Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: What Street Art Can Teach You About Content Marketing

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Three things street art taught me about content marketing

While an undergrad at Michigan State University, I’d often wander along the banks of the Red Cedar River, passing under bridges and walkways as I moseyed along. Invariably, I’d encounter stencils on the walls, mantras—some vulgar, others tame—and other forms of street art; graffiti. Not every effort was worth noting, but there were some memorable images, ones I’d often see recreated elsewhere. Eventually, however, someone in the grounds crew would paint over the surface and for a while, it remained plain and uninteresting.

For most street artists, the effort is temporary. It isn’t meant to last. That isn’t why they do it. Not necessarily. They have, simply, an innate ability and desire to create and express themselves. Whether that’s in good taste or bad, street artists actually have a lot to teach content marketers. I’ll only address a few lessons here:

  1. Recognize Opportunity. Street artists use the world around them as their canvases. They see in an abandoned door a horde of zombies breaking out or an Olympian pole-vaulting onto an abandoned mattress. Street artists can take the world around them and bend it in such a way to make their statement—and so can content marketers. There are so many forms of content marketing, you’re not limited to one or another.
  2. Be Resonate. It’s no surprise that the more popular street art images touch on popular culture or current events. Your content needs to pique the interests of your target audience.
  3. Carpe Diem. In the digital age, consumers are bombarded with innumerable pieces of content. Your content isn’t going to live forever; it’s not meant to. Like a street artist, you need to be able to recognize opportunity, create meaningful and relevant work and then let it go. Once a piece is finished, it’s time to move on to the next thing. Every piece of content is an opportunity to accomplish one of your goals, but your work is never finished and your audience is always hungry. Seize the day, and keep creating.

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