The Hero’s Journey: how the power of STORY wins in Content Marketing

an image of the 7 areas of the brain activated by STORY

A wise man once said: “Great Marketers don’t make stuff.  They make meaning.”

Okay, fine, that wise man was SETH GODIN…………..but you catch my drift.

As marketers, our jobs are about more than just selling more stuff, moving more units, and increasing profit margins.

We tell & sell STORY.

The Oxford Dictionary defines STORY as ‘an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment’ or as ‘a plot or story line’.

Since we were little kids gathered around the campfire listening to ghosts stories or begging dad to read just one more chapter before lights out, we have been captivated with the power of STORY.  It delights us.  Frightens us.  Transports us.  Conquers us.  Makes our hair stand on edge, raises the hackles on the back of our neck, even makes our toes curl.  It keeps us up at night, reading under the covers.  Gets us up early, waiting in line for the latest Harry Potter.  Makes our lunch hour pass in a minute, sneaking in the latest installment of however many shades of grey.

That’s all great….But what does that have to do with marketing??

4 things, my fine friend.

#1 EMOTION

Did you know that your brain is stimulated in 7 completely different areas when listening to a story?  That’s a lot.

Especially when compared to the mere 2 parts of the brain that light up when you recite a list of facts.

It’s true.  Check it out:

marketing-as-storytelling-brain-on-data            vs. marketing-as-storytelling-brain-on-stories2

Well, I know which kickball team I want to get picked for…..

Seriously, the power of emotion in STORY is huge.  Do you remember the ending of Titanic?  Toy Story?  How about Rudy?  Romeo and Juliet?

Images created by kinesisinc.com

These emotional stories stay with us because emotion makes us feel connected.  It can make a room full of strangers feel like friends.  Because they had an emotional experience at the same time, they feel bonded, both to the story and to each other.

Which can be a very good thing, because STORY also creates…

#2 Action

When my brother was young, he was obsessed with this Disney movie from the ’60s called Follow Me Boys.  A boyhood drama about a scout leader and his pack, this movie became so exciting for my brother that he refused to wear anything except camo shorts and white v neck Tshirts, dubbed forever afterwards his ‘follow me boys’ shirt.  He organized his neighborhood friends to adventure around the neighborhood, digging fox holes, building tents, setting up secret hideouts, you name it.

All in the name of creating action to match the STORY he loved.

Which leads to the third point, STORY creates……

#3 Value

Who among us hasn’t cried at a Hallmark commercial?  Or even that holiday commercial from IKEA:

 

Brutal, am I right?  Also, funny.  By creating both the emotion of sadness (for the lamp) and humor (because the storytellers caught you being sentimental), IKEA has created something of value worth more than the lamp:  they created an audience that not only buys their products but who loves their brand.

Which brings us to the final point on why STORY matters in marketing…..

#4 Memory

In our saturated market, what sticks?  What do consumers really remember when they go to purchase?

Or let me put it another way,

Do you remember what happened last year on this day?  How about two years ago today?

Probably not.

But do you remember when you got your first bike?  Or the kind of cake your grandma always made for you when you came to visit?

I’ll bet you do.

Because we remember things that have affected us emotionally significantly longer than anything else.  

 

Okay, great, so what?……How do I tell a STORY??

 

In its most simple form, STORY requires 5 elements:heros-journey-circle

  • CHARACTER
  • OBJECTIVE
  • OBSTACLE
  • TACTIC
  • LESSON

 

Image created by Smosh.com
confused face of a man
I don’t understand a single thing you’ve just said.

 

CHARACTER…..

is the target audience.

You are telling their story….to them.  You are describing their personality and the way they move through the world as if it were happening to them.

It’s kind of like when you tell your little nephew Ben  about “Ben the alien robot who loves chicken nuggets and wears a batman cape”.  You are telling a STORY that is about your audience as they see themselves or would like to see themselves.

And they have

OBJECTIVES.

They have like super important stuff that matters to them.  Like buying a house or getting a new computer or impressing their girlfriend or traveling to Thailand.

They have all kinds of stuff that they want all the time.  And they can’t get it.

WHY??

Because there’s an OBSTACLE.

Maybe it’s not a big deal.  Maybe they need to pick up their girlfriend at the airport (she just flew in from Thailand, of course) and they get a flat tire.

Oh no!  The girlfriend will definitely not be impressed by a late, grumpy boyfriend with ripped clothes pulling up in a car with a flat tire.

That is a problem.

Luckily, our character, the boyfriend has a

TACTIC

to fix the problem.

He is going to call a tow truck.

Or he is going to change to the spare tire.

Or he is going to call his friend to pick up his girlfriend.

Or he is going to abandon the car on the side of the road, hitchhike to the airport, show up breathless and running to meet her as soon as she gets off the plane.

 

All of these are great ways that the character may try to fix the obstacle standing in his way to get what he wants: a happy girlfriend who thinks her boyfriend is the best.

 

YES, BUT DOES IT WORK OUT?

 

That’s the LESSON.

You have to read it to find out.

And by the time you finish, the audience’s all emotional, ready to act, really digging your company, and, boy, do they ever remember how you made them feel.

That, my friend, is marketing GOLD.

 

But how am I supposscared storytellered to tell STORY?

 

 

 

 

 

Relax, my friend, the ways are endless….

1001 ways to tell a story

 

You truly are limited only by the power of your own imagination.

 

SO…..Will you tell me a STORY?

 

 

thats all folks

 

Content Marketing and Digital Activism

 

Content Marketing and Digital Activism:

With an Emphasis on Non profits

Digital Activism can become Real life Action.
Mantra for the non profit content marketer.

Content marketing is a great way for nonprofits to build awareness at low to no cost.  Nonprofits, by definition, exist to promote their mission statement (rather than gain revenue).  They often times do not have the budget to market themselves as much as for profit companies do.  While the marketing budget varies greatly between non-profit institutions, social media provides an equal playing field for large and small organizations alike.  It is up to the institution to best optimize their online presence.

 

Is Social Media the Cure-all for Non Profit Marketing Needs?

Some nonprofits see social media and content marketing as the cure-all to their marketing and advertising needs.  However, savvy organizations realize a strong online presence requires investing staff time, training, and gaining an understanding of their organization’s supporters, current and potential.

 

Slactivism: Is it a Real Problem?

There are some skeptics who do not believe that online engagement does not equate to real life action.  “Slactivism” is a newly coined term to refer to the act of “liking” a cause on social media, but not following up in a real way.  Common examples cited include posts such as “For 2,000 likes, I will….” This ranges from donating money, picking up litter, etc.  The idea of slactivism exists because it is often times difficult to find the correlation between online engagement, whether it is a like, a page view or share, and action outside of the internet whether that is a donation of time or money, a vote on a ballot or advocacy for a cause.

 

Does Digital Activism Work?

Does content marketing work to gain support for nonprofits and causes?  Yes!  The ALS Icebucket challenge raised over $115 million. This was purely an online initiative and received support from celebrities and every day people.

 

How do you measure the effectiveness of Content Marketing for Non profits?

Digital Activism Works
The Power of Like, Cone Communications Survey

How do you quantify this engagement with online content in terms of offline engagement?  Cone Communications, a marketing research organization conducted a survey in 2014 on Digital Activism.  They created a poll to track how digital engagement led to activism.

 

Cone Communications found that after liking a post, 64% of people are more inclined to support the cause or organization, whether by donating time, money or advocating.  Online giving accounts for 27%, and is higher for Millennials.

 

The survey revealed that 71% would vote to designate funds to causes, 70% would sign petitions as well as learn about changes to their daily life.  66% would give feedback directly to companies and 65% would make donations and another 65% would watch a video with a social or environmental message.

 

It is clear that people want to be involved, but in order to properly engage with audiences relevant content must be created.  The top draws include: articles, videos and pictures.

 

Considering target markets are also important.  The survey looked at Millennials and Hispanics as case studies.  Understanding how your target market uses digital platforms is essential to how you market your cause.  To learn more about the 2014 survey, vist the Cone Communications website.

Keeping it Classy

Classy.org is a local San Diego company that creates fundraising websites for nonprofits.  This directly relates to content marketing because in the nonprofit world, you can’t extricate one from the other.  Non profits must constantly raise funds to support their mission, and marketing themselves in the right way will achieve these goals.  Classy has pioneered online and mobile fundraising, and utilizes peer to peer, crowdfunding, websites and planned giving initiatives.

 

How to Create Effective Video Content Marketing

Videos are effective and difficult content

Effective Content

According to Content Marketing Trends Survey by Ascend2, videos are effective and difficult content. In reply to the content type that “what are the most effective types of content used?”, 54% of the company which conducted content marketing answered Articles/Case studies, 46% answered Videos and 43% answered Infographics. It has become clear that many companies have high expectations. On the other hand, in reply to the content type that “what are the most difficult types of content used?”, 59% answered Videos. While they feel the effect of the video measures, they also feel that there is a high degree of difficulty of implementation. Why do they think that videos are difficult? When asked “What are the most challenging obstacles to content marketing”, lack of content creation resources is the most challenging obstacle to content marketing success (53%). There are many options for creating and distributing the volume of relevant and compelling content required。Following that, 42% said the lack of an effective strategy and 40% said the budget is the most challenging obstacles.

Content consumption trend and customer behavior

People go online to consume content. Their options are endless. For content marketers, knowing what type of content generates the most attention in readers has always been important.

According to Hub Spot Consumer Behavior Survey, videos were listed as the type of content people pay close attention to, followed by social media posts, and news articles. Blog posts, interactive tools, and long-form content are more likely to be skimmed by readers. People want to see more social posts and news articles in the future, which is expected. The next forms of content on the list, however, reflect people’s changing browsing behaviors. Video ranks 3rd place (43%).

Based on Hub Spot Consumer Behavior Survey, 61% watch an hour or more of video content on YouTube a week and 65% watch it on Facebook. Facebook has 1.65 billion daily active users (as of April 2016). Facebook revealed that it’s users watch 8 billion videos a day, while YouTube is less specific, claiming to generate ‘billions’ of views a day. Hub Spot researched YouTube users by age.The results revealing that 80% of millennials spend watching content on YouTube over 1 hours. But while there has been a lot of focus on millennial behavior, a third of older generations are watching an hour or more of content on YouTube a week. Clearly, watching online video is not just a millennial pastime. People of all ages are consuming video content for significant periods of time today.

How to create efficient videos

As the data shows, videos are the significant content. How do we conduct the efficient video marketing? Google has suggested HHH strategy through YouTube. It is a strategic framework that breaks content into three categories: “Hero,” “Hub,” and “Help.” “Hero” content is flagship content. Google explained that “Hero” content is Large-scale, tent-pole events or ‘go big’ moments designed to raise broad awareness. It is required to be attractive and shareable content to reach a lot of people.

“Hub” content is that regularly scheduled ‘push’ content designed for your prime prospect. It combined customer and brand. “Help” content is always “pull” content designed for your core target. Help content should help answer the questions our audience is asking about our products.

Case Study: Johnson & Johnson [Clean and Clear®] SEE THE REAL ME campaign

tout_productsClean & Clear advertising has always depicted friendships between girls, but in 2012 it was representing them the same way we did in 1992, even though digital has significantly affected teens’ perceptions of “friends.” The brand needed to refresh the marketing strategy. In Johnson & Johnson’s research, the company found out three features of teens. First, teens live in the world of social media and are very much out there and want to be seen, but they’re afraid of being judged. It was important that the content empowers them on those same channels. Second, teens made a dramatic shift in their media habits. Ten years ago, 45% of teens owned a cell phone. In 2012, 70% of teens own a smartphone and digital video is the #1 way to influence their perceptions. Third, teens were actively searching for makeup tutorials and skin care tips, and they’re happy if that content comes from a brand they trust. Clean & Clear have to be ready with the authentic content and guidance they’re looking for.

Here is their three categorize video content.

  • “Help” content topics are related to how to and Q&A using Clean & Clear products. These are examples of the topics, “How to get rid of & prevent acne,” “Summer fun & skin care tips,” and “Cleansing must have.”
  • “Hub” content is the most significant content with this case. The videos share teenagers’ own stories and try to build confidence. It aims to align brands with consumers but not sell to them overtly, no Clean & Clear products or mentions will be made in the short documentaries, and its logo appears only on an end card.
  • “Hero” content is that the company created videos with Princess Lauren who is the vine star. She began using Vine in the summer of 2013 and accumulated approximately 2.5 million followers in only one year. Her video is easy to share and expand to teens.

Through the campaign, Clean & Clear went from a handful of videos on YouTube to more than 120 in one year. Though Clean & Clear did another effort, as a result, Clean & Clear spent $29.1 million on advertising in 2012 and $15.7 million in the first nine months of 2013, earned millions of views for SEE THE REAL ME series and achieved double-digit increases in market share.

What kind of backlinks are effective?

What kind of backlinks are effective?

Introduction

Google uses about 200 factors to evaluate our home page. It can be divided main two factors, one is internal factors and the other is external factors. We need to deal with these two factors to improve our ranking. One of the important factors is Backlink. In this blog, I would like to explain how to optimize the website to use backlinks.

Internal factors of the on page SEO, like Title Tag, Alt Tag, URL, Image, Keywords, Contents, H1 Tag, Meta description.
Internal factors of the on page SEO

What is the internal factor?

The internal factor is that elements affect the ranking on our page and site that we can control with source codes.

Example; Title Tag, URL, Alt tag, Meta description etc

Thus, “On page SEO” means to improve the google ranking by optimizing codes and construction of pages.

What is the external factor?

The external factor is that elements affect the ranking from other page and site that we cannot control with source codes.

Example; Hyperlinks from other sites. we can call “Backlinks”

Thus “Off page SEO” means to get backlinks to improve the google ranking by increasing number of backlinks

 

On this Blog, I would like to focus on the external factor in other words, about backlinks.

Before showing how to increase backlinks, I am going to talk about the history of SEO at first.

History

Google updated the algorism of search engine system to evaluate the high-quality site. Famous updates are Penguin and Panda. By these update, unnatural links are recognized spam links According to Google Webmaster Guidelines unnatural links are artificial links mainly intended to manipulate a page’s ranking.

Off page SEO before Google Update

Following ways are used to get a bunch of backlinks easily and immediately. That’s the reason why many people optimized their home page. However, now Google audit and doesn’t evaluate it, as a result, get their ranking lower.

  1. Buy paid links: Some SEO companies sell them a lot of links. They have a site to add many links.
  2. Unnatural links: it means that links from the unrelated site or increasing links rapidly during the short term. Google thinks backlinks should be increased gradually during the long term.

Now these ways are not affected, you must not do that for SEO.

Off page SEO after Update

Google thinks backlinks should be natural.

  1. Natural links: Opposite of unnatural links, backlinks from the related site, increasing gradually. We should follow concepts that Google defined what sites are high quality.

I am not sure how Google evaluate backlinks it is kind of black box. However, they show us the score of each page which measures the importance of a web page using a 100-point scale (from 0 to 100). The higher the score, the higher quality of the page. We can get these score to use tools like SEMrush.

How to increase backlinks?

At first, I think that the backlinks from what kinds of sites tend to get the higher score? So, I analyzed some URL and I got these result. (These results are just my opinion, I can’t take any responsibility for what I say.) As I can show you on below image, the higher location the higher score, I mean Backlinks on Blog are tend to get a higher score, on the other hand, on discussion board are tend to get a lower score.

Which kinds of home page tend to higher score for adding backlinks
Which kinds of home page tend to higher score for Google ranking

My company doesn’t have enough budget for advertisement, we couldn’t be Sponsor. In addition, It is difficult to add our links on articles, Eventually, I decided to focus on finding Blogs and directories. I haven’t get results after adding our links. So, I am not sure this way is productive for improving google ranking, but I believe these are a good way for improving our ranking.

SEO vs Google AdWords

Which is the best way of getting traffic to your website?

Nowadays, getting traffic to your website is very important for your business even though you don’t sell your product on your website directly. If you want to raise brand and product awareness, getting traffic would be essential for your business. Thus, we can’t ignore to optimize to your website any more. AS you know, we have some options to get traffic to your website, but it was my first question ‘what is difference between SEO and PPC which is Pay Per Click such as Google Adwords. Today I’d like to focus on SEO and Google Adwords as PPC because it is the largest PPC resource. What is the difference each other?

 

First, I focus on SEO which is called search engine optimization. It is to do with getting better ranking in the search engine results pages of not only Google, but also Yahoo, Bing, and other major search engines. What are the SEO features?  You need to make sure that your website is search engine friendly. A search engine friendly website can be ‘read’ easily by search engines and used with ease by users. Actually, it is many elements for optimizing SEO because Search engines are governed by complex algorithms and it takes a lot of effect to ‘convince’ them that your website or page deserves one of the top spots. However, basic idea is to have a fast and functional website with unique content that offers a good experience to the end users. In addition, SEO is technically free to optimize to your website which is one of the merits to optimize SEO. SEO is basically for organic pages, so it is showed after the space of Adwords, so Google Adwords show up before organic pages.

Second, I focus on Google Adwords. What is the Google Adwords? Obviously, Google Adwords is for just Google Search Result pages. Google Adwords is an advertising platform owned by Google. Big difference from SEO is that you need to pay to Google when people click on your advertising. That sounds SEO is better way for you because SEO is free to get traffic to your website. However, Google Adwords also has some merits to compare to SEO. What are the merits of Google Adwords?

Let’s compare to SEO and Google Adwords.

  • Adwords is for Google sites and websites that use Google Adsense while SEO principles are basically applicable for all search engines.
  • Adwords traffic is paid while SEO traffic is free
  • With AdWords you can get tips from Google
  • Adwords ads appear on the top and right of Google Search and under certain conditions you can get one of those as positions but with SEO you have to work much harder to get one of the top positions in the organic search results.
  • Adwords is more immediate than SEO since you can create advertising campaigns almost instantly and start getting targeted traffic while with SEO you need a lot more time, especially for new websites, to get good rankings and traffic.
  • With Adwords is easily to calculate the ROI while with SEO is more difficult because there are a lot more factors that play a role and not just spending and revenue. In addition, you can determine in advance your daily budget and pay no more than that and you can calculate an estimate of what is the average cost per click for the keywords you want to target.
  • When you stop your Adwords campaigns traffic also stops but one you start getting organic with SEO this will continue long term.
  • With Adwords you can target many keywords at the same time while with SEO you need to focus on a few keywords for best results.
  • With Adwords you can advertise on other Google websites and websites that use Google Adsense but the results from SEO are only for the search results pages.
  • With SEO you can get more traffic than Google Adwords if you can optimize your website in one of the top 5 positions on organic results.
  • With Adwords you can get more conversions than visitors from SEO if your ads are highly targeted and optimizes. The reason is that a web page can rank for different keywords, so the search visitor may not be looking for exactly for the content or product presented in the particular page. On the other hand if you run a successful Adwords campaign then you will only get clicks from visitors who are interested in 100% in your content or products.

 

Additionally, you now have one more options to get traffic to your website which is SNS such as Facebook, twitter, and more. I would say SNS is good way to raise your brand awareness, but it would be difficult to get conversions directly.

In conclusion, both are important to get traffic to your website because both have difference features.  It is the best way getting traffic to optimize with both, SEO and PPC. However, I recommend you start to optimize with PPC especially if your website is new or hasn’t been optimized ever because you don’t take long time to optimize with PPC. Additionally, I recommend you optimize with SEO at the same time because people normally skip the part of PPC results, and your website continuously shows up the top of organic results once you optimize your website accurately. Don’t stop to use Adwords even if you have good rankings because you can get more exposure for the same keywords that you get SEO traffic. You can measure the performance of your Adwords campaigns and if they are profitable you can even increase your budgets for a higher ROI. You need to show your website up faster than your competitor. Otherwise, you will lose opportunity to sell your products. Therefore, you can use Adwords when you want traffic fast but you need SEO for long term and sustainable online success.

 

SEO, SMO, PPC, Google AdWords

Grow your social media fan base from scratch

How to grow your social media audienceHow to grow a social media fan base … from zero to success!

I’ve always been curious about how a new entrepreneur can attract enough customers through social media to succeed in a competitive market. If you think about it, one of the greatest advantages of social media is that it allows you to reach your specific target market. So, what if you are just a new brand? What if you haven’t had any online presence before? Then, you need to start working soon, and you need to take advantage of every available advice out there to grow your social media fan base ASAP!

You have to keep focus

Have a strategy and stick to it! Even when you think things are slow, don’t discourage yourself. Great results come with patience and perseverance.

So you’ve just decided to start blogging and you are just getting a little bit better with each post, maybe you’re adventurous enough to start your own website too, or maybe you’re like me, you don’t think you have enough courage to go all the way at once and you’re planning to stick only to social media to reach your target market. Then you have to decide which social media channels you want to have presence on.

Ask yourself where your target market is and where your content will fit the best? Remember you are not just trying to build a fan base, influence your audience and not just make a little noise, because you have to make sure you grow that social media fan base with every post you make!

Tips to grow social media fan base
Have a focus strategy, deliver great content, optimized it as much as you can and keep it consistent through smart and scheduled posts, these will help you keep and grow your social media network

Choosing the right social media channels

You don’t want to waste your time and effort, remember you are doing this to deliver results! There is no right or wrong when choosing your social media network, the results will depend on how you tailor your content to your specific target market on that specific social media channel. Just remember to always keep in mind who your target market is and what type of content you’ll be producing.

And if you own a website, remember you want to choose the social media channels that will drive your targeted traffic to it.

Become unique

This one is a hard one! How do you think you can become unique in the craziness of social media? Well, I would say producing great content! That will allow you to differentiate yourself from the competition. Your posts shall stand out, so work hard on them!

Be consistent and original, take advantage of all the unique (and free!) tools available out there and optimize your content as much as you can. The impact will result in customer engagement and brand awareness. Schedule your posts: you can use Buffer for this task. Buffer is a tool that allows you to write a bunch of posts at one time, choose which social profiles to send them to, and Buffer will spread them out so that you don’t have to be at a computer all the time in order to have a social media presence.

Don’t forget about your competitors

So, how can you tell what’s working out there? Pretty simple, check out what’s working for your competition! Do your homework, research what’s trending and identify your competitors. Try to come up with a list of 15 to 25 competitors that relate the most with your product or service and target the same or similar target market you’re aiming for. Check their websites one by one or use BuzzStream to pull in their social media profiles and email addresses. Take a look at how many followers they have in each of their social media networks and sort them out in order. Pick your top 5 and used them as your reference. They are the ones that are doing the best job so you want to learn what is it that they are doing and start doing it yourself.

The Pages to Watch feature in Facebook will let you check on the growth of your competitors’ followers, it will also show you how many times they’ve posted and the engagement they got from their posts. You will benefit of knowing this information and not just settle with knowing the amount of likes or followers they have.

Start fishing for followers

Matthew Barby, Global Head of Growth & SEO at HubSpot give a great step by step guide on how to start getting followers on each of the top social media channels on his blog post Growing a Social Following from Nothing: My Social Media Strategy

Aim for a long term relationship

Engagement equals growth of social media network
Engage with your audience and the followers will grow by likes, shares, comments and mentions.

Don’t settle with followers! Work hard to keep the interest of your community of followers and increase the chances to build a successful social media page. You worked so hard to acquire their interest in the first place so keep the good work. Here is the chance to take advantage of the power of influence in social marketing: whether you’re engaging with influencers to provide useful information or you’re co-creating content with influencers, there’s value that benefits everyone involved.

Is social advertising for you? The answer is in your wallet

Don’t focus on the amount of likes! Consider spending most of your budget on your current fan base: they’ll increase the chance to drive traffic to your website and they’ll be happy to share your posts since they are the ones already engaged with your content.

Cross-promote your social accounts when you’re producing content on your website

Ask your users to follow you on your social media channels through add in exit pop-ups. These are pop-ups that are triggered whenever anyone attempts to leave your website.

Have a strategy and make your project yandy cohen animated gif content marketingour priority; take advantage of all the tools you have at your disposal and focus on your target market when creating your content. Encourage participation of your followers, seek their engagement while having fun and you’ll see your efforts will pay off!

 

The Most Creative Content Marketing of 2015

Content marketing is heading for exciting new territory in 2016. In 2015 State of Marketing research, we discovered that 31% of marketers were using content marketing and 32% planned to pilot it sometime during the year.

With so many ways to publish content as a brand, inspiration always helps. Mariott demonstrates what it means to be customer-focused in every content creation effort. As you plan content marketing campaigns for 2016, consider emulating the spirit of these brands who already do it well.

Marriott’s Case Story

Marriott built one of the most impressive branded content studios over the past year. It has designs on becoming the world’s biggest travel publisher—to take publications like Travel + Leisure head on by putting content in front of consumers before they’re even thinking about booking a trip. Both are part of the company’s mission to rethink marketing.marriott-international

 

“We are a media company now”

“We are a media company now,” said Beebe. It’s now been two years since Marriott hired Karin Timpone from the Walt Disney Company, where she had led the launch of successful digital products like WATCH ABC, so she could connect Marriott to the “next generation of travelers.” In June 2014, Beebe, also working for Disney, followed Timpone. By September 2014, Marriott had announced the launch of a global content studio.

“We hired a lot of media, took a lot of people who were previously storytellers, turned them into marketers,” Beebe said. “It’s all the same thing today. You can’t argue with the fact that people aren’t engaging with traditional [advertising] and this is the way to do it. You have to try it.”

M Live, which launched in October, has nine screens, showing everything from the social media campaigns of Marriott’s 19 brands to real-time booking information to Marriott’s editorial calendar. But what might be even more impressive—and instructive for other brands—are the eight swivel chairs. Each seat in the glass room represents a different department such as PR/Comms, Social Media, Buzz Marketing, Creative + Content, and even one for MEC, a media-buying agency that amplifies well-performing content at a moment’s notice.

“This is a tool for everybody to use in the building,” Beebe explained. “It’s customer-first thinking. That’s why a lot of brands can’t achieve what we’re doing. They think, ‘I can’t do that because someone over there is not going to like it.’ It gets very internal-political.”

The three Cs—with an emphasis on commerce

Beebe likes to explain Marriott’s approach with three Cs: “Scaling content, then building a community around that content, and driving commerce.”

The hotel giant believes that combination is the key to reaching millennials who are increasingly seeking more intimate connections and experiences when they travel.

“How does a brand that’s been around since 1927 continue to evolve and adapt and stay relevant?” asks David Beebe, Marriott’s vice president of global creative and content marketing. “You need to innovate.”

“We created content, we created community around it, and then we’re actually driving commerce against it.”

“We don’t want to see any ‘Welcome to the JW Marriott, here’s your keycard,’ and then a closeup of the logo,” he said. “None of that.”

Short Film “French Kiss”

Short Film “French Kiss”
“French Kiss”

Marriott’s films are driving commerce as well. The company filmed its second short, Marriott Traveler. The film was shot at a Marriott hotel, but there were no strong sell. Since it was released in May, French Kiss has been viewed over 6 million times on YouTube. Perhaps more impressively, a bookings promotion related to the film also drove $500,000 in revenue for the hotel.

“The reason we did that one was to tell a great story, but also to inspire people to travel,” Beebe said. “Hopefully, if we do that over and over again, they’ll think of Marriott when they go to book to stay in Paris.

Online Magazine “Marriott Traveler”

That philosophy prompted Marriott to launch Marriott Traveler this past spring, which provides travel tips for exploring New Orleans, Chicago, and Orlando, with more cities to come. The company saw a huge opportunity to use content to build a stronger relationship with the built-in audience of 40 million people who visit Marriott.com each month.

“In its first ninety days, Marriott Traveller drove over seventy-two hundred room bookings.”

“We want to get them into our world, help them find a place to go,” Beebe said. And once they find a place to go, the company trusts that the bookings will follow. So far, it has. “In its first ninety days, Marriott Traveller drove over seventy-two hundred room bookings.”