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Classics: The Framework for Creating Digital Content People Want to Watch with Dan Gadd, Atlanta Dream WNBA: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Jul 25, 2023

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we’re talking the framework for creating digital content people want to watch with Dan Gadd. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

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Marketing Smarts: Classics: The Framework for Creating Digital Content People Want to Watch with Dan Gadd, Atlanta Dream WNBA

The digital space is crowded. It’s hard to capture enough attention for your content to break through the noise. Dan Gadd, SVP of Growth for the Atlanta Dream WNBA and former Sr. Director of Digital Strategy for the Atlanta Falcons, calls it “a street fight for attention!” You need a mindset shift that embraces the reality that “there is no reach without reaction.” Dan’s proven framework is your guide for getting this reaction and creating digital content people want to watch. This episode covers everything from sports marketing to social media. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you create digital content people want to watch?
  • What are the biggest challenges in developing great digital content?
  • How do you apply this framework to a small-to-midsize business?
  • What are 4 attributes of content that drives ROI?
  • How do you research to create digital content?
  • Why is Stranger Things so popular?
  • How do you write, shoot, and edit digital content?
  • What’s the best piece of content the Atlanta Falcons have ever created?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it. Welcome to marketing smarts. I am Anne Candido. And I am April Martini. And today we’re going to take another look back at one of our Classics. And this one is the framework for creating digital content people want to watch. And this was originally with Dan Gadd, who at the time was a Senior Director of Digital Strategy at the Atlanta Falcons, but is now still with Dan Gadd, but he is the SVP of Growth for the Atlanta Dream WNBA team. And this is again one of our most popular episodes, because Dan has a way of positioning the challenges of digital content so that everybody gets it. And he provides a very robust framework for conceptualization through an execution and distribution that will help all of you no matter what industry you’re in, develop highly engaging content that will attract and engage your target consumers, clients and customers. With that, let’s get to it. In Episode 15, we discussed the 4 attributes of ROI driving content, if you haven’t listened to that episode, we suggest you do so in order to get the foundation of what makes good content, because today we’re going to go and focus a lot on the digital space.

April Martini 1:33
But before we do that, just to make sure you track with this conversation, we’re gonna give you the 4 attributes of ROI driving content. So the first one, it delivers value. And we talked in that episode about four ways to do so those are educational or informational entertainment, inspiration, and promotion. Number two, a call to action. So we talk a lot about the importance of calls to action CTAs on the show, same thing with driving ROI for content. Number three, it’s designed for the platform. So we’ve always said what works on one platform doesn’t necessarily work on all the others not that you can’t repurpose content, but you need to keep in mind the platform that you’re using. And number four, and this is always my favorite that it triggers your brand. And we always talk about the importance of pulling through your brand elements, and creating an authentic story so that people want to connect with your content. And ultimately, you get to ROI.

Anne Candido 2:27
And to help us spin this for digital, we have a very special guest today to give his unique perspective. And now he and his team create digital content people want to watch. And in this case, it’s a very discriminative fanbase. And that is the one and only Dan Gadd, Senior Director of Digital Strategy at the Atlanta Falcons. Hi, Dan.

Dan Gadd 2:46
Hey, Anne. Hey, April. Great to be out with you guys. I’m very excited about this.

Anne Candido 2:51
Rick, super excited to have you and get all of that flair from the Atlanta Falcons. So this is gonna be great. So let’s go ahead and jump into the framework for creating digital content people want to watch in in all transparency. This is actually Dan’s framework, because as we said, Dan is the expert. So we love it for simplicity, that’s clarity, its focus. And most of all, it really works as Dan is going to talk about. So without further ado, let’s jump in to the framework for creating digital content people want to watch. The first is research, the very first thing you need to do. And it’s so important to define your audience, because you need to figure out who’s actually going to drive your business. Because as we talked about, it’s a very crowded space. And there is a ton of content creators that you’re going to be competing with. Dan, tell us how you guys deal with research.

Dan Gadd 3:44
Yeah, 100%. So and then I probably should have given a little more introduction up front. But I have a team of just fantastic content creators. And this, when we started talking about one thing that we wanted to do when I got here was really kind of overhaul and move the team forward for the digital content landscape. And a big part of that, actually the center of that. One of the things that we wanted to do was make sure that our content creators realized that they weren’t just a videographer, they’re not just a writer or a graphic designer, but they are content creators, which means they are responsible for knowing the audiences and knowing what is working with those audiences and ultimately responsible for the performance of the content. And so a big part of that is the research side of that and what we’re doing this, as we’ll go through all five of these steps, but the research part is really about the performance it is and when we talk about performance we’re looking at on a per post basis, because large numbers of aggregate interactions or great or large numbers of interactions of article views is fantastic. But you’re you’re not going to have everybody remember every post that you put out. So we you’re going to have those there are going to be certain things that you Do that will have more impact than others. And we want to be hitting those at a at a higher rate. So for us, it really is looking at things that help us see the landscape on a per post basis, and really trying to drive a lot we’ll look at so for instance, in the NFL, we will use tools that allow us to look across all teams. And really, and we can do this across any sport or any kind of like grouping of of content producers that we want to put together. And then we’ll be able to go in to see their over performing posts, we’ll be able to see the things that drove the highest interaction rates. And basically, we’ll be able to see the things that generated the biggest reactions from people so that we have a sense of what is driving that performance. And the reason that we do this is, and I think there’s a landscape part of this that is really central to this to this mindset. And that’s this framework, to be fully transparent started as a creative process. But we really look at it more, in the five steps that we’re going over today, we really look at it more as a, as a mindset shift in the organization, particularly with our content creators that we needed to make. And I think, and, you know, my background, obviously, we work together when we’re tired. And when I you know, even when you and I work together, or before that when I was with Chicago Bears getting content seen was a lot easier. It is harder now than ever. Because the content landscape has become so fragmented, by by really personal choice, right? You people spend time now on Netflix, on Hulu, on YouTube, across social platforms. It’s not it’s not just broadcast television or cable, there are so many options, and people’s interests are driving that that landscape. And so, you know, back in 2012, and when I’m dating myself a little bit a bit of the content game for a long time. But at that time, it was a lot easier to get in front of people with content. You know, Facebook’s algorithm at that time, was not as strict as it is. Now, there was there were fewer content creators, that were fewer channels. And it’s harder to it’s a very crowded landscape with a lot of platforms and a lot. And probably the biggest change is the number of content producers, including the platform’s themselves, who are really, really good. So the research part becomes extremely important. Because you’re, you can’t just say that we have, we’re gonna produce this thing, and it’s gonna get seen anymore, we have to know what is going to drive reactions. And so one of the foundational things that we’ve tried to really get our organization understand, but particularly our content creators is there is no reach without reaction. If we’re not, if we’re not putting things out that cause people to react, and talk about it, or share it or, or stay and watch the video, stop in a feed and watch the video for longer periods of time. Even when you put if you even if you try to boost content that isn’t working and put money behind it, it’s you’re just not going to get the same return. Because there is so much in people’s feeds now. And there’s so many options, that it really has become a street fight for attention. So the first thing that we have to know is, what are those factors that are going to get people to stop and react to this content. Because on Facebook, when they serve it now if the first batch of people don’t react to it, they’re going to stop serving it on Twitter, your shelf life is going to be very minimal. If you’re not getting driving retweets on YouTube, if you’re not getting people to watch the video for a long time, it’s not going to get seen. And even when you try and put money behind it, it’s it’s your results are not going to be as good as if you’re putting money behind great content that really excites people.

April Martini 8:40
So I think you bring up a couple really good points there. First is the mindset shift that has had to happen around the idea of everybody being content creators versus whatever role they serve. My background is, you know, as all of you guys listening know, I’m the agency side of things, right? And so just like everywhere else when things shifted, and became very digital, and then I think you make a second good point, which is that it just blew up from there. And how do you change the mindset of the people that are working on the actual work to not be like, Okay, it’s almost like an assembly line, right? So I come up with the idea, I write the copy, I put the image in, and then it just all rolls from there, and we have a packaging template, and you know, everything’s great. Whereas now, I think your other big point here that, you know, I took note of is no reach without reaction. So not only now do you need to be serving up content all the time and have that team aligned to doing so. But you have to be able to get people to take notice and want to interact with it. And it is just such a crowded space.

Dan Gadd 9:41
You’re exactly right. And that that is that is what we’re I think our content creators, right, get that get how crowded the landscape is, inherently they completely understand that largely because they’re very involved in it and they see it and they understand that like, Hey, I’m, you know, it’s crazy because like you the watercooler conversation Is aren’t even the same anymore, wherever they will talk about, you know what the big show was the night before. Now you get pockets of whether it’s Stranger Things or something that HBO produced, right. And it’s you don’t have those common watercooler conversations about entertainment as much anymore. Because because of how varied everybody’s interests are. So our content creators get that I think the bigger challenges. I think, and this isn’t my organization or a white organization, I think this is the entire business landscape really is, I think the word content is become overused. And they’re not looking at how hard it is to get content to perform. And so that part of it, understanding just how crowded the landscape is, and that it’s not going to get seen, just because we did it is is really what when I’m saying there’s a mindset shift, that’s what we’re trying to get them to understand is like this, there is a, I think we have to get really clear on the distinction between content, which means we are producing this from an origin of audience interests, versus advertising, what is really built with what are our needs in mind, and there are different places that are different roles in different places to distribute both of those. But if you’re going into something like a YouTube, or you’re going into Instagram, or in some of these very crowded, competitive content, landscapes, if you’re not starting with the audience interests, and more importantly, it’s not just interest, it’s insights and emotional and informational triggers. If that’s not the starting point, for your content creation process, you’re already at a major, major competitive disadvantage, because you’re going up against so many content producers who are in this thing and participating, like it’s a street fight for attention. And if you’re trying to deliver a message as when everybody else is trying to stop people and grab their attention, you’re at a competitive disadvantage.

Anne Candido 11:47
Yeah, I think that’s a really nice lead in to the second part of your framework, which is insight. So once you can really understand the landscape, really understand who your audience is, the next step is really figuring out how you’re going to gauge them. What are they interested in? What will they appreciate from you, and to the point you just made, this is the pool part versus a push part. And I think a lot of people make mistakes, and that they try to push the content, they try to tell the consumers what they want them to know about the brand, versus giving in serving up the consumer, what is going to be interesting about the brand that also correlates to their interest. So it’s a really nice kind of juxtaposition of both. And in order to do that, you have to be in touch with what is relevant in culture and community, because that is the basis from which a lot of the insights come from. And like I said, this intersection of culture and community. And the and the insight is really what creates dynamite content.

Dan Gadd 12:51
Without a doubt, and I think this step in the, again, there’s five steps. And I think this this insight step is really kind of where the magic happens, right? If step one is the research, and you’re pulling the data behind the performance, this step is the why that data is what it is, this is where you have to really translate data into a motion. And pulling out if you’re seeing certain things are performing. And it’s kind of the magical part is when you when you see the unexpected in there, right? Like what? Well, I didn’t expect this to perform, I didn’t expect these things to do as well as they did. It’s really pulling the wire out of that stuff. And so one of the things that we’re that we’ve established on with our content team, and again, to try to ground everybody in the same, we want everybody to be as creative as possible, but we want them to go through the same steps of making sure that we’re on target with who our audiences are. And this, this, we’ve created a framework called Finding the why were in the first factor and finding the why is getting our team to understand they have to be people experts before becoming platform or technology experts. That’s the whole name of the game. And this, by the way, this that is right. And I actually when you and I worked together, I saw more and more agencies starting to hire what was called these molten called Platform experts. And I did something that was kind of rubbed me the wrong way about that. Because when they would talk, they would talk about like, best practices on a certain platform like Instagram and say things like how many characters should be in there, or you know, what the ratio aspect or the aspect ratio on an image should be? And things like that, that were more tactical. And I always thought like, that’s not what’s driving great content performance that may give you a 5% boost in engagement error or 10%. there but, but the things that break through, break through because they strike an emotion they strike a nerve, they strike, the emotion always wins. And so when we when we talk about, you know, finding the why or what is an insight, it’s it’s that it’s the people that’s not platform experts, and insights are based on emotion. They’re not based on tactical elements as much like that. So we wanted to have everybody Really, when when they’re looking at performance data, try to break it down to emotional or informational triggers that are causing people to react. And then this step, if we get that, right if we can get those emotional and informational triggers, right? That’s really, you if you can get those into sentences, if you can get those into short phrases, that what the triggers are around a specific event around a certain date around a cultural event around, you know, specific things that audiences are interested in, in some way, shape or form, that becomes the start of the brainstorming process, that becomes the thing that we want are, we want the people who are pulling those insights, to kick off the brainstorm and ground everybody on. We want to brainstorm to be as creative as possible. But we want everybody to know what it’s going to take to win with people first, and then get creative. And so that’s why I think one of the biggest things that we had to do when we were trying to transform our digital processes, with the Falcons was, was really put a couple steps in before the brainstorm, to help ground everybody on what it was going to take to be successful, and get everybody at least pointed in the same direction. Even if creatively they were as diverse as humanly possible.

April Martini 16:10
Well, and I think that’s an amazing point to Dan, because, you know, my, my role traditionally was as the brand strategy lead. And to your point about bringing in platform experts. I mean, I always felt like we were speaking completely at odds with each other because they were doing things like you said of character count. And I was trying to drive home No, no, no, but this is what the research is showing us and what the key insights are that we need to deliver. It doesn’t matter if we get the you know, the count, right, if we don’t deliver a message that is going to resonate with anybody. And so I think the people experts thing, as Ann mentioned before, is really compelling. But I mean, I also think that insights can be an overused word, and the fact that you have this diligent process, and then understanding that goes across the team of what that actually is, you are setting up the process appropriately to go through and execute all the work. Because if you can actually get to an insight that’s really meaningful and powerful, it makes all the other steps easy. Versus if you don’t have one of those, then you struggle and it becomes subjective. And everybody’s different personalities to your point come out. And so you’re not delivering on something that the end consumer wants, you’re all muddled up within your organization.

Dan Gadd 17:24
I couldn’t agree with you more that it is that incites is an overused word. And I also think it is also it’s on one hand overused On another hand overlooked. And what I mean by that is, there’s so how many times does a brainstorm, start with? Hey, here’s the problem, what does everybody think we should do? And you don’t go to? What are the things that are actually going to drive impact? Or what what are the what are we actually trying to achieve with this? And what what is it going to take what where have we seen behavior? What are we seeing things drive behavior that solve that goal, and that if you don’t define how to get to the win, you end up shooting bullets in 32 different directions, you don’t know which one’s going to work. And so that that part of it is, and April, I’m sure you saw on the agency side, too. There’s, there’s so many times when that would be a race to come up with the idea. And then you would read you would write something to retrofit and insight of to fit the idea that you already did. And the idea wasn’t genuinely based on a true emotional or informational insight, which which was driving behavior. Absolutely. And so I think I think that’s, I think in today’s content landscape, that is the most essential part of driving consistently successful content is getting the insights right, consistently, and being very dogmatic about making sure that we are hitting on those emotional nerves and getting them boiled down into into short descriptions that our content creators can understand. And then go try to attack.

Anne Candido 18:57
Yeah, and just so you guys know, even though you thought you were stinking one by the brand that the brand always could pick up when you guys were doing that. Just so you know.

Dan Gadd 19:07
Yeah. Yeah. And if you’ve got 45 seconds, I’ll tell you a funny anecdote on that one that just always stuck with me to this day, go for it. And this was not this was not related to the work that we did with and this was a completely different brand. But we we were we one of our clients, when I was on the agency side was heavily involved in the college sports landscape, and it’s a college sports sponsorship space. And they had a five agency meeting near their headquarters. And we were going to go out and we were going to basically deliver ideas against the kickoff of the college football season. And one of the agencies got up to present and they and I knew it, I knew it. As soon as I saw it, they had retrofit the Insight before I even saw the idea, because I knew that the insect was way off and that they put up on the screen instead. like college football, the visiting college football fans want to have a as good of a tailgate experience as the home college football fans. And

Anne Candido 20:13
they just go to the bars. Yeah,

April Martini 20:14
they don’t tailgate.

Dan Gadd 20:15
So I knew I knew we were in bad territory. The literal, the literal idea was caught based on that insight was. And the example they use was, so when Auburn plays at Alabama, we’re going to set up a VIP Auburn tailgate in the Alabama parking lot.

Anne Candido 20:36
And I was like, Oh, my carry it with that to security. I’m like, we’re

Dan Gadd 20:41
gonna get people killed, and brand, and this brand is going to be in the headline when it happens. And so with that was that was a great example of retrofitting an insight.

Anne Candido 20:51
Yeah, we had a lot of experience with that, especially in those sports arenas, retrofitting a lot of insights into, presumably, into sports arenas, right? No, that was very telegraphic. And I appreciate the fact that you already tied the insights into the third piece of the framework was a brainstorming, which is really getting down then to what is the best way to deliver the story based on your insight and through what mechanism and when and the appear, depart being there that you are filtering your brainstorming, through the Insight right into it provides a lot more efficiency, then you’re able to figure out what kind of value you’re going to provide. And then your it starts to take shape. So maybe Dan, maybe you can speak a little bit more about a couple of examples of how you have taken some of these insights, and then led them into the brainstorming phase and what you produce as a result of that.

Dan Gadd 21:46
Yeah, 100%. So I’ve got one really good example. But I’ll quickly touch about that kind of that transition between the inside of the brainstorm and and I think the brainstorming part can, you can also kind of consider the creative culture a little bit, and I’m really big on, I think that there is it’s more than just brainstorming, it’s about creating the right creative culture. And I think there are some really important parts of that, including having a team that has a common purpose and is trying to go in the same direction, that has a common definition of success so that when they hear an idea, they know that that’s going in the right direction. And they want to build on that because they know it’s going in the right direction, where a lot of times if people are looking at different goals, the end up becoming territorial on the ideas because they don’t see the success. And so and then obviously trust and synergy with that team. And I think I think the insights part of that aids, a lot of that collaboration again, because if you’re at the same starting point, and trying to get to the same kind of success, then then you know, when when something’s going in the right direction, there’s a lot of building on ideas. And that’s when collaboration is really good. And so I think all of those things come together really well. When when you’ve got a good insights process, and then also have a clear common purpose for the team that helps them build on each other’s ideas. But as an example of a, I think the probably the, I think one of the best examples that we’ve done, where an insight led to a great brainstorming a great creative piece of content was, so my early months with the Falcons, we were we were in the playoffs and if you know anything about Falcons history, and we wind up going to the Super Bowl that year, but even before that Super Bowl, which shall not be talked about this team and had a long has never had never won a Super Bowl, and there’s some there was some really, really tough playoff losses along the way. I’ll leave it at that. And then there was so we we had all through that playoff run. In the first game. In the first game, there was always a sense of like uneasiness or at certain points, trepidation. And every week, it kind of shifted to the point where you know, at first it was like, oh, no, here we go again. And then the second week when we’re playing the Packers in the NFC Championship game, we kind of noticed our fans saying, Oh god, Aaron Rodgers is going to do it to us again. And we lost the last time we were in the NFC Championship, please don’t let this happen again. And then when we destroyed the Packers, there was this really interesting thing that happened with our fan base, all of a sudden, it was like because we had beaten the Packers the way they did, there was this super surge of confidence. And all of a sudden, this fan base who had got that point gone 50 or 51 years without winning a Super Bowl started feeling like they were going to win a Super Bowl. And so a really interesting thing started to happen. We noticed on comments on posts that it went from oh god don’t let them do it to us again, it went from that to I’ve been a fan since fill in the year. And and I remember when and they will start putting in all these moments and it was this and we started talking about that allows a team and one of the things that it kind of struck us was like they think we’re going to win the Superbowl and they’re telling Their story of fandom because they finally feel like the weight is going to end. And so there was the sense of like, I’ve been waiting for this since 1982. And I’ve seen I’ve been here for all of these things that happened. And it was the sense that the weight was going to come to an end. And so we we wrote a script, we called it a city weights, and it was the city of Atlanta, talking about the weight and all the things that had happened. And we had these really cool, kind of like references to the history of the city and, and it was basically about the city of Atlanta, feeling like the weight was about to be lifted. And like finally, it’s going to be our time and we had it and we reached out to and got a an iconic voice of Atlanta, we got ludicrous to narrate it. And But the coolest thing about it was and this is where the Insight really came in. The one comment that really triggered it for us was a guy had written as he wrote, I’ve been a fan. Since 1982. I can remember sitting next to my dad’s rocking chair, and watching the games on the old tube TV with Steve Bartkowski. And and we literally recreated that scene and made it the opening shot of the video. And it to this point, I was a kid holding a football next to a chair and just staring at the flickering TV of our old quarterback, Steve Bartkowski. And when you saw that frame, and and then we put net, we’re very strategic and put narrated by ludicrous. And the opening frame, you can people of all the videos, we produce it after the Super Bowl, that was the one that it would exploded. And I don’t think it was our best script. But I think it was the one that hit on a nerve that hit a shared shared experience that made that told our audience felt like we told their story. And that was the one that just absolutely exploded in the days before the Super Bowl. Well, I think

April Martini 26:49
you really smartly captured a lot of different demographics and audience members for you know, that can get pretty complicated when you’re talking about sports, by everything from, you know, ludicrous being the one to narrate to, you know, remembering being a kid next year, you’re the rocking chair, all of those types of things. And also marrying it with the history of Atlanta, I think is smart, because then people can reference very naturally the different points in time in their head and the parallels of where the team was at those points in time. And it just really then emphasizes even more how long people were waiting and hoping and part of the community of fans

Dan Gadd 27:33
want 1,000% on all of that. And like I said it, you took we took something that even though that that one story wasn’t exactly how everybody’s story went, it was very similar and people could put themselves in that situation. And there’s a great podcast that one of the lines that they talked about was a lot of people use the word storytelling, but you’ve got to make it so that the your audience feels it’s their story, too. And that that part of it is I think, you know, April that you mentioned that incites is overused, I think storytelling is a lot of times. And there’s how you do it. And I I prefer the word content because it means it’s intentional about we’re doing this for our audience.

Anne Candido 28:19
You Yeah, and i i I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the fact that the way that then you just walk through that process. And the next step we’re going to get to is reading, shooting and editing which this is going to lead very nicely into is because you filtered it through that the research and the insight that brainstorming now had all the collective creative, like juices all geared to producing that one piece of content. So the details and the nuances, a lot of people would have overlooked, like using ludicrous and stuff like that, that never would have come up in a brainstorming where people are pitching 40 Different ideas in order to try to get there’s hurt and one because you the whole time has been spent just trying to pick somebody’s idea. And then there’s a step missed between actually like cultivating it and and creating it and making sure it’s larger than life. And then also making sure it checks the all the pieces needs to in order to have that emotional reaction in in going back to being able to find that way to you know, get consumers and fans in this case to react and without using another overused word which is authentic, since we’re talking about overused words, but that is the definition of authenticity. Right? And because I think it’s really important to point out that, you know, you’re not just hitting a nerve, you’re hitting a nerve, you know, in a very curated way in a very intentional way. That’s creating content that people want to see. And some of the things you said about like feeling like it’s also their story that’s intentionally creative, like guidance that’s just not like hey, we’re just going to produce something and put it out there leading up to Super Bowl that that takes It’s like a creative like team in order to make that happen. So I think that really speaks to the process that you have laid out here.

Dan Gadd 30:09
And I’ll say one other thing. I think when you do all those things that you go through those steps, it’s so it’s like so many other things that happen in a big business, right? It creates alignment, which is so, so important. And it creates alignment, not just, you know, for our executives, but for our content team. And I, the best content that we’ve done is repeatedly the stuff that 12 People are excited to execute as opposed to one or two people. And that happens that happens when we come up with an idea that everybody agrees that’s the one.

Anne Candido 30:39
Yeah, I think that’s well said. And we talk about that a lot when we talk about creative, our corporate agency dynamic and having that one big goal that everybody is trying to achieve, so that everybody feels like this is bigger than just them. So that they can all work in providing their own expertise and their own value into the process. So I think that’s really brilliant. Then the next piece of the framework is writing, shooting and editing. And we’re getting into a lot of the tacticals here, but it is at the execution that everybody sees. So all the rest of the stuff is great. But you have to execute it in order to be able to pull out what is the value of that piece of content that you want people to react to. And that takes an art in itself. And then you also like to your point that you made before, Dan is that you also have to slice the story to be impactful in all the marketing channels, because there’s different attention spans for different channels. There’s different guidelines for how long a video can run in different channels. So maybe you could speak to a little bit more about some of the tactics and the tips that you use in order to make sure what you’re creating through the research insights. And brainstorming translates into really powerful content.

Dan Gadd 31:58
I think the most important part, and so you touched on beautifully that the last few steps, right is the production piece and the desert distribution piece. And I think, I think the most important part of that. And I think this even goes back to some of the earlier steps. And you mentioned the word execution. And I think I think so often, and April, you probably have similar opinions coming from the agency side, the the thing that creatives usually lose out on his there is this, there is not enough respect or credence given to the amount of time it takes to go through the creative process and build this stuff the right way. And there has got to be and one of the things we talked about with the Falcons is really it’s some point you have to be intentional about what business model you’re in. And we’ve intentionally chosen because we think it’s best suited to to win with our fans to be more of a media producer, as opposed to an agency. And what I mean by that is, we need to have one plan. And our content team needs to know it inside and out. But it also it means a lot of knowing that when you see it and being able to come up with ideas that that ladder up to the bigger plan, but then moving time away from the planning, and the meetings, and the discussions and the approvals, and all those things and focusing our time on the creative process and the execution. And there’s not enough credence usually given to. And I remember on my M agency days, you know, we’d get these arguments about timesheets, and like didn’t really take 10 hours, right. 10 tweets? Yes, it did. If you want them to be good, yes, it did. And that’s where I think and I think large businesses go into the same thing, like, oh, let’s just knock out this 32nd video, well, if you want that to win in the in the content landscape that we’re in today, we’ve got to be intentional about giving our team the time to execute and, and really, and I I’m biased, but I have the best content team in the sports landscape. i It’s amazing, the talent of the team that I’m working with. And if I’m if I’m doing my job, I’ve got to give that team the time to come up with ideas and just as importantly, the time to execute and produce and put the their passion and their skill and their expertise into the actual work and not be rushing it. And that’s I think one of the biggest challenges in this whole thing and it really does ladder back to it’s not okay to be okay in the content landscape anymore. You have to be great because you’re now in a lot of ways. We’re competing against Netflix and Netflix is pretty damn good.

April Martini 34:30
Yeah, well, I mean, first of all, you You stated one of the words that I never want to hear again in my life, which is timesheets. I mean, I just feel like cringe as soon as i i hear that word, but yes, a lot of shared feelings about making sure to spend the time to execute appropriately. And and I think I just want to highlight something you said there, which is if you allow the early phases of the project to get caught up and all those political things or burek bureaucratic things that really don’t matter. Like approvals and who gets to see it and who gets to weigh in and we need 18 meetings and all that stuff. That’s where you get into those horrible time crunches. And I’m totally with you. I mean, I often talk about the difference between the commercial aspect of things and the craft of really being someone creative. And that craft, I think the more that this digital machine goes, is, is just falling to the wayside more and more and more. And so I’m hoping and my if I had to place my bet, my belief would be that it will swing the other way, and that the people that have focused on it all this time will reap the benefits of that. But I also know that when you’re talking about business numbers, and making sure that you’re meeting, whatever plan you’ve put out there, all those types of things, it can be hard to take that time and really make sure that the idea is right. And all those little details and nuances are hit exactly as they need to be

Dan Gadd 35:54
worked out. It’s it is a it’s a craft. And we’ve got to give people the time to do it. But when you get the right people that have them pointed in the right direction, it is that ability to to basically immerse themselves in that project, and, and build just unbelievable things when they’re doing it. And that’s that that is where that’s where the wind happens.

Anne Candido 36:16
Yeah, and I think that’s a really interesting thing back to your your people first piece that when I asked for tips and tricks you gave the person, you know that the talent behind actually being able to create this. And you know, for those who are like, how do I know that I have a good person? Or how do I find the right person in order to do my content? Do you have anything that you look for specifically Dan, to say, Hey, this is going to be a really good person who’s going to execute content.

Dan Gadd 36:45
So I’ll hit on three things real quick. Number one, the first thing that I did on the first day when I was hired by the Falcons was I wrote on the top of my board, develop the most passionate, excited and informed fan base. And I the reason I did that, as I told Morgan, Sean Parker, who’s our CFO was, I wanted a common purpose that the whole team could buy into, but it would also act as a decision filter for us. So that when we were doing things like hiring people, we were looking at people who exhibited a skill set, that were going to move us closer to that goal. And so that became part of the framework. But then I’ve also, I said, I was blessed with probably the one that probably the most talented team, I’ll stand on a mountain and say this the most talented content creation team in the sports landscape. And I trust heavily that that team knows the skills when they see it. So I, once I’ve established that common purpose, I really do I let I let my content creators and my other digital leaders get people in front of me that they believe have the right skill sets. And then I at that point, I evaluate them from two perspectives. Number one, are they passionate about the role that we’re going to put them in, and I want people that are going to come to work every day, excited about doing that thing and being and being the best that they possibly can edit. And a lot of times, that means exhibiting time spent against that thing outside of work or school, that this is something that they do on their own, because they love it. So that’s one and then the second one is I asked them questions about their experience with teams. And that may be in athletics, but it may be in businesses, or school settings, where they were part of great teams. And they exhibited that they wanted to be a great teammate, they wanted to be part of something larger than themselves. Because I want people who are eager, not just willing to help the other people on the team be great. Again, I’ve been I think I’ve been blessed to be part of three great teams. In my life. One was in football one was a tailor. And the digital team that we had there and working with you honestly on the on the NFL side was fantastic. And then the third one is the digital team that I’m working with right now. And I think it all of those experiences, there was a synergy that came when everybody was bought in on trying to do the same thing and wanted to help each other get there. And so those that that common purpose, the passion and the teamwork are three things that I really tried to center the team around. And a lot of times, we have a lot of confidence that we can develop some of the skills even if they’re not there at day

Anne Candido 39:14
one was great, really well, really well, son,

Dan Gadd 39:17
I appreciate that.

Anne Candido 39:20
So the fifth piece of the framework is distribution. And you touched on this lightly, but maybe you can help make sure everybody puts the right emphasis on how they should think about distribution, because it’s really about where the consumer is going to be the most receptive when the consumer is gonna be most receptive, obviously, a glance based on your insights, your research, and then obviously, your brainstorming. But then there’s also like how you do it like organic reach versus paid reach. So maybe you could speak a little bit to that.

Dan Gadd 39:52
So first of all, I think the most brilliant model in all content is what Netflix has done where they have started and it’s a circular process and we’re trying to do Have a little bit of that with us, too, right? You, you start with the audience segmentation and the insights and the research on that group. And then you end up by delivering back to that same group. And they did it, they’ve done it over and over again, where they, they, they will pull the audience interest, which right there, they have amazing platform data. And they’re able to say, Okay, this group of people loves this type of plotline, these types of actors, these types of production elements, and we’ll go build shows on that. So we’re using those insights to build the content. Once the content is built, they deliver it back to the same people and other lookalikes that they think you’re gonna like that content, it’s, I think that is such a competitive advantage over spaces like TV where you can’t, you can’t distribute it back to specific people through a recommendation engine the same way. So we try to mirror that a little bit, right, we start with research and insights. And we end with production and brilliant sending it or excuse me, distribution, and basically sending that content that we’ve built for specific audiences and trying to get it back to the platforms where we think that those audiences are. We try to model that we can’t do it the same way. We don’t have all the same data they do. But the principle is basically the same start with the research and data and insights pulling, and then try and deliver, create content based on that and deliver it back to the right audiences. So and then on the Listen, there’s been a long conversation about organic organic content is dead. I don’t agree with that. I know, because we’ve seen it, we can still generate organic results, but you have to be very, very regimented in building things based on that process that we’ve talked through, that we know are going to trigger reactions from people. And that’s the difference. And I think a lot of times when people say their organic reach is dead, it’s because the their production processes aren’t set up to drive those kinds of reactions, as a lot of a lot of times it’s there is a business part of the striving that and the first steps in the process are what is our product, what is our differentiation, where’s our brand equity, but it’s not, it’s not starting with the insights part of it. So I think I do think that there is a lot of opportunity, inorganic, it is harder than ever, but I think it still exists if you’re putting things out that that really stop people cold. And then from a paid strategy. There’s a lot of layers to this. But it’s really as simple as this. We think that our best content is the stuff that endears people to our brand the best anyway, the stuff that makes them react and makes them feel like we’re telling their story and makes them feel like that our that our team represents them. That’s our best content, it’s putting our best brand foot forward. So that’s our paid strategy is pretty much as simple as putting money behind the things that we already know works and getting it to bigger audiences. And so it’s, you know, there’s a lot of layers to it. There’s a PSL sales side of that, but honestly, we’ve even seen that when we take our best videos, and put them out to audiences that we think are potential PSL buyers, the ROI on that is higher than if we try and do a standard display ad.

Anne Candido 42:55
And PSL. For some folks that might not know that

Dan Gadd 43:00
Personal Seat License, which is basically the process for buying season tickets.

Anne Candido 43:05
Got it? Alright, so just to recap, the framework for creating digital content, people want to watch research, insights, brainstorming, writing, shooting, and editing, and then distribution. And as we’ve talked about already, this is a mindset shift for many of us, and that is totally fine. But embracing this can mean the difference between highly productive content and content that gets washed away in the sea of social. And with that, we’re gonna go into our next section, which is our in the trenches section, we where we give real world examples in specific to industries and situations. In this case, we’re going to use Dan’s experience and the Falcons as our filter. But listen up for all the nuances for the things that you can apply. Because as we said at the beginning, this is all principle based, it works for any size business, it works for any kind of business. All right. So our first in the trenches. Question, Dad, what are the biggest challenges in developing great digital content?

Dan Gadd 44:02
I think especially if you’re talking about, you know, businesses, and in today’s landscape, I think it is under it’s what we’ve talked about, it’s understanding just how competitive This landscape is. And the fact that, you know, you’re you’re really competing against not just your other business competitors, but against all of the other content producers who are competing for people’s time and attention. And so one of the phrases that we use a lot is that this is a street fight for particularly on our side, this is a street fight for youth attention. And we’ve got to we’ve got to take that approach. And so the only way we’re going to win is to really, first of all get the organization to understand and there’s a lot here I could talk about for two hours, but they’ve got to understand that the role of content in order for us to have our maximum impact. The role of content has to be to win people over. It can’t be it’s not going to be just product messaging or promoting an initiative that’s coming up. or it’s we’ve got to start by understanding the role of content. And our biggest maximum win is by winning people over. And one of the things we talk a lot about is we can’t have a ticket sales strategy, a sponsorship strategy, a community relations strategy, a marketing strategy for content, we can’t have seven content strategies and be good, we have to have one content strategy that’s built to move people. And then we can use that content for all of those other purposes. And, and so it’s, it really is starting there, and making sure that our content producers, once we’ve established the role of content we’ve built in the, the foundation for them to operate in that space, they’ve got to be very, very focused on performance and performance in the space ladders back to did we did we cause people to pay time and attention to us today? Do we cause people to react? And so it becomes a, like I said earlier, it’s about them becoming people, experts in our platform or technology experts. And so there’s a lot more to it there. But I think there’s a overall it’s a mindset shift and an understanding of how difficult it is to win this landscape and positioning content within the organization within the space and positioning it to all in it there. Because I could go on for hours.

Anne Candido 46:19
Yeah, I know. I’m familiar with that.

April Martini 46:23
Little jab in there right at the end.

Anne Candido 46:27
All right, in the trenches question, well, I’m not a big NFL franchise, how do I apply this to my small and mid sized business. And we talked about this being a framework and you know, the framework is the same how you apply the framework may be different. And then your skill may be different as well, based on what your intent is. Your for example, I know, for you guys, we develop very highly polished content. For the most part, some of our smaller mid sized businesses may not need highly, highly polished content, depending on what channel they’re on and what they’re trying to produce. So maybe at the end, you could speak to a little bit about like, how do you make that decision? And maybe you can give a couple of examples that really demonstrate the intent there so that our small and midsize businesses can really grasp this.

Dan Gadd 47:13
Yeah, look, I have the luxury of working with, like I said, some very high end cinematographers and some, some just phenomenal social strategists and people who can, who can write and, and, you know, pull people in through creative writing, and a lot of people from a graphic design perspective that can do world class stuff. And that all helps tremendously. But at its core, I don’t think you there is, if you look, there is a lot in the digital space, right? You can follow Rex Chapman on Twitter, and see a ton of things that exploded that weren’t high end cinematography, or really well produced scripts. There is it all comes down to Kenny, are you curious enough to spend time evaluating what is causing reactions from people? And you don’t always have to have, you know, high end, expensive analytics, that helps a lot, obviously. But But I think the biggest thing is, and I’ve said this from the start, even the people who use the analytics tools, the best are generally the ones that are that start by being curious about what moves people. And I think a lot of times, it really, you know, because we we get that question a lot internally is like, Well, what do we have to do to pull insights? And what tools do we should we use? And I’d say, start by pulling up a message board, and reading what people are talking about, go start by being curious enough to look at, at the tweets of the that are resonating with the types of audiences that you want. I mean, sports is a very passionate group. But there’s a lot of passions out there. And when when I was at Taylor, we worked a lot on whiskey brands. And we there were things that worked on for p&g, that didn’t work for other brands. But it really started by looking at at those spaces. And I’d say, start by being curious, start by being curious about what people what people respond to, and what pulls them in, especially if you can, in any way, kind of start to find those content producers that you think you’re speaking to the audiences that you want to reach. And just start by evaluating what seems to move the needle with those audiences. And I think if you can, if you can then take that performance data and translate it into emotional triggers, it’s causing that performance, you’re on the right path, and you don’t have to have you don’t have to be able to shoot a movie to do it. Right. You don’t have to be able to shoot the most beautiful scene ever. Because a lot of times the simplest phrase or the simplest picture, and artifacts we see on Instagram, Facebook all the time. A lot of times it’s images, simple images that generate the highest interaction rates.

April Martini 49:47
Yeah, I mean, I think you bring up a really good point. I mean, for everybody that has been listening to us, you know that quant and analytics and things are not always my favorite because I think number one they missed the emotional and human connection. If you only use them and number two, if you have the right emotional and human connection, a lot of times you can make the numbers work for whatever story you want to tell. So I think you bring up an amazing point here, which is that you have to be curious. But I would also say you can’t be lazy about it either. And so I think the approach you outlined is really good of immersing yourself where the audience is, and really hearing what they are saying and where those consistent themes lie, so that you can respond in kind, the same way you would in a human interaction or conversation, just again, at a bigger scale.

Dan Gadd 50:37
Yeah. And I think part of that, too, is, once you’ve once you’ve done that work, and if you feel like you’ve gotten to the right space, once that creative process starts, do you have do you have creative people on your team that have the emote the emotional intelligence to put themselves in the shoes of the people are trying to reach and really try to think about the content through their eyes, that if you can do that, it’s, that’s a real strong way to be consistently good

Anne Candido 51:04
1,000%. And I think you guys did that beautifully. With the Hayden Hurst constant that you guys did

Dan Gadd 51:09
that. There is, that’s another case study. But I will say, I am so proud of my team for recognizing that there was that started as a miked up clip that we had against your cowboys. And

April Martini 51:23
there’s the jab back right there. And,

Dan Gadd 51:25
and Hayden had a real good human moment, at the end of that game that we had, we just happen to have him miked up for that game. And we were very part of this was luck. Part of it was skill. He had a really touching moment with Dak Prescott at the end of the game, where they talked about a similar similar connection over mental health and, and found to work together. And that struck a nerve. And our team, you know, I was very passionate about, there’s a bigger story there. And they put a lot of time and work into, into getting into to working with Hayden, and getting him to feel very, to trust our team, and to be comfortable telling that story in a way that he’s told that story before. But he’s never told it, I don’t think the way that you did with our team that came through a lot of work. And recognizing that, hey, there’s, there is a much bigger phenomenon here that we can touch on that’s going to impact way more people than just our fan base. And really, really, it comes back to you saying winning people over and it did the comments on that video. Were maybe the strongest comments we’ve ever seen. And a lot of them were things like, Thank you for telling the story. I’m a fan forever.

Anne Candido 52:33
Yeah, and if you guys haven’t heard or seen that content, please go seek it out. All you have to do is just Google Atlanta Falcons Hayden Hurst. It’ll pop right up, it is extremely well done. So I would I had to bring that up because it was one of my favorite pieces of content of all time.

Dan Gadd 52:49
Appreciate it. I think it’s our whole team is probably what’s that number one on the list.

Anne Candido 52:54
Yeah. And then our third and final segments are real world example of a brand using their Marketing Smarts well or not well, and of course, we’re talking about a brand that does as well, and the Atlanta Falcons and Dan at the at the helm of the digital content creation there. So we’re gonna let you take this one, Dan, to round us out it feel free to share any additional perspective. And on this point, or anything else you want to add, you know, to draw people in to be at Atlanta Falcons fans, and obviously, tell everybody how they can reach you.

Dan Gadd 53:22
So 1,000%. So I’ll start with the brands that I think are really good. And I will say this I I don’t spend as much time looking at specific brands as I do kind of looking at the whole broad the whole content landscape. And I think I will say there was a time I was a huge fan of what Redbull did, because I think they were one of the first brands to really understand, you know, this the power that they had. And the thing that I loved about that was the they built the best content for action sports enthusiasts, and became part of that culture because they recognized a void in great sports center type content highlighting the best of that content. And they basically became the sports center of that group to the point where, you know, action action sports enthusiast started wearing their logo as a badge of pride. That you can’t talk that I mean that that is they did that with content. And I think that’s phenomenal. I think, you know, I’ve said this 1000 times, but you know, I’ve, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I think that there’s a lot that has changed in the content landscape. But I think there’s two, two lasting truisms, if you can, if you can get the data and insights on what people are interested in. And you can build and you have great production capabilities and flexibility within that production capability so that you can make what they’re interested in. If you can understand their interests, and you can build what they’re interested in. It doesn’t really matter how many platforms come around or where the content landscape shifts. You’re built to kind of move and I think one of the best examples of that is the current model with Netflix. I mentioned them a lot earlier, but I just think It was brilliant, the way that they, they were able to segment out audiences really understand the elements that were driving, you know, watch times and interest and, and binge watching with certain audiences, they go out, they partner with the right people, they build that type of content, and then they deliver it right back to the same people that they evaluated and got the interest from and, and other people like them. And it’s, that’s why their recommendation engine is so powerful. And I think that that’s almost like a horseshoe model of starting with that audience and what they’re interested in putting it through a process and going right back to this to improve it’s, I think it’s brilliant. Okay,

Anne Candido 55:38
agreed, agreed. Without a doubt. Dan, how can people reach you?

Dan Gadd 55:45
Well, I am on Twitter. And that’s probably or LinkedIn. I think, messages on LinkedIn or reaching out to me on Twitter, two good ways to get a hold of me.

Anne Candido 55:55
What’s your handle on Twitter?

Dan Gadd 55:57

Anne Candido 55:58
can’t get more more simple than that? Pretty

Dan Gadd 56:00
simple. I try to keep it pretty simple and I don’t have enough mental capacity.

Anne Candido 56:08
Oh, Dan, we thank you so much for coming on today. And really bringing this topic to life I think your framework and the way that you brought to life, your framework and really love your framework shows that this works. So we really thank you for that. And then to all of our listeners time to go exercise your Marketing Smarts!

April Martini 56:25
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