The Best Branding Idea You’ve Never Heard Of

The competition for your audience’s attention is fierce. In today’s multi-channel, multi-device world, breaking through the noise can feel impossible. Most businesses are focusing their marketing efforts online – which makes sense when you consider that over 40% of the world’s population is online. But if you’re looking to build a meaningful relationship with consumers that lasts, you’ll need to do more than purchase a few banner ads or promoted posts.

brand marketing

While flashy graphics and contests might grab an audience’s attention, it doesn’t help build a relationship with your audience. When a company is able to make a sincere connection with a consumer, that connection helps create a relationship of long-term advocacy, loyalty, and a sustainable bottom line. And no company is making a genuine connection through a banner, advertising placement, or inserting their commercial into YouTube videos (we’re all just waiting to hit the ‘skip’ button). In fact, 51% of people have a lower opinion of brands that use auto-playing video ads. So then how can businesses make a more sincere connection?

As a marketing professional myself, this is often a question that I ask myself when discussing different initiatives or tactics. And up until recently, I didn’t have a compelling answer — but then I met Ross Petty. Ross Petty Productions Inc. (RPPI) was incorporated in 1986 with the objective of producing unique family entertainment for the stage and for television. A holiday tradition in Toronto, the RPPI brought thousands of captive audience members to the theatre, but financing a theatre production doesn’t come cheap.

2016 Production

To inject some additional revenue, Ross has come up with a truly unique concept: shoot commercials with the play’s cast and run them in the middle of the show. I know – it sounds crazy – but it’s the perfect way to make a connection with consumers. By incorporating the play characters into the commercial, the audience was much more accepting than if it was a 30 second television spot. The reason? Context.

The audience stayed engaged because they saw characters from the play they were watching interacting with the different brands and products. They were more inclined to give their uninterrupted attention because it was the right content, at the right time. A completely customized experience that connects brand with consumer.

And don’t just take my word for it. I was not so surprised to find that several big name brands have partnered with Ross Petty to create a totally unique experience for audience members. On his website, one can find a variety of testimonials, quotes, and commercial videos from companies like Lowe’s Canada, Tim Hortons, MasterCard Canada, BMO, P&G Canada, and Aviva – just to name a few.

As the end of 2017 closes and businesses start thinking of ways to connect with their consumers over the hectic holiday season, incorporating one of these commercials into an integrated campaign could help your brand break through the chaos and clutter. It’s likely one of the few moments that you’re almost guaranteed to have your audience’s undivided attention – and a unique opportunity that’s sure to build a stronger relationship between your brand and consumers.

I highly recommend checking out one of the commercials on the Ross Petty website by clicking here.


Don’t Let the Content Marketing Grind Get You Down

The day to day work of content marketing can become a bit overwhelming at times. The endless demand for captivating content, the constant Google algorithm updates, and heavy flows of data can feel like a sack of potatoes to the face. Or maybe you’re in an organization where content marketing is new and you’re faced with misunderstanding, misalignment, and distrust (because how can a great story really bring in revenue?). I feel you.

Let’s just admit it; this sh!t’s tough. But when we get it right – when everything comes together into an amazing and valuable content experience, for both the reader and the business, there’s no high quite like it. So, when I’m feeling overwhelmed or discouraged by the grind of content marketing, I turn to the ‘greats’. Here are some of my favourite quotes about content marketing and storytelling. Hopefully they pump you up and help get you back in the content ring.JoePulizzi

“Do or do not, there is no try.” Joe Pulizzi (Yes, this is actually what Yoda told Luke Skywalker, but it was repeated by Pulizzi at CMWorld16)

“Tools are great, but content marketing success is about the wizard, not the wand.” Jay Baer

“You are competing with every piece of content ever made for every person’s attention. You need to be entertaining. Don’t outsmart. Out-entertain.” Dolf van den Brink

“When you’ve got 10,000 people trying to do the same thing, why would you want to be number 10,001?” Mark Cuban

“Quality, relevant content can’t be spotted by an algorithm. You can’t subscribe to it. You need people – actual human beings – to create and curate it.” Kristina Halvorson

“The secret is not to do more… It’s to create content that matters, that they cherish, since people crave useful things.” Josh Stinchcomb


“If you aren’t having fun creating content, you’re doing it wrong.” Ann Handley

“Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes, it’s an ad.” Howard Gossage

“I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgement. They are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamppost for support, rather than for illumination. ” David Ogilvy


“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world that you are one.” Robert Rose

“Content marketing is really like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.” David Beebe

“The golden rule of content marketing is simple: They ask, you answer” Marcus Sheridan

“I truly don’t think people understand that, when it comes to content, the #1 opportunity for competitive differentiation is NOT TO SUCK.” Kristina Halvorson

“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.” Dalai Lama XIV (that’s right, the freakin Dalai Lama!)


“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” Joe Chernov 

“Content: there is no easy button.” Scott Abel

Know of a great content marketing quote that I’m missing? Outside of the standard “content is king” or “actually, content is queen”, just comment below!

I Went to CMWorld and It Was All I Could’ve Wanted – and more

After falling in love with content marketing 4 long years ago (*cough), I had dreamed of attending Content Marketing World (or CMW). Despite my best internal-selling to my superiors, there was just never enough in the budget to justify my attendance. So, I had resigned myself to binging on This Old Marketing podcasts and ‘How To…’ articles posted on Content Marketing Institute‘s website.

However, last week I was tickled orange to find myself amongst the best writers, marketers, and content marketers at CMW! I had finally made it, and it was all I could’ve asked for. Not only did I gain valuable insights by attending different sessions – but was able to get my picture taken with the one and only; Joe Pulizzi. Godfather of content marketing.


I was speechless (which doesn’t happen often). Thankfully, I had some chatty coworkers with me who were able to jump in and make sure the encounter wasn’t totally awkward. I also managed to score a pic with the one and only Ann Handley – content creator extraordinaire.



But, outside of taking pictures with my idols, the focus this year was on three major insights:

  1. If you’re not “all in” with your content marketing, you should stop.
  2. Slow down and do your content marketing right.
  3. The key to success isn’t to know your what – it’s to know your why.

Pretty powerful stuff, I know. So powerful, it’s best to hear it straight from the source. I recommend checking out CMI’s post to gain a better understanding.

Did you go to CMW? What did you think of these three key takeaways? Leave a comment and let me know! 


What Content Marketers Want for Christmas Infographic

It’s that time of year again, and kids aren’t the only ones writing a letter to Santa. After reviewing the latest research reports and survey results, we came up with our list to the man dressed in red. Check it out:

Content Marketing Christmas List


How Does Content Marketing Generate Revenue?


Businesses are quickly adopting content marketing as a way to drive brand awareness and increase sales leads, but how exactly does content marketing generate revenue? Marketers and business leaders alike are struggling to tie their content marketing efforts to their bottom line – which is a huge problem. In order to understand exactly how revenue is being generated, you’ll need to understand the two major components of successful content marketing; quality and tracking.

I can’t stress to you enough how important it is to produce quality content. If you provide material that is genuinely good, people will talk about it and share it with their networks – all of which contributes to generating brand awareness, directing traffic, and ultimately increasing sales. Now – I should mention that it’s also very important to promote your content, but promotion is ineffective unless you have something valuable to offer your audience and convert them from visitors to customers. This bring me to the second major component; tracking. Once you’ve created great content, you’ll need to monitor and track everything in order to understand how your content is being received and consumed by your target audience.

The analytics derived from tracking and monitoring will allow you to see how many more visitors your site is attracting, the number of email subscriptions you’re collecting from your blog or website, as well as the number of leads or conversion points you’re getting. Almost any analytics tool will allow you to track conversions based on entry sources. You’ll also be able to view which pieces of content they consumed during their buyer journey – giving your sales team extra intel on what that prospect might be looking for (aka – a qualified lead).

But it all starts with good content. Attracting your target audience and generating word of mouth is important for increasing traffic and sales. Marketing Charts conducted a survey that found 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know, so creating “word of mouth” buzz is very effective. Once you’ve attracted readers to your site with quality content, you can begin tracking their consumption, maybe even obtain their email address, and start nurturing them through the funnel.

This is how content marketing generates revenue — through a continuous cycle of creating quality content and tracking. By building a foundation of quality content, you give your audience a reason to engage with your brand. Meanwhile, monitoring and tracking will give you insights on which content your audience is consuming along their journey to becoming a customer. Having those two major components in place will enable you to drive revenue through content marketing.


Hiring a Content Marketer: Setting Expectations

what is content marketing

With the popularity of content marketing, it’s hard to believe that there are still several companies out there who are getting it wrong. But I assure you, this problem exists. However, it’s hard to put a finger on where this “problem” is originating from – the company or the content marketer? Or both?

Reviewing some of the content marketing positions posted online, I found that several of them included a sales material support component or content management. A majority of the time, the role was 50/50 – which meant that almost half the time would be dedicated to creating sales materials, like collateral, product sheets, brochures, and so on. This isn’t to say that providing sales with materials isn’t important – it’s just not content marketing.

For the record, content marketing is defined as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content; content that attracts and retains a clearly defined audience – to ultimately drive profitable customer action, according to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). I feel that the key phrase in that definition is “strategic marketing approach” – meaning that content marketers aren’t just production houses — there’s a method to the madness.

This could be where the rift is occurring – companies are lumping all content under content marketing instead focusing on creating and distributing content strategically. A study conducted by CMI found that 60% of content marketers who have a documented strategy rate themselves highly in terms of effectiveness, compared to 32% of those who only have a verbal strategy. Documenting your strategy makes it more tangible for senior team members and gives you the opportunity to clearly define your role and set expectations.

But before you even accept a content marketing job, make sure you have a full understanding of what the expectations are for your role. If half your time is dedicated to creating materials that don’t support your content marketing initiatives, then it may not be the role for you. Having a clear understanding of what you’re looking for and what a company expects is the best way to make sure everyone is happy.


Charities Use Viral Sensations and Content Marketing to Make an Impact

Charities and non-profit organizations are utilizing a new tactic in their public service announcements (PSAs) to make an impact on audiences – and boy does it ever! By keeping their pulse on popular culture and adopting content marketing, charitable organizations have created some very powerful campaigns.

By now, it’s likely you’ve heard of the viral videos “celebrities read mean tweets” by Jimmy Kimmel, or even taken a look at the blue/black/gold/white dress picture. While several companies jumped on the bandwagon, recreating their own versions of these popular images and videos, none of them repurposed the content for the purpose of driving their own message.

Raising the Roof is a great example of how charities can create an impactful campaign that resonates with their audience while driving engagement. The tear-jerking videos show homeless Canadians reading the mean things others have said about them on social media aloud (specifically, Twitter). The call to action at the end of the commercial encourages viewers to visit their website,, which hosts additional videos and information on how people can help. 

Homeless read mean tweets


I imagine that their content campaign outline would’ve looked a little something like this:

Content Campaign

These three stages also reflect the buyer’s journey of awareness > consideration > purchase.

Another non-profit organization that used the popularity of “mean tweets” in their content marketing is The Canadian Safe School Network, a charity dedicated to reducing youth violence and making schools and communities safer. In an effort to raise money and awareness, the organization released a video that featured teens reading mean comments that others have tweeted about them.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 9.54.53 PM


At first, the laugh track makes it seem as though the video is meant to be comedic, but as the laughter fades – it becomes shockingly clear how impactful cyber-bullying can be. Taking a similar approach as Raise the Roof, the charity used to video to drive viewers to their campaign landing page. In fact, heavy-hitters like TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, and CTV News took the campaign to the next level by sharing it with their audiences. The charity recently reported that the video was viewed 1.5 million times on YouTube!

Capitalizing on a different viral sensation, the Salvation Army used ‘The Dress’ in their campaign against domestic violence. The image of a black and blue dress that became a viral sensation (thanks to an optical illusion that made some people see the dress as white and gold) was the inspiration for the image you see below:

Salvation Army

The message reads, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue? The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in six women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.” The image also features the logo for Carehaven, a home for abused women and their children managed by Salvation Army.

Once again, the powerful content was used to generate awareness and support – encouraging their audience to get involved or donate. In a positive turn of events, the Salvation Army’s take on “The Dress” went viral, with several Twitter users sharing the campaign image and referring to it as “powerful”.

These organizations acted fast and utilized content that was already popular to catapult their content marketing campaigns to new heights. By striking while the iron was hot, and supporting their message and goal with powerful content, these charities were able to achieve great success.