This week on Marketing Smarts, I speak with Andrew Davis, author of Brandscaping. What is "brandscaping," you ask? Well, here's how Andrew describes it: "Brandscaping is bringing likeminded brands and their audiences together to create content that increases demand or drives new revenue for the products and services you sell."
Put another way, he says, brandscaping involves "creating content with other people in the marketplace that already have an audience."
Does the world need another book about content marketing?
On the one hand, I would say, "Probably not." After all, my boss, Ann Handley, and CC Chapman already wrote the book on it, right?
On the other hand, I would have to say, "Maybe," because Andrew's book answers one of the perennial questions—"How do I actually create all this content I need to fuel my content marketing efforts?"—in an interesting way.
Specifically, Andrew puts a twist on the received wisdom that "marketers need to think like publishers." Instead, he says, marketers need to think and act more like executive producers, those people behind the scenes of movies and TV shows who spend all their time "trying to find the resources to create the right kind of content for the right audience."
Do not do it yourself
The problem with content marketing boils down to this: Unless your company sells content, job No. 1 for your company does not include producing content.
"Most of us," Andrew says, "are in the business of making widgets or selling services of some sort that have nothing to do with creating media [or] creating content directly."
Not that that's a bad thing. Indeed, Andrew says, "That's what we should focus on doing: making a better product, providing a better service in our specific area of expertise."
So where then should all that killer, lead-building, viral-going, audience-attracting content come from? The people who are already creating it because that's what they love doing.
"There's probably someone better than you—if you are not a media company—creating content already for the audience that you're targeting," Andrew explains, "and what they need is support."
Don't find a celebrity spokesperson, make one
Andrew likes to tell stories and to illustrate the point that marketers should spend more time scouting out and supporting talent, and less time creating mountains of "commodity content." He tells the story of Rachel Ray, who was originally hired by a brand to be the registered dietician for recipes for a grocery store. That gig led to a little spot on a local station, and that eventually led an entire food empire built around the "simple hook" of 30-minute meals.
The lesson that Andrew draws from that story is not that you should hire Rachel Ray to represent your company. Rather, his point is that countless undiscovered Rachel Ray's are out there in Internet-land, and if your brand found and invested in them rather than shell out money for things like celebrity endorsements, you might be able to, in effect, build your own celebrity.
"There are authentic content creators today in the online universe that already have a little audience…that love your product and love your service," Andrew insists.
Therefore, rather than "shoveling a lot of money down a celebrity's throat in the hopes that they'll wear your clothes or talk about your computer or embrace your software," he says, "you can actually find someone who really does love it, uses it every day, and is already creating content."
Think, then, like a producer, he goes on to say: "If you could just expand their reach and work with them to create more formatted content, you can actually make a bigger, longer-term investment in building that talent into what would essentially be a celebrity spokesperson."
And what brand wouldn't want that?
If you would like to hear my entire conversation with Andrew, you may listen above or download the mp3 and listen at your leisure. You can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Andrew Davis, who has wrangled for The Muppets and written for Charles Kuralt. He’s marketed for tiny startups and Fortune 500 brands. His novel combinations of old ideas that apply new technology have been tapped by the Obama administration and Russian media moguls. His new book, Brandscaping, puts his common sense approach to work for you.