With the theatrical release of Avengers: Endgame this weekend, Marvel is finally able to showcase the end of an 11-year cinematic era.
From the standpoint of content creation, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has taught an abundance of lessons on content development and marketing. Another aspect of content creation that the Avengers franchise and the MCU in general has mastered over time is, well… timing.
Outlined below are several lessons in content timing taught by this multibillion-dollar franchise of worldwide box-office hits you can apply to your own content marketing strategy right away.
Take an Inventory of Quality Content and Concepts
When developing the first phase of their growing cinematic universe, Marvel executives apparently took a thorough inventory of their available content. Keep in mind that the popular Marvel Comics era began in the early 1960s. Therefore, Marvel had more than 40 years of content at their disposal when the cinematic universe first began in the early 2000s.
Instead of just diving in headfirst, there was a clear-cut strategy involved that outlined which stories and heroes to target and which ones to leave on the backburner – at least for the time being. Can you imagine how the MCU would have panned out if it started with Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther instead of Iron Man, Incredible Hulk and Captain America?
It was important to tell all those stories to understand the full scope of the MCU and the Avengers journey. However, timing played an integral role in its overall success and development. You may have a considerable number of topics to cover and resources at your disposal. To ensure the effective engagement and retention of your audience, though, you must pay attention to when is the proper time to target each one – if at all.
Use Creativity and Moderation to Align Campaigns
The end credit sequences of most Marvel movies have paved the path for future installments and the telling of other superhero stories within the MCU.
For instance, do you remember when Tony Stark walked into the bar to exchange witty banter and conversational cliffhangers with General Ross at the end of The Incredible Hulk? Or, when Steve Rogers broke out of his “cell,” met Nick Fury and quickly realized that he was decades late for his date?
These end sequences did not just connect the dots between movies and characters – they also proved the power of campaign alignment. As a content creator, you can find creative ways to plug and promote follow-up posts, spin-offs, guest posts and even secondary websites/pages to open new doors for your target audience.
Ride the Wave of Expectation to Meet the Demand
images via IGN.com
A lot of ground has been covered within the Avengers movies by themselves – not to mention the standalone films and multifilm franchises that have built the first three phases of the MCU. An even more alarming reality, though, is that it has all been covered in nearly 7 years:
Marvel’s The Avengers – 2012
Avengers: Age of Ultron – 2015
Avengers: Infinity War – 2018
Avengers: Endgame – 2019
Marvel clearly did not hesitate to keep this fast train on the tracks from start to finish. Even during the 3-year breaks between the first 3 movies of the Avengers franchise, you must think about the numerous standalone films and follow-ups in various stages of development. Even with the release of Avengers: Endgame this weekend, there are still several projects in development behind the scenes at Marvel Studios – including Spider-Man: Far from Home.
The lesson here is to ride the wave of expectation to make sure you give your customers and target audience what they need when they need it. The concept of “keeping them on the hook for a while” is no longer valid – especially when you think the vast number of competitors fighting for the same exposure. It may take a little while for you to find your stride and strike gold. However, once you have it locked in place, the last thing you should do is let it slip through your fingers.
Publish and Promote a Content Schedule
Years in advance, Marvel executives knew exactly where the franchise was going. Think back a few years – long before the international success of Black Panther and Captain Marvel. These movie titles were featured on infographics, timelines and calendars posted on social media as “future releases.”
Even when the cast members of the movies were not confirmed yet, Disney and Marvel made sure that they published and promoted their movie release schedule far in advance – building up expectation and anticipation almost immediately after making the “big announcement.”
The same principle applies to your content as well. You do not necessarily need to schedule a large press conference or book time at a local convention. However, you should have a vision of future topics covered and not be afraid to share that vision with your target audience. Publishing and promoting a content schedule will benefit you in two ways: (1) It will boost expectation and exposure, and (2) boost your accountability and keep you on track.
As you enjoy Avengers: Endgame this weekend, think about the other ways that the MCU has set a great example in content development and timing. Feel free to share below in the comments section!