The Surprising Origin of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ I love A Charlie Brown Christmas special. I love...
The Surprising Origin of the Green-Bean Casserole Thanksgiving is 17 days away. (Can you believe it?) And, besides...
I’ve loved many of the music group OK Go’s past videos (here and here), but their latest video for their...
I am an idea person. Insights come to me all of the time and they can come from surprising sources. But on this...
My Surprising Journey into Content Marketing I can’t believe it, but it’s been 26 years since I first...
A Reader’s Digest article from October 1991 told an amazing story of how one national skier, who was...
Hi everyone, I thought those of you who are my regular readers might want to know that my blog post “A...
The 1960s Myth of Too Much Time in the Future I heard that in the 1960s, Time magazine reported that a subcommittee...
The ancient Roman lawyer, writer, scholar and great orator, Cicero, once said this about the power of...
Today I want to share some lessons with you about how to come up with content marketing topics. It’s a lesson...
Joe Pulizzi, the founder of ContentMarketingInstitute.com - one of the leading thought leaders behind the content marketing and social media movement
I can’t believe it, but it’s been 26 years since I first began experimenting with creating content to capture people’s attention. (I’ll explain more of that story in my course.)
It was 15 years ago that I built a website in a small niche. (I’ll share more about this story too.)
At that point in time, I had never paid attention to marketing or cared about it at all.
But after creating that site, I suddenly needed to figure out how to get traffic to it and cause it to grow.
That’s when I began reading about marketing. I read every old, classic book on marketing that I could. I read every internet marketing guru at the time (approx. 1999).
I began to apply what I was learning and grow that little website.
And in the process of growing and improving that website, I began to really have an interest in marketing.
Not only that, but I found out I really had a knack for it.
Something else surprising happened…Read More
I love A Charlie Brown Christmas special.
I love watching it every year with my 3 sons.
But I just found out something about the special that I didn’t know.
The most famous Christmas cartoon of all time wasn’t Charles Schulz’ idea.
It was Coca-Cola’s idea.
You see, Lee Mendelson and Charles Schulz wanted to do a TV special featuring Charlie Brown, but it wasn’t about Christmas.
It was going to be about baseball.
In fact, they made the pilot of “the world’s worst baseball player” (Charlie Brown), but the network rejected it.
That’s when Coca-Cola stepped in.
They approached Mendelson to see if they could create a Peanuts Christmas special.
Him and Schulz hadn’t considered such show and didn’t have anything prepared, but they seized the opportunity.
They quickly crafted a simple, single page creative treatment and presented it to Coke.
“The next day, Coke sent Schulz and Mendelson the following telegram:
‘CONFIRM SALE OF CHARLIE BROWN FOR CHRISTMAS TO COCA-COLA FOR DECEMBER BROADCAST AT YOUR TERMS WITH OPTION ON SECOND SHOW FOR NEXT SPRING. GOOD GRIEF!‘”
As popular as the show is these days, this might be hard to believe, but the show almost didn’t make it on air.
According to Smosh.com…
“The network hated the idea of a religious message in a Christmas TV special. They hated that the special wasn’t non-stop action interrupted with gales of fake laughter (as if cartoons would actually have a live studio audience). They didn’t like the soundtrack, thought the kid voiceover actors sounded too much like children, and would rather have played a needle scratch than jazz music. Things got so bad that even the special’s producers and Charlie Schulz (not known for having a cheery outlook to begin with) thought the cartoon would be a critical and commercial bomb. In fact, everyone was thinking of simply scrapping the show altogether…except for Cocoa-Cola, who was the special’s main sponsor and was not about to let a half-hour of advertising not make it to air.“
The ads for Coca-Cola have been removed from the special over the years, so you won’t see them when you watch it today.
So where were they in the original?
Ted Ryan says that the only Coca-Cola messages were “title slides telling viewers that the production was made possible by the support of the local bottlers around the country.”
Here is a video clip of the slides mentioning Coca-Cola…
Most people think of content marketing as content that focuses on the particular business that is creating it.
Many times that is true.
But the most powerful content marketing can be content that isn’t focused directly on your business at all.
As I revealed in a ContentMarketingInstitute.com post I did called “4 Illuminating Lessons From One of History’s Most Inventive Content Marketers“…
“Create content that your prospects and customers want — especially if it isn’t focused on your business: You must not only create great content, but you must also create content that your desired target group is craving and searching for. And this might seem counterintuitive, but the most powerful kind of content for you to create might actually be content that doesn’t directly focus on your business or industry at all.”
Do you want proof that it was content that marketed Coca-Cola effectively?
The original episode was such a powerful piece of content that Coca-Cola received thank you letters for sponsoring the special.
You might have thought you couldn’t use content marketing, because you’re not a content creator of any kind.
Well, now you know that you can harness the power of content marketing without actually creating it.
You can hire content creators to create content for your business.
It doesn’t have to be someone at the level of Charles Schulz.
There are many content creators out there who would gladly create content for you.
And, if you have always thought, “Well, who really cares about content related to my business?”
Now you know that the content doesn’t have to directly focus on your business or industry.
It just needs to be content that resonates with your audience. That’s the key.
That’s what Coca-Cola did.
And the result is content that was so popular that it still resonates with people almost 50 year later.
Thanksgiving is 17 days away. (Can you believe it?)
And, besides Turkey and stuffing, one of the most common side dishes that we’ll all have is the “Green-Bean Casserole”.
Have you ever wondered… How did this recipe become an American tradition?
You might be surprised, but it’s because of content marketing. Let me explain.
In 1955, a chef named Dorcas Reilly created the recipe for a cookbook that was being created to promote Campbell’s products.
Look at the recipe more closely and you can see the product they are promoting…
1 Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 1 1/3 cups onions in a 3-quart casserole.
2 Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.
3. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.
Did you catch it?
The recipe that so many of us love so much was created to sell Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup.
But we need to ask ourselves, “Why did it work?”
It worked because they focused on the thing that mattered most: the content.
Campbell’s marketing department didn’t try and make up a recipe in order to sell more mushroom soup.
No. Instead they had a chef who was a part of their home economics department create it. Why?
Because they wanted the recipe (the content) to be something people would want to make over and over.
And it worked.
Almost 50 years later, that recipe is still selling Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup.
Learn from Campell’s.
Make sure the content in your content marketing is superb, helpful, and usable for your target market.
If you do, you might come up with something that will still be selling your product or service 50 years now.
Photo by LWYang
Take a look for yourself…
I don’t know about you, but when I saw this video I thought, “I don’t know if this was on purpose or not, but I now want one of those ‘things’ they were riding on!”
After doing some quick research, I made two discoveries:
1. Those “things” they were riding were made by Honda and are called Uni-Cubs.
2. And their placement in the video WAS on purpose.
A Billboard.com article I read revealed this about the video: “Filmed by a camera on a drone, the band members ride motorized scooter chairs made by Honda, which paid for the film.”
This is a genius move by Honda.
This video will not only gain them a ton of publicity, but I am betting that it will gain them a ton of interested customers who want to buy their Uni-Cubs.
Hearing about how great a product or service is is one thing, but SEEING how great it is is much more powerful.
Content marketing is a great way to harness the power of demonstration.
Instead of just creating another ad for your product or service, why don’t you create a video of people USING your product or service?
When you say that your product or service is great, it’s expected. It doesn’t have much influence on your prospects.
But when others say that your product is great, then we take notice. Instead of creating an ad, why not create content marketing (pictures, videos, testimonials, etc.) that shows others happily using your product?
And if you can get any local “celebrities” to do that, it’s even better!
Honda tapped into both of these powers when they decided to have OK Go create this video.
And the results are powerful.
I am sure you’ll be seeing this video everywhere in the coming weeks.
And every time you do, let these two content marketing lessons pop into your mind.
Then figure out how to apply them in your marketing.
P.S. If you’re wondering how they made this video, then here is a behind-the-scenes video you’ll want to check out…
P.P.S. Sorry that it’s been over a month, since I’ve last posted something on here.
Here are some of the posts I’ve been writing on other sites during this time that you might want to check out:
I am an idea person.
Insights come to me all of the time and they can come from surprising sources.
But on this particular morning that I am about to tell you about, I didn’t expect to get an important insight into the power of content marketing.
I was just expecting to eat breakfast.
Let me explain…
I woke up one Saturday morning and learned that my wife had made breakfast for my sons.
As I came stumbling into the kitchen in a half-awake stupor, she asked me if I wanted some “flapjacks”.
I thought, “That was weird. I’ve never heard her use that word before.”
So I replied, “You mean ‘pancakes’, right?”
She said, “No, They’re flapjacks. Actually they’re called ‘Kodiak Cakes’ and they’re really good!” (My kids, who were already sitting at the table and eating them, agreed that they were really good.)
I said, “Kodiak Cakes? What are those?”
She then set the box on the table and said, “Read the back…”
I grabbed the box and flipped it over to see what she was talking about.
And there on the back on the box I found this amazing story…
Years ago, flapjacks were the hearty mainstay of frontiersmen from the frigid Yukon to the wilds of Alaska, and from the Rocky Mountains to the High Sierras.
These rugged mountain-men and homesteaders relied on a traditional flapjack that combined the rich, substantial taste of whole grain wheat with the light mellow taste of whole grain oats.
Although the old-timers knew of the excellent taste and abundant energy they received from their daily flapjacks, they didn’t fully realize that they had stumbled onto a superb nutritional combination.
Their flapjacks contained a powerful source of carbohydrates, protein and fiber – all with very little fat. Since then, the original flapjack has quietly disappeared from North American tables.
Today, few people even know that the frontier flapjack and the ordinary pancake are not the same.
Many are now discovering for the first time that the original flap-jack tastes a whole lot better than the lifeless creations that commonly pass for pancakes these days.
At Baker Mills, we set out to restore the flapjack tradition.
In the process, we soon realized we had to get serious about ingredients – real taste and real nutrition demand real ingredients.
The old recipe could not be compromised for profit.
Inexpensive fillers such as bleached flour, white sugar, vegetable shortening and artificial additives that have taken over so many baking products were definitely out of the question.
Only with a commitment to use the original ingredients could we restore this lost tradition.
We believe we have made good on our commitment with Kodiak Cakes, using only the finest American wheat and Canadian oats.
Kodiak Cakes, are not for the fainthearted, but for those who, like the old frontiersmen exploring and settling untamed wildernesses, require nutrition, vitality, and taste.
Wow. I couldn’t believe what I had just read.
I had never heard of flapjacks described in this way.
It was a history lesson, a story, and an amazing invitation that was “not for the fainthearted.”
I never knew there was a difference between flapjacks and pancakes, but now I did.
Not only that, I knew what made these flapjacks so special.
After reading the box, I had to try them.
And so when the next hot batch was ready and placed on the table, I made my move and snagged a batch off of the plate – before my boys swarmed in for them.
I put some butter on them and poured the syrup over them.
I was now ready for my first bite.
I plunged the side of my fork into the stack and wiggle it so I could cut off a small wedge of the stack to try.
I then stabbed the wedge with my fork and popped it into my mouth.
They WERE really good – just like my wife, my sons, and the box said they would be!
I seriously think they’re some of the best “pancakes” – oops, I mean “flapjacks” – that I’ve ever had from a box.
As I finished eating my first plate of Kodiak Cakes, I realized I had just experienced one of the often overlooked powers that great content marketing has.
When we usually think of content marketing, we usually think of it in terms of its “pre-purchasing” power.
In other words, we usually focus on its ability to influence prospects BEFORE they buy (i.e. by drawing attention to your company, by encouraging them to know, like, and trust you, etc.).
But the revelation that I got that Saturday morning during breakfast was the impact of content marketing’s “post-purchasing” power.
This is the overlooked power that great content marketing has…
Content marketing has the power to not only sell your product or service, but to BOOST your customer’s experience (and pleasure) with you product or service.
The copy written on the back of the Kodiak Cakes box is so good I’m tempted to take it apart sentence by sentence.
But I won’t.
Instead, let me just point out three important lessons you can learn from the makers of Kodiak Cakes.
Don’t limit your content to the these pre-purchase avenues. Instead, create content that will be featured on your products themselves (or on/in the sales copy or sales scripts you use to sell your services).
Baker Mills didn’t waste the space on that box that their flapjacks come in. They harnessed it by filling it with content and story.
Its Impact: This drew me in and made me care more about the product.
Tell the story of how your type of product or service began to be offered to people. Paint the picture of its impact and its intrigue. Point out the good, the bad, and the ugly of how your type of product or service came to be and how it has evolved over the years.
Baker Mills explained things I never knew: what the difference was between pancakes and flapjacks, what type of people ate them, what made them flavorful and good for your health, etc.
Its Impact: This me gave information and categories I didn’t have before. This gave me criteria I would now use to judge and compare every other pancake mix. It also created intrigue and context for what I was about to experience.
Explain your origin story. Tell them why your company offers the unique product or service that you do. Paint a clear picture of how your product is different, better, etc. Be descriptive in telling your customers what it will be like to experience your product and service.
Baker Mills told me they weren’t just concerned about profit, but they cared about taste and authenticity. They were committed to using the original ingredients and carrying on the tradition of the frontiersmen. And they explained how they only used the finest ingredients.
Its Impact: This caused me to experience Kodiak Cakes before I even tasted them. It made me an ally of Kodiak Cakes. It even challenged me to be like one of the rugged and brave frontiersmen who explored and settled the untamed wilderness.
Do you see how these three things impacted my breakfast that morning?
I wasn’t just eating pancakes. I was eating flapjacks.
And they weren’t just any old flapjacks.
They were flapjacks influenced by the tradition of the frontiersmen. They were flapjacks with the emphasis on real flavor and real ingredients.
That created meaning, anticipation, and the sense of adventure to my regular, old breakfast experience.
Now don’t get me wrong.
You still need a good product or service. Kodiak Cakes really are great flapjacks.
You must have a great product or service, if you plan on using the above three “secrets”.
Because great content marketing that is used in the above ways to promote a BAD product or service will just make a bad product or service seem even WORSE.
But great content marketing that is used in the above ways to promote a GREAT product or service will make a great product or service seem even BETTER.
Apply these three “secrets” to your business today.
If a company that makes flapjack mix can use these methods, then so can you.
P.S. If Kodiak Cakes sound like something you want to try, then you can learn more about them on their website: KodiakCakes.com.
A Reader’s Digest article from October 1991 told an amazing story of how one national skier, who was training for the Olympics, came up with a new racing technique.
And after you read this great story, I will show you what this new racing technique and the desire to come up with new content marketing ideas have in common.
Here’s the story the Reader’s Digest article shared…
“When Jean-Claude Killy made the French national ski team in the early 1960s, he was prepared to work harder than anyone else to be the best.
“At the crack of dawn he would run up the slopes with his skis on, an unbelievably grueling activity. In the evening he would lift weights, run sprints–anything to get an edge.
“But the other team members were working as hard and long as he was. He realized instinctively that simply training harder would never be enough.
“Killy then began challenging the basic theories of racing technique.
“Each week he would try something different to see if he could find a better, faster way down the mountain. His experiments resulted in a new style that was almost exactly opposite the accepted technique of the time.
“It involved skiing with his legs apart (not together) for better balance and sitting back (not forward) on the skis when he came to a turn. He also used ski poles in an unorthodox way–to propel himself as he skied.
“The explosive new style helped cut Killy’s racing times dramatically. In 1966 and 1967 he captured virtually every major skiing trophy.
“The next year he won three gold medals in the Winter Olympics, a record in ski racing that has never been topped.
“Killy learned an important secret shared by many creative people: innovations don’t require genius, just a willingness to question the way things have always been done.”
People seem to have the same question when it comes to content marketing: How do I come up with new ideas?
I will answer that question in detail in my upcoming “Content Boosters” online course, but it comes down to two things:
You need to pay attention to the things that are around you. Ideas are all around you – if you pay attention.
You need to not only take time to observe what’s going on around you, but you also need to find time to think about what you observe and how (or if) it relates to content marketing.
How did Jean-Claude Killy up with his paradigm shifting new racing technique?
No! Instead he did these two things:
*This is how ALL creativity and breakthroughs take place, whether it’s in sports, education, art, or content creation.
These two things require one thing; TIME.
We’re all so busy in life, juggling so many things, that none of us has any more time to give away.
Or do we?
Was Jean-Claude Killy less busy than the other skiers? No!
He just used his time in different ways than the others.
If you really want to be able to keep coming up with new content marketing ideas, then it’s going to require you doing these two things.
And that will require you figuring out how to find the time to do these things.
I’m sorry. There’s no other shortcut or secret to creativity.
But if you’re willing to find the time to do these things, then you will begin to come up with new content marketing ideas.
There are 8 days left for you to grab a copy of my recording called, The 3 Keys to Increased Focus, Efficiency, and Creativity.
I am only offering this recording until August 30th at 12pm PST.
These three simple things are NOT content marketing methods.
They are methods to apply to your life that can help you to become better at prioritizing things.
They’ll also reveal to you some overlooked ways you can reschedule your life to fit in the time to do things like observe and contemplate.
Just to be clear, these “3 keys” are NOT just something I made up. I discovered them.
1. The first key is something that many of the “Greats” from the past implemented daily in their lives.
2. The second key is based on an ancient concept which was unknowingly implemented by one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.
3. The third key is based on a mindset that both modern productivity experts and an ancient group of people agree upon.
NOTE: At the link above you’ll find more information such as:
Photo from Killy.com
I thought those of you who are my regular readers might want to know that my blog post “A 213 Year Old Business Reveals Two Content Marketing Secrets of Today’s Publishing Empires” was featured on ContentMarketingInstitute.com’s podcast “This Old Marketing.”
You can hear the full episode here.
Or you can just listen to just the final segment where they talk about my post below:Read More