Not since the heyday of Johnny Depp has there been an actor that seems to resonate as equally with men as he does with women… I’m talking about Tom Hardy. If the general consensus of the office is to be believed, the hard man with a heart is universally popular (very popular amongst some of our staff, in fact) and his latest project, TV series Taboo, has been a must-watch for any fan.

Swathed in gothic cinematography and boundary-pushing content, this intense period drama seemed at first glance to mostly consist of Hardy swishing around in a long black coat and being all tortured and broody. However, the adventures of James Delaney and his attempts to outsmart the various nefarious parties vying for the strategically-positioned bit of land he inherited from his dead father turned out to be somewhat compelling TV.

Of course, when it comes to the life of a hardcore content marketer, lessons can be found in anything that has captured the attention of a wide audience. So, I’ve uncovered a fair few lessons, simmering beneath Hardy’s Taboo, that can teach us something about content marketing…

1. Tell the story your audience wants to hear

Hardy didn’t just star in Taboo, he actually came up with the whole project and commissioned his father to write the screenplay and construct his dream lead character. He once was quoted that he wanted to play an amalgamation of “every classical character in one” – a character which contained elements of fan favourites such as Sherlock Holmes, Bill Sykes, Hannibal Lecter and Heathcliff. Which he achieved in James Delaney.

The lesson? We can’t all come up with original ideas all of the time. Instead, closely monitor your industry, competitors and your audience. What sort of content is proving the most popular? What sort of stories hold the most appeal for your audience? What do they want? Then pull some of the most popular elements together and give it your own spin. Even a content king needs that spark of inspiration from somewhere…

2. Method act your way into customers’ minds

If Hardy is one thing, he’s adaptable. From Heathcliff to Bane, from Bronson to Mad Max, he’s a chameleon of an actor who leaves his personality at the door to become the character he’s trying to portray. By considering the strengths, flaws and aspirations of the character, it allows him to get inside the head of a complex man like Delaney and truly become the part – the sort of man who we can really believe emerges from hours of torture unscathed and can eat a whole egg like it’s a mere Tic-Tac, continuing his conversation in the very next shot.

The lesson? Make like Hardy and get inside the head of your customers by constructing buyer personas. Marketers generate 171% more revenue as a result of buyer personas, according to research conducted by MarketingSherpa. Yet, figures from the Buyer Persona Institute last year revealed that not even half of businesses use one. As part of your research, interview real life buyers for in-depth details about how, when and why they made their purchasing decisions, to gain useful insights into how you should be constructing your content marketing strategy.

3. Don’t be afraid to take a risk

When Taboo debuted, the tabloids were filled with gleeful reports that Hardy had suffered a major financial loss (an eye-watering £2 million to be precise) insinuating that the show was a vanity project gone wrong. However, as the eight-part series drew to a close, it proved to be a ratings hit after winning around more than eight million viewers, with Hardy himself announcing that an “explosive” new series has been confirmed. The naysayers can eat their 19th century hats. And Hardy wears a really big hat.

The lesson? The content marketer who dares, wins. And even if they don’t, they learn from the experience and have a greater chance of winning next time. Maybe you could try taking a stand on a debatable issue, make a bold prediction, stir up some interesting conversation on a controversial issue relevant to your industry, or get on board with new social platforms or mediums to convey your message? Come to think of it – we actually wrote a post about getting risky with your content not too long ago…

To give your content a bit of Hardy’s universal appeal, contact M2 Bespoke.

Ben Hollom

March 16, 2017