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6 Content-Marketing Lessons 'Inside Out' Can Teach Us Pixar's 'Inside Out' doesn't only entertain; it also teaches valuable lessons for content marketers.

By Philip Masterson

This story originally appeared on PR Daily

Inside Out | Walt Disney Pictures | Pixar Animation Studios

Disney Pixar's "Inside Out" is a classic that entertains children and adults alike.

The movie provides a unique perspective on the importance of memories and the vital role that emotions play. The sophisticated handling of themes keeps even adults enthralled throughout the film.

"Inside Out" doesn't only entertain; it also teaches valuable lessons for content marketers. Here are six:

1. Life's not all sunshine and happiness.

The movie focuses on two of Riley's emotions: Joy and Sadness. Joy thinks that Riley should only experience happiness and deems Sadness an obstacle to Joy's plans for keeping Riley happy.

After Sadness sets off some unfortunate events that lead Joy and Riley from their headquarters, it dawns on Joy that Sadness is Riley's source of help and comfort and that the two emotions bring out the best in each other—and in Riley.

It's OK for content marketers to deviate from the upbeat messages most depend on; sharing sadness and nostalgia is fine, too. Taking the less-trodden path on occasion offers your audience a candid look at reality that humanizes your brand and makes it endearing.

Take a cue from Thailand's insurance marketing—the gold standard for attention-grabbing ads. These ads tug at your heartstrings and make viewers shed a few tears.

2. A pleasant surprise goes a long way.

"Inside Out" gives viewers a double surprise: the unveiling of Pixar's short film, "Lava," before the film starts and the introduction of Bing Bong, a character that Pixar's marketing team intentionally kept mysterious.

These strategic moves are what content marketers should imitate when they try to boost brand loyalty. Supply memorable surprises that add value.

If you include pleasant surprises as part of your content strategy, you set up your content to cause engagement spikes and to go viral. The element of surprise also makes your audience look forward to more aces up your sleeve. Your audience will associate great content with your brand— as long as you live up to their expectations.

3. Don't let your imagination fade away.

Bing Bong wants to scavenge for orbs that contain Riley's memories of him. That is, until he meets Joy and Sadness, whose attempts at reconciling their clashing personalities made it possible for Bing Bong to remind Riley of himself. The wrenching scene where Bing Bong sacrifices himself so Joy can get out of the memory dump starkly reminds us of what can happen when we stop using our imaginations.

Sometimes content marketers get so caught up in the technical aspects of their content that they forget to let their imaginations run free. The welter of details that good content marketers must deal with narrows the space for their creative sides to flex.

Content marketers must delicately balance creative description and keeping the technical side accurate. Perfectly juggling these two lets them deliver compelling, coherent content that unforgettably affects their audiences.

4. Change is necessary for growth.

Riley didn't like the move from Minnesota to San Francisco, which made her tense, nervous and irritable. It sent Sadness into an orb-touching frenzy that led to the destruction of Riley's personality islands.

However, the destruction of her personality islands made it possible for new, improved personality islands to form.

Constant changes in trends and choice of marketing media force content marketers to do things beyond their expertise. They must realize that these changes are new experiences that can help them to grow as marketers and individuals.

Not only do they hone their skills, they also acquire new perspectives and knowledge that can expand their skills or reveal new ones.

5. Paying attention matters.

After Riley's mom picks up on the change in her daughter's cheerful demeanor, she seeks help from her husband but gets a blank stare and an unhelpful response. His failure to pay attention earns him the ire of his wife as well as Riley.

Failure to pay attention to sentiments and trends might alienate your audience, just as failing to use data and content marketing tools to pick up subtle changes might anger even your most loyal followers.

Visuals rule content marketing. Using misaligned color themes and subpar images is a bad idea. Always use data to keep yourself ahead and to know what works so that you don't negatively react to surprise changes. Always be attentive.

6. Follow up.

"Inside Out" left viewers wanting more, which led to an interesting Pixar short--Riley's first date—that was included in the film's DVD and Blu-Ray release. The short shifted the focus to Riley's parents and their emotions, themes left undeveloped in "Inside Out."

When you draw up a content marketing strategy, your efforts shouldn't end with the content itself.

Follow up with content that solidifies the values of preceding content. Pixar's additional short shows that their team knew they should strike while the iron is hot, giving fans more after "Inside Out's" success. Content marketers should emulate this, sealing the deal with a compelling follow-up.

What additional lessons would you add to this list, PR Daily readers?

Philip Masterson

Market Specialist, Researcher and Writer

Philip Masterson is a market specialist, researcher and writer on technology, security, market and businesses. 

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