These days, most media is single-use. Once consumed, it loses its utility and value.
But if your aim is to earn true fans, consider making things that are worth revisiting, again and again.
Tell stories that subvert expectations. Build worlds that people love immersing themselves in. Ask intriguing questions, and leave easter eggs that point to answers. Or leave things open to interpretation, so that your audience creates their own meaning.
When you give people compelling reasons to return, a handful of them will. And for those folks, the experience will be far richer and more satisfying than their first time.
Care for an example?
A few weeks back, I watched an old film called Being There.
It was strange and delightful, and funny in all sorts of inappropriate ways. But the ending—oh my god, the ending!—was something special.
I won’t spoil it, but it completely upended of my interpretation of what I’d just seen. Immediately, I felt inclined to go back and watch again through this new lens.
But this isn’t just about me. One of the emergent effects of evergreen media is that people are more inclined to talk about it.
In this case, I texted my dad to see if he knew the film.
He responded with, “Ah yes, I’ve seen it many times!” We proceeded to recount the film’s funniest moments, and debate the ending.
Because of this film’s uncanny staying power, it created a connection point in my relationship with my father.
And now here I am, telling all of you about this hidden gem.
The more people engage with something you’ve created, the more it’ll mean to them. The more it means to them, the more likely they’ll talk about and recommend to others.
This is the best kind of word of mouth marketing. The kind that emerges spontaneously because people can’t contain their excitement.
Get enough people talking, and eventually communities start to form around shared love of your work. Next thing you know, you’ve got a cult classic on your hands, and royalty checks for life.
Create work worth revisiting.