History is the Future…

Did you know Cleveland has a rich content marketing history? Andrew Davis of Tippingpoint Labs (@TPLDrew) started his fast-paced session by introducing the audience to Irna Phillips. In the early 1930s, Irna scripted and produced a show called “Painted Dreams,” and in doing so, she established the soap opera industry for client Margarine Limited Union (you know them as Unilever today).

“Our programming must actually sell product” – Irna Phillips

With this introduction, Davis reminded Content Marketing World participants that we all have an audience, no matter the size. Today,  content producers rely on Irna’s basic formula:

Content + Audience + Resources (underwriting) = Participation Creation

Here are contemporary examples of participant participation using new technology tools:

  • AwarenessNetworks.com features webinars—content creators leverage someone else’s audience, driving respective audience growth
  • TED conferences features high-powered thinking crammed into six days that results in a year’s worth of daily video
  • UStream platform allows companies and individuals to create and distribute virtual conferences, unheard of just a few years ago


Who is your unlikely duet partner? Tony Bennett rebooted his career by doing a series of duets with a variety of musicians and performers, including Sesame Street character Elmo. (See that unusual combo here). Who should you be doing duets with?

Search the “minor league” talent. Davis pointed out that his days as a fledgling stand-up comic demonstrated how spoken-word content enhanced the bars in which he performed. Similarly, if your audience wants edgy, new or untested content, feel free to incorporate it into your product or brand.  Professional polish isn’t always required, or even desired, in some circumstances.

Highlight your best of UGC (user generated content). Ford Fiesta highlighted the best user-submitted videos to its site and saw a measurable uptick in interest and vehicle purchase simply by featuring real people.

Scoop up the emerging winners, fast! Lauren Luke was a stylist creating how-to videos demonstrating how you could get a celebrity’s “look” using makeup. She built a following and was quickly snapped up by beauty brand Sephora. The result was a successful Sephora microsite ByLaurenLuke.com.

Create the BIG IDEA first. Davis points to the comedy writer who created the Twitter stream @ShitMyDadSays, which grew into a blog, a television show, and a book.