All posts in Content Marketing

Nobody Wants to be Pitch Slapped: Content Marketing Explained

In between mentions of Big Data, RTB and the “Confession Bear” meme, Content Marketing seems to be getting a lot of ink in our industry. You may call it “branded content” or “sponsored content” or “Hidden Advertising”. Whatever. It doesn’t matter.

The name’s not important.
The discipline is.

So what exactly is the discipline?
Simply put, Content Marketing is the act of creating content that consumers want to see opposed to ads that they have to see. That content can include everything from an individual blog post to a 12 episode reality TV show and all the white papers, Vine videos, Slideshare decks and infographics in between.

Every brand should be a media property. Here’s why:

Consumer expectations.
After the financial roller coaster of the past few years, consumers have returned to simplicity and actively seek value. They want steak over sizzle. Substance over style. Yup, you worked hard to get an MBA so you could study consumer behaviour patterns and consumers are opting to define their brand relationships with Janet Jackson lyrics. “What have you done for me lately?”

Consumers want value and a consistent supply of relevant content can provide it. Luckily, it doesn’t need the Super Bowl to do it, either.

The rise of the niche interests.
Most of us have unique interests that trump the lowest-common denominator content of  traditional media outlets. If you love quilting, there used to be very little that could feed your passion so you tuned into what everyone else was watching or reading. Now you can watch a quilting web show, read a quilting blog, and participate with others in quilting hangouts on Google+. If you love quilting, you can fill your day with quilting.

The availability of niche content has created an alternate media consumption universe.

Consumers used to vote with their wallets. Now they vote with their time. After years of being fed content, consumers can now choose to geek out on what they love. Often, brands (and what they stand for) can qualify for the admiration if they’re memorable enough to cut through. Remember: You’re not competing against your direct competitor for time. You’re competing against cat videos.

Affordable production
Naturally, none of this would be possible if brands had to enlist a full crew, an Avid suite, a Flame artist and a team of nerds to code it. Production and post production are both cheaper than ever, as are the methods of distribution. Want to be Rupert Murdoch? You’re a Macbook Air and a WordPress template away from doing it. Brands can be media properties because ANYONE can be a media property.

Owning is better than renting.
Every brand wants to control the direct customer relationship but that’s increasingly difficult when you’re renting space to show an ad opposed to owning the space on your own platform with your own content. You can deliver exactly what your customers are looking for and you can control their journey down the sales funnel by keeping them in your ecosystem. You can rent a condo but you should own your relationships.

So. What do you do?

Some brands are a little too eager to pound their chests. “Here’s our product! Have you tried it?! Have you got our coupon?!!” Ugh. Nobody wants to be pitch slapped.

Brands have to elevate the conversation to what people want to interact with. That’s rarely achieved by talking exclusively about your products and all the low-salt, low-calorie, high fibre versions they come in. You might think it’s interesting but the consumer has a new Tumblr called “Hot Dogs or Legs” that they’d rather check out.

That being said, it’s not just randomly generated cool stuff either. It has to be strategically relevant to the brand and its customers. So how do you do that?

Find your Brand Belief.
Your Brand Belief is the first critical step in designing your content marketing strategy. Do it and you’ll actually have something to talk about. Don’t do it and you’ll be left to repurpose your list of ingredients as a blog post.

Not surprisingly, the brand belief is a statement that communicates what your brand believes in. What do you stand for? It’s not about saving money and it’s not about selling more product. It’s about values.

We think these are the brand beliefs that define some respected brands.

Red Bull:
We believe that your life can be more exhilarating.

We believe that we can make the world a healthier place.

The Economist:
We believe that the right information can help you be a more successful person.

Whole Foods:
We believe that communities should look out for each other.

What does your brand believe?

The 4Cs of Content Marketing
You have your brand belief. Now what?

Consume all the media that supports your Brand Belief, regardless of whether its from your category or not. Blogs, old movies, magazine articles, Instagram feeds…use every type of content you can. Consume it daily. Be a leader by following others.

Along the consumption path, you’ll discover some pieces of content worthy of sharing with your community. Will you tweet about it? Will you deploy a newsletter with the best of? However you share it, share it. And don’t forget to track insights and trends gathered along the way.

At some point, you have to create something original that clearly articulates or supports your Brand Belief. It could be a full length feature film or it could be a pencil sketch that you fax to your 10 best clients. Only you and the consumer segmentation research you commissioned know exactly what it is. Be professional about it. Make an editorial calendar for the next quarter and stick to it.

The true value of content marketing is adding value so that – wait for it – they’ll eventually buy your product. Nobody likes to be pitch slapped but no one likes going bankrupt either. All of your content and social activities have to be connected so they build community, generate real engagement and actually lead to a sale. It doesn’t just have to work. It has to work together.



Ron Tite is the CEO of The Tite Group, a content marketing agency in Toronto. His first book, “Everyone’s an Artist (or at least they should be)” will be published by Harper Collins in June, 2014.

This article first appeared in Media Digest.

Brands at Cannes: Here’s who should go home with Lions.

With all the problems we have in the world, us advertising professionals patting ourselves on the back is a bit ridiculous. Countries are at war. People are starving. Rob Ford is wiping smoothie chunks from his International Clothiers blazer. Aren’t there more critical problems to solve and more important people to celebrate?

Of course there are. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do support Cannes.

Acknowledged work from around the world gives us all something to shoot for during the other 51 weeks of the year. It inspires us. It drives us. It informs us. And it is the source of that nagging realization that what we’re working on isn’t quite good enough. Yet.

Here’s who I think should go home form Cannes with some hardware. Put them into whatever category you want. These are the ones that’ll continue to motivate me over the next 12 months (in order of importance)

Red Bull Stratos
Whenever you think you have a great idea, ask yourself, “Is it as good as orchestrating the first human to ever break the sound barrier without any form of engine power?”. Sure, this was a really cool brand-appropriate initiative. But more than that, it redefined the editorial / advertising relationship and proved that consumers will tune into great content, regardless of who pays the bill for its creation.

Oreo Daily Twist
“You can still dunk in the dark” was one of my favourite executions of the year but let’s not forget that its spike was set up by a year long volley from the Daily Twist. Oreo didn’t just sign up for creating compelling content, they committed to it in a fun and progressive and consistent way. It was always fresh. And we kept coming back for more. Isn’t that what it’s all about?


Philips Walita Fruit Mashup
Oh, you made a QR Code? Big deal. These people invented new fruit.

Coca-Cola Small World Machines: India and Pakistan
Getting people from two nations who always seem to be on the brink of war to virtually touch hands with one another was more than just a nice story. It was a hint of Coke’s global content plan and a reminder that brands can (and should) be good. More than that, what do you think is more important? Bringing peace (however long or short it was) to a dangerous zone or paying Beyonce a lot of money to dance with your product? One has a soul. The other has a star.

McDonald’s: Our Food. Your Questions.
Thanks to this campaign, there’s a new definition of creativity. It’s called honesty. In a surprising turn of events out there, clever has been trumped by genuine. Smoke and mirrors have been defeated by transparency. And McDonald’s has won over skeptics. Congrats Tribal DDB. You absolutely nailed it.

Ragu’s Long Day of Childhood.
Everything about this campaign feels old school. There’s the food porn, the bite and smile, the cheezy track and more. Who cares? It features a wonderful insight and hilarious scenarios that can keep going as long as we want them to. I haven’t seen a campaign with legs like this since “Real American Heroes / Real Men of Genius”. Keep ‘em coming.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches.
I know, I know. Some of you wise ones out there dissected this down to the molecular level to justify your Negative Nancy perspective. Well, that’s wrong. You’re over thinking it. How a woman thinks she looks is a symptom of a lack (or abundance) of self confidence. Beauty may not be important but the underlying self esteem that warps our perception of ourselves is. If we don’t think we’re beautiful, we probably don’t think we’re as smart or as funny as we are either. Great concept. Great execution.

Lose weight!!! Get fit!!! Grow your business!!!

Whether you’re looking to shed some pounds, decrease your resting heart rate or grow market share for your business, far too many of us fall for outrageous claims, ridiculous pitches, and mystical promises of the “one and only thing” we need to be happy and successful. You sheepishly may have a Bowflex, Atkins book or Vine strategy hiding in your closet as proof.

Sadly, it’s just not possible.

The truth is that there isn’t one diet.
There isn’t one exercise machine.
And there isn’t one school of thought.

We fall for the gadgets, gizmos, and techniques because we want it to be easy.
We want it to be simple.
We want an easy solution, a magic pill, a killer app so we can press a button, collect our cheque, and go back to watching Downton Abbey.

I don’t want to be the grumpy boots who shows up like the parent who drops in on a high school kegger… but building a business isn’t easy.
But it’s not rocket science either.
You just have to be focused on figuring it out. Sure, you can read books or hear speakers or check out case studies but your business is unique. You can’t duplicate a strategy or a tactic. You have roll up your sleeves and do the work to figure out what it all means for you, your customers and your bottomline.

That’s why Dx3 Canada was created.
We’ve filled 2 days – March 6-7 in Toronto – with keynotes, speakers, workshops, debates, demonstrations and Canada’s leading digital companies just  so you can take what you need to get your business to a new place. Social, CRM, retail, RTB, apps, content marketing,.. it’s all in there. It’s an all you can eat digital buffet served up by some of the smartest people on the planet including:

Ben Palmer (co-founder of Barbarian Group)
David Labistour (CEO, Mountain Equipment Co-op)
Alan Huggins (President, Lowe’s Canada)
Michael Macmillan (CEO, Blue Ant Media)
Mike Volpe (CMO, Hubspot)
Ann Handley (CCO, Marketing Profs)
Kerry Munro, (Group President, Canada Post Digital Delivery Network)

In addition, top digital agencies will pitch Xbox campaign ideas for Movember.
PayPal will showcase the retail store of the future.
Amber Mac will interview top CEOS.
AOL will host a conversation lounge of compelling content.
Doug Stephens will launch his new book, Retail Revival.

There’s something for everyone. You just have to listen and watch and then work really hard to make it your own.
To register for Dx3, just click here.

To help, here’s a little video that Marketing Magazine shot. Enjoy. And see you at the show.

Canadian Marketing Predictions for 2013.

So here we are. After eating too many “Quality Streets”, watching too many World Junior hockey games and shoveling too much snow, you’re probably ready to leap into 2013 with a fresh perspective and 5 extra pounds.

What can you look forward to? Well, this:

1. Content partnerships will rule.
On one hand, there are more media opportunities than ever before as specialty networks, web video, and content marketing explode. On the other, the big players are investing heavily in media convergence and consolidation. So what’ll it be?

Truthfully, Canada just doesn’t have the population to justify a ton of brand specific media properties. Content WILL rule but the most effective path to content marketing north of the border will be through partnerships. Brands will partner with media companies and with each other, and we’ll see more interest-focused platforms opposed to brand-focused platforms. Why? Because we have to. It would be nice if we could all be Red Bull but we can’t. There aren’t enough eyeballs and there isn’t enough budget to create stand alone properties in the true north strong and never free.

2. McDonald’s (and Tribal DDB) will win every major advertising prize.
Were there more beautifully shot commercials? Yup. Were there better scripts? You bet. Still, advertising has changed and no initiative embraced the new way to communicate with consumers more than “Our Food. Your Questions.” Sometimes, an epic commercial  with a cast of thousands and a budget to match can do wonders for a business. But it’s not a huge intellectual leap to make. This campaign was different in every way and showed us that transparent dialogue with consumers trumps all. Here’s hoping it’s acknowledged accordingly.

3. The Advertising Testimonial Will Be Redefined.
Ahhh, testimonials. You’ve never seen an informercial without them. Tune in and you can see people shot in their natural environment coached to say strategically relevant soundbites delivered with a performance matched only by Palmerston Public School’s production of West Side Story. With so many honest and genuine testimonials generated through various social media platforms, scripting testimonials isn’t only outdated, it’s ineffective. Let’s hope brands start getting it right.










4. Prepare to be Offended.
There’s a lot of clutter. Blah, blah. You’ve heard it before. But combine that difficulty of cutting through with the financial realities of traditional media and the success of their alternative counterparts and I think you’ll start to see edgier communications from the historically conservative.

The photo and headline from this provocative Time cover caused quite a stir, didn’t they? The complaints flew in from the shocked masses…but so did sales. It was one of the best selling issues of the year and doubled the usual weekly subscription rates. Same goes for the Bloomberg love-fest. And it’s not just covers. Like the regular F-bombs of the Drunk Jays Fans blog? Well, they’re now available through The Score, a traditional outlet now owned by Rogers.

Like never before, it pays to grab our attention. Watch out, 2013. You’re about to be grabbed and depending on your sensitivities, it might hurt. (For the record, I love it. Bring it on.)

5. Canadian Shopping Becomes Supreme
It doesn’t really matter whether you shop virtually or traditionally, I think this is the year that Canadian retailers start to get it right. As a group, they’ve been pretty slow to adopt e-commerce platforms but Target shows up in March, Walmart is rapidly expanding and hopefully, the entire industry ups their game with compelling communications and e-savvy experiences to compete. Sears has started a re-brand (don’t really like it but anything is better than repetitive Sears Days), Canadian Tire has a new spokesperson, and Canada Post is doing some pretty interesting things to help everyone fulfill more profitably.

What’s in store? Hopefully, success.

6. Repurposing Events as Ads
Budweiser’s Flash Fans. Coke’s 007 Stunt. Volkswagen’s Fun Theory. Tropicana’s Arctic Sun. And TNT’s Push to Add Drama. For the past several years, we’ve seen a lot of live events that have been experienced by a few only to repurposed for many as ads for the participating brands. As consumers push for more authentic experiences and communications and as brands become more heavily invested in online brand channels, this trend will certainly continue. We’ll see even more of it in 2013. What will we see less of? The “Gleeification” of advertising with singing flash mobs dancing and prancing their way across our multiple screens. One can hope.

7. Media agencies get it.
Every time I speak to a pure media company with networks, magazines, radio stations, or even blogs for sale, I get the same hushed conversation with a request to never to repeat it. “How do we get around the media agencies to speak directly to the creative people?”

Media agencies can be the biggest barrier to new thinking and better work. But it’s not their fault.

With media commissions at ridiculously low levels, media agencies have had to staff their accounts with young people and have piled more accounts on to their plates. Better thinking requires time for meetings and discussions. Why invest in that when checking CARD for standard rates lets you move on to the next project?

I think we’ll see a change this year. Media shops are changing the way they bill, they’re investing in different lines of revenue and they’re finally seeing the value of real content partnerships. If clients demand more and change the way they compensate their media partners, and if media players become more proactive in their own thinking, media agencies won’t just come to the table with great thinking. They’ll also come as the keepers of the budget. That will carry a lot of weight.

8. At the same time, this is the year that creative shops hire media people.
Big thinking can’t be bought with negotiated rates and full-page ad costs. It requires open thinking and entrepreneurial discussions with appropriate partners around the table. Some creative shops will realize that their best media planner is their creative team or their strategic planner. All that will be left will be signing the contracts. If you’re a creative media person, this could be a big year for you.

9. Tons of people will flock to Dx3.
I’m certainly involved with Dx3 as Chief Content Curator and I’m clearly biased. But in a year where digital marketing, digital advertising and digital retail all have to come together for a better Canadian consumer experience, it will be critical that people learn. There are a lot of questions and people are starting to panic in their search for the answers. I think we’ve assembled a ton of great speakers and companies who can help. Here’s hoping you’ll join us. Feel free to either register at Dx3 Canada or send me an email and tell me you don’t want to be pitch slapped in my blog posts. : )




Advertising is Your Sugar Daddy

For years, we’ve been watching TV shows, reading magazines, flipping through newspapers, listening to radio stations and more. We tuned in, turned on, and flipped our way to happiness. Best of all, outside of minimal subscription costs or low cable access fees, we didn’t even really have to pay for it.

But it had a cost. A rather large one, actually.

The actors were paid. The writers were paid. The photographers were paid. The people who operated massive printing presses were paid. And your measly $2.99 contribution at your local 7-11 didn’t do a hell of a lot to offset the real costs of production. But thanks for your drop in the bucket.

Luckily, you had a Sugar Daddy: Advertising.

When you wanted to watch re-runs of Who’s the Boss? at 2am just to hear Tony Danza wrestle with the word “Samantha”, advertising whipped out its credit card and paid for it.

When you wanted to thumb through paparazzi photos of Kardashian Hillbillies shopping for shoes, purses, and husbands open to reality TV guest appearances, advertising picked up the tab.

When you wanted to listen to a juvenile morning DJ make fart jokes while conducting a lame contest created just to get you to call in and proclaim your love for 4 random call letters (“I love CKGR!!!), it wasn’t “Madd Mike” who ponied up the dough for the all-inclusive trip to Cancun. It was advertising.

Then, something changed.

The costs of production and distribution for our entertainment needs came down. Radically.
Now, anyone can publish. Anyone can record. Anyone can shoot. And it can all be distributed to 10 for the same cost as getting it to 10 million.

You may still need your Daddy. You just don’t need as much sugar.

It’s not that advertising isn’t as effective as it used to be.
It’s that it’s not as important as it used to be.
It needs us more than we need it.

As consumers, we’ve always shown up for the content.
Smart brands realize that. Smarter brands invest in it.
Welcome to the age of Content Marketing.


Jack Welch and the Art of Management

I’m a business guy but I’m not one of those suit wearing, MBA-toting, “Excuse me while I check my portfolio” kind of business guys. I’m a creative person in a creative industry so you probably won’t hear me saying things like, “core competencies”, “critical path” or “EBITDA”.

You can probably see why I knew Jack Welch without really knowing Jack Welch.

I kinda knew that he was famous for getting rid of the bottom 10%.
I kinda knew that he had the nickname “Neutron Jack”.
I kinda knew that he had a long and successful tenure as CEO of GE.
I kinda knew that 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy worshipped the ground he walked on.

Yesterday, I interviewed Jack in front of 2,000 people at the Art of Management.
Well, I certainly know him now.

He’s kind. He’s candid. He’s open. He’s passionate. He’s fun. He’s brilliant.
And whether you like it or not, he’s Jack.

My experience started with a pre-interview phone call that was brief and to the point.

“Ask me anything you want. There are no inappropriate questions. I’ve heard it all – I’m an asshole, I walked out on my second wife, I’m a bully. Ask me what you want. We can talk politics. We can talk management. We can talk about my personal life. I don’t care. In business, people are the most important thing and everything else is bullshit.”


While others in his position have teams of handlers, communications people and complex algorithms to suggest strategic questions and pre-scripted answers, Fortune’s “Manager of the Century” apparently wanted to wing it.

I had no agenda, other than a desire to make it interesting and informative for those who assembled to hear him. In the end, I think I had more fun than anyone.

He playfully scolded me for referring to work as a “grind” (I referred to it as a “bitch slap” on stage). He called out academics for over-analysis. He shot down mentorship. He admitted when he didn’t understand the issues around the NHL lockout. He said tuitions are immoral. He gave examples and case studies filled with both successes and failures. He even gave the crowd some nice tweetable bits:

“Everyone is a mentor. Everyone knows something you don’t.”
“Find a better way, every day.”
“The Director of HR is just as important as the CFO.”

He was larger than life. And his wisdom filled the room.

Most of us would claim we never judge people without meeting them but the truth is, we do. We judge their decisions, we evaluate their behaviour and we say we know what makes them tick without ever meeting them in person. That’s wrong and I realized I was just as guilty as you are.

What I loved most about yesterday wasn’t the laughs, the insights, or the content.
It was discovering that when it came to the man and his values, I was wrong.

Thanks, Jack.

Live Lives: The Power of the Live Event.

We’re all a little bit geeky these days.

Every time we turn around, there seems to be a new digital platform that will build community, connect us with our customers, enhance our brands, and generally solve any business problem we encounter with the assurance that the promised land of profitability is just a simple click away. And don’t even mention the ecstasy that arrives when 2.0 is released.

Trust me, I actively promote relevant platforms to our clients and try to help smart marketers separate the wheat from the cat videos for their content needs. I not only get it, I encourage it.

Can we actually connect through digital means? Of course we can. Consumers proudly follow us, like us, share us, pin us, and link to us. It’s easy. It’s entertaining. It’s helpful. And, if you do it right, you’ll grow brand affinity and loyalty.

So go ahead and invest in digital. Focus on digital.

But while you’re spending your dough on pixels, don’t forget about the power of the good old live event. Why?

They’re genuine.
Produced videos and blog posts are great but there’s a certain polish that happens when you edit and perfect what you say and how you say it. Consumers want to do business with brands that are honest and genuine. Putting your company in front of them certainly shows the real you. And if they shouldn’t be buying the real you, ummmm…. what exactly should they be buying?

They’re conversation.
You’ve read it.You’ve heard it. You’ve seen it. “To be successful in social media, you can’t talk about yourself.” Great. Thanks for that and the annoying party metaphor that usually accompanies it. In response, insightful executives have been heard asking, “Well, what the hell do we talk about then?”

To elevate the conversation beyond product benefits, promotional offers and your list of ingredients, you need something else to talk about. An event can be that topic of conversation. Whether it’s a group of speakers (like the unbelievable ones featured at The Art of Marketing in Vancouver and Art of Management in Toronto that I’m fortunate to be hosting), a stunt, a festival, or a show, live events drive conversation about something people care about. As an added bonus, your brand can tag along for the ride.

There’s no greater example than Red Bull. They supported the live event of the century, Red Bull Stratos, and sat back and watched as millions actively (and indirectly) consumed their brand. While Felix Baumgartner jumped from space, I think it was Red Bull who actually took the greater leap. I’m thrilled it paid off for them and I’m just as happy for their success as I am for his. You want conversation? Red Bull dominated it.

They’re emotional.
I don’t think I’ve ever made anyone cry on this stage (OK.. there was that one time but onions and Robin Sharma were involved). People have certainly laughed along the way, though. Emotion shows our personality and when brands help deliver authentic emotion, we feel a little closer to who they are. The world of advertising has certainly caught on to this. Instead of casting double-scale talent to deliver scripted and rehearsed material, some of the world’s best brands are creating live events that feature natural and genuine emotional reactions and then simply showing those as their commercials.

Coke’s 007 stunt. Volkswagen’s Fun Theory. T-Mobile flash mobs. They all have had innocent bystanders experience a live event before repurposing their reactions as bona fide commercials. Not great for my actor friends but pretty powerful to someone watching at home.

They’re content that produces content.
While the actual live event may be the focus of an initiative, they provide opportunities for additional content that further extends the messaging. Interviews, hashtags, making-of videos, followups, summary reports, testimonials, and even – dare I say – custom magazines, can all be additional pieces of content that spin out of an event that will or has taken place.

Additional content on a specific subject not only fills out your editorial calendar, it allows your customers to dig deeper into something they may want to geek out on. While overall participation may decrease, the depth of it does the exact opposite. “Like the stunt? Here’s a ‘making of’ video. Like that? Here’s an interview with the client.” The deeper they get, the closer they get.

Please invest your dollars in digital. We’ll all be better off for it. But don’t forget to save a a small part of your budget so you can come face-to-face with your customers.

If you disagree, don’t worry. Just come up to the stage, look me in the eye, and tell me about it.


This article first appeared in “The Art of” Magazine. You can subscribe to either print or electronic versions here. 


Find your Brand Belief.

Some of us have no issue talking about ourselves. I certainly don’t (I’m a Gemini born in 1970, BTW). But when it comes to brands, some are a little too eager to pound their chests. “This is our stuff! Here’s our product! Have you tried it?! Have you got our coupon?!!”

We know about the decreasing impact of advertising, the clutter in the space and the consumer’s ability to skip right past us. Given the choice between cat videos and product information, finicky consumers are actually choosing Morris.

Simply put, nobody wants to be pitch slapped. So many of us agency folk have been telling our clients, “Don’t talk about yourself so much.” It’s right and it’s true. But it inevitably creates the client response,

“Well, what the hell am I supposed to talk about, then?”
Oh. Right. We didn’t tell you that part, did we?

Brands have to elevate the conversation to content that people want to interact with. But it’s not just randomly generated cool stuff. It has to be strategically relevant to the brand and its customers. So how do you do that?

Find your Brand Belief. 

Your Brand Belief is the first critical step in designing your content marketing or social media strategy. Do it and you’ll actually have something to talk about. Don’t do it and you’ll either be haphazardly generating hit-or-miss tactics or worse, you’ll be left to repurpose your list of ingredients as a blog post.

Getting to the Brand Belief isn’t easy but once you get there, it does give you somewhere interesting to go.

One of our clients is Dx3 Canada, the country’s largest trade show and conference focused on digital marketing, digital advertising and digital retail. The show only  happens 2 days a year (March 6-7, 2013) so talking about the product would get old at the second mention of “Register today”.

Their Brand Belief on the other hand, is “We believe Canadian business needs to get more digital.” Awesome. Now their content decisions can be evaluated by asking, “Does this fulfill our brand belief?” opposed to “Does this mention registration?”

I don’t know that’s there’s a better Brand Belief example than Expedia’s new work, “Find Yours.” Obviously, people can find hotels and flights on Expedia but they’ve elevated the conversation to a far more interesting place with an incredible insight.

They’re not a client of the Tite Group and I doubt they used the Brand Belief process but I think their brand belief is “We believe travel allows people to find a lot more than cities and towns. It helps them find themselves.”

It’s a beautiful story. It has great production value. And it stars a couple from the reality show, “The Real L-Word”. Most importantly, it features the brand without being about the  brand. It simply tells a story about how one man found understanding by traveling to the other side of the country. While I assume he used Expedia to book his flights, I didn’t need to see him do it.

I’ve always known that I can go to Expedia to find flights.
Now I know what they believe in. And I’ll be coming back for more.

Where did this come from?

In between mentions of Clint’s Chrysler spot and the “Shit Girls Say” meme, Content Marketing is getting a lot of ink. How did we get here? Can marketers really turn their backs on the content they’ve historically funded to create their own media properties? Yes they can. And here’s why:

1. Media’s doing it.
Rogers has done a great job extending their Sportsnet brand into all corners of the media universe. You can see and hear it online, on your phone, on TV, on radio, on demand, on tablets, in print, on blogs, and more. And when you turn the channel, flip the page, or call up the site, you’ll probably see ads for other Rogers services and properties. This is great business but the whole system falls apart if there isn’t something to talk about.

That something is content.

With full or partial ownership of the Jays, Leafs, Raptors, FC, and more, Rogers not only owns where the content occurs but what the content is, too. They can’t do it alone but they certainly have decreased their dependence on other brands for revenue. They’re almost completely self sufficient. Brands simply have to return the favour.

2. Consumer expectations
After the financial issues of the past few years, consumers have returned to simplicity and finally value steak over sizzle. They demand honesty and transparency at every interaction. And brands HAVE to deliver because social media allows bad experiences to be shared with millions and brands that don’t act in good faith face the wrath of the masses. Remember the Netflx Canada launch? Wrath. Kenneth Cole? Wrath. Ocean Marketing? Wrath (and hilarious).

Even when it’s honestly delivered, traditional ad messages that don’t actually create value go unnoticed. Consumers want stuff that does stuff. Most would rather see Starbucks focus their efforts on a perfect mobile app than an ad to tell us about it.

That’s where content comes in.

Whether it’s informative, entertaining or both, content adds value. Just what consumers want.

3. Rise of the niche markets
Most of us have unique interests that trump the lowest-common denominator content that is served up by traditional media outlets. If you love quilting, there used to be very little that could help stir your passions. Now you can watch a quilting Youtube Channel, read a blog, and participate with others who love quilting. Surely, that content is more engaging than anything offered up on CTV. It’s quilting!!

Well, many brands’ consumers also share interests. Brands can offer up interesting content that their consumers care about and provide additional product value-adds along the way.

4. Affordable production
Naturally, none of this would be possible if brands had to enlist a full crew, expensive cameras, an Avid suite, a Flame artist and a team of nerds to code it. Production and post production is cheaper than ever as are the methods of distribution. Want to be Rupert Murdoch? You’re a Mac Airbook and a WordPress site away from doing it.

Why outsource content to a mass media company when you can own the highly specific content your customer wants as well as the place they see it?
Seems like an easy question to answer.

If not, this may help: