the sally sisson blog

July 27, 2014

Content Marketing With a Side of Bacon

Denny's Content Marketing Campaign

How Denny’s Became a Weirdly Successful Content Marketer

This Fast Company article about Denny’s off-beat content marketing campaign got me thinking. About the power of brand personality, the importance of taking creative risks, and about two eggs over easy, hash browns, rye toast and a side of bacon. Make that Applewood smoked bacon. (Caution: Reading and writing before breakfast may lead to obsessive tendencies.) But seriously, this is a smart, targeted marketing strategy that’s capturing a whole new audience by speaking their language, while still keeping it real with its loyal, long-time customers.

baconDenny’s is serving up fun and engaging material across multiple channels and formats. There are retro Atari video games featuring odd combos of Denny’s items (like hash browns) with Atari game elements (like asteroids) resulting in titles like “Hashteroids” (get it?). Although I’m far from the target audience, I did get a kick out of the web series Always Open with Jason Bateman, Sarah Silverman and Will Arnett dishing with celebrities in a Denny’s booth.

All this talk about food and content also reminded me of one of my favorite content marketing examples of all time : The Waffle Shop (not to be confused with Waffle House, which reminds me of Jim Gaffigan).

Content marketing broadcasting

Waffles With a Side of Content (& Storytelling)

A rooftop storytelling billboard, a TV production studio, live music. What’s not to love?

This is one of my favorite examples ever. So I was happy to see it as the #1 pick in the Content Marketing Institute’s compilation of 100 Content Marketing Examples last year. The story of The Waffle Shop, an independent Pittsburgh restaurant with a wildly creative approach to content marketing, was originally featured in: What if You Sold Waffles with a Side of Content?  by Andrew Davis.

I’m off to make some breakfast so will leave you with this excerpt:

“The Waffle Shop was a neighborhood restaurant that produced and broadcast a live-streaming talk show with its customers and operated a changeable storytelling billboard on its roof. [It} was a public lab that brought together people from all walks of life to engage in dialogue, experimentation and the co-production of culture. [It] functioned as an eatery, a TV production studio, a social catalyst, and a business.

“What’s interesting about [this] experiment is that they leverage a content-centric approach as the centerpiece of their business — it’s not a marketing project or a blog; in fact, the content is one of their products.”




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May 17, 2013

Creativity as Commodity: The value of cutting through clutter

photo blogging, creativity, content marketing

“OK, GLASS, FIND DOG FOOD!” by Thomas Hawk

Picture, caption, period. End of story.

Sometimes that’s all you need for a blog post. If it’s really, really good, and you’re very talented and clever.

The picture and caption above are all that comprise today’s post on Thomas Hawk’s photoblog. Sometimes the photographer writes several paragraphs to accompany his photos, sometimes barely a sentence.

I stumbled upon this image while reading The Battleground of Creativity, a post by Geoff Livingston on, among other things, perfectionism, fear of failure, and the agony of the creative process.

As a content writer and editor, I work with clients to whittle down text and push out content at a steady pace. But when it comes to writing my own blog posts, I often struggle. I keep long lists of ideas, thinking I’ll spin them into brilliant essays on something or other that everyone will want to read. Or not. I overthink and underproduce. It’s hard to be prolific when you’re a perfectionist who has a hard time pressing the “publish” button—and then walking away.

My three thoughts of the day:

Sometimes less is more. (Note to self.)

Enough said. Don’t write three paragraphs if you can say it in one. Don’t overcomplicate a blog post; break it into a 3-part series. Leave some white space. Breathe. Let a picture tell a story. Add a compelling caption and be done with it.

You get what you pay for.

This minimalist approach only works if the content you post — written or visual — is strong enough to stand on its own. Want an arresting image that breaks through the clutter in inboxes, news feeds, and social media channels? Spend money on a really good professional photographer. Want a logo that’s clever, iconic and and stands the test of time? Forget crowdsourcing and Fiverr (another rant for another day). Instead, find the most talented designer you can afford. Want a landing page that lures in visitors and ups your click-through rates? Hire a good copywriter. Don’t try it yourself. If you want creative work that makes you stand out in a crowd, invest in creative talent.

Lose the LOL cats. 

In an age where everyone’s churning out and repurposing content, it’s hard to find ideas that aren’t derivative. So when we stumble across something original, a small gem like a black Lab wearing Google Glass, it makes us stop and think. Or bookmark and buy. Or smile and share and re-post on our own blogs, inspired to be a bit more creative and original ourselves the next time around.



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February 5, 2013

Creative Inspiration: Finding your bliss (on a bleak February day)

He Was Me: The power of storytelling

A sweet (yet powerful) little ditty on doing what you love. If not for a living, then at least for a while each day.

This FableSnack, a short animated film from the prolific folks at FableVision, is about “the inner child in all of us, and the eternal struggle to retain our sense of self in a busy world.” It reminds us to not “trade joy for a job,” as FableVision’s Paul Reynolds puts it. Not always easy, but always worth remembering.

It was written and drawn by the talented Peter H. Reynolds, author and illustrator of The Dot, Ish and dozens of other delightful children’s books and multimedia products.

I knew Peter, founder of FableVision, and his twin brother Paul, now CEO, back in our college days and had a hunch they’d go on to do great things. Doing such inspired and meaningful work on such a grand scale is a great thing indeed. Being rockstar media producers and such nice, grounded people at the same time is even greater.

Read their story here:

About FableVision
In 1996, FableVision’s founder, Peter H. Reynolds, had a vision: to create a “social change agency” to help move the world to a better place. FableVision is dedicated to helping ALL learners reach their full potential and to telling “stories that matter, stories that move.”

…and get inspired yourself!

The Stellar Cafe
The Dot FableVisionInsights gathered along the journey about creativity, art, teaching, learning, life – Peter H. Reynolds

Peter’s Tips on Creativity
Creative thinking is the fuel for getting things going. Dreaming about the project is a huge part of the process. The actual ‘doing’ requires following through on the dream, but the dream is the rough sketch.

A Film by FableVision Studios: He Was Me
Written and drawn by Peter H. Reynolds, He Was Me is a quiet story about the inner child in all of us, and the eternal struggle to retain our sense of self in a busy world. In the film, as a man waits at a bus stop in the rain, his inner child is brought poignantly to life as he reflects on his past and ponders his future.

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