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4 Branded Content Lessons From a Content Cancellation

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Editor’s note: In his new column for Chief Content Officer Magazine, Andrew Davis is dishing out content marketing guidance to unsuspecting targets… whether they want it or not. This time, Davis serves up unsolicited advice to video hosting company Wistia, which recently canceled its regularly distributed video series called Top Hat Tuesday Tips. 

Alyce Currier
Content Strategist

Dear Ms. Currier,

Put your top hat back on and bring back Top Hat Tuesday Tips.

Seriously. I want it back.

For 22 weeks, your awesome video production, marketing, and distribution tips arrived like clockwork in my email inbox. Thanks to the Wistia team, I learned how to record better audio, how to frame a nice shot, and where to embed my videos for maximum impact. You taught me how to “circle back,” do a “rip take” and even how to make my own teleprompter with just a laptop and a chair.

I’ve learned so much from your weekly deliveries of video content that I want them back. I’ll even pay for them. (That’s Youtility.)

Not only did Top Hat Tuesday Tips teach me a lot about getting the most out of the video content I produce, but your simple tutorials positioned you as the most knowledgeable, caring, and smart video host on the planet. (Take that, YouTube.)

Here are four reasons why Top Hat Tuesday Tips worked — and why every branded content creator should be following your example:

  1. You owned two minutes of my Tuesday: Making a regularly scheduled appointment with me in my inbox ensured that you owned some of my valuable time. Every marketer should be so smart and so lucky.
  2. You stuck to a reliable format: Every single video followed the very same format. Why is this important? You managed my expectations. Every time your email showed up, I knew exactly what I was going to get. I didn’t fall in love with the tips you sent (at first). I fell in love with the format of your content.
  3. Your video content had a unique hook: As bizarre a choice as the top hat was, it worked. This simple visual hook provided continuity and helped build a real content brand. Your video tutorials were different than everyone else’s on the web for one simple reason: You wore a top hat. Instead of creating branded content, you created a content brand! I wish more marketers did the same.
  4. You invited me to subscribe to something specific: I don’t want the rest of your blog’s mediocre content. I don’t care about the free giveaways, your trip to the farmers market, or your new staff member. That stuff contributes to my information overload, and it’s straight-up junk. I appreciated the fact that I could subscribe to Top Hat Tuesday Tips — and nothing else.

In your final Top Hat Tuesday Tips letter, announcing the end of your “regularly scheduled programming,” you noted that “creating a new tip every week started to feel like a distracting chore, instead of an exciting teaching opportunity.” Here’s the thing: I don’t care if you felt like it was a chore. Top Hat Tuesday Tips was unbelievably valuable, and stopping it because you got tired of producing the branded content series seems completely backwards.

I appreciate the fact that you decided to reevaluate your content strategy. I just hope you take an audience-first approach while you retrench. Ms. Currier, here’s the deal: I’ll sign up for Wistia’s video hosting services if you bring back Top Hat Tuesday. What do you say? Do we have a deal?

Whether you wanted it or not,
Andrew Davis 

This article originally appeared in the August 2014 issue of Chief Content Officer. Sign up to receive your free subscription to our bi-monthly magazine.