Part 1 – BTS of Deluxe’s Emmy-Nominated Brand Reality Series – Amanda Brinkman, Deluxe Corp. – Ep 46

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Part 1 – Deluxe Corp. Chief Brand and Communications Officer, Amanda Brinkman, joins to share behind-the-scenes of what it took to create their Emmy-nominated reality series now in its 6th season. + advice for brands, team structures, and more. Summary and full transcription notes below.

THIS EPISODE AT-A-GLANCE

  • How Heidi’s experience as a national news anchor has prepared her
  • What is Deluxe Corporation?
  • What fueled the idea to create “Small Business Revolution”?
  • Amanda shares The BEGINNING of Deluxe series and why it worked
  • The lack of brand storytelling and mislead goals
  • The structure of Amanda’s amazing team
  • Repurposing content across other channels and teams
  • Looking back on the mistake
  • Where can you watch “Small Business Revolution”?

Full Podcast Transcription

Amanda Brinkman:
The bet we were making was we redirected paid media dollars to invest in this really rich content. And so we were taking those quote-on-quote working dollars, and we were investing that in the storytelling and the quality of it. All with the hopes that if we did something really authentic and genuine people would share it on our behalf and we could get that earned media and that organic, uh, reach on social media in order to make up that same, you know, that same gap or reach the same number of people, uh, that we would’ve, if we would’ve just invested in paid media. Um, and in that first year, we actually ended up reaching 12 times more people than we would’ve reached if we would’ve invested that same amount of money – we invested in these films in paid media.

Sarah Panus:
Hi, my name is Sarah Panus. I have spent the last two decades driving digital content for billion dollar brands. Now I help content marketers build winning brand storytelling strategies and reduce feelings of overwhelm and confusion. Join me as we discuss strategy, creativity, confidence, and building a better connection with your audience. Think of this as a creative content marketing jam session mixed with chicken soup for the soul. This is the Marketing With Empathy Podcast. 

Sarah Panus:
Hey, Hey, kindred speakers. Welcome back to the show or if you’re just tuning in for the first time, thank you and hello. Welcome, it’s great to have you all here. Today, I want you to imagine you’re at a party and the room is filled with all brand storytelling experts, people from all kinds of brands doing really great work and all of a sudden this one brand walks in. People hush, they turn to look. They start whispering amongst themselves. “There’s Deluxe”, they say. “Their branded content is so good – it got an Emmy nomination. Isn’t that amazing!” And then I picture Amanda Brinkman from Deluxe Corporation, walking into the room with this spotlight on her, a huge smile on her face and the earned swagger of getting an Emmy nomination for branded content. You know, angels are singing in the background. It’s a beautiful moment, you can picture it. Well today we’re not just gonna whisper from the sidelines at that party. We’re gonna talk to her. Joining me today is Amanda Brinkman, the chief brand and communications officer at Deluxe Corporation. Amanda is the creator, producer and host of the Emmy nominated reality series, Small Business Revolution, where she showcases her love for small towns and entrepreneurship by spearheading efforts to revitalize entire communities and provide makeovers to small businesses across America. 

Sarah Panus:
Deluxe is a trusted payments and business technology company. And like I said, they received an Emmy nomination in the category of outstanding lifestyle series. Yes, the groundbreaking Small Business Revolution series harnesses the power of Deluxe’s small business expertise and to boost struggling small businesses, giving them the tools and solutions they need to survive and grow. The show’s Emmy nominated fifth season focuses on the business owners of Fredonia, New York, as they fight to afloat during a global pandemic. Brinkman is a sought after public speaker, demonstrating how both companies and individuals can make meaningful and positive differences in people’s lives while increasing their own success in the process. Which just makes her the perfect guest for our show today, is her passionate belief that companies must not only identify their brand’s purpose but more importantly take unique brand action. Amanda’s do well by doing good philosophy blossomed into the only brand funded series currently in production to receive an Emmy nomination, helping prove the value of brand storytelling folks. And because there’s a lot of ground to cover with this amazing marketing expert, I’m gonna break this discussion into two parts. So, let’s jump into part one and after you listen to this, make sure you click to listen to part two next. So, welcome to the show Amanda!

Amanda Brinkman:
Thank you for having me. That was, that was a very honoring introduction. Thank you so much. 

Sarah Panus:
This is how I picture you – I’m like, oh, my hair is whispering and where this is like amazing in the branded space. I mean, what you guys have been able to accomplish. It really is like that a nd that’s how I picture it. I’m like, okay, there she is. Let’s talk to her.

Amanda Brinkman:
Oh my gosh. You’re so sweet. Thank you. Thank you for having me. I’m excited for the discussion. 

Sarah Panus:
Absolutely. Okay, so Deluxe is a payment and business tech company, like I said, and for anyone that’s unfamiliar, can you just top line like your company’s products and services for us to give us a lay of the land of what you do? 

What is deluxe?

Amanda Brinkman:
Sure. So Deluxe has been around since 1915, so we’re over 105 years old. And, you know, we started our legacy in the check printing space. We invented, uh, the checkbook, but over the years, we’ve just really been evolving alongside our customers. And so, now we are a trusted technology and payments company and we do everything from helping small businesses market themselves and grow, move their money. We work with, um, thousands of financial institutions on technology and payment solutions, we work with enterprise clients. So really we’re much more of a technology company now. Um, and when we think about it, we really were started from a place of entrepreneurship. You know, our founder was an entrepreneur when he started Deluxe all those years ago. And so now we just really, we’re helping enterprises, small businesses and financial  institutions, you know, really deepen their customer relationships through trusted technology enabled solutions. 

Sarah Panus:
Got it. And it’s been, it’s such an amazing progression from 1915 to current day today where you have an Emmy nominated reality series, right? Like help us all be flies on the wall, please. And just better understand the journey that you and your team have gone through to ideate and create the Small Business Revolution video series.

What fueled the idea to create “Small Business Revolution”?

Amanda Brinkman:
Well, when I started at Deluxe, about eight years ago, we were on the Eve of our hundredth anniversary. Uh, so the year was 2014 and we were really trying to figure out how do we celebrate our Centennial in a way that actually helps us raise our brand, uh, perception and awareness. So, uh, while we’ve been working with both financial institutions and small businesses for all of those hundred years, up until that point, you know, people either didn’t know the name Deluxe or if small business knew the name Deluxe, they associates it just with check printing. But as I mentioned before, we had been evolving alongside our customers. So we did all these other things for small businesses – can help them build their website, with their social media, email marketing, logos, you know, promo – anything they need to market themselves. And so we really recognized that at our Centennial, we couldn’t afford to, you know, just create a documentary that talked about our legacy or our past. 

Amanda Brinkman:
We really needed to use that as a launchpad to talk about our future and to really raise that brand awareness. Um, so when I started at Deluxe, we had less than 1% brand awareness with small businesses. And I’m a bit of an optimist, so I liked to look at that figure and say, well, everywhere from here is up. So we, you know, we were trying to really figure out how do we get in front of small businesses. And throughout my entire career, I’ve been really on this journey to prove this concept that, that I believe brands can do well by doing good. So for us doing well at Deluxe would be raising our brand awareness with small businesses and making sure that they, they know the name Deluxe. So that would be doing well, but what could we do that would be good for small businesses. 

Amanda Brinkman:
And so for me, as a marketer, whenever I started a new company, I’ve worked in healthcare, I’ve worked in financial services, I’ve worked in CPG, I just always love to go out and spend time with the customers. And I think today, so many companies have so much data about how their customers make decisions and, and who they are, but there’s just nothing like standing alongside a, you know, perspective customer and just seeing what it’s like to be them. There’s no replacing kind of that ethnographic qualitative feedback. And so, as I was spending time with small businesses, I was just so moved by their stories. You know, why they started their business, um, what’s hard about it, uh, what keeps them up at night. And I was so inspired by the tenacity and courage it takes to be a small business owner and what a daunting task it can be. 

Amanda Brinkman:
And the number one thing, small businesses need, the number one thing you could do for them is for them to have more business, they need more people to support them. And so for me, that’s where the idea came from. It’s like, could we do something that drove business to small businesses? Could we do something that inspired people to understand the importance of supporting small businesses? And so that’s when the concept of the Small Business Revolution was born. So in our first year, we did is we went across the country and we told the stories of a hundred small businesses. And we brought those stories to life through beautiful photo essays and many documentaries, uh, the cinematic quality by which we captured the stories was part of the message. We really wanted to show small businesses as the heroes we believe they are. 

Amanda Brinkman:
And so, and it was all about the small businesses. It was, you know, the Small Business Revolution championed by Deluxe, even the term champion was a very specific and deliberate decision. And even the order of those two was very deliberate. We really wanted this to be – movement first. And that was my vision from the beginning, could we actually create a movement? Let’s, you know, we can do more than just an ad campaign. Let’s do something that actually makes a difference. So we rolled those hundred stories out throughout our hundredth year. And so, it gave us an always on content strategy, it gave us, um, the ability to really, uh, solicit a great earned media around it. Because at the national level, publications were writing about how this is such a unique way to celebrate your anniversary instead of talking about your company at all. We were completely turning the spotlight and the cameras around and just talking about the small businesses and advocating for them. 

Amanda Brinkman:
And then we ended the year with a capstone documentary piece that was a longer form point of view piece that talked about why we were doing it and how important are small businesses to our communities and to our neighborhoods and certainly to our economy and, uh, to our country. And so in that first year, we truly were able to create a movement. We had over a thousand news stories written about it. Um, billions of impressions, social media was, uh, on the rise, uh, in terms of followers. And it was really heartwarming to see how we were able to kind of achieve that. And so we evolved it into what it is now, which is an unscripted to show. But really the, the basis of this work was always to do something good for small businesses. 

Amandra Brinkman:
And the bet we were making was we redirected paid media dollars to invest in this really rich content. And so we were taking those quote-on-quote working dollars, and we were investing that in the storytelling and the quality of it. All with the hopes that if we did something really authentic and genuine people would share it on our behalf and we could get that earned media and that organic, uh, reach on social media in order to make up that same, you know, that same gap or reach the same number of people, uh, that we would’ve, if we would’ve just invested in paid media. Um, and in that first year, we actually ended up reaching 12 times more people than we would’ve reached if we would’ve invested that same amount of money, if we invested in these films in paid media. So we had kind of proven that model, that when you do something that really matters and that’s really authentic and high quality, people will actively spend time with it and they’ll share it on your behalf. So we knew we were on to something, and that’s when we involved it into the unscripted show it is today. 

Sarah Panus:
Oh my gosh. So it’s, it’s so amazing to, to see the results that have played out from it, but I can imagine right, in the beginning, there’s a risk involved with that of taking that leap of like, okay, taking away from your paid working dollars and putting into something that’s not proven, or you’re a little unsure of. And it’s what I hear from, uh, you know, a lot of brands big and small is that, that fear of like, okay, well, what results is this going to drive? How did you, like what worked to sell in that storytelling idea and to actually get everyone on board with this idea of shifting those paid media, working dollars over? 

Amanda Brinkman:
Well, from the very beginning, when I was first interviewing at Deluxe, you know, I was, uh, lucky enough to report directly to the CEO. So I, I, uh, had, I was able to avoid kinda those layers of, of, um, approvals that can sometimes, you know, kill great ideas like this. But as I was interviewing with him, I just talked about, you know, if I, if I come on board, we need to do something really bold. You know, Deluxe does not invest a lot in brand awareness. The budget they were talking to me about was not going to on its own change perceptions or raise awareness. And so I said, are you willing to entertain something really bold? The exact idea had not, uh, yet occurred to me, but I knew it had to be something really, really, you know, breakthrough, something that people hadn’t seen before. 

Amanda Brinkman:
We knew, I knew the answer was probably going to be content, but content can mean so many things these days. So first, first and foremost it was that, but he, he wasn’t necessarily signing up for the actual idea just that we were going to be doing something bold. So I kind of set those expectations on the way in, and that we have a really great story. I mean, Deluxe does incredible things for small businesses and the products and services we have truly do make a difference in these businesses lives. But we weren’t talking about that. You know, we were just trying to compete on price or on search terms, just like our competitors were. So by the time I got in front of the board, and had the idea, you know, kinda baked and, and was wanting the approval to move forward, you know, I really talked about a couple of different things. 

Amanda Brinkman:
One, I talked about the sea of sameness – that all of our competitors were out spending us about 14 to 1, saying the exact same things, using the exact same kind of imagery, and we couldn’t compete or even hope for a share of voice if we did the same kind of thing. You know, I think they expected me to come in and just do an ad campaign that said, “Oh you used to know us for checks, now we do websites”. Um, but we wouldn’t have, we wouldn’t have, we would’ve been a whisper in a spend hurricane. The second thing I really emphasized was I literally shared stories with the board. I told them stories of these businesses that I had visited. And you could see the emotional reaction in the room. I mean, storytelling is as old, is as old as time.  

Amanda Brinkman:
This is how we’ve always passed on lessons and morals and values. And it’s how we create empathy and it’s how we create perspective, is by sharing a story. And so I, I watched them be moved. And then I kind of talked about how, like, what you just felt we can create for other people. And, you know, the way you wanna probably go eat at that restaurant I just talked about so you can support that family, we can do that for small businesses. And so I talked about that, and then I talked about the fact that if we did something this bold, we could potentially get this kind of earned media and organic social media coverage that we experienced. I never promised the kind of numbers or results we ended up seeing. We were all really, really pleasantly surprised by that. But, you know, I, I did share with them numbers, even if we achieve X, we, you know, if we’ve made up the same amount of ground, if, if we didn’t try something like this. And I just made a really passionate speech about, you know, the fact that we can, we can do this. We could, instead of standing, you know, in the same group as our, our competitors – we could stand way over on the other side and be seen as advocates for small businesses. And that would mean more to them and, uh, would be better for our brand.

Sarah Panus:
Love it. Oh, so smart and it, it is a great reminder to everyone listening. You know, storytelling just isn’t only external, like I love how you used it internally, Amanda to make your point. And it is, it’s in those conversations and the emotions and things. So internally and externally storytelling works to drive empathy on both levels. I love it. So you just launched season six, congratulations!

Amanda Brinkman:
Thank you!

Sarah Panus:
So looking back, like, you know, you talked about this first year in your Centennial and all these videos and the capstone, like it sounds like you saw a lot of success after that first season. Did it take some faith to kind of lean in and say, okay well, this is what it’s gonna be for season two and like, how did that process work?

The BEGINNING of deluxe series and why it worked

Amanda Brinkman:
Well, it did, smallness, the concept of, of, um, what then became Smallness Revolution Main Street, the actual unscripted series. I wouldn’t say it was easier, but I, we at least have these proof points of how the hundred stories worked for us and, and this concept. But what I think delighted people internally is, you know, I had, I kind of promised in that first year, all we can hope to achieve with this low of awareness and this low of spend – is that people will associate the name Deluxe with small business. That was as far as we could probably move that brand awareness needle. And once we hit these other metrics, of course, we had all these different brand awareness metrics against the work. Um, once we hit these numbers, now we can start rounding that corner and make sure people are associating the name Deluxe with small business marketing services. 

Amanda Brinkman:
But that first year we rounded the corner so aggressively, we were already ready to do that. And so that’s kind of where the unscripted concept came from. And so internally people were very into it because the opportunity was that we could actually show what Deluxe does. So for those who, who aren’t familiar with with what the show is, uh what it is, is each season, uh, we ask people to nominate their favorite small town and Deluxe will invest half a million dollars in revitalizing the winning town’s main street and we do that through its small businesses. So it’s essentially a small business makeover show, but done with heart. Uh, so we still rely on that really rich storytelling. The first part of the episode is all about getting to know and we call it the fall in love scene with the small business, and you hear about them. 

Amanda Brinkman:
And then we bring in experts to walk alongside them, to, to help with the things that just don’t come naturally to small businesses. You know, that was one of the observations we had when we were going across the country, telling these hundred stories was, that you know, while we loved these stories and sharing them, we noticed that they were struggling on some of the things that we can help with. Like even things like when we were going to film at their location, we couldn’t find them because they didn’t have a digital footprint or we saw that their logo could be, you know, working a little bit harder for them to tell their story. And so we felt like, why don’t we, again, around that corner, let’s continue to share their story in order to inspire people to support them. But then let’s also go and show how some of these best practices can make for a healthier business so that other small businesses can learn from this work, so they can be inspired by it and affirmed by it, but they can also learn from it. 

Amanda Brinkman:

And so, each episode is about an individual small business and again they tell their story and then you see Deluxe come in and help them with the marketing, uh, piece of it. We build them a new website. We work with them on their logo. Uh, we bring in a financial expert to help with their finances, operational expert, um, from their same industry and then, uh, we do physical improvements to the space as well, just like you’d expect in a makeover show. And, you know, we always get the feedback that from small businesses that they were so entertained and moved by the stories, but they also couldn’t take notes fast enough, cuz they gave them ideas. So we always say the show is kind of one part that education, but also inspiration and affirmation and entertainment. So people internally liked that because we were able to show our Deluxe products and services, but in a super authentic way, I mean, you can’t do a makeover for a small business and not help them with their marketing or their finances. It’s the two things that small business struggle with the most. 

Amanda Brinkman:
I mean, just because you like to make crepes or that you love to, you know, take care of dogs and groom dogs, does not mean that, you know, what the heck SEO is or how to make sure you’re communicating with your customers or what your digital footprint needs to do. And so it’s great, Deluxe gets to play a very authentic character in that. And we get to show, it’s such a much more compelling way to show why a website that is optimized, um, for SEO, how that works so much better in the context of a business owner’s story and seeing the impact it’s gonna make for them and their family and their community than it is to just do again an ad campaign about SEO. So it allows for us to demonstrate those things in a much richer way. So I think internally, um, to go way back to your question, um, internally people liked that we were able to round that corner and make it, you know, in infuse product messaging in, but I think they were pleasantly surprised with how authentic it could be.  

Sarah Panus:
Yeah, it really is. You do such a nice job because it talks about all the marketing experts at Deluxe, you know, and it’s really nicely woven throughout the storyline and you’re like, oh wow, these guys can do all these different things. It’s super smart and very, still very editorial, but like a great brand integration. I agree. So I’ve found that, um, I think some brands can be quick to stop things that they think aren’t working with storytelling, cuz sometimes it takes a little bit of ramp up time. Why do you think more brands don’t do brand storytelling or when they do pursue it, it doesn’t go the distance for them?

the lack of brand storytelling and mislead goals

Amanda Brinkman:
I think, uh, I think part of it is they stop a little short of the authenticity. I mean, I think storytelling is something that you really do have to be quite careful of. It’s about sharing someone’s story rather than telling someone’s story. Like even, even that is something we talk about on our, on our team a lot, like we’re not telling these, these people’s stories, we’re sharing their story. It’s in their words, I think the documentary style by which we film it, allows for that a little bit easier. That’s what the documentary style is, you know, naturally does is more that interview format. So I think that’s part of it and then I think sometimes brands are measuring the wrong things or are trying to measure it the same way that they measure something that’s highly measurable. I think data and technology has made for – we can track everything, we can cookie things, we can see click through rates.

Amanda Brinkman:
We can see so many things that we expect that same sort of visibility into some of these more, um, more macro brand, uh, affinity efforts and you just can’t measure it the same way. Or ever really tie it to the funnel in a way that is gonna be a direct, you kind of just have to trust that, that work is going to work and that’s hard. And so I think a lot of brands do get to the point where their like – we can’t measure this, we don’t know if it’s working, we can measure this kind of marketing over here so we’re gonna invest more in that because we can see our results in our ROI and we can report up about that. And I just think it’s a shame. I think as marketers, we’ve kind of lost, we’ve lost our guts a little bit when it comes to that.

Amanda Brinkman:
We’re so metrics driven that we’ve kind of lost, I mean, marketing is impart art and one part science and I think we’ve become so focused on the science part that we’ve lost that art. And it’s a shame because I think brands within that art can actually go farther and can stand for things beyond the message of their marketing, you know, whatever their they’re talking about from a products and service perspective. And I think it’s just a missed opportunity for your brand to stand for something and to advocate for something. So I, I, I can’t, you know, I don’t know what’s going on in every brand, but I think when I think about it from a macro perspective, I think it’s just that it’s become so measurable that we’re just leaning too far to that side. 

Sarah Panus:
Yeah. I, I, I would agree. And I think there, there, it takes a lot of creative courage. I always talk about when you are a marketer, especially when you’re in the storytelling space, cuz you, you have to stand up for some things that can be a little tricky to measure at all points in time, but we are getting a lot better and, and more sophisticated in what we can measure. But I, I love that statement about the mix of art and science and how we, we have, we’ve been leaning a lot more towards science cuz it’s, it’s easier to understand, you know, and to see, but you’re proving that your series here is proving the value that it can drive. And I know in part two of our discussion, we’re gonna get more into measurement. So I’m gonna save my follow up questions on measurement. 

Sarah Panus:
And I think this is a great spot for a quick commercial break. So stick around folks after the break, Amanda and I are gonna talk about her team’s structure and repurposing content like this to serve multiple channels. 

Commercial Break

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The structure of Amanda’s amazing team

Sarah Panus:
Okay. Amanda, I know it takes a village internally and externally to pull off all of this and you have to give, you know, big accolades and kudos to your amazing team at Deluxe. How is your team structured to manage all of this brand storytelling? 

Amanda Brinkman:
So, uh, it’s interesting, you know, even as we were building the team, you know, we hadn’t ran a large scale unscripted production show before, so we were all kind of learning in real time. So we have a couple of different specialties. So we actually don’t work with a traditional agency, we work directly with our incredible production company. Uh, they’re called flow studios out of Austin, Texas. They’re amazing. It’s actually quite difficult sometimes to figure out where the creative brain of our director, Matt Nearler and mine start and stop. We just, after working together for these seven years on this work, it’s just been, you know, it’s very much a creative collaboration. So I do a lot of the creative direction as well as, as Matt does. And it makes it very efficient because I know I host the show, so I know what we’re trying to get out of every scene. 

Amanda Brinkman:
So it’s helpful to be directing from kind of both in front and behind the camera. So the, the creative direction, uh, comes to from there. Then we have on my team, I have an amazing, um, lead of our actual marketing makeovers. Her name is Julie Gordon. So she works with marketing experts across Deluxe space on the disciplines we need for that particular, um, marketing makeover. So I sit down with the businesses, we talk about their needs, their goals, and then we identify, okay, they really need a new website or they need a new logo. We kind of put together the list of things we’re going to do and then Julie works with the experts across Deluxe that don’t sit necessarily on the Small Business Revolution team. They sit within other departments, um, to then bring them all together to work on that. So she orchestrates the actual marketing makeover.

Amanda Brinkman:
This year, uh, and uh, last year we’ve started to bring in partners. We were just getting so many other brands that wanted to be a part of this work. And my promise is always, if we could authentically figure out how for, they could show up as characters too, then we could do it. Um, so that’s been helpful. And so, uh, Erica Adams on my team manages those partnerships. So each partner, you know, needs something different out of, in terms of assets and different things that they need out of the scenes. Um, we have, it’s some incredible partners for season six, uh, Salesforce, uh, Lenovo and US Bank. Um, and so they’ve been great partners. So Erica manages all of that as well as our overall communication strategy. Um, everything from our social, to working with our PR team website, all of our kind of communication language, if you think about SPR as an actual kind of brand itself. And then, uh, Devon Black leads our brand, uh, group. 

Amanda Brinkman:
So she helps, uh, do a lot of the visual work with the businesses themselves, as well as manages the SPR brand and all the photoshoots and different things that we do from a visual asset. And then Jordan manages our social media. Uh, as you can imagine, social is quite, uh, an incredible aspect of this work. Our community is, um, nearly 500,000 strong across platforms and they’re very active. So there’s a lot of community management that goes into that as well as, um, outbound posts and things like that from behind the scenes. So that’s how we’re structured today. And then we work very close with, uh, the Deluxe PR team headed up by, uh, Cameron Potts who, uh, really helps us with that earned media piece of it. So a lot of our stretching, the spend certainly comes from social media organically, but also, uh, we’re very delighted to have a lot of stories written about it as well. And so the PR team helps us with that. So over the course of those six seasons we’ve, we’re now hitting the 10, 10 billion impressions mark between earned and social. So, uh, the team works really hard to make sure that this is shared far and wide. Um, yeah, so that’s kind of how the team is structured. Uh, a lot of the actual production edit and everything else happens at the flow team.

Sarah Panus:
Yeah, that makes sense. Okay. So that’s actually a nice segue then too, in terms of this, since this is obviously such a huge focus area in your content strategy, like how you talk about PR and how you’re amplifying it through those channels, like how are you repurposing the Small Business Revolution content across your channels and team so that, you know, multiple folks can benefit and you can leverage it? 

REpurposing content across other channels and teams

Amanda Brinkman:
That’s something that we’re always working to get better and better at is, you know, marketing itself as a function sits within our sales organization. And so we’re always trying to make sure that we’re packaging elements of SPR in a way that they, uh, can utilize it. So we think of like the Small Business Revolution itself as the mother content and it itself used to remain very pure. And in order to get those kinds of organic views, you know, in season two, we got picked up by Hulu. Now it’s on Amazon prime. You mentioned the Emmy nomination earlier. Thank you for that. That’s because we’re really focused on keeping it a really well done unscripted show. And we can only, you know, kind of, we have to walk that fine line of making it too Deluxe oriented, or it’s not watchable, or it doesn’t, you know, get on those platforms and then we hurt our distribution reach.  

Amanda Brinkman:
So, so SPR itself, we really focused on keeping that as the mother content. And then from there, it creates all these other marketing opportunities throughout the funnel. So we’ve created of course, short form videos that talk about the websites that we’ve done on the show, using clips from the show. But then I talk about why Deluxe does websites and how to work with Deluxe on websites. Like it’s much more of like a bridge content so lots of like social, you know, different social videos. It creates this opportunity to have really organic, uh, or I mean our original photography. So a lot of our competitors are buying stock photos of that same woman flipping the open sign that we’ve all seen. And instead we have, we are allowed or, you know, we have the ability to, to capture all this really great photography of actual businesses that Deluxe has worked with and changed the lives of. And so it creates photography. It creates case studies. Anyway, the list goes on as you can imagine, but it creates this content ecosystem for marketing to then use. And we could always be doing a better job of leveraging it throughout the funnel, but it does, it creates this entire treatment. We just have to always figure out how to leverage it at what point in the funnel to keep that authenticity all the way through. 

Sarah Panus:
Yeah, definitely. And then looking back, is there any, like mistake you trudged through while you’ve been creating this series that you can share with us to learn from? 

Looking back on the mistake

Amanda Brinkman:
Yeah, I think we could have done an even better job talking about it internally. You know, I think it’s, this is this kind of work is what I want to do my entire career, this really beautiful intersection of something that’s good for business. It’s creative and it also does good in the world. I love this kind of work. So to me, the, the strategy of this work makes so much sense and it’s very obvious. That, that isn’t as obvious to other people who aren’t either a, even from the marketing space, but maybe they’re in other functions. Maybe they sit in our finance group or, or just other groups. And maybe it takes a little bit more explaining why we’re doing something like a television show and why that’s a smart strategy. And so we could have done a better job internally from the beginning talking about how this strategy works. I think I thought some of those things were more obvious than they were and so, uh, we could have done a better job with that. 

Sarah Panus:
Got it. I’ve seen, um, like a road show, like an internal road show to like across different or orgs and groups and leaders and things work really well. Um, for that that’s a good point. And you’re not the first company I’ve talked to that has said that. It’s internal and external, it’s always, always the mix for sure. Okay. So we’re gonna, um, we’re just about ready to wrap up this part one of the discussion. Tell us as we wrap up, like where people can watch Small Business Revolution? What’s the best way to find it? 

Where can you watch “small business revolution”?

Amanda Brinkman:
Yes, you can catch all six seasons, um, on Hulu, Prime Video or smallbusinessrevolution.org. 

Sarah Panus:
Excellent. And then what’s the best way to connect with you online, Amanda, if people wanna connect with you? 

Amanda Brinkman:
Yeah. Um, I love social media. Instagram’s kind of my go-to, but I’m on all the platforms. Um, and my handle is @amandakbrinkman. The K is important. So @amandakbrinkman. 

Sarah Panus:
Perfect. Thank you so much. So as a reminder, folks, this is a two-parter to this discussion. Um, make sure you check in to listen to part two, Amanda and I are gonna quickly discuss learnings, measurement and future implications. And if you’re content marketer looking for brand storytelling, creative inspiration, and tips, along with any help to feel less overwhelmed in your day to day job, go to kindredspeak.com to sign up for my weekly Brand Storytelling newsletter.

Closing Remarks

Hi fives for finishing another episode. When faced with an obstacle, you’re the type of person who gets better instead of bitter. I hope you feel creatively inspired and invite you to check back often for more goodness from me and my guest. If you want more actionable advice and inspiration head over to kindredspeak.com for show notes, all discount codes from today’s episode, and to sign up for my newsletter. Subscribe now to the Marketing With Empathy Podcast on Apple podcast, Spotify and wherever else you get your podcast. And if you’d be so kind, will you please leave me a review. This helps my podcast get noticed by others. Keep smiling.

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ABOUT SARAH PANUS

Sarah Panus is a brand storytelling marketing strategist, Minnesota mom, and owner of Kindred Speak, LLC, a remote consultancy that helps corporations attract upper-funnel leads that drive bottom-funnel results through storytelling.  Her mission is to add value to the world by humanizing brand+consumer connections. Her online courses teach content professionals inside corporations think like Editorial Directors for their brand to drive stronger results while enjoying their jobs more.  She’s spent the last 20 years helping brands including Sleep Number, Starbucks, Nestle Waters, Christos Bridal, Game Crazy, Cone Inc, and others, speak a kindred language with their audiences, driving brand advocacy and millions in revenue and brand engagements. Learn more at www.kindredspeak.com. Follow Sarah on Instagram and LinkedIn.