What I Learned This Year 2012 #23: Andrew McGuire

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Every Brand is a Content Network

It was the day after Christmas last year when the movers arrived. After seven years in LA, I was taking my wife, twin two-year-old girls, and my dreams to Colorado.

I've been a hybrid talent before it was trendy, which means I was somewhat out of place in the mega agency world. I've always been about making media-neutral content that tickles brand strategists and audiences alike. So I jumped at the opportunity to return to my beloved Colorado with a hybrid shop trying to do things differently.

I liked that they were called Impossible (not Impossible Pictures, that was so 1990s) because that's pretty much what they're asked to do every day mostly for television networks cranking out award-winning rebrands, promos, commercials and motion design. The new job was going to give me a nice change of pace from the ad world. So I thought.

I soon learned, that the ad/brand world and production/network world are in fact not all that different. They both are facing seismic change with the explosion of social media, new technologies, shrinking budgets, and an infinitely segmented market. Above all, they're both now in the "content marketing" business.

You may have seen the term "content marketing" trending on the conference scene and filling up every "what's gonna be hot in 2013" blog post. Some call it the next big thing in the post-ad world. Reality is, it's nothing new. It's been around for years in many forms and under many different names – from soap operas to BMW films to, recently, Red Bull's Stratos. While I have a great disdain for any "marketing" term, I believe it isn't just another fad. Thanks to social media, content is now the conversation currency of our time.

Today, every brand is now a content publisher and network. At least they ought to be. Relevant content (unlike interrupting ads) gives brands new relevance and a unique voice in a sea of sameness, ineffective ads, and cynical audiences. In short, content is a BFD. Some brands have learned this lesson. Red Bull, Coca-Cola, American Express, Kraft and GE are themselves turning into niche content networks.

Of course, television networks are still players in the content hungry world, they just no longer rule it. For them, they're hope for survival lies in making the pivot from content destinations to content curators across all screens.

Like social media strategy, a clear content strategy (and production platform) needs to be fully integrated into every business model from the inside out. Brands will be creating content labs (much like news rooms) and social command centers to crank out a constant flow and stock of content for their customers to engage with and share.

So whether you do words, images or moving images, this is an exciting time for content producers and marketers. The need for quality and quantity of content is only rivaled by the need for good storytelling and clear brand voice.

So I'm glad I made the jump to Colorado and Impossible. I'm living the dream in the cross section of brand and content. For Impossible, we continue to be specialists in branding television networks but are now poised to conquer all content networks.

Get ready. 2013 is the year of content. And like it or not, we're all in the content marketing business now.

To read the entire 2012 'What I Learned' series, click this.

Comments

I enjoyed reading your article Andrew! I work for a small SEO company in Denver and one of the very first things I learned after joining the team was that content is king and always will be! I couldn't agree with you more that relevant content is vitally important as it gives not only a brand relevance, but it also gives them "a unique voice in a sea of sameness, ineffective ads, and cynical audiences." Everyone is trying to be hear and found online. Those people with relevant, unique and interesting content are going to be the ones found. As I'm sure is the case for television. Thanks again for the great read!

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