An unfair advantage: Why some businesses are secretly building original series

Over 4 million blog posts are published every day. How do we stand out? What is our plan to secure market share from competitors and make sure that your team's time on content marketing and resources was well spent?

Creating episodic content is a mindset and strategy decision as much as it is an operational decision.

By now you may have a solid grasp of several benefits that episodic content brings. If not, check out this blog post. I'll wait.

You may already be bought into the idea of creating an original series, and you may even have a show idea. but how can you build a business case (or just rest assured) that this is the direction to take?

There's a few reasons why brands that invest in building original series come out at the top. When it comes down to it though, what can building an original series do for businesses struggling to build (or defend) their brand in no man's land?

 

1. An Unfair Advantage

Episodic content provides a proven methodology for growing an unfair advantage.


By building episodic content, marketers set themselves up for success by creating content that is simple to plan for internally for complex for competitors to replicate due to the compounding of variables in their arsenal. Let’s look at exactly why it provides an unfair advantage.


First-to-market

It matters whether a business is the first to create a show around their specific niche or focal point to become top of mind for their buyer personas. With the right quality and consistency, this creates for a brand asset that holds attention and trust value that’s hard if not impossible to replicate exactly.


Guest relationships and selection

It is difficult to replicate the exact same roster of guests and re-create the exact same conversations and entertainment/education value. Not to mention, with each reputable guest and their klout score comes an added layer of complexity for competitors to match.


Multi-format content repurposing

By taking each episode and repurposing it for different social channels to create high volume microcontent pieces, brands create an act that’s tough to follow. It also ensures that they have brand assets everywhere that their audience’s attention is spent on.

Whether that’s on Quora, Spotify, Instagram, LinkedIn, or anywhere else. Incumbents still working in silos will scramble as they experience burnout trying to match the quality and quantity of output.


ROI-centric

By creating content pieces that are fully trackable and hold a dollar value, you make it easy for your department to show the value that marketing is contributing to the organization, unlocking bigger budgets to do even more damage - thus dwarfing a competitor’s resources and attempts systematically over time.

 

2. Thought Leadership

What constitutes a thought leader, anyway? There is no academic definition or formula.


A thought leader in business is someone (or some company) that constructively challenges the status quo with new vision, new information, or new methods to enable a group of people to do better work.

The great irony of many would’ve-been thought leaders is that they’re too focused on their work to build the necessary brand awareness for it. On the other side of the coin, they may be keen to build brand awareness but have not yet discovered the right vehicle to enable them the spotlight that they deserve.


By building their own original series, businesses equip themselves with a vehicle that they can use to curate and communicate with their target audiences the conversations, debates, questions, and findings that seek to stimulate and educate them - leading them to a new way forward.


This can be seen in documentary-style episodic series, where the creator brand starts with one question (commonly one that is important to their buyer) as they journey to answer it across a few episodes. This can be done in-house or in collaboration with guests that they meet on their way.

A great example of this highly successful Ernest Packaging’s Cardboard Chaos Series.

 

 

To answer their enterprise buyer’s needs around the best quality packaging options, Ernest Packaging playfully demonstrate the durability of their cardboard by recreating every-day objects in cardboard.

From cardboard guitars that they built for Linkin Park, to cardboard surfboards featuring pro surfers CJ Kanuha, Brennen Clarke and Jeff Deffenbaugh.


Rather than publishing a blog post, or even a video demonstrating the benefits of their packaging solution and their dexterity with customization - they drove the point home and built thought leadership by creating a dedicated original series where they continue to push the boundaries in every new episode they release.


Another great example of this is Wistia’s One, Ten, One Hundred series.

In this series, Wistia sets off to answer one question - how much does budget play a factor in video production, as they recreated the same video for $1000, $10,000, and $100,000 respectively, coming up with some surprising conclusions.

By incorporating creative elements of storytelling, documentary-style shooting, and a razor-sharp understanding of their buyer persona, they were able to build thought leadership in that regard.

 

3. Personal Branding

Episodic content is a great way to build up the personal brands behind your small (or large) business. With this familiarity of faces breeds trust.


A note on trust

You and I already know this: people buy from people, not faceless corporations. According to Investopedia, a recent Harris poll reported less than 20% of people trust big businesses in the banking, pharmaceutical health and health insurance industries.

This trend is echoed in a study Ipsos released titled When Trust Falls Down, reporting that 42% of consumers claim to distrust brands, 69% distrust advertising, with 43% claiming that they trust advertising less than they used to.

Most importantly, one of the key recommendations of the report is the call for brands to shift from story-telling to anecdote-telling - that is, “If you’re a brand about thanking, how have you thanked? If you are a brand about sharing, how have you shared?”


A related HuffPost article captures the current sentiment among modern buyers perfectly:


“What matters [to millennials] is that they’re not moved by flashy ads, big promises, and “wow” factor. They want authentic messages, authentic brands, and authentic interactions.”



Ultimately, people trust people like them.

 

Building your personal brand, and theirs

By having the humans in their company quite literally “show their faces” in the episodic content they create, it builds up the personal brands of the individuals in those videos, and provided they are attuned to their buyer personas - successfully builds trust an influence over time.

In episodic content, we lovingly refer to those people as the hosts of the show. Start thinking about who could play the role of the host in your show. This will be the face of your company.

It could be the CEO, another CXO, a manager, or an individual contributor in the field. The perspective your show is taking will help give you clues as to who is best suited to play the role of the host.

It is also possible to have multiple hosts with multiple focal points within a series, or across different series. For example, a CEO may host a show taking a birds-eye view on an industry.

In the same company, a salesperson may host a show taking a grassroots or day-to-day perspective on what he’s uncovering from his customers and contacts.

 

Want to brainstorm ways to get your company to cross to this way of thinking? Chat to us now or book a 15 min call with us below.

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