In episode 33 of the Content Champion podcast, I'm delighted to be chatting with digital strategy professional Kavi Guppta, on the subject of how master chef Jamie Oliver excels at content marketing.
Kavi has a decade of experience in the advertising industry, and is the founder of communications studio, We Do That, as well as being a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine.
It's a superb article Kavi has written for Forbes.com which forms the basis of this podcast, and it caught my attention because it outlines how celebrity chef Jamie Oliver really nails it in terms of his content marketing strategy.
Kavi's insights and observations on this subject can help us with our own content marketing work, so I was thrilled when he agreed to come on the show to share the benefit of this experience with us.
In this illuminating half hour discussion we cover the following areas:
Plus! The PS Question! Kavi shares a fantastic content marketing strategy to help us in our work!
Resources mentioned in this show:
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Announcer: Welcome to the official podcast at ContentChampion.com. Join in our heroic quest to discovery truly epic content marketing. Introducing your host, the content champion himself, Loz James.
Loz James: Hi, guys. Welcome to episode thirty-three of the Content Champion podcast. This show would be nothing without you, the audience, so thanks as ever for listening.
As my guest for the podcast this time, I'm delighted to be speaking with experienced digital strategist, Kavi Guppta, founder of the communications studio, We Do That, and regular contributor to Forbes Magazine.
It's Kavi's excellent article on Forbes.com entitled, How a Chef is Owning Content Marketing, that we're discussing on today's show.
The article outlines how renowned celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, excels at content marketing through various digital channels in building his global brand. Kavi's article is so fascinated because his insights not only help us see what Jamie Oliver is getting right, but, also, helps us to use these strategies in our own businesses, too.
I was excited to get started, so let's dive in.
Thanks very much for very for coming on today, Kavi.
Kavi Guppta: Thanks for having me, Loz.
Loz James: You're a highly experienced digital strategy professional, and have worked with many globally recognized brands, and you're, also, a regular contributor on Forbes.com, which is where I found you. Now, we'll pick up on that in a minute, but can you start by telling us a bit about your career so far, please?
Kavi Guppta: Sure. I'm founding partner of a small communications studio called We Do That, and we help startups and established business communicate with their audiences through content development and marketing programs. Aside to that, I'm, also, an advisor to startups on how content and strong messaging can better communicate a company's value to customers and improve the product experience. As you mentioned, Loz, I write for Forbes about technology's impact on business and culture.
All of this is the result of more than nine years in the advertising industry, primarily in digital marketing roles. This past May, my partner and I decided to leave the agency world, sell practically all of our belongings, and live a nomadic lifestyle. We're originally from Toronto, Canada. In the past six months, we've worked and traveled across Asia, and now we're currently in Australia, which is actually my homeland. I was originally born in Sidney, and then moved to Canada at a young age.
Loz James: I understand you're in Melbourne. Tell me about Melbourne. I've heard it's one of the best places to live in the world.
Kavi Guppta: Melbourne is an incredible city. It's huge. It's vibrant. It's very busy. They have a thing here that it's four seasons in one day. Essentially, you can start off the day with a beautiful, sunny twenty-six degrees, and halfway through the day end up seeing rain, and then towards the afternoon start seeing sun again, and then it's cloudy again. It's a bit of a mishmash, and sometimes it can be kind of irritating, but I would definitely say the nightlife is incredible here.
Loz James: Fantastic. Sounds a bit like Glasgow. There are four seasons in one day there, but it didn't get to twenty-six degrees.
I found you through an excellent post that you've written on Forbes.com entitled How A Chef is Owning Content Marketing. It's all about how UK master chef, Jamie Oliver, has achieved success through his various digital channels. Now, for those who don't know, who is Jamie Oliver, and why did you write the post?
Kavi Guppta: Jamie Oliver is arguably one of the hottest British celebrity chefs out there right now. My theory, and, Loz, I imagine you'd know something about this, is that perhaps Essex just churns out great content creators, you included. But he's everywhere, from shows, to books, to kitchenware, to olive oils and pastas. My aunt actually gave me a gift of his name brand knives, which are super sharp and work really well. His empire is just continually expanding.
I would say Oliver is generally considered the fan favorite or the people's chef. He's not fancy, and he brings the same level of culinary skill that someone like Marco Pierre White or Gordon Ramsey would bring to audiences, just without the pomp. He has this kind of approachable personality. He's warm, funny, affable. He's inviting, and that blends well with his philosophy on cooking, which is generally to have fun, try new things, and improve your ability to cook and eat well.
That's how I know him, because that's how I've interacted with him through his content, and how he's taught me how to cook. I wrote How a Chef is Owning Content Marketing, because I felt Oliver and his team were doing something remarkably different than other brands out there. I rarely see organizations do content across a variety of channels well, and Jamie is churning out exciting experiences that have purpose beyond selling products. He's actually interacting with his audience.
Loz James: Certainly over here he's ubiquitous, in a good way, and he's, as say you say, from Essex as well, so everyone feels like they know him, and it's part of that personality that he brings to the brand that is so attractive.
Before we go on to look at how Jamie's applying the various content marketing strategies, could you outline the basic elements of creating epic content?
Kavi Guppta: I firmly believe that good content should consist of the following: Something to educate audiences; something to entertain audiences; and something to empower audiences. What has the brand taught the viewer that will help them in their day to day, beyond buy this product? How has the brand entertained the viewer? And how has the brand encouraged the viewer to do something, again, beyond just buying their product?
If your experience can do these three things, and by experience I mean a blog post, a photo content, video content, or even any kind of interactive experience that blends from the online to the offline world, then I think you've got a solid piece of content.
Loz James: That's a great definition there. Jamie is obviously doing all these things in an exemplary way.
Kavi Guppta: Yeah. It's important to remember that Jamie leaves his viewers with an ability to go and create something for themselves, their families, and their friends. He's building confidence in people to cook, and he's encouraging people to eat well. The empowerment aspect is essentially what most brands would call the call to action. What do we get them to do once they've experienced us?
I do want to dial back slightly to some other stuff that we've probably seen countless times in blogs and articles about marketing. First, I think Jamie is doing what all storytellers are taught to do, to show your audience, rather than tell them something. Most brands will tell their customers what they want, rather than showing their customers how they are relevant to their needs.
Again, I think a brand like a Red Bull, for example, does this really well. Red Bull is a brand where they connect with customers who like high energy events and experiences, so a guy free falling from space, or their live boiler room DJ sessions, which is essentially being able to watch some pretty crazy electro DJs from anywhere in the world on YouTube for free at some secret club within Europe, or South America, or North America. You rarely see online content going on and on about drinking Red Bull. Instead you're seeing these experiences, which Red Bull compliments.
Loz James: I think what you hit upon there is a lot of companies just talk about themselves, don't they? It's great content, as you've described. It is a subjective thing, but I guess many organizations get it wrong, because they focus too much on themselves, don't they?
Kavi Guppta: Definitely. There's a lot of noise out there that talks about good content, and when I say good content, that's with italics, and it's got quotation marks around it. A lot of brands are pushing articles, videos, and experience that they believe to be good content, and we tend to live our lives in a bit of a bubble, and I think marketers are probably the best at living this way.
I think marketers have fooled themselves into thinking customers want to experience good content that is essentially a longer expensive advertisement for a product. It's as if marketers have taken the Home Shopping Network approach to advertising, and applied it to online channels.
The brands that are making great experiences are listening to their customers, and they are building content that connects with what their customers want to achieve. Jamie connects with customers who want to be stronger cooks.
Loz James: What's he doing differently? Where that's uniqueness coming in, because lots of people are telling a brand story. What's he getting so right?
Kavi Guppta: I think it's a combination of things. One of the things I definitely want to touch on is the use of influencers, people who have built an audience outside of Jamie Oliver, but are doing relevant things that matter to his brand. Oliver's collection of influencers are important, because they aren't just popular personalities with established audiences. They're good at what they do in their own unique ways.
More importantly, they help expand Jamie's connection with new audiences, and I love that he's given them a huge broadcasting platform through his Food Tube Channel on YouTube, which is essentially just a collection of all these people who are enthusiastic YouTube personalities that cook, and he's brought them into the fold to his own brand to say, look, you can, also, learn to be a great barbequer, because of this guy, or, learn to make good fish because of this guy, and it's all powered by Jamie Oliver.
Influence is something that the marketers, again, primarily those in public relations, fail to grasp in digital channels, because they use popular personalities to just be media-like mouthpieces for a brand. Think back to Ronald Reagan being the spokesperson for GE. He's a mouthpiece and he talks for the brand. Very rarely do they use the person to extend the brand's relevance in the influencer’s unique way.
Jamie is not jumping in and saying you have to barbeque this way, even though you're the barbeque influencer. He lets their own unique brand shine, and their own unique personality shine with their audiences to, also, connect with a newer audience.
What happens here is that the approach then typically becomes less of a plug for the brand, and it really becomes about the influencer and their ability to connect with people.
Influencers aren't advertisers. They're people who can elevate a brand to a level that I think the brand couldn't do for itself.
Loz James: Does that work with smaller brands, because he's obviously a very confident brand image that he's projecting. Would that work so well for a small business?
Kavi Guppta: I think it would, and I would actually argue that smaller brands are more malleable or more nimble to those types of freedoms with their influencers, or at least to the scale in which they want to grow their brand.
An established business, they have their feet planted in the mud, and any movement they make will have a strong ripple effect across the rest of their ecosystem. A small business has the ability to play with some people, and not necessarily make huge investments or huge ripples into their industry or their space, and, also, learn from those mistakes or those successes to then grow out.
Loz James: We live in a celebrity culture obviously. How much does that play into this? Again, bringing it down to people listening, who might want to use the influencer strategy, if they don't have that celeb power, does that affect the results they could achieve?
Kavi Guppta: That's a really good question. I think it's one of the things I've been studying quite frequently in the past four or five years. Before my partner and I left to travel the world and work, we were both within the PR profession, and I was doing digital work within PR agencies.
The credibility of celebrities is very interesting in the digital age now, because it's very easy to think or assume that because you're popular on TV or in the media, you're always going to translate into an interactive audience online, and that hasn't always been the case. You can have guys like Ashton Kutcher, or Kim Kardashian, or Kanye West, or any other celebrity that is huge across all spectrums, but their audience may not necessarily always connect in the way that they want them to, or the way a brand wants them to.
It's very important to understand, one, is the audience large? Okay, that's great. But it doesn't mean everything, because a small audience can be just as strong. Are they awake? Are they paying attention to what that person is saying? Thirdly, which I think is one of the more pivotal aspects of influencer work, especially with celebrities, is how are you tailoring the brand experience or the content to I guess suit the style of the influencer.
It's very easy for, let's say, PR people to jump in and say, “This person is going to blog for us. This person is going to tweet for us, and let's just let this person make a video for us,” but are those really the strong suits for that person? Does it make sense to have someone who has a powerful YouTube audience, also, tweet about something if their Twitter followers aren't paying attention.
Loz James: That's heartening, really, because what you're saying is it's down to understanding the core audience, and it's not about necessarily who you are. It's about the message that you get across, and the correct use of the channels, which then is coming back to core content marketing tenets, isn't it?
Kavi Guppta: Definitely.
Loz James: Jamie, as we've said then, he's doing everything right. He's got his YouTube channel. He's got his books. He's got his TV shows. I've read a lot of articles before this. He seems to be everywhere, but, as we said, in the right way. But he still has to do advertising.
Kavi Guppta: I spend very little time in my post talking about paid advertising, because I think it's important to point out that advertising or paid media, as we call it, should be complimenting their content. Advertising should never be your content. Advertising in the form of YouTube, pre-roll, Facebook ads and sponsorships, they do the hardcore selling to viewers, outside of Jamie's recipes segments, and they should be the same for any brand really. Paid spots do the job of quickly highlighting product benefits and new releases, so the actual meat of the content isn't a sacrifice and converted into a glorified ad.
In the piece, one of the things I, also, talk about is the value of an ecosystem, which is essentially many different pieces moving together toward the same goal or objective. In this same instance, advertising is just one component of that ecosystem. It shouldn't be larger or smaller than anyone else, like the PR's influencer outreaches the video content, the Twitter channel, the Facebook page. There should be a cohesive movement to all of these pieces at the same time going towards the same goal, which is to reach out to audiences.
Loz James: This is achievable then from a strategic level. Obviously, Jamie's team has sat down, and they've mapped this all out. This isn't happening by accident, is it, just because he's a celeb?
Kavi Guppta:I highly doubt it. That's interesting you ask me that, because I was hoping you would say something like that. The thing is, I think Jamie Oliver has a good level of understanding of how powerful it is to get people to view things together, especially when it comes to his overall objective of getting people to eat healthy and to cook their own food.
There was a TV show that he had released globally, where potentially Jamie's food revolution, he goes around trying to get communities to teach each other to a ripple effect to essentially buy healthy food and cook it, just do that. Don't buy fast food. Don't buy processed food. He found that to be so, so difficult. It required a plan. It required finding the right people to pick out of the community that would then go onto to teach other people.
It was working with the community administrators, who were actually trying to get him out of the city, because it was lobbying dollars from fast food organizations that had an investment in that community.
I think he understands the value of social power, and I think his marketing team, or at least what I call Jamie Incorporated is helping put more of a guiding principle behind what he's trying to achieve.
Announcer: You're listening to the Content Champion podcast, showcasing the best content marketing strategies across the web.
Loz James: We're back with Kavi Guppta.
I think there's something important as well to touch upon, which is trust and authenticity, and that comes across in whatever brand story you're telling, and people pick up on this.
Jamie did a program called Fifteen, where he got people from problematic backgrounds and took them and trained them to be chefs. It's a fascinating program, and at first I was cynical. Many people were. Why is he doing this? But these restaurants now are self-sustaining, and have employed and trained hundreds of young people and given them a better life. Basically, it can't be that much of a … Given how wealthy he is, it can't be that much of a revenue generator for him.
You start to think, “Okay, he does genuinely care,” and this was borne out as well in his school dinners program that he did, which has given him influence with politicians in the UK and across the world really. You do actually get that sense of, “Okay, this guy does care about this,” therefore, the consumption of the content he's producing is underpinned by that, isn't it?
Kavi Guppta: Yeah. I mean to go back to your comment about that show, Fifteen, right now at Instagram, I think about a week ago he had just published a photo of one of the students I think from the first or second graduating class of that program, who had just published her own cookbook, and he's actively pushing those types of people, because that's just ultimately expanding his own reach, but it's, also, showing the authenticity, which is another thing you pointed out. That's a very, very big component of content.
Now, a lot of people have written about how to be authentic. I think you can probably Google a number of articles that say, “One hundred ways to be authentic as a brand.” Jamie, he gets authenticity, and if there's one area I could point out an example of, it's probably his Instagram profile. The images that he uploads are always captioned with text that he writes himself. There are spelling errors. There's his strong kind of cocky style of speaking, and it shines through in the text.
When marketers drone on and on about authenticity, this is what they try to achieve, but I don't think that they can, because there’s not that ability to naturally just hand the reigns to the spokesperson, the celebrity, and say, “Go ahead. Now, talk to the audience.” This natural authenticity, I don't think many marketers can achieve, because we all know that marketing is somewhat inherently fake. We're trying to create experiences that we think our customers will interact with, rather than giving our customers what they actually want.
Loz James: Part of this content creation strategy over the top of this authenticity and trust and personality, Jamie is using content curation as well to create leverage, especially on his YouTube channel, as you've mentioned. Tell us a bit about what he's doing here.
Kavi Guppta: Definitely. I think the art of curation is not just using what others have created, but, also, what you've got hanging around. Jamie's definitely hacked up old versions of television programs that no longer run on air, or what he's done is he's condensed them down, so if you did upload a full fifty minute long episode, rather than having to go through the entire episode to find a recipe, you can actually just search up the specific ones.
He's sliced them up into quick three to four segments for viewers to enjoy. He, also, slices up the live YouTube sessions that they have on Food Tube, where you'll see influencers and celebrity influencers come in and cook with him in a setting. You can, also, catch those later when they've been missed.
I've, also, noticed that blog content gets kind of a rebirth in life. If there was some kind of text content or recipe that hadn't been visualized yet, someone's turned it into a video, and it doesn't necessarily to be just Jamie. He's actually got a bunch of what he calls his buddies, who are other cooks and chefs that end up doing the videos for him.
Loz James: How does his stuff convert? Are we just talking about a massive brand building exercise to get the word out about who he is and what he does, or are these channels actually physically converting leads and sales, as say a smaller business would use content marketing?
Kavi Guppta: That's a good question. That's, also, a big question. Food, I think food personalities are a good way of showing how storytelling can properly be visualized. When I walked into the Woolworth in Melbourne, his face is everywhere. When I'm at the checkout, he's got a loyalty program. Like I said, my aunt bought me a knife, a set of his, because she knows I love to cook, and she would just colloquially, kind off hand called me Jamie Oliver, a master chef, when I'm cooking in her kitchen.
I think what he's doing is obviously going to have a business perspective. I've always believed that the business of doing good is still a business. There has to be some sort of profit engineering behind it. He understands that value. I'm, also, optimistic in the sense that I think his higher purpose is to just have people cooking, and if it makes him a wild amount of money, so be it. But I definitely believe that the whole machine and engine behind all of this, because his face is now on all kinds of products, from tea towels to different types of dried pasta.
Loz James: This really cuts to the core of content marketing measurement, and whether basically it works or not, because I have clients who say, “Blogging for a year is a long time to see a return on investment,” et cetera, et cetera.
But, really, what we need to do perhaps is look at how our existing marketing is performing, and then say, “Okay, here's ground zero for when we're going to start doing our content marketing,” which might just be in the first instance a brand building exercise with calls to action, and then give it a year, and compare the two, so we're comparing existing marketing there with there's where we started our content marketing, and see how much the business has grown. Perhaps many people don't do it that simplistically, but that would be a good place to start.
Kavi Guppta: I definitely agree, and I think what you've opened now is an entirely different discussion about the way we measure, and I think the way that we measure will change from channel to channel.
To your point, there might be content where the call to action is simply to get someone to sign up to an email program, and that there is that conversion. The actual conversion of sale might come later down the road, as you're getting more email newsletters and sending them out to people, and eventually you say, “I've got a new cookbook out. This is where you can pre-order it.” Well, how many pre-orders did you get from that email newsletter?
Then, again, you have conversion, and then from that pre-order, how many people actually shipped out or bought it beyond the pre-order, so people outside of that little email marketing program that you have going. That's another form of conversion.
Measurement in itself is going to be a huge component, and it's all going to come from what you want people to achieve from your content. Everyone is going to say, “Well, I want them to buy something.” Well, you know what? A blog post may not necessarily lead to someone buying something, but it may lead to an intent of purchase, which ultimately is something like registering for an email so I can hear from you again, or it may lead to referrals of someone else. “I know someone in my family, in my social circle, that could benefit from this. I'm going to send it to them as well.”
I think marketers need to pay attention to the types of action their customers will perform based on their product. People are going to buy things related to food very differently than how they'll buy things related to consumer electronics, or automobiles, or hospitality and telecommunications.
Loz James: We've touched upon the three core elements of producing epic content. We've looked at influencer strategy. We've looked at content creation. If we want to be Jamie Oliver, emulate his success with our own content marketing as a small business, where do we start? How can we do some of this?
Kavi Guppta: I think it goes back to what I said earlier. I think it's creating experiences that help your audience achieve something more than just buying your product. Again, educate them, entertain them if you can. There is obviously some issues where entertainment may be the viable way to get your message across. And empower them to do more.
Let's say, for example, you own a ladder company, and you want to get people to buy your ladders. You're not going to go on and on and on and on about why your ladder is so great, or why it is stronger or safer than the others, but there may be a benefit in showing your potential customer what they can do with that ladder. Can they achieve the home renovation task that they've been putting off for so long, fix the gutters, paint the walls, or change the roof tiles, because you've shown them that it's actually pretty easy, and your product fits into that lifestyle experience.
Loz James: So, we shouldn't fall into the trap of saying, “Okay, Jamie Oliver is only able to achieve this because he's got a massive brand, loads of money, and a big organization.” Everyone can do this if they just strip it down to the basics.
Kavi Guppta: Absolutely. I think … And you're going to have me go down another rabbit hole. I hope you invite me back, so I can talk about it. I would definitely say it's the simplicity and the basics of it.
We have a very, very good habit of complicating a lot of things for ourselves, and we often find … You'll see this in most marketing trends when a brand will start saying, “You know what? We forgot what it's all about, so we're going back to the basics, because that's what people care about,” and I kind of rip my hair out for those campaigns, because it's like we should have been at the basics always. Why do we feel we have to complicate something? Because we couldn't connect with them in the first place.
Loz James: As a copywriter, I always find it amazing when people go so far away from the basic fact of just creating great content to start with, and base everything on that, informed by our target audience.
Anyway, let's pull things out a bit before we finish up, because you've got tons of experience in this space. It's been fascinating talking to you. I'd just like to ask you what trends you see developing in content marketing over the next twelve months?
Kavi Guppta: This one was interesting one for me when you posed it to me before. I think the technology to create content will continue to become cheaper and more accessible.
That's an advantage for the businesses that couldn't afford the right tools before. We're going to keep seeing brands churn out untold hours of content on a daily basis. Of course, the quality of that content will be questionable, but that's what happens with better access. We'll get lots of good stuff, and we'll get a lot of bad stuff, too.
We're going to continue to see content that can be digested in mobile formats, tablets and smart phones, and I think we're going to see brands bring a lot of the content production that was usually outsourced to marketing agencies brought in house.
This is going to take a long time, and I'm not saying agencies are going to die out, but we'll definitely see a shift in brands where they seek out their content creators internally, and it will be more effective for them to invest in a team internally, and I think it will make them more nimble and agile to the types of trends and needs that their customers are facing.
We're kind of seeing that with brands like Nike or Red Bull. I think sports and consumer goods like that kind of have a handle on it right now, because they know the value of it.
Loz James: Sure. We'll watch this space. We'll see how everything pans out in 2015. Just before the PS question, could you remind us where we can find you online, please?
Kavi Guppta: I would say Twitter is a good place to start. It's my hub for everything I do and talk about related to tech, business and culture, and you can follow me at Kavi Guppta.
Announcer: Wait for it, listeners. Here it comes, the PS question.
Loz James: Could you please share one advance content marketing strategy we can use straight after this podcast?
Kavi Guppta: I love it, because you actually said it a bit earlier in our chat. It's that you don't need anything advanced. Honestly, keep it simple. Keep it clear, and don't try to be clever. I think a lot of content creators try to be clever, and it just falls flat. Sometimes the message can get muddled because of cleverness, and if you're writing a headline, an article, if you're recording a podcast or producing a video, I would say keep it clear and straightforward. It's going to be more about showing your audience what you're trying to communicate to them, and help them achieve a task they couldn't do before.
Teaching them to cook. Teach them to do home renovations, or like you're doing, Loz, teach them how to create useful content.
Loz James: Fantastic strategy. Okay, Kavi, I really appreciate you coming on. There's lots we touched on there. Perhaps we should have another conversation in the future, because there's a lot of things there that suggested themselves that we could talk about again.
But, for now, I'd just like to thank you for your time, and wish you all the best of luck with everything in the future.
Kavi Guppta: Thank you. Thanks for having me, Loz. I hope to be back one day.
Announcer: You have been listening to the Content Champion podcast, available at ContentChampion.com, Stitcher, the Blackberry Network and on iTunes. Until next time, thanks for listening.