Dual Process Theory in Content Marketing (Part Three)
Mar 1, 2016
In the first two parts of this series, I laid the foundation for the concept of “The Habitable Zone,” or the sweet spot where your content should live along the spectrum between System 1 and System 2 types of human thinking. We’re in pretty deep now, so you might want to go back and check out parts one and two before you read any further. Welcome to part three, where we’ll take a more thorough look at some real examples of content marketing and apply the theory of “The Habitable Zone” to them.
Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) owns some of the most recognizable and valuable brands in the world and, possibly, the universe. The biggest is Google – you’ve probably heard of it. Google is one of the most successful tech companies of all time, and they continue to grow their business. As they do, they’ve been ramping up their content marketing efforts. Let’s explore a few different areas of Google’s content marketing ecosystem and see how they speak to System 1 and System 2 in order to be most effective.
Up first, Google Doodles.
If you’re not familiar, Google Doodles are clever reimaginings of the Google logo intended to celebrate significant events and people. Although they initially began as static images, Doodles have included animations and interactive pieces over the last few years. These Doodles speak well to System 1, as they are typically fun, enjoyable, and often light-hearted. They are beautifully drawn and immediately pique your interest as soon as you load google.com. I don’t know about you, but every time I see one I lose track of what I was supposed to be doing, and play with it for at least five minutes.
They also speak very confidently to System 2. Typically Doodles are centered around significant historical events across a broad range of topics, from science & technology to human equality. And that’s not just in the United States. There’s a team of “Doodlers” within Google that generate Doodles for the entire globe, with a new one (or two) launching almost every day. Doodles deliver value to System 2 by teaching you something you might not’ve known before. And it lets you explore a new topic in a creative and engaging way. One of my personal favorites involved reading music for Beethoven’s birthday last year.
Google Doodles are an excellent example of well-balanced content marketing that hits the very center of The Habitable Zone. They deliver a positive, delightful experience that is also informative and intellectually engaging.
Now let’s take a look at the Mont Blanc project from Google Maps.
Documentaries are inherently skewed toward the System 2 side of The Habitable Zone. Their purpose is to deliver new, exciting, often insightful or fulfilling information to you in a very matter-of-fact way. The Mont Blanc project from Google Maps is no different. Watch the video to see how System 1 is soothed by beautiful wide-angle shots of incredible landscapes, enriched by uplifting music. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as System 2 is the star of the show when you get to jump into the lives of the people who are most passionate about Mont Blanc.
This exploratory interactive can take you from the local ski shop all the way to the summit of Mont Blanc. It’s designed to give you the experience of being there, while also educating you about a part of the world you’ve probably never heard of before. All the while, you’re actually interacting with a Google product. Aside from the logo in the top-left corner, you’d never know, because this piece is not about Google – it’s about you. That’s content marketing.
Finally, Santa Claus.
Which system do you think Google’s Santa Tracker speaks to the most? If you said System 2, then you haven’t been paying attention. This piece is all about fun – for children and adults alike. It inspires the kid in us. It’s proof that you don’t have to create something “sexy” or “enticing” to appeal to System 1. Sometimes, people just want to have some mindless fun!
Click on the little guy with the parachute to launch a fun little mini-game where you can skydive down into your hometown as Santa, collecting presents and flying through candy cane hoops along the way. The beauty of the System 1 side of the Habitable Zone is that it is entirely positive and happy. It’s the definition of fun.
As you can see, Google is moving freely through The Habitable Zone. They’re creating compelling experiences across the whole spectrum, which leads to a nicely balanced content marketing ecosystem. In just three types of content we celebrated the life of Beethoven by learning a little bit about sight-reading music, traveled to the beautiful summit of Mont Blanc, and put Santa Claus in a parachute and landed in our own backyard. Of course, very few others in the world have the resources to create a Google-level content marketing ecosystem, but there are a few lessons we can learn from their example.
Check out part four of this series soon for some useful tips on creating a well-balanced content marketing ecosystem that sits right in the sweet spot of The Habitable Zone.