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

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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 motion pictures this vacation season. (And for Hallmark, the vacation season started on October 21.)

Audiences tune in by the hundreds of thousands: 80 million watched not less than a part of one in 2021. And the flicks do not require massive 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 motion pictures.

All of it combines to provide content material entrepreneurs a present: rethink the concept that you should create revolutionary or fully unique content material to draw and hold 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 most likely considerably aware of the plot of a Hallmark film:

  • A girl experiences a life change and travels to a brand new vacation spot that’s imagined to be non permanent. Usually it’s a journey to go to household or a short-term relocation for a piece mission.
  • Whereas there, he’s confronted with a problem: the household enterprise is failing or the proprietor of a property that his employer needs to amass doesn’t need 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 dangerous 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 motion pictures characteristic a person and a girl within the lead roles, with Christmas because the central vacation. This yr, The Vacation Sitter grew to become 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 each day 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 shouldn’t be (all the time) required

Take a web page from the Hallmark script and spend much less time making an attempt 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 interact and develop audiences. Recognizable content material cues make it simple to devour content material and set expectations for easy-to-understand and rewarding outcomes. (Hallmark motion pictures lend themselves to multitasking—you may simply catch up even for those who’re not paying consideration for a couple of minutes.)

I am not suggesting that any of your content material belongings ought to 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 completely 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 shouldn’t be essentially binge-worthy

Repeating a well-known tone, fashion, and story arc is not going to assure quick success in your content material. Hallmark aired simply 9 motion pictures 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. Test 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 objectives of your content material advertising and marketing technique. As soon as you discover what sort of content material, theme, or story arc resonates finest, double down on that system.

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

All Hallmark motion pictures have completely satisfied endings. In the event that they did not, they may not be as standard. The general public enjoys the consolation of figuring out how issues will prove. They do not have to fret an excessive amount of about issues going fallacious for the characters.

In advertising and marketing, case research play an analogous position. A model wouldn’t put up a narrative of a buyer gone fallacious and remaining unresolved. The general public consumes them despite the fact that they know the outcome shall be optimistic. They need to know the story that caused a profitable final result for the shopper. What downside did they should resolve? How did you discover a answer? Why did they select yours? What advantages did they expertise with the answer? That’s the plot of a case research.

4. Acquainted faces assist

Hallmark motion pictures often embrace a well-known face (or two). Lots of the actors started their careers as youngsters: Lacey Chabert (Celebration 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 motion pictures in a single season. They only swap 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 responsibility, starring in A Maple Valley Christmas on November 5 and Three Smart Males and a Child on November 19.

Audiences respect seeing faces they know. Think about that includes acquainted faces (sources or storytellers) in all your model communications.

For those who do a photograph session for the profile of a shopper that seems in a digital publication, for instance, guarantee that 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 sequence 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 Night time Dwell sketch. An extended technique to go).

5. Think about producing sequels to standard tales

Some Hallmark motion pictures are so standard that the channel creates yearly sequels. Does any of your content material name for sequels or perhaps a spin-off sequence?

For those who’ve created profiles of individuals or corporations, you may monitor content material to see what has and hasn’t modified because you final advised your story. Equally, if a podcast episode will increase its variety of downloads or listens, take into consideration “what’s subsequent” matters and add them to the editorial calendar.

Or, for those who discover somebody who shines in entrance of an viewers, take into account giving that individual a video present or podcast.

6. An even bigger viewers does not require an even bigger funds

Hallmark Christmas motion pictures draw about 80 million viewers in a vacation season, barely greater than Netflix sequence like The Crown or The Witcher, which value way more to provide.

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

Preserve this strategy in thoughts as you ponder how you can get probably the most out of your content material advertising and marketing funds. Discover the set of content material you are planning and establish the sources you may have to create it. Then search for methods to avoid wasting by packaging the produce. For instance, for those who plan to put up 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 may want to think about whether or not your on-camera expertise ought to put on the identical garments or fluctuate their outfits.)

Or, if you already know you may want to rent freelancers to write down a number of tales over the following six months, it can save you time by discovering a certified author and making a single contract that covers all elements. You can even apply for a quantity low cost.

7. Count on 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 motion pictures. The famend Nice American Household community introduced in a former Hallmark government and a few of Hallmark’s stars (together with Candace Cameron-Bure) to create a brand new line of flicks. Discovery+ took motion pictures to a brand new stage, that includes two movies that includes stars from The Meals Community property in minor roles. Heck, even QVC obtained 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 in your viewers, take into consideration what changes you may 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 most likely been hoping for: an unequivocal decision. Followers, non-fans, and even Hallmark haters can study so much concerning the do’s and don’ts of finding out its success.

The ethical of the story: the general public likes to devour one thing acquainted. With somewhat ahead pondering, you may create welcoming content material that works for them and your model.

Need extra content material advertising and marketing ideas, 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