Archive for ‘Clients’

September 10, 2013

Case study: Costco Canada Catalogue Content

Smart, targeted content that delivers brand personality

costcohome

Dealing with intelligent, savvy clients with a clear vision of the audience they’re trying to reach results in great work. While a stroll through their mega-sized stores gives the impression that there’s something for everyone at Costco, this smart retailer does target several market segments, including secondary and tertiary audiences of newly marrieds, young male technology buffs and small business owners. Still their primary target is she who has the most retail clout, the maturing Gen X or Baby Boom female shopper.

According to experts like Carol Orsborn, co-author of Boom: Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer, the Baby Boomer Woman, this group of female consumers controls 80% to 85% of purchases for the home—and is far more likely to own or be involved with a small or home business than other target markets. Reaching the mature female consumer is essential to successful large-scale retail like that of Costco.

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costcoonline

Following the creation of a branding guide to be used by internal marketing staff, seed president Joy Parks was charged with creating the “story” content for the retailer’s annual catalogue. While much of the piece is product driven, a decision had been made to use the front-of-book sections that provide information on membership and overall offerings, as well as department introduction pages, to provide the audience with a taste of the Costco brand personality. The information pages were written in a conversational, welcoming and helpful tone. Out of several options provided, Costco choose the “My Costco” theme for the introduction pages as a means offering shoppers a sense of ownership in the store and to reinforce loyalty. As is the case with effective content, these pages of emotion-driven copy were more about the audience’s needs than Costco’s offering.

costcoglasses

The content provided for the catalogue has been used for several years running, refreshed with new photography. The main client contact, Shannon Ambrose, Director of Marketing at Costco Canada, satisfied with the results, has assigned other work. She also notes that, “After taking the time to get to know our business and our project, Joy crafted texts that not only captured the message we were looking for, but she did so in a timely manner, meeting deadlines, and going over and above to get the tone of the piece perfect. “

To see more of the catalogue content, click on the links below.

http://seedcreativecontent.com/entries/branded-content/2011-costco-catalogue

http://seedcreativecontent.com/entries/consumer/costco-catalogue-pages

womenatwork

electronics

Download a PDF of this case study.

Costco Case Study

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September 5, 2013

Case study: greenmelon inc. product site

Fictional storytelling: A “novel” approach to branded content

greenweb_product

 

When greenmelon inc. was first established, its primary focus was on product design, mainly lighting fixtures, furniture and household hard goods. Thing is, when small firms design products, they seldom have the financial support to actually produce the product—it’s generally easier, less risky and more lucrative to simply sell the design to a manufacturer or large chain, and let them take over the production and distribution.

Greenmelon creative director Robert Smith’s background lay in graphic design—and he had won many packaging gigs—so the company offered a holistic approach to product design—not just the product itself, but also the positioning, communications and packaging that went along with it.

Since the product didn’t exist beyond Robert’s imagination, the wonder of Photoshop and some technical drawings—there was only one way to get the product ideas across. Tell a good story. That’s exactly what Joy Parks, owner, senior writer and creative director of seed, did.

There was a simplicity and great deal of wit to the products developed by greenmelon—and that tone was central to the content on the website. Beginning with the understated “we’re greenmelon and we design things” tagline (which continues to appear on www.greenmeloninc.com, also written in large part by seed president Joy Parks), the site not only featured brief descriptions of the products—but also fictional stories of end-user customers who had bought the product. The short stories explained who the potential customer was, why they bought the product and how they were using it. These fictions not only outlined details about the product but also allowed potential licensees to glimpse their potential market. And they did so with wit, humour and down-to-earth simplicity.

According to President and Creative Director of greenmelon Inc., “I always infuse an element of wit and whimsy into my product design so it was imperative that the website articulate that. I chose to work with Joy from the very beginning of the project because the site required more than just words. It needed personality. It needed to tell a story. There was no one else that I would trust with a project of this scope. The results were simply, poetic. Joy was much more than a writer, she was a collaborator and the site would not have been the overwhelming success it was without her involvement.”

greenweb_product (1)

greenweb_product (2)

The site got rave reviews from just about everyone who visited it and was, quite frankly, like catnip for young designers looking for a place to work. While greenmelon later shifted its focus to graphic design, this initial website showcased both the company’s innovative designs and creative approach to marketing them, established their “fresh” brand and proved the power of storytelling.

For more examples of greenmelon’s website, please go to:

http://seedcreativecontent.com/entries/retail/greenmelon-product-website

http://seedcreativecontent.com/entries/corporate-non-profit/greenmelon-inc-website

Download a PDF of this case study Greenmelon Inc

 
May 4, 2013

You go, girl!

Love the infographic, but I wish there were more cities in the list…and I’d really like to see one of these for Canadian cities as well. Also, check out the tips — I’ve used each and every one of them and they work.

void(0)

April 28, 2013

And you are?

How much does your title define you?

I was thinking about that while reading the Content Marketing Institute’s CCO magazine — for Chief Content Officers. Great publication–but it made me ponder if a one-woman creative content company with a tiny, but solid and growing client list, really needs C-suite titles. I’m thinking no. I’ve worked for design firms and agencies so small we didn’t put titles on our biz cards; that way we could assume any role in a meeting or proposal that was required. Recently in a meeting, I heard a fairly senior executive refer to the very visible and highly placed head of his corporation as “Grand Poobah.”  I’m betting he doesn’t call him that to his face.

During the heady new days of the dot coms, all sorts of strange and quite wonderful titles began appearing–Chief Humour Officer, Director of Originality, Brainy Guy (that was my title at a hip agency I wrote for because I was the only one who could decipher what the new tech clients were actually trying to sell), Corporate Jester–but when the VC money dried up, so did the cute monikers. I guess I could call myself Chief Content Diva or The Goddess of Words, but those titles aren’t really on brand — and just a tad too fey for me. Word Grower? Brand Story Gardener? Copy Pruner (that would be for editing, I guess). Nope, too cute and they’d all require additional explanations–clients are busy people, no need to burden them with something else to figure out. The bank likes me to be “president” so I can be responsible for the money, but I prefer “senior writer” (and the “senior” part comes from doing this job for more than a quarter century, not because I have a few “juniors” on staff).

So what’s your title? Does it bear any relationship to what you actually do? Like it or not, we are what we are called. That’s why it’s always better to name yourself. If you could make up your own title, what would it be?

April 20, 2013

If only…

12 Roles Essential to the Future of Content Marketing

If this much focus is ever put on content marketing and communicating with clients — just imagine the job market for writers and other creative talents. It boogles the mind!

March 16, 2013

Who are your heroes?

According to my mother, when I was quite young, I would cut photos of detergent or face powder or toys out of magazines and catalogues, paste them to a piece of paper, write a story about why they were good things to have and make a presentation to the dolls and stuffed toys I had assembled around my kiddy table. When I watched “Bewitched,” it wasn’t Samantha and her magic family that interested me, it was Darren’s work at McMann and Tate that held my attention.

These were obviously signs of things to come.

Despite what the writers of Mad Men would have you believe, little girls who wanted to be advertising creatives (and when I look around at agency biz events, I’m thinking there were more of us than one would have expected) had our role models. There was Shirley Polykoff, creator of the famous “Does she…or doesn’t she?” campaign. There was Mary Lawrence Wells, who took the idea of branded content to new levels when her agency not only did a campaign for Braniff Airlines, but also decided on the décor of the planes and the outfits for the flight attendants. And there was my personal fav, Jane Trahey, who set a new standard for fashion content in the years when she was a force in Neiman-Marcus’ advertising and later opened her own New York shop where she won clients like Elizabeth Arden and created the famous Blackglama Furs campaign.  In addition, she wrote plays and a handful of books, one being On Women & Power, that was pretty much an early roadmap on how women could get and keep high-powered jobs. I’ve given a half dozen copies away to women I thought could use the moral support—and I continue to seek out copies in used bookstores.

These days I’m reading people like George Lois, Lee Clow and others—plus the content “specialists” like Joe Pulizzi or David Meerman Scott (whom I liked even more when I found his book World Wide Rave free on Kobo. How generous.)

Perhaps some of you didn’t start planning your career while preparing for first grade, but I’m thinking if they would have made a line of collectible cards featuring advertising executives (the kind that used to come with that stick of pink powdery gum with the consistency of Bristol board), I would have collected the whole set.

Hummm…there’s a product idea.

Everyone needs a hero. And whether you get ideas or the courage or the strength to stay focused from someone writing about the industry or elsewhere, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you make an effort to find the motivation that keeps you raising your personal bar and going after what you want.

December 19, 2012

It’s about time!

In this month’s Inc. magazine, one of the 2013 trends stories is titled “Ads Will Be Articles & Vice Versa.” While big business seems to be picking up on the value of branded content, thanks to work by companies like Amex and P&G, it’s good to see advice on content marketing directed at the smaller, entrepreneurial companies Inc. serves.

It’s particularly good news for people with a background in both copywriting and journalism.

People like me.

Here’s the link…http://www.inc.com/magazine/201212/adam-bluestein/ads-will-be-articles.html

December 14, 2012

Early (and unexpected) Christmas presents

Unbelievable. Having that floating on air feeling. Told a handful of people about SEED, got four lunch/coffee/meeting offers. That plus a truly fascinating and also out of the blue standing offer and a few current freelance clients. I think SEED may be well on its way.

October 9, 2012

Some clients would be good too…

Making a list. A long list. This is when I relish the fact that I’ve been writing in the same market for more than 25 years.