By Andrew Davis published May 21, 2013

Power Your Business Storytelling by Creating a Content Brand

business-storytelling-marketing-cookieTreating your content like a product

There’s a big difference between creating branded content and building a content brand. Branded content is egocentric brand marketing. Developing a content brand takes an audience-first approach to business storytelling that builds a loyal audience. Deloitte Debates is branded content (notice how the brand is in the title of the content). Will it Blend? is a content brand (see how there’s no mention of the Blendtec brand in the title?). The most successful business storytellers build content brands — not branded content. Instead of thinking like a marketer, try thinking like a television producer.

The marketing cookie guy

Myles Bristowe thinks like a television executive. He doesn’t have a television show, or even a regularly scheduled video program on YouTube. But he does have a content brand — he’s the “marketing cookie guy.”

Myles is the CMO of CommCreative and the president of the Boston chapter of the American Marketing Association. But I didn’t know any of that before I built a relationship with his content brand. Let me explain.

Send in your fortune

Every weekday, Myles posts an article branded as Today’s Marketing Cookie on his company’s blog. People from around the world send him photos of fortunes they find in fortune cookies. Each day, Myles reflects on a fortune and connects it to a marketing lesson. He also includes a picture and brief bio of the person who submitted the fortune that he’s been inspired by (a perfect example of using brandscaping to leverage the audiences of others).

Myles has set himself up with a simple challenge, and it works. I know exactly what to expect every time I receive his weekly recap: five intelligent blog posts that leverage fortune cookie aphorisms to teach me a marketing lesson.

Marketing cookies deliver results

Since Myles started writing Today’s Marketing Cookie, traffic to his blog has increased 924 percent. More importantly, Myles’ content brand has helped him build a powerful list of 3,500 loyal subscribers.

I’ve recommended Myles’ content to other marketing professionals because it’s so easy to understand. His content brand is easy to share. It’s intriguing and interesting. It’s a twist on the all-too-familiar and inconsistent marketing advice you get on other corporate blogs. Myles leverages his content brand to elevate his advice above the noise of commodity content.

Myles’ content is so easy to share, more than 29,000 people have passed it along via Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn (if he was to buy that traffic at an average of $2.50 a click, he would have had to shell out more than $120K).

The super-cool fold of the week!

Myles isn’t the only smart marketer creating powerful content brands and thinking like a TV producer. There’s also Trish Witkowski’s really awesome 60-Second Super-cool Fold of the WeekFoldFactory sells software plug-ins and folding templates for designers working on printed marketing materials. So obviously, they’re interested in showing people what kind of creative folded printed materials are being created every day. Take a look at Trish’s video:

Delivered every week

Every single week (for over two years), Trish has created an episode for her 1,500 subscribers on YouTube. She’s built a relationship with her audience members, who’ve come to expect her content  to arrive on a regular basis. This year, she’ll surpass 200 videos uploaded to YouTube. Even on Fold Factory’s website home page, visitors are invited to “sign up for ‘Fold of the Week.’”

She also has a really great content “hook” (a clever twist designed to ensnare and entrap her audience). Did you read her T-shirt in the video above? Every single week, she wears a different funny shirt, like “I brake for Folds,” or “Fold it your way,” or  “Folding speaks louder than words.” Everyone in the printing industry now knows Trish as the “folding expert.”

business-storytelling-creating-content-brand-folding

How to get over yourself

Moving your business storytelling away from branded content and turning it into a content brand also moves your content from a marketing expense to a content asset. It allows you to treat your content as a product: a product that can drive revenue in its own right (not to mention drive sales). For example, Trish’s videos have opened the doors to additional revenue streams based solely on the brand status as the folding expert, which she’s earned through her weekly series. She conducts workshops (which also drive revenue); she’s even been hired as a spokesperson (wearing her funny T-shirts) for other related brands in the marketplace.

Treating your content as a brand in-and-of-itself, turns your marketing expenses into financial assets. Tell that to your CFO.

What if…

What if you turned a fortune into a relevant lesson for your audience every day? What if you created a “Super Cool ______ of The Week” series? What would your content brand look like?

Want to build a content brand in an afternoon? I’m lucky enough to have been invited to host a workshop at Content Marketing World this September. If you’re interested in building your own content brand in an afternoon, check out this three-hour workshop: Launch a Killer Content Brand in an Afternoon.

Author: Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis’ 20-year career has taken him from local television to "The Today Show". He's worked for The Muppets in New York and marketed for tiny start-ups as well as Fortune 500 brands. In 2001, Andrew Davis co-founded Tippingpoint Labs, where he changed the way publishers think and how brands market their products. For more than a decade, as Tippingpoint’s chief strategy officer, Andrew rallied his team to change the way content creators think, authentic talent is nurtured, and companies market their products. Today, he’s traveling the globe sharing his insight, experience, stories, and optimistic ideals through his wildly fascinating speaking engagements, guest lectures and workshops. His most recent book, "Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships" hit shelves in September, 2012. Andrew is also an instructor for the Content Marketing Institute Online Training and Certification program. Follow Andrew on Twitter @TPLDrew.

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  • Francis

    Food for thought, Andrew. I love distinctions, and I get the radical difference in focus between branded content and content brand. In fact I feel a bit inspired by the possibility of content brand. On a practical level, however, how did Myles reach all those people across the world who send their fortune pix?

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Francis,

      Great question. The answer is simple: he challenged people to stump him with a fortune that was hard to relate to marketing. As soon as I started to see other luminaries (like David Meerman Scott and even George Takei – from Star Trek fame) trying to stump Myles, I sent in three of my own Fortune cookies.

      All you have to do is invite your audience to participate. It’s elegantly simple.

      So glad the post inspired you to treat your content like a product. Have a great day!

      - Andrew

  • http://twitter.com/goplaniyogesh Yogesh Goplani

    Hi Andrew. You introduced an altogether new concept to me. Although I had my mind running into both the verticals since few days, I was unable to draw a clear picture in my mind. You just explained everything right.

    However, I have a query here: How to implement Content Branding for a business that offers multiple service to its customers? Is there any strategy yet for Content Branding?

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Yogesh,
      Glad you enjoyed the article.
      For multiple audiences or services you can create multiple content brands using the same strategy. Sometimes you can even create a master content brand and use sub-brands. For example, you could use today’s marketing cookie and turn it into today’s engineering cookie or today’s web design cookie… Make sense?

  • http://www.fabianlinge.com/ Fabian Linge

    Some great examples Andrew!

    Love the idea of the “marketing cookie guy”. Really got me thinking what I could do with this…

    Thanks for the inspiration

    Fabian

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Fabian,

      So glad you enjoyed the article. Let me know if you come up with something… :)

      Thanks.

      - Andrew

  • Craig Hodges

    Drew– many many pieces of gold in here as usual none better than this snippet that should be reverberating around the globe:

    “Treating your content as a brand in-and-of-itself, turns your marketing expenses into financial assets. Tell that to your CFO.”

    Love it!

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Craig,

      Thanks so much. Not sure if you’ve read Brandscaping yet, but the central premise is exactly that: turn your marketing expenses into intellectual assets.

      Stay in touch!

      - Andrew

  • kozak

    Yes, I fully agree with you! It is the main task! Thanks for tips1 essaysale.net

  • http://www.StartupBros.com/ Will Mitchell

    Great perspective, always good to have another way to look at content! Thanks for the awesome piece

    • http://morekeynote.com/ tpldrew

      Thanks Will!