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22 Pixar Perfect Content Creation Tips

There are few companies with a track record as brilliant as Pixar’s. The movies have made an average of $317 million* dollars each, a figure not even the highest grossing Twilight movie could reach.

So what’s the company’s secret for making memorable characters, stunning animation, and heartfelt stories translate into boatloads of cash?

Content.

Former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats shared 22 tips for writing successful scripts. However, we at QLP (being huge Pixar fans ourselves), decided to take her list and tweak it to speak to those creating content for business purposes.

If you want your company to be as adored as Dory, as admired as Merida, and as popular as a Buzz Lightyear toy in Christmas 1995, read on!

Before Woody was a child's play thing, he was a child.

Before Woody was a child’s play thing, he was a child.

1) Readers admire a journey leading up to a success more than just the end product alone. Share the story of your struggling start as a small business or a recent setback in product development. Everyone roots for the underdog!

2) You gotta keep in mind what the customer is interested in reading about not what you want to write about.

3) Trying for theme in a blog article is important, but don’t modify the components to fit the theme; write out your strongest pieces and find the theme.

4) Once upon a time, your customers needed something. Every day, they ran into obstacles. One day, they found your company. Because of that, their job has become easier and their successes greater. Until finally… (Getting your customers to imagine themselves in this position is key.)

5) Simplify. Focus. Combine subsections of a post and sacrifice that killer pun if it’s making the flow clunky.

Pixar did have a PR nightmare when it came out that Ratatouille highly exaggerated the safety of rats in the food preparation process.

Pixar did have a PR nightmare when it came out that Ratatouille highly exaggerated the safety of rats in the food preparation process.

6) What does your customer expect to read? What else is out there written about the topic? Challenge commonly-held myths with cold, hard facts.

7) Come up with your goal before you start writing. Seriously. Establishing a purpose is difficult, so make sure it’s settled before the content gets flowing.

8) Finish the post. It’s not perfect. You’ll want to change things the second after you hit send. But it’ll never be perfect, so get it going and try not to stall with analysis paralysis.

9) When you’re stuck, make a list of terrible advice or awful examples. The exaggeration may help you move through the block.

10) Pull apart the blog articles you like. What attracts you to them is what will flow most easily from you as a writer.

11) Typing it up lets you start editing. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, there’s no way to measure the ROI.

12) When writing lists or advice posts, discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th – get the obvious out of the way. That information is available in ten other articles already Google first page results ranked. Set your content apart from the crowd.

Stand-ins Bloop and Stripey considered themselves lucky they were cast as stand-ins for Pixar and didn't get hooked into Shark Tale.

Stand-ins Bloop and Stripey considered themselves lucky they were cast as stand-ins for Pixar and didn’t get hooked into Shark Tale.

13) Give yourself an opinion on your content. Is it overblown in your industry? Is there too little attention paid to it? Personality drives communication, so give people someone to agree or argue with.

14) Why must you tell THIS story? Why now? What makes it relevant to the industry? How will your post add to the conversation?

15) If you were your customer, in your situation, how would you feel? Marketing for medical procedures is very different from marketing for luxury services. Spending some time in your customers’ shoes lends an honesty and credibility to the content.

16) What are the stakes? Give reasons for working with your company. What happens if they go with a competitor or forego the purchase?

17) No writing is ever wasted. If it’s not working in the current article, save it for later when it may fit in another article or be the kernel of a brand new piece.

18) You have to know your customers – the difference between them demanding your best and fussing. At what point are you they avoiding moving forward with a project or trying to nickel and dime you beyond an initial quote?

A true professional on and off the set, Lightning McQueen is always pleasant even when being stalked by the paparazzi.

A true professional on and off the set, Lightning McQueen is always pleasant even when being stalked by the paparazzi.

19) Violating policies to help your customer out is great. Bending the rules to get a few extra bucks out of your customer is cheating.

20) Exercise: Take the building blocks of a blog article you dislike. How would you revamp it into something useful for your industry?

21) You need to be able to understand or at least acknowledge customers’ expectations, concerns, and hopes. You can’t just assume they want to spend the least amount of money or get the highest quality product. What would convince you to make a purchase?

22) What’s the essence of your story? Most economical way of sharing the information – photos, infographics, podcast, video? If you know that, you can build from there.

*Adjusted for inflation, because we have no reliable asses-in-seats metric to use for comparison.

What do you think of these Pixar-inspired tips for content creation? In what other ways are generating stories and imagining characters for entertainment linked with business writing and content marketing? Sound off in the comments below!

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!

Expand Your Brand!



Jana Quinn

An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.

Comments

  1. david k waltz

    Jana,

    Nice list! With 22 items anybody should be able find some nugget of wisdom they can use. I like the ‘write worst examples’ , something I have not run across before.

    Lately I have been interested in studying ‘Design Thinking’, and this post has some of the elements that go into that mindset: empathy – such as putting yourself in the customers shoes and prototyping – such as get started with the typing and come up with and then discard your first handful of list items, among them. This should not be surprising, I suppose – Pixar definitely has design down pat.

    Thanks!

    • Jana Quinn

      Thanks, David!

      I haven’t heard of “design thinking” before, but after your mention, I did a bit of research, and I’m intrigued. It’s a very linear, scientific approach that allows for maximum creativity. Very cool!

      Thanks again for stopping by to read and comments and for the inspiration!

  2. Ashley Hoban

    I love the short Pixar stories. The one with the cute little old men playing chess is on of my all time favorits!

    • Jana Quinn

      Haha, thanks! I recorded a Pixar Short Film special a while back, and it still sits on my DVR for rainy-day viewing. They never get old!

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