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Many businesses seem mediocre because they don’t have the drive to engage.

Log into Facebook and you’ll quickly see the trend that people consume content as images and videos. Statistics even show that images and YouTube searches are dominating interest and content consumption.

The online community is rapidly evolving and if you don’t fight to engage and entertain your customers, you’ll only be mediocre.

I recently attended SMX West and sat in on a presentation by Brian Clark, the Founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media, which caused me to start thinking this way. Either engage or stay mediocre. His take on the changing trends in online content marketing gave me a fresh perspective on how ridiculous the new remarkable really is.

What does Spinach, Duck Calls and Soap Have in Common?

The answer is that these things have all been creatively transformed into engaging entertainment.

Everyone buys into a good story or song or humour. Spinach farmers couldn’t give away the leafy vegetable in the early 1900’s – then along came Popeye.

Proctor & Gamble discovered the value of entertainment when they invented soap operas to find a new platform to advertise their soap to housewives. They created short skits about people’s every days lives that hooked housewives with dramatic cliff hangers, ensuring their audience would always watch the next episode – plus have a ton of advertisements directed right at them!

In 1976 Time claimed American daytime television as “TV’s richest market” because of their devoted following and ability to maximize their ad revenues. Proctor & Gamble not only sold more soap but they created a secondary stream of income from the growing viewership.

Another example mentioned by Clark at the conference was Marvel Comics which started as an advertising ploy to sell ant farms and toys. Little to nothing was made from the comic book sales but those comic books have reached generations of people and millions of dollars were made on the products advertised. Holding to the tried and true methodology, Marvel moved into the Super Hero movies. Again, very little was made from the actual movies, but Marvel’s revenue was from the advertisements and the residual income from the products sold in the ads.

Today, there are many examples of “marketing disguised as entertainment”. Consider the popular Love It or List It series on HGTV. While we see an episode of home design and home buying, what we are actually involved in is consumer engagement and an advertisement model similar to soap operas.

HGTV’s shows create a unique following of consumers who enjoy Interior Design and real estate – the perfect place for commercials and product placements. Plus it instills the desire for all viewers to renovate their home. They’ve seen it on TV; it can’t be that hard, costly or intensive to rip apart your kitchen or add a basement suite right?

And what about Duck Dynasty? This is just another marketing ploy gone viral when you stop to think about it. What is so interesting about a bunch of silly rednecks sitting around mass producing duck calls that captured 12 million viewers for the Season 4 opener and another 8.5 million for the Season 5 opener?

Take a redneck family, add a crazy uncle, mix in a good dose of silly antics, make some bobble head dolls and t-shirts and then create a series of YouTube videos. What do you get? You get a multi-million dollar Dynasty of duck call sales and five season (so far) of TV Series, plus all the residual sales of bobble-head dolls, t-shirts and even the Si Robertson Book of Beards at $15 a pop in every grocery store. Who knew a long grey beard could be so popular?

Key Takeaways on Creating Engagement through Storytelling

So what can be learned from these marketing geniuses who seem to have struck it big time?

1.    People want to be entertained and humored.
Popeye was a print medium, which evolved into a TV cartoon and then into an animated movie. Soap Operas were first released through the radio and then evolved into TV series where the viewers have remained loyal for nearly a century. Duck Dynasty started as a YouTube series then was picked up by the networks. There is a trend here – the idea of engagement through storytelling runs through the heart of each example. It doesn’t matter where the story gets told. It matters if the story is engaging, humorous or entertaining.

2.    Know how you will engage.
Too many small businesses are hopping onto the video bandwagon just because everyone else is doing it. You don’t need a brilliant multi-million dollar money making plan to create effective media content but you do need a clear idea how you can be engaging with your target market.

3.    Engaging content marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Other small to mid-size businesses think that building a media presence will be a huge investment in time and money – but it doesn’t need to be. You can start small, develop your cast, add your brand and build a story. Share it online: on your website, on your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Blog page. The concept doesn’t have to be a feature length film. Popeye cartoons were a 5 picture strip, the TV cartoons were 3 minutes and it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that a feature length animated film appeared.

4.    Know what will set you apart and provide value.
With more than 100 hours of video added to YouTube every minute you need to be different in order to stand out. You need an engage viewers with your brand in a unique way that provides value.

5.    Don’t miss out on this opportunity. 
With the incredible advancements in digital audio, video and aerial photography equipment plus website applications to edit and load your content all at affordable prices, building an entertainment advertising platform for your own advertising becomes an incredible opportunity to establish your brand, promote your business and to engage the consumer.
What’s Your Engaging Content Market Strategy?

If you are starting to think about how to use engaging video content marketing on your website be sure to read our article 23 Benefits of Using Videos on Websites or contact us at 1-888-262-6687 to understand more about the YouTube phenomenon and how to use videos to promote your brand visibility and customer engagement.

Chris Genge

Chris Genge is the Founder and CEO of 1st on the List. Since 1997 he has helped hundreds of companies across North America with his technical expertise and practical upfront approach to Search Optimization and Digital Marketing. As a pioneer in his field, Chris has the ability to help clients set goals and achieve results all while fostering growth and teamwork amongst his incredible team of SEO experts and Web Designers.