Category Archives: Information Design

Content Marketing Starts with Storytelling – It Doesn’t End There

Most in business are starting to hear or know about #ContentMarketing. Here’s how it really works.

Content marketing roadmap to conversionContent is created for your business, usually stories, articles, tips, case studies, webinars, videos, and more (yes, we’ve identified more than 40 content types!) to help Google searchers learn or find out more about subjects they are interested in.

The content is intended to be helpful and relates in some way to your business or industry. Your business is NOT usually the subject of the content. Content producers are encouraged to relate it to a business but the minute the audience thinks of the content as an advertisement for an organization, they’re gone! You’ve lost them.

“An experienced and skilled storyteller produces interesting and helpful content while weaving your business into the story,” said Mike Brown, consultant at R. Michael Brown Communication, PR, & Marketing. “There’s a fine line between a prospect thinking of your content as interesting, helpful, and persuasive vs. perceived spam. After all, when a prospect searches Google looking for an answer to their problem, 75% are looking for information, they don’t want a sales pitch. They want information. The pitch comes later.”

After the content is created and placed on your website and distributed on social media, the process doesn’t end there. It’s just beginning.

“At first the content is to attract visitors,” said Brown. “That’s where most businesses stop in their content marketing. They must keep going. The next step for a customer is learning the information they seek. You want them to learn it from you.”

Customer engagement is the emotional connection between a customer and a brand. Highly engaged customers buy more, promote more, and demonstrate more loyalty. Providing a high-quality customer experience is an important component in your content marketing strategy.

The next step is customer and content engagement and allowing customers to compare. About 23% are making comparisons between you and your competitors. During that engagement the business must gather contact information. Email is best; but, if they give you a phone number too – that’s a warm lead.”

Email allows you to promote your brand with more helpful content and direct appeals to find out more. This could take several steps and we recommend not being too heavy handed. If you spam at this point you’ll break the connection and any possibility to convert them to a sale.

As the potential customer clicks more on your links within your content they are becoming a warmer lead. The more engagement and interaction the better. Listening is key here. If they comment on the content or links, take note. Engagement helps you tailor a proposal for each prospect. About 2% are ready to take action.

A direct contact to the prospect’s email or phone is the final step in the process of using content to convert a prospect into a paying customer.

Online Buyers Trust“The process takes time and patience,” said Brown. “It’s relationship building based on helpful information.”

Occasionally a sale will happen on the first content published but more typically the process takes consistent positive engagement until the prospect trusts you. Then you can make an ask for their business.

Content marketing always should have a purpose and that is increasing business. Content for content’s sake is not good enough. Paying customers should be at the top of the list. Brand building and stakeholder and influencer engagement is important too.

“Content marketing is the best way to become a thought leader in your industry and market,” said Brown. “And most customers want to do business with the leader, especially when they are helpful.”

Many organizations neglect to hire the right talent to make a content marketing strategy work. They look at content marketing as words on the screen, videos playing, and followers. But followers that aren’t customers, may be nice, but they don’t pay the bills.

A system has to be put into place for success. Talented content producers know the art of storytelling, persuasion, and most importantly, making emotional connections. They weave customer needs and solutions into a story without being obvious. They gently persuade prospects to act by helping them to understand problems and solutions.

“The best talent has the knowledge and skill of a top journalist and copywriter,” said Brown. “Buying is an emotional decision, not logic. Emotion and benefits sell, product features don’t.”

Professional writers and producers that know how to create that kind of content make a lot more than $15 – $20 an hour. The old adage “You get what you pay for” truly applies here.

Pros know the methods for research, creation and layering, and distribution processes required to make content marketing successful. And they produce and distribute great content fast.

Maybe not as fast as the low-paid amateur spewing words and memes around the internet. But fast in terms of great content that rises above the crush of useless information.

Fast in terms of getting to the right audience at the right time, making an emotional connection, and helping them to become customers that self-select and enter themselves into your sales funnel.

If you would like to know more about how great content marketing is accomplished with a system that results in paying customers, contact

The Content Creative Process that Delivers a Larger Audience

By: R. Michael Brown

Medici Gardens in Florence, Italy

Medici Gardens in Florence, Italy

Most 8 year-olds learn how to write, draw, and paint by grabbing a piece of blank paper and just get started. Not me.

I grew up in Italy and in 3rd grade I found out how Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci started a creative project. They learned it in the Medici family gardens in Florence where they were apprentices.

The rich Renaissance family set up the garden as a teaching studio.

Student artists were assigned to master artists and the apprentices leaned their craft by copying the work of their mentors. The masters taught them to immerse themselves in a subject to learn everything about it. They studied not only the form but the history, stories, everything they could find out about a subject they were going to produce.

I call this “immersion therapy.”

Medici family home Florence, Italy

Medici family home in Florence, Italy where art apprentices learned their craft.

The combination of immersion and copying the styles of the masters helped the apprentice learn the techniques of discovery, learning, materials, tools, and technical craft to paint, sculpt, and more. It helped them learn how to feel a subject and see it deeper from many angles.

The young artists found out how to visualize a story in their work.

Michelangelo The Last Judgment

Michelangelo “The Last Judgement” Sistine Chapel in Vatican City

Apprentices did this until they were competent enough to create their own style. They continued immersion therapy on each project but no longer needed to copy. They created from the knowledge and feelings they had about the subject and could tell stories with a painting or statue.

Leonardo da Vinci invention drawingLeonardo da Vinci took it to extremes and it inspired him into engineering, architecture, and invention – well beyond art.

Leonardo da Vinci 2 Wheel Paddleboat

Leonardo da Vinci 2-Wheeled Paddleboat

This model for learning and the creative process has been the most effective method I’ve seen or used for producing content – writing, illustration, painting, sculpture, video, film, and photography. Most of the best producers of content use this process to learn and continue it throughout their careers.

I use it every day.

The process helps especially in producing in-depth content marketing material like feature stories.  It inspires ideas for creative non-fiction, not just straight, grind it out, news or marketing copy.

The Galapogos: Connect & Conserve. R. Michael Brown, Writer & Producer. Picked up by Discovery Channel International.

Galapagos Composite w=800

My story in the Galapagos Islands is a modern day example of “immersion therapy” to produce the story.  My cameraman Abdiel Vivancos, audio Frankie Linero, and I were there for 2 weeks getting aerials, chartering boats, hiking mountains.  But I studied the islands and project for 3 months in pre-production, plus worked with Equador government agencies, before going.  The islands don’t have electric power…. interesting logistics to charge camera batteries.  The segment was picked up by Discovery Network International.

When used effectively, I’ve found that producing content using immersion therapy makes a more emotional connection with viewers, attracts a larger audience, encourages more engagement, and works to draw customers to a story and brand.

Immersion therapy isn’t easy to master, and takes time and effort, but the benefits of richer and more insightful stories will payoff in a stronger brand connection with the audiences you want to reach.

Courting an Amazing New Client

Wild Florida Orchid 0001Looking forward to a major announcement in a few weeks concerning a new client.

The work involves launching them as a new multimedia broadcaster and publisher, and positioning them as the authority in their field.

The photo is a hint.

I’m so excited about the topic, the folks I’ll be working with, and the future success they will have – I’m ready to explode!

Stay tuned….


The PowerPointing of Web Articles. Don’t do it.

Top 25 Mistake

Making viewers wade through content is a big mistake.

Are they making us watch PowerPoint on the Web?

It seems the latest trend for publishing web articles that want to show the top 10 or 25 etc. of a topic, issue, or trend, is to show a big picture and a blurb about each one with a giant button for you to click to see the next best in the list.

They always start with the 10th or 25th and make you click and reload the whole page, slowly working your way to the first in the list.

In a top 25 article it could take 15 minutes or more to go through the ugly process to finally see the number 1 in the list. Time waster!

A reader has to be pretty motivated to wade through the webpage loading and reloading. It reminds me of the most boring PowerPoint presentation you can imagine, just because of the waiting.

I know why web publishers do it. They want you to be exposed to all the ads surrounding the content… up to 25 pages of them. Ugh. This is not a site I will revisit because of the waste of my time.

A better option is to list each item as thumbnails all on one page. That gives the viewer the option to go right to #1 and explore all the others if they want.  And if you’re the publisher you can still put ads on each individual page so the viewer will see them when they expand the thumbnail.

Anytime you take away control from your viewer and force them to do something, you risk paying the price in damaging your brand, page view and satisfaction rate, engagement rate, and subscriber numbers.

What to Do

College Football Top 25 (AP)

What NOT to Do

25 Best Places to Retire (Forbes)