what’s working, or to divert away from what’s not.
There are over 470 different species of sharks, and naturally, with such variety, there’s a lot of amazing specialization. Take the whale shark, for example – despite being the largest living shark it feeds on some of the ocean’s smallest organisms, plankton, with a unique filter feeding adaptation. The jagged, differentiated teeth of the tiger shark, as another example, allow it to be a living garbage disposal with a diet ranging from albatross to sea turtles to license plates. Like sharks, great content marketers have uniquely specialized skills or insights that effectively serve their market. Content marketing research from Aberdeen shows that marketers who align content to specific stages of the buyer’s journey see 73% higher conversion rates on average than those who don’t. Naturally, whether it’s filtering the right content into campaigns, or helping buyers take a bite out of tough topics, the specialty of great content marketers is in serving their target audience.
Why do 77% of Best-in-Class organizations report a “good” or “strong” relationship between marketing and sales? Basically, it’s because a healthy relationship between marketing and sales is naturally beneficial. In nature, sharks demonstrate an equally beneficial relationship with fish called remoras that often swim with, or directly attach to many species of sharks. For sharks, remoras provide a valuable service by removing parasites, and cleaning out wounds or abrasions. For the remoras, sharks offer the perfect means for effortless transportation and an easy meal. Similarly, a healthy relationship between marketing and sales means that marketers are kept clean in the eyes of the C-suite by supporting closed deals from sales, and sales can feed off of, and even ride the momentum of marketing as well.
Just as sharks are perfectly adapted organisms for their environments, top content marketers must also be perfectly adapted to the dynamic world of modern marketing. In the spirit of shark week, do you have any additional shark / marketer similarities you’d like to share? Please feel free to take a bite out of the comment box below…