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Content Strategy Roundup - August 1, 2013


Here are some insightful articles from the past few weeks.  We hope you find them useful. Click on the headlines to link to the articles.

Three Priorities for the Digital CMO – Harvard Business Review

"As chief storyteller, you have more opportunities to develop compelling and relevant brand identities by including your customers in the narrative creation process right from the start. And consumers have shown time and time again that they trust brands that trust them. And while sometimes scary, that can't be a bad thing."

8 More Cold Hard Content Marketing Stats – Business2Business Community

Nice recap of the latest studies about content marketing's effectiveness from a variety of sources.

How Shared Media Fits into the Marketing Mix – iMedia Connection

“Shared media is a subset of earned media and a form of amplification. Earned media generally tends have a point of view or an editorial bend. Examples might be a blog post or an article around a topic, a video of a product unboxing, or commentary. Shared media, on the other hand, tends to be a forward, a retweet, a pin, or (on Facebook) a literal "share." Perhaps a word or comment is injected, but essentially it's a pass-along of an essentially unaltered element of content”

10 Trends in B2B and B2C Content Marketing – Connote Magazine

“These content marketing trends, in no particular order, will impact how businesses grow their brand footprint in the coming months and years. New trends will undoubtedly emerge as time goes on, but we feel that this list is a great starting point for any brand.”  Two that resonate are video engagement and using content across multiple platforms.

How Story Platforms Help Global Brands Go Local – Harvard Business Review

“The power of a brand's Story Platform is that it is singular (there is never more than one), unchanging over long periods of time, differentiating (focused on what makes the brand unique for its audiences) and contains the authentic truth of the brand. It also defines what subject areas a brand can credibly create content around — the brand's "authority to publish." Using a Story Platform properly, brands and their agencies can build a huge variety of brand stories over a long period of time and every story will ladder up to the brand's core proposition.”

Free Download – Get our New eBook

Content Marketing for Customer Engagement:
Four Steps to Success

King Fish Media has developed a unique framework designed to help marketers add more structure to their content marketing efforts. As marketers shift more of their budgets to content marketing, these four steps will help to ensure a better return on those investments.

Click here to get it now

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New Free eBook: Content Marketing for Customer Engagement


Please download our newest eBook: Content Marketing for Customer Engagement: Four Steps to Success

King Fish Media has developed a unique framework designed to help marketers add more structure to their content marketing efforts. As marketers shift more of their budgets to content marketing, these four steps will help to ensure a better return on those investments.

Download this eBook to learn:

* How to create a six part strategic framework to guide your entire content marketing plan

* How to create content that inspires, engages and drives action by building trust.

* Eight rules for creating remarkable content for your brand

* Best practices for distributing your content through your own media channel – don’t rent through advertising when you can own the environment

* How to use different levels of metrics and demonstrate positive ROI against your strategic objective

Start building long term customer relationships today and download this eBook.

The Apple Lifestyle vs. The Samsung Device: Tale of the Tape


The battle between Apple and Samsung is heating up for both smartphones and tablets.  Apple has a lot riding on the release of iOS7 and the new iPhones and iPads that will follow.  Samsung has a more varied product line and leads with the Galaxy 4.  Both product families are excellent and it often comes down to personal preference or your carrier.  The contrasts between their marketing/advertising approaches are as different as the phones.  It is a case study in how you create and leverage a brand.

Samsung’s history as a maker of devices and products is evident in their marketing – they advertise the “thing”.  And, they do like to spend.  They have always tried to bludgeon the competition with huge media buys across several products categories. Their ads focus on the features and the cool stuff you can do with the Galaxy such as the larger screen or the ability to wave your hand for a command.  This clearly appeals to people who watch a lot of video and play games, and don’t really think of it as a telephone.  The devices are stand alone in that they don’t really tie to any other Samsung offering, but rather the Apps offered in the Android store.  

The ads have another obvious theme – they are not Apple and it’s not an iPhone.  This plays on two factors, first, a blowback against the popularity of Apple and their famously devoted fans.  Secondly, they are trying to create a movement that they are the “next cool thing” and preferred by the young and hip, by contrast, Apple is for boring middle age people who drive a Camry and have 401Ks.  

Here is a long form ad that is a combination of cool gadgets and young people befuddleing their elders with their magic machine

I am not a fan of this as a long-term strategy because hinging on being the new cool thing has a short shelf life.  By definition something can only be new and leading edge for a short amount of time – ask Vine.  Also, you may be writing off or insulting a large segment of consumers.  There are not a lot of people 40+ who aspire to be a 25-year-old hipster, but they do have a lot more disposable income.

Apple’s approach is clearly illustrated by their new commercial you can see below.

When asking the famous question “what business are you in?”  Apple would never answer with anything to do with devices, phones, computer etc. Those are just the means to the end.  Apple is in the experience business – they enhance your life with information and entertainment and empower you at work.  Their have created an entire interconnected ecosystem that works together seamlessly in the cloud.  Apple is the ultimate lifestyle brand with a strong emotional connection between company and customer.  This sometimes borders on irrational (i.e. waiting online overnight for a phone that will be available everywhere within weeks), but that is what emotions are all about.  

Watch this Apple ad on how they bring you Music

This ad shows the photo experience

Everything from games, music, TV/movies, Apps, pictures are integrated and can be consumed over numerous form factors.  Apple’s ads are about empowerment, almost on a spiritual basis.  They are not so much what you can do with your Apple product but how it makes your life better.   Contrast that with the Samsung ads that often zero in on one particular feature and it is presented sometimes with an air of smugness while the vibe at Apple is one of wonder and inspiration.  And, catch the tag at the end of the newest ads – “Designed in California” Is that a jibe at Korean owned Samsung, or to make us forget about their Chinese factories?

The battle is fascinating to watch and should heat up in Q4 for the holiday season.  For now, having the integrated platform gives Apple a leg up to leverage new innovations such as wearable technology.  I’ll continue to enjoy my Apple ecosystem of media and Apps, often viewed through my AppleTV, which is connected to my Samsung LED TV.  It’s a great TV, but it offers the least amount of value throughout the chain and is the most easily replaced – that’s often the case with devices.  In contrast, experiences are hard to duplicate.


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How the Tablet Will Change Content Marketing


You may have heard the news of Pew’s new research on tablet ownership in the U.S. and the results are eye opening.  33% of all adults own a tablet (defined as iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google Nexus, or Kindle Fire)—almost twice as many as the 18% who owned a tablet a year ago.  And, up from zero three years ago when Apple’s introduced the disruptive iPad.  (Go here to download the report)

The ownership numbers rise to 50% for key demographics such as:

* Ages 35-44
* People with College degrees
* Households over 75K per year
* Parents who have a child in the house

Not surprisingly, this rapid adoption has fostered a decrease in PC sales.  Tablet ownership should spike again this fall when the iOS7 powered new iPad rolls out along with competitive products from Samsung, Amazon, and Google

The vast majority of these tablets are not being used as “mobile devices”, but rather content consumption machines for text, images, video, music and social media.  And, they are being used to buy lots of stuff from e-retailers.  It is important to keep the use cases in mind – the PC is still the best device for creating content and working on complex problem solving – for now.  However, the tablet is superior for the classic “lean back” content emersion experience.  The clean and simple interface has contributed to the fast adaption.  Almost anyone from a toddler to the elderly can pick it up and figure it out within minutes.  Perhaps this will be Steve Job’s lasting legacy.

Clearly, the implications for brands and content marketers are immense as the “brand as media channel” revolution is in full swing and a CMO priority.  Content needs to be device agnostic and flow naturally to all possible devices and form factors.

Karen McGrane the author of Content Strategy for Mobile, recently wrote on the Harvard Business Review blog about how it is time to shift away from a paper/page paradigm for digital content.  Since the beginning of the web in the mid 90’s people have viewed it with the printed page in mind, hence the term web page.  The first websites were offshoots of printed material so it was natural to post print composed pages on the web.  McGrane suggests that is time to move past this thinking and it is hard to argue with the logic.  She says:

Publishing content to a variety of devices and platforms is fundamentally different from print. This wave of new connected devices means it's time we accept that the web isn't just a glorified print document. The way we think about content needs to change.

She suggests a new way to view content through the lens of the user experience.

"The page" as a container is so fundamental to how we think about reading; it's hard to break away from thinking about our content that way. On the web, we've repurposed that model, treating all of our content (text, but also graphics, videos, and other interactive elements) as through they "live" on a particular page. You don't have to spend too much time thinking about all these new form factors and device types to realize that the very notion of a page doesn't hold up. Content will "live" on many different screens and presentations. 

The future of connected devices is content in "chunks," not pages. Smaller, discrete content objects can be dynamically targeted to specific platforms and assembled into new containers on the fly. Which content and how much content appears on a given screen or interface will be defined by a set of rules, informed by metadata. Content will break free of the page and "live" in lots of different places.”

The tablet is just the first step, as we could be looking at wearable technology (Google Glasses, iWatch) very soon, and voice commands will enable content integration within cars.

While we are on the topic of moving away from old ideas, Rebecca Lieb an analyst for Altimeter Group writes about banner ads on iMedia Connection.  The banner ad comes from the same previous paradigm, it was merely a print ad transported to the web by ad sales people.  A recent study from comScore as reported by the Wall Street Journal shows some shocking results:

“54 percent of online display ads shown in “thousands” of campaigns measured by comScore Inc. between May of 2012 and February of this year weren’t seen by anyone, according to a study completed last month. Don’t confuse “weren’t seen” with “ignored.” These ads simply weren’t seen, the result of technical glitches, user habits and fraud.”   A mind-blowing amount of precious marketing budget is heading right into the shredder.

Yet, as Lieb points out, the demand and revenue for these outdated marketing tactics continues to grow while producing fewer results for marketers and less revenue for publishers as CPMs plummet.  Clearly, it’s time for a change when billions are wasted each year.

The takeaway for content marketers is to think differently when it comes to customer content engagement strategies.  The same old ideas and tired tactics won’t work as your customer’s readership habits evolve and interruptive marketing no longer works.  Time and technology only move forward, and today it happens fast.  

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The Future of Marketing: No Interruption Please


Here is an HBR post on the future of marketing that quotes Gerd Leonard, billed as “one of the leading media-futurists in the world” by the Wall Street Journal.  You can see the full post here, but the first prediction is the one that is most important:

“By 2020, most interruptive marketing will be gone. Instead, marketing will be personalized, customized, and adapted to what I have expressed as my wishes or opt-ins — which essentially means that advertising becomes content. Data will be essential, and as users, we'll be paying with our data — bartering a bit of our personal information in return for the use of platforms and services. Customers will be forming relationships with brands that are built on trust, and if a company breaks that trust, it will be very quickly viral and very quickly over. By 2020, unauthorized targeting of consumers will essentially be useless. I, as a consumer, am going to choose who I want to hear from. I'm going to like things, or I won't like them, and you will have to earn that from me.”

I certainly agree, it is the central idea behind content marketing and why it has become the top focus for CMOs.  If consumers are in control of their media choices in 2013, what will seven more years of technological advances bring to the average person?  Also, by 2020 a new generation of marketers will be ascending to the CMO/CEO chair and many rote legacy tactics will be history.  

We have a hard time imagining a 2020 world with no network TV ads or print ads, but that day will eventually come.  Most consumers under 30 today will likely never subscribe to a print newspaper or magazine, own a landline, buy a CD/DVD or schedule their viewing around network television.  They will be more interested in user-generated content and branded content than older generations.  And, they will be less jaded about their relationships with brands than those of us who grew up with ads screaming at us to buy, buy, buy.  Social media has taught us that brands are shared with consumers and the illusion of control is gone.  The future of brands is about trust and shared values.  

As mobile devices become our primary communication devices, the tolerance for interruptive marketing will continue to decrease, as the intrusion seems more personal.  

The questions you need to think about:  What does your customer want from a brand?  Is your brand ready for the shift?  How about your skills and career?  We are in a transitional period and things are moving fast – are you ready?

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Content Marketing: Top Marketing Priority for 2013


While social media and mobile marketing often get the buzz three new studies have pointed to content marketing being the top priority for marketers in 2013.  There is now widespread and growing acceptance of the practice of brands creating original content to engage and inspire prospects and customers.  In the B2B space, the use of content to bring insight to customers while positioning company as a thought leader has topped enabling sales and generating demand according to one study.

A study from Econsultancy and Adobe shows that content marketing has leapfrogged social media into the top spot – an increase of 10 points over 2012.  

Content Marketing

A new offering from CopyPress shows over a third of marketers consider content marketing to be their leading focus, up from 19% last year and ahead of social media.   The study also shows that among custom content tactics, articles, video and white papers deliver the best bang for the buck for ROI, though videos are still considered expensive to produce.

Best content ROI

ITSMA’s latest version of their Services Marketing Budget Allocations and Trends, 2008-2013 states that the top priority for B2B marketer is “Developing thought leadership content that drives business”.   A steady climb up the ranks since placing 7th among priorities as recently as 2009.  The tracking study also shows that budget is being moved into content marketing and demand generation via digital channels and custom events and away from traditional advertising, sponsorships and trade shows.

These studies show the culmination of a movement that has been happening for several years and now reaching critical mass.  Marketers are also realizing after the excitement of social media has worn away those social channels are not very effective without meaningful content to engage.  Social gimmicks and other flash in the pans don’t create long lasting customer relationships or loyal advocates.  In world where consumers are in control and the buyer’s journey has changed, content has become the preeminent marketing tactic.

To get some added insight on how to create content for your brand, please download our free ebook "The Right Content and the Right Time"

Why Subaru is Successful: Pt 1 - Find the Right Audience


First of a two part post on why Subaru is finding sales success in the U.S.  Part one is by King Fish Content Strategy Team member Anna Goldsmith of the Hired Pens.  Part two next week by King Fish CMO Gordon Plutsky on their customer retention strategy.   They are both happy Subaru owners.

"You Don't Have to Be Everything to Everyone. You Have to Be Something to Someone."

By Anna Goldsmith

Further dispatches from the world of smart branding: On my way home from dropping my son off at school, I was flipping around the radio and stopped on an interview on NPR Business News with Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports.

They were talking about how Subaru had been able to increase sales by nearly a third in recent years while other car companies were just trying to keep their heads (or turbo-charged V6 engines) above water.

So what is Subaru doing right? Actually it's what we try to convince our clients to do every day: Find your audience and speak to them, just them. Trying to appeal to everyone, well, sounds appealing. When you crunch the numbers, though, it doesn't work.

Successful companies like Subaru boldly define who they are and go after THAT audience, not EVERY audience. It's as simple as picking a story that works and finding some reliable copywriters to tell that story right.

Subaru will never be a giant car company — and it shouldn't be. As Jake Fisher explains, Subaru can serve as an example for other carmakers looking to grow:

"They've kind of taken this slow, systematic approach and just really concentrated on what they needed to do to be competitive in the market. … I don't think they have to be a Toyota; they don't have to be everyone else. They don't have to be everything to everyone; they have to be something to someone."

So is who is Subaru targeting exactly? Well, I drive a Subaru and so do all my friends. Who are we? The sketch comedy "Portlandia" dedicated a whole sketch to us liberal-leaning 30-40 somethings.

The way I like to sum it up is this: We think spending a ton of money on a car is a waste; in fact, we wish we didn't have to drive one at all. But since we do, we'll take one that is safe and at least vaguely stylish, can handle well in the snow and has enough room for hauling around our kids/skis/dogs. And, oh yeah, we wouldn't be caught dead in a minivan. Even the Cadillac of minivans.

BTW: You can find the whole article or listen to the live show here — including the "Portlandia" clip.

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5 Quick Takes on Super Bowl Advertising


All ads referenced can be seen here on Ad

1.    Storytelling Works – Long form ads from Jeep (with Oprah) and Dodge Ram (with Paul Harvey) really created an emotional connection by reaching deep into our collective consciousness highlighting veterans and farmers.   Similar long form stories also worked for Tide, Taco Bell and Mercedes-Benz.  Best Buy had the best celebrity tie in with a very funny Amy Poehler.

2.    Earned Media should be a goal for ROI– The previews and buzz around the ads create a huge amount of earned media that can represent a positive ROI payback.  Details in this WSJ article - the extended legs with bloggers and media helps justify the expense.

3.    Social Media Connections: A Mixed Bag - Twitter was mentioned in 50 percent of the spots that aired during CBS’ game coverage. Facebook was mentioned in only four ads and Google+, not at all.  YouTube and Instagram were even mentioned once each, by Hyundai and Oreo, respectively.  This is shockingly low considering how many of the target audiences were on social media during the game, and will watch the ads today online.  A huge missed opportunity.  This should be concerning for Facebook as they try to generate more revenue for social commerce and marketers.  As an aside, my own Facebook news feed was very quiet during the game.

4.    Marketing in Real Time – The action on Twitter was hot and heavy and the blackout afforded nimble marketers such as Oreo and Audi to act quickly.  While everyone is all excited about Oreo “winning” the night, the real test will be to look at their sales over the next few weeks.  Audi’s gentle slap at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome was funny.  "RT @Audi: Sending some LEDs to the @MBUSA Superdome right now..."

Also, Major League Baseball jumped to remind everyone spring training was on the way.   All well done and a lesson on how to be relevant in real time.  Watching the Super Bowl has become a communal two-screen experience for millions.  The action on Twitter is fun and makes the game and the commercials even better.  Marketers need to do a better job leveraging this phenomenon.

5.    Time to Move On – The Go gross-fest is pretty much at the limit and the E-Trade Baby is completely out of gas.  Personally, I am sick of the Doritos consumer generated ads.  Cute idea several years ago, now just amateurish frat humor.

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God Made a Farmer image from Ram's Super Bowl Ad

How to Win the Long Game on Super Sunday


Super Bowl Sunday is not only the day we crown the NFL champion, but the biggest day in marketing too.  CBS has sold out its inventory that fetched roughly $3.8 million for 30 seconds of airtime.  An expensive proposition even before you factor in production cost for the creative.  Is it worth it?  How can companies get the most bang for their huge investment?  ( put together a great list of what else you can buy for $4 million including 100 million impressions on Hulu, Twitter’s promoted trending topic every day for a month or a portal roadblock every day for a week.  These would get attention and drive measurable ROI for your brand.

When looking at the recent past of Super Bowl commercials I am reminded of this quote from Sun Tzu’s Art of War – “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

Over the years we have seen a variety of tactics aimed more at generating buzz and awards than really advancing brands – in other words noise.  For many brands, their Super Bowl efforts have become as predictable as the Patriots coming up short in the playoffs.  The commercials are usually some combination of kids/dogs/celebrities/pretty women and dopey men in an attempt to be funny, provocative or cute.  Everyone loves the E-Trade baby, but does he really still move the brand forward.  And, the Go Daddy/Danica Patrick partnership is stale and tired – and what does it tell me about the value of their service? Both of these campaigns are scheduled to run again this year.

To be successful on Super Sunday marketers need to view the venue as part of a larger campaign not a one-off opportunity to be amusing.  A recent survey by advertiser Century 21 confirms what we’d all expect – “36% say they'll use a second screen to supplement the game-viewing experience. They'll be checking sports news apps on their phone or tablet for breaking, behind-the-scene commentary. And 52% say they'll use social media during the game. They'll be talking about the game and — what else — the commercials.” (Mashable). (

The fact that fully half of viewers will be on social media leads to the conclusion that your Super Bowl Ad must be part of a larger, long term digital campaign to truly drive ROI for your brand.

Here are some other ways to get value for your $4 million:

Break some news; tell the audience something new about your company.  Mercedes-Benz is announcing the new CLA class – likely to be a lower price point entry-level car. (

Have a strong call to action back to a social platform or your web site.  Give viewers something to do with all those smartphones, tablets and laptops that will be at the ready.   A Paramount Pictures ad for a new Star Trek movie will be tied into a mobile app. 

Wonderful Pistachios is driving viewers to a Facebook contest app where they can upload a picture of how they “Get Crackin’ Gangnam Style” to win a one year lease to a Merecedes SLK250, the car featured in the Gangnam Style video. (

Think in terms of sharable content; make the ads and extensions easily accessible and shareable through Facebook and Twitter.  Both will see huge spikes in traffic on Sunday and your brand should be part of the conversation.

The ad and integrated digital campaign should do more then just entertain; they should demonstrate value to the customer and help move them down the decision making process.  This could be accomplished by sending them to a site with content and information that takes them deeper into your brand.  The idea that “helping is selling” can be extended to your Super Bowl campaign as marketers should be striving to make a long term emotional connection with customers rather than just a fleeting laugh.




Eight Rules for Creating Remarkable Content


1.    Present a Unique Point of View - Are you providing insight and opinions that bring something new to the topic? Being remarkable can sometimes mean being controversial or taking a contrary stand, or at least having a strong opinion. There is plenty of bland content out there, so be thought provoking. Bringing real insight is a way to generate comments, stimulate conversation and encourage sharing. You want to drive an action, and being different is a good way to start.

2.    Make it Sharable – One question to ask before publishing content: Would my target audience share it or recommend it? Think of it like the NetPromoter score. An endorsement from an advocate has more meaning than almost any other method of distributing your content. People rely on the opinions of peers, so create something your audience will want to share.

3.    Prove your Point with Data – It is easy to have an opinion, but you will be more remarkable if you build a case with data, research and sourced facts. If you want your audience to rely on and share your content, you need to make a solid, defendable case.

4.    Invest in Design - Present your content in an engaging manner for an audience that is likely overwhelmed with constant information. Smart use of design, graphics, photos, video and other elements add to accessibility and understanding. Your final format should be easy to read with clear entry points throughout, guiding the reader through your remarkable copy. Social media and mobile platforms have helped create shorter attention spans, so you need to grab your audience’s interest quickly.

5.    Tell a Story – No one wants to go back to his or her school days of reading dry textbooks. Storytelling is an ancient tradition and how we are wired to learn. When content is put into the context of a compelling story, you inspire your audience to connect and communicate with your brand. Also, tell a clean and simple story with good clear writing, as no one has time to decipher a puzzle.

6.    Be an Expert – Nothing is more important to creating remarkable content than having it written by a subject matter expert who is well versed in your industry. Your audience will not engage with content that is written at a superficial or amateurish level. The quality of writing is critical, as it must be at the level of today’s major media newspapers, magazine and websites. It goes without saying that spelling and grammar need to be impeccable, so hire a copy editor if you must.

7.    Be a Platform - Make your site/blog the hub of your digital marketing universe; in fact think of it as a platform. From this platform engage and surround your customer with a variety of media types through social and mobile channels.  You need to be everywhere your customers are consuming information.

8.     Become a Lifestyle Brand vs. a Product - Understand who your customer is, what drives them and what you mean in their lives.  Determine what business you are really in today.  For example, Sephora is in the beauty empowerment business rather than just selling make-up.  For Whole Foods, it is health and wellness, not groceries.  Apple is a lifestyle while Samsung is a product, the difference is subtle but means everything for the long term.

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