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Ep. 027 – David Beebe – “Believe it or not consumer don’t care what you do. They want to know how it benefits them, what do they get out of that.” From Hollywood to Brands Marketing it’s the same rule today: Be customer centric

David Beebe Headshot

David Beebe Show Notes

Emmy-winning Branded Content Producer | Keynote Speaker
Co-Founder, Content Decoded

Declared by AdWeek as a “Branded Content Master Who Makes it OK to Love Marketing,” and named by Ad Age as a Top 40 “forward thinker, risk-taker, and rainmaker in marketing,” Emmy-award and Cannes Lions winner David Beebe, who founded and led the Disney/ABC Television Group Content Studio and Marriott Content Studio, and produced branded content for Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, LOST, Scrubs and original series for Showtime, DIRECTV, Yahoo, and PBS is one of the entertainment and marketing industries most influential producers, brand storytellers, marketers, advisors, and keynote speakers with real world experience.

Most passionate about

  • I spent my career in Hollywood storytelling and brand marketing and I’m passionate about working with brands and helping them really transform marketing into an organization and a strategy that helps win the hearts, minds and wallets of next generation consumers with content marketing, branded content or premium story-like content.
  • That’s what consumers really want today. They don’t engage with interactive marketing anymore and marketers really need to provide value. That’s what I’m in right now. It’s fun to work with brands to create stories, and create platforms that engaged consumers globally.
  • Storytelling has been a part of my life from the beginning. Working with corporations with marketing or with the content creation units in there, and working in TV for 15 years producing television shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, LOST, producing all the derivative content, webisodes and behind the scenes, that’s storytelling and that’s what consumers are watching. You go to the brand side and you apply that thinking of ‘think like a publisher,’ ‘think and act like a media company’ because consumers want content. They don’t care where it comes from, they don’t care who produces it, as long as it is entertaining and informative and it’s valuable, it’s totally fine if it is from a brand. In fact, they understand that brands need to advertise and need to market, but they appreciate when the content provides value to them first versus pitching them features and benefits.
  • Traditional marketing is pitching features and benefits, but it’s interruptive in nature. It interrupts what the consumers are doing. It comes in a form of TV commercials, banner ads or interruptive emails. It’s not delivered at the right time and the right place. You can still deliver content but deliver content that provides value first and entertains and informs the consumer versus interrupting them.
  • Content marketing and brand storytelling should be connected to all the other types of marketing. It’s not the only type of marketing but it should be a big piece of it, and it all works together.

The customers

  • I primarily work with brands because brands need us most. There are a lot of types of brands; smaller brands, smaller type of companies all the way to major corporations. A lot of the time, they talk about storytelling, how your brand should be creating content, doing documentaries, webisodes or even short films. A lot of the smaller companies, even entrepreneurs think that it’s super expensive, and it’s really not. The biggest challenge is shifting the mindsets of your leaders, your marketers, your executives and your entrepreneurs to understand ‘consumers first.’
  • Believe it or not, and this really hard for marketers or executive to believe, consumer don’t care what you do, they want to know how it benefits them, what do they get out of that? There is a shift in the way you engage with consumers now.
  • I work with all types of companies from the smallest entrepreneurs to big major global brands. The cost of the content is mostly the same, it’s about shifting the mindsets. There are very cost effective ways, efficient ways to create content on smaller budgets with smaller teams. You don’t need to have the big global resources that brands have.

David’s best advice about approaching the customer

  • We live in a world today where the customer is king. Your customers, your consumers now control where, when and how they are going to interact with your brand. They also control what they think about your brand.
  • Brands and companies are not in charge of the message anymore and it goes back to that experience you provide customers. That is essentially the brand and that’s what people are going to talk about.
  • When we talk about customer experience and customers’ focus, all brands and companies need to think consumer first! How it is benefiting the customers? To make sure it’s not centered on the brand itself, but actually providing value.
  • My advice for brands, for companies, for entrepreneurs is you have to shift the thinking to think ‘consumer first’ in everything you are doing.
  • It’s hard for entrepreneurs and business leaders to have the consumers’ perspective, even when they think they do have it. They are designing things from the inside out versus designing from the outside in.

Biggest failure with customers

  • There are so many… even with all the success… but that’s how you learn, right? I worked at Disney ABC TV group and we were preparing to launch original content online. That was the year that YouTube came out and in that time, and video was very basic, and although we saw the content there as something that takes away views from our content, we looked at the creators there like ‘they are really kids in their basement, right, what do they really know about creating content? We are the professional producers of content. There is a way to do it, a system.’ So we produced, we ignored them, that’s an example of being very self-centred from a brand perspective and not thinking of what the consumer wants. Looking back, those YouTubers who created content and their channels are very successful. They have mass audiences, some of them have 70 and 80 million subscribers a day, numbers that any network can only dream of. They become content creators and they have launched businesses of millions of dollars creating content and merchandise from it, so they became the new media companies. And we ignored them!!!! That’s totally a failure from a customers’ experience.
  • The failure is missing out the opportunity to be involved in YouTube. Look what happened to Blockbuster with the revolution of services like Netflix. Every brand can be in this place today.

Biggest success due to the right customer approach or focus

  • I would probably talk about real time marketing and the content studios, which are Brand Newsrooms. 15-20 people sitting in a big glass box in front of screens and they are identifying opportunities to engage with consumer in real time. The idea is very customer focused. Marketing is no longer ‘8 to 5, Monday to Friday’… It is always on, consumers are always on and I think that brands must be there, not only to responsd but to create marketing opportunities and to be connected to the conversation in real time.
  • We built five Brand Newsrooms like that around the world with content creators [working] 24 hours a day. Everything is happening in the moment. That’s customer-centric.

Recommendation of tools for customer focus, marketing, or sales

  • There are so many out there and it’s also confusing. There isn’t one tool that I can say everyone should use. I do believe any big brand needs some form of CRM.
  • I think there is really cool technology that is about to be all over and it will change marketing totally and this is augmented reality. See what happened when people started chasing Pokémons.
  • The other thing is location-based marketing. It will change a lot, everything that has to do with real time experience, the ability to capture the conversation around you.

Recommendation of a person, like a mentor, or other service provider that impacts you or your customers.

  • My favorite book and author and speaker is Simon Sinek who wrote Start with the WHY.
  • That going back to consumer first. As a brand, often everyone knows what you do but very few would know why you do it. Start with the why; what your purpose and people will connect with your purpose.
  • The second book is The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk.
  • The idea of it is about giving value to the consumer first. “Give, give, give”… and eventually you will get back and create a value exchange.

What is your one key success factor?

  • Being curious. That’s always been a great part of success. Meaning that you’re always exploring and discovering what’s happening next, and how do those things affect what you do.
  • There is so much happening out there in the world. So much technology and innovating happening looking all over and not only at your competitors.

Contact David:

Recommended books:

More resources for Entrepreneurs

  1. Don’t Miss – Customer Focus Strategy & Execution: Market Analysis for Fundraising
  2. Hayut Yogev’s Latest post: The three free, most practical steps to researching and locating your market
  3. Former interview: With Mike Allton – The award-winning social media blogger and author has turned his successful website into a testing ground where he executes online marketing tests and writes about it for his audience


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