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Champagne, Caviar & Content: How Canyon Ranch + AZDS Approach Content Marketing for Luxury Brands




In this webinar with Joshua Surridge (Canyon Ranch) and Adam Deflorian (AZDS), you’ll learn how to create high-converting content for the appropriate distribution channels, the power of content that conveys empathy to luxury consumers and the importance of using marketing automation and data with careful consideration.

Jamie: Okay. Hello, everybody. Thank you so much for joining us today for our presentation “Champagne, Caviar, and Content: How Canyon Ranch + AZDS Approach Content Marketing for Luxury Brands.” A bit of housekeeping before we do get started, after today’s presentation, you’re gonna receive the slides via email. So don’t worry. Next, we’ll send you the recording once we have that all edited and packaged up for you. So if you need to hop off or you just wanna share this presentation with a colleague or a friend, we got you covered.

Also, you will be muted throughout today’s presentation. So feel free to ask questions. Type those directly into your GoToWebinar chat modal. I will be here scooping those up and organizing them so that we can do a nice Q&A at the end. So don’t be shy. Type those down there.

We will also be watching the Twittersphere. So if you have questions or you wanna participate there, you just wanna heap praise, our handle is @emmaemail and you can use the #AZDSCanyonRanch. If you forget that, it’s also in your GoToWebinar control panel. So don’t worry.

And so we are so thrilled to have today’s speakers join us. I know they are both super busy, and we really appreciate them taking the time out of their days to join us. So who are they? Well, first, we’ve got Adam Deflorian. Adam has been designing and creating innovative digital solutions for International Luxury Lifestyle Brands since 2008. And as a founder and CEO of AZDS Interactive Group, Adam works with prestigious brands such as Montage Hotels & Resorts, the leading hotels of the world, and Tradewind Aviation. In 2015, he was a finalist for Forbes 30 under 30 and was also recognized by the Denver Business Journal for being a leader in digital marketing. So, really great stuff there.

And a little bit about AZDS Interactive Group, they work with luxury brands to assist in improving their online experiences and increase online conversions. They’re not an everyday agency. They are a group of creatives with a unique culture who live to empower their luxury clients with interactive specialists, developers, writers, and artists. They all play a role when combined for a well-oiled, interactive machine, and that is what they do. So we are super thrilled to have him here.

And Josh Surridge is the corporate digital marketing strategist for Canyon Ranch, the world’s leader in health and wellness luxury vacations with resorts and spas on land and at sea. He wields his marketing power for the forces of good, helping guests make a commitment to healthy living and experience transformative wellness to live their fullest life. He was raised with webbed feet in the PNW but is now drying out in the Sonoran Desert. So we were super pumped to have Josh with us.

And Canyon Ranch is the world’s leader, again, and recognized in healthy living and luxury spa vacations with destination spa resorts and spa club day facilities on land and at sea. Since 1979, they have received countless awards and accolades for their innovative approach to health and fitness and for the serene, relaxing, and inspiring spa environments at every Canyon Ranch venue. They remain true to healthy lifestyle goals and vision-based history.

And I am your host for today, Jamie Bradley, and I’m a content marketing strategist here at Emma. And you’re gonna hear me again at the end when we do our Q&A. So, again, don’t be shy with those questions. But for now, I’m gonna kick it over to Adam. So take it away, Adam, and teach us what you know.

Adam: Well, thanks so much, Jamie. And thank you to the folks at Emma for having Joshua and I today. And I appreciate, you know, all the attendees taking, you know, an hour out of their busy day to listen to what we have to say. And thanks so much. And at the end, we’ll try to answer as many questions as we possibly can.

Anyways, we’ll kick it off. Let’s see here. So my bio I think was plenty sufficient. Josh, do you have anything to add to yours before we get in?

Joshua: I do not. Thanks for that introduction, Jamie. You did a good job of outlining Canyon Ranch particularly. We currently have two destination resorts in the United States in Lenox, Massachusetts and Tucson, Arizona. We have the spa club between the Venetian and the Palazzo in Las Vegas, which is the largest day spa in the world. And in eight days, we’re so excited to launch our very first international destination resort on the Turkish Riviera in Kaplankaya, Turkey. And then we also have Canyon Ranch spa clubs on 20 different cruise ships. So that’s just a little bit more about the brand.

And to echo Adam, thanks, everyone. I know we got a lot of good marketers on this call. So thanks for joining us.

Adam: Awesome. All right. So basically, just to give everybody a little bit of context for the way we’ve arranged our presentation, we’ve divided everything into challenges and solutions. I’ll take one. Josh will take one that’s applicable to luxury lifestyle brands as well as, I think, tools and tips that I think you could take out of the luxury realm as well. If you’re on the more aspirational side, interested in luxury marketing, but don’t necessarily work for a luxury brand, I still hope that you’ll be able to find value in our presentation and be able to take things out of this that, you know, you can use throughout your current position.

So without further ado, we’ll start with Challenge One. So, you know, everybody that comes to us as an agency from a client perspective, probably they’re number one challenge is how do you create content that’s share-worthy. And it’s always kind of funny because, you know, I’ve had people call me and say, you know, “Okay, I wanna make a viral video.” “Oh, great. Okay, let me go to my video toolbox and try to figure out how to make you one.” Right?

You know, you can’t set out with the goal of making something viral. Or you can’t start out with making, you know, setting yourself up to have this incredible amount of sharing. You know, if you create great content, if you create things that people care about and are in line with your brand, then people generally will begin to share it. And that happens organically, right?

So it all starts with the content that you create. And what I think is a really strong approach to content planning is to have a content plan in place where you might have, you know, six months’ worth of concepts. Again, I think the key here is to create content not in scale. So, you know, instead of creating 10 pieces of content, you should create three. You wanna create three really exceptional pieces of content. And they don’t have to be long-form magazine articles or editorials. They can be video. They could be infographic. They could be, you know, spreadsheet. You name it. But if it’s valuable to your audience in a certain way, then that’s what you wanna do, right?

And there’s a six-month content plan, like I was mentioning. And then on top of that, you wanna make sure you have people that are on top of trends, whether they be part of your PR agency, whether they be part of PR in-house, whether you have a trend surfer that’s at your digital agency or a trend surfer in-house or just somebody that’s on top of social media and pays attention to what’s going on in lots of different publications.

Because what you wanna try to do is, if you want something to spread, you wanna find concepts that they, you know, not only your brand cares about or that you care about, but more importantly, that are being talked about, right? If something is being talked about on Facebook or it’s a trending topic on Twitter or in the social spheres as a whole, then it’s more likely that your piece of content is gonna share. And at the end of the day, also, it comes down to what you’re creating that’s gonna grab the eye, right?

So I just took a screenshot of “Vanity Fair.” I think “Vanity Fair” does a really fantastic job of creating exceptional content. And Drew ever went out there saying, “Well, of course, they’re, you know, a legendary publication that’s been around forever.” But you can look at “Vanity Fair” to find topics that they’re talking about that you think would resonate with your particular audience.

And so I thought this was really interesting, “The Start-Up Trying to Kill Uber with Kindness.” You know, everybody’s had fantastic Uber experiences. And everyone probably had bad Uber experiences as well. And what’s interesting is as Uber has expanded becoming larger and looking like they’re trying to take over the world, right, more and more people had probably more bad experiences than good. And so what, you know, entrepreneur is doing is creating a startup to compete with Uber based on their, you know, initial founding principle of kindness.

And I think, you know, if you look through this, you’ll see content that’s sticky, that’s snackable, that you wanna be reading. And that’s what you need to think of your blog. You need to think of it as more than just a blog or a place to do promotional content that no one wants to read. You need to think about how you can create true editorial content. And that’s what’s happening here.

Same thing with Town & Country, which I think does a fantastic job of creating very usable content, you know. I love that, you know, Josh, in Canyon Ranch, we have 9 Kinds of People You Wanna Meet at a Destination Spa. And that’s really interesting. And this was earlier in the season in April, right? Yes, You Can Still Ski. And Here’s Where the Snow Is. And then there’s this great line of recipes that people can grab out.

So there’s these longer articles, and then there’s the snackable content. Because what we’ll get into later is how we find that the smaller, shorter form content is great supplementary content but it’s not the content generally that ends up getting the distribution that you’re looking for.

And I think the Canyon Ranch blog does a fantastic job of, you know, having content that is not salesy at all, and, in fact, is what actually establishes trust in Canyon Ranch as a purveyor of knowledge or as an arbiter of knowledge, I think they do a great job of kind of leading the realm and wellness.

So the solution is AURA, which is an acronym for Authentic Useful Relevant and Actionable, and that’s what we like to think about when we do content. So how is this authentic to our brand, authentic being resonates with our brand. Shutters on the beach here, for example, the quintessential California beach lifestyle hotel that happens to be a client we’ve worked with for five plus years.

You know, content that’s useful. So, in that case, are you supplementing shorter form content like a recipe, like we have our chefs write, you know, recipes for Father’s Day, right, this past week that, you know, their fathers taught them. And that’s interesting, because their father taught them how to grill, and they’re still using a technique that their father taught them, you know, in the professional world as they speak.

Relevant. So relevant to the audience, right? It’s, in our case, it’s a luxury lifestyle audience. It’s people that are looking to rejuvenate. It’s people that are looking to take a vacation, particularly in the summer. So how are we gonna create content that’s relevant.

And then, at the end of the day, how do you create something that is also actionable. So, you know, with the Father’s Day example, I like using this because what it is it’s actionable in that, okay, here’s a recipe that a chef found from his father. And then at the bottom, but if you don’t wanna cook at home and you wanna take dad to this really incredible, you know, place to eat, come to 1 Pico at Shutters on the beach. And then we have that action, right, that people can take. So it kind of fits that whole realm in the example. But we think that’s really kind of the formula or the recipe to creating really successful content.

So with that, I’ll pass on to Josh. Challenge Two.

Joshua: Thanks, Adam. I think one of the greatest parts of your professional career is when you get together with like-minded individuals, and you’re just speaking the same language, and it’s inspiring and exciting. And when Emma was gracious enough to invite Adam and I to present at the Marketing United Conference in Nashville, which is an awesome conference, we had this little jam session between him and I, because was the first time we were meeting.

We had corresponded, and we were just able to have that like-minded connection about, okay, there’s this deep world of content, you have to create all these things, but it’s also a very noisy world and you have to be very careful about selecting content that ultimately serves a purpose.

And that’s the second challenge that I wanted to highlight that builds on what Adam was talking about in that the creation of this content, which is very time-consuming and whole people’s career is devoted to this, it ultimately has to transact a sale. So Canyon Ranch, in particular, has invested in content for years and has created upwards of 1,500 different pages of content that are available on our website.

And the content, it’s kind of funny. Like, you want particular content to do well, like Adam was saying, as clients say, “Oh, make me a viral video or whatever.” But then the public is gonna react to what they want. And so it’s kind of funny when we look at our analytics, some of the content that’s out there on our site, our top performing content piece of 2015 is “Why Do I Have Yellow Toenails.”

So it’s a very difficult stretch to go from that you got out of the shower in the morning, you look down at your feet, you apparently have yellow toenails, you picked up your phone real quick, you’ve googled “Why do I have yellow toenails.” Canyon Ranch have an authoritative article to offer you on that topic. And then, somehow, we need to convert you from you’ve now discovered us, and your yellow toenails, and potential causes and solutions to that, and now we want you to come and have a luxurious 7-day $10,000 vacation. I mean, that’s quite a gulf right there that has to be bridged.

So Canyon Ranch… Adam, if you could advance the slide for me, please.

Adam: Of course.

Joshua: Thank you. Canyon Ranch really has focused on five content pillars that really embody our brand and what someone can experience both with Canyon Ranch’s philosophy on health and wellness and what you can expect out of a particular stay. So those five pillars, as we call them, are fitness and movement, food and nutrition, health and healing, mind and spirit, and whole beauty. And, actually, Adam, if you could go back one slide for me just a sec.

Adam: Okay. I’m sorry.

Joshua: Thank you. So I’m giving you a sneak peek at one of the brand new content campaigns that our team just finalized. And our challenge is to take those five content pillars, which are very deep and very rich and show a 40-year history of experience with practitioners at Canyon Ranch that you can benefit from when you have a vacation at Canyon Ranch destination and use those pillars to convey that to you.

So, for instance, this quiz, you’re looking at this healthy foodie quiz that was generated by our team, we’re gonna relate that back to our experts on property. And it’s gonna be fun. It’s gonna be engaging. As Adam said, it’s gonna be snackable. It’s gonna be perfect for social. It’s gonna do well on email. We know all these things. It’s visually very appealing. There’s a couple screenshots from this. It’s light and friendly. There’s, you know, some nice trends in there, like superfoods and things like that, but it always connects back to practitioners that you could actually see on Canyon Ranch properties delivering their expertise so that you get a sense of potentially what it would be like to walk through a door through our content.

Slide, please, Adam.

Adam: Yup.

Joshua: Thank you. So here’s just a couple of screenshots. If we’re able to get you to opt-in to our content campaign, and we have a fairly brilliant content strategist who assembled all this and really dives into top left, inner strength. So that would obviously be connected to our fitness and movement pillar. We’re gonna give you small is BIG, and the benefits of losing small amounts of weight is gonna relate to our health and healing pillar. Obviously, the recipe with the gorgeous imagery and the cooking demo is gonna relate to food and nutrition. And then, you know, be kind is really gonna relate to our mind and spirit, which is one of the pillars of total wellness is all five of these pillars.

So that’s the kind of, instead of just random, generic content that is, you know, “Hey, we think this is great. People are gonna be really interested.” It always needs to be driving people towards our intended outcome. And, Adam, if you could advance the slide for me, please. That outcome is obviously a stay at a Canyon Ranch.

And so, if we have done our job properly, and we have given you things that are relevant to your life and speak to the mission of Canyon Ranch, I know there’s a lot of inbound marketers on this call, you are going to want what we have to offer without us even having to tell you that. So we just very subtly add that into our content. And our sale to you, you know, whether our content has compelled you to wanna learn how a weight loss program at Canyon Ranch can change your life, or whatever your stay wants to be, we’re gonna give you a 20% off to compel that action, but that sale, that vacation at a Canyon Ranch is the added value to the whole thing.

So the value for you was obviously the content, if we’ve done our job correctly. And then that’s going to move you to the point where you’re ready for that Canyon Ranch vacation. Adam, if you could advance the slide for me.

So here’s a couple shots of Canyon Ranch in Tucson, one of our wellspring resorts. And we’re gonna speak a little bit later in the webinar about this. But I just kind of wanted to point out that as you’re going through this process, okay, we have to create content, we have to select it carefully, we have to use it to transact to sale, the measurements for that kind of success are different for us as marketers than they are potentially our revenue management department or our reservations team or our sales teams or, you know, the corporate team, who care deeply about, you know, what is this doing to enhance our bottom line.

So we are gonna talk about that a little bit later. But I just wanted to acknowledge that you as marketers have a right to measure things a little bit differently than just how many vacations did we book because of this content campaign. Slide, please.

And so that brings us to the solution for the number two challenge of creating content that will ultimately transact a sale. And that is you have to earn the right to ask for that sale. And then you actually have to ask for it. You can certainly be too passive and just have your content out there and think that you’re top of mind in people and that they know what to do.

So we remind ourselves of that all the time just because we’re emailing or communicating with people who are past guests of Canyon Ranch or they’ve opted-in to our website, that doesn’t mean that we can coast on that relationship, and that they took that one action one time and we have earned that right. We have to continue earning it over and over.

And part of that is we believe in ourselves. We believe in our part in your good life of, you know, health and wellness, of what that does for you seeking your good life, and that’s manifested in a vacation at Canyon Ranch.

So I thought it’s kind of interesting as we’ve really been looking closely at the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation. And I know there’s a lot of email marketers on this call. Their laws actually sum it up perfectly. You only get two years to market to someone who has purchased a product from you unless they expressly opt-in to your list. So even if this is someone, a Canadian who has stayed at a Canyon Ranch, that is not allowing us to say, “Oh, well, you know, who we are and we can just coast on that reputation.” So we continually have to earn it with you. So we’re gonna earn that right, and then we’re gonna ask you to come back and stay at Canyon Ranch.

Adam: Perfect. All right. Thanks, Josh. Moving on to Challenge Number Three. I think this is if there’s one thing you’re gonna take away from my part of the presentation during this webinar, I think Challenge Three and how the solution to Challenge Three is probably what you’re gonna wanna listen to.

So empathy is this big term that’s thrown around a lot. A lot of marketers use the word empathy as a buzzword and so forth, right? But at the end of the day, there’s one thing that humans have an advantage over machines, with computers, robots, you name it. And that’s they have the ability to advertise. They have the ability to look at someone in the eyes, and fun fact is that human beings build trust by looking at one another. And as they begin to trust each other, their pupils dilate to the same amount. So when you look at somebody in the eye and you’re having a conversation, your pupils will dilate to the same amount as the other person once you guys have full trust with one another.

And I just found that so fascinating, right? So you could be having a back-to-back conversation and you’ll never be able to fully earn that other person’s trust, right? And this is so interesting with brands. Because how often do we have the ability to interact with a brand and kind of allow a break end to earn our trust, right? It’s rare.

And so Geoff Colvin, one of the editors at Fortune, he really writes and believes in this whole “Humans are underrated” philosophy, right? Well, everywhere in the world, you know, robots are taking human beings’ job. Robots are now doing surgery in Europe, you know. We have cars that can drive themselves. You know, there’s a computer software that’s more capable to look through pre-case documentation at a law firm, you know, than a junior level associate could ever consume, and they never have to take a break.

So the key is, is how do you differentiate yourself as a marketer, as a human being, and as a brand. Because a brand can’t empathize, but a human being can. And so I think this says it the best. And sorry, this is my one slide with a lot of text in it. But it talks about perhaps it’s content that evokes empathy, first thinking and provide meaning. Snackable content, the addictive, instantly gratifying kind may boost media consumption, but it doesn’t tend to change minds and behaviors. But content that resonates more deeply is different. Users share it, not with the one friend who might appreciate it, right, the tag in Instagram or Snapchat, but with their entire network, partly because it associates them with the topic, right?

So what we’re saying is don’t stay away from snackable content. Snackable content is great. It gets quick shares. It tends to be efficient. But you need to supplement it with strong valuable content because that’s what people actually wanna share with their entire networks. That’s what they wanna post on Facebook, in their newsfeed, and they want everybody to see, versus the one tag and Instagram, for example, I thought this was funny, this is snackable, right? You wanna create something that’s fairly legendary in the way that you’re creating content.

So the way I kind of tie this back to empathy is that, if you as I guess, the brand ambassador, as the marketer, the person that’s embodying and selling this brand, are able to understand the needs and desires and wants of your customers, and you’re able to deliver them content that essentially sustains that or answers their questions, then, you know, you’re really next level.

And I love to put Adele’s face in my slide decks because she, I think, is the master of empathy, right? So everybody can relate to “19,” “21,” and “25,” the names of her albums because those represent certain periods of her life, right? It’s almost like period droplets with a certain year, a certain section of the life that’s there. And so I think it’s so fascinating to me how she’s always off the charts in terms of albums, and it’s because she empathizes with her fans, and everybody can relate to those particular years. And I think that’s, to a certain extent, the best kind of content you can produce.

And in this example, obviously, it’s music. You can do the same thing with any sort of content, whether it be video-based, whether it be text-based, and so forth. So, you know, it’s really, I think, kind of the what you have to do to be able to engage your audience, you know. It’s, like said, Solution Three, something only humans can do. So you’re not gonna be able to find software to be able to empathize with your customers. You’re gonna have to do it yourself. And you’re gonna have to use data. But beyond data, you’re gonna have to be able to have an understanding of what your customers want, what they need, and when they want it so that you can deliver it in content form. So, not easy but something that absolutely is mission-critical.

All right. Josh.

Joshua: As we go through each of these elements of successful content marketing for luxury brands, empathy is at one end and the data certainly is on the other end. But I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. I do like to think of the data points as, you know, actual customer behavior speaking to us, you know. Other departments have their own metrics for what they think the customers are saying. And as marketers, we’re at the sharp end of the sword, looking at that data. And it’s not just number points. It’s telling us, you know, what they’re thinking and feeling.

So every marketer I know is a prolific reader and is just constantly in webinars like this and pursuing knowledge to improve this field that we’re in, that’s constantly evolving. So the fourth challenge I wanted to emphasize in our marketing is that we need to plan our tests and our learnings at the very beginning when we’re building these content campaigns. Slide, please.

So, for us, I mean, you can work in a high level, all you want. We recently had a content campaign that was meant to be in support of a spirituality retreat that was occurring at our Lenox property. And, you know, rather than creating just the brute force offers, trying to drive traffic to the spirituality retreat and talking about that, we were able to successfully build a content campaign around that that focused on spiritual wellness assembled in sort of the same way that you saw from weight loss in the second challenge.

But some of the things that we didn’t wanna take for granted are calls to action. So you’re looking at screenshots of one of the small tests that we decided we wanted to make at the very beginning as we plotted how we were gonna do this, and this influences the materials that you’re using in your campaign.

So when Adam and I were on stage in Nashville, in April, we asked the audience, “What do you think is more effective at converting: a general call to action, which you see on the left, like, you can get just general regular spiritual advice from Canyon Ranch experts, or the more specific call to action on the right about get this specific guide Are You Spiritually Healthy?” And, of course, the audience responded like all good marketers were, and certainly, our team at Canyon Ranch did as well when we initially set out, and that was, well, of course, people are gonna gravitate to the specific call to action.

What we learned through our analytics and listening to our customers in their behavior, next slide please, is that they actually gravitated towards the general call to action. So that was fascinating, and it’s fun to be proven wrong. Because we often talk about, well, here’s what a company wants the customers to want, and then there’s what the customers themselves actually want. And I think that’s a pretty high friction point. Because I don’t know how often those are aligned. And there’s a lot of departments as well, their responsibilities dictate, oh, we need these sales goals, we need these revenues goals, we should create these promotions, or whatever, and us marketers, we’re the ones that are saying, “Well, here’s what our customers actually want.”

So with them telling us, “Hey, we’re gonna be more interested in general, healthy weight loss or spiritual wellness advice from Canyon Ranch experts,” we learn that lesson, and it’s now being applied to all future campaigns. So we may go back and learn it again, but this is how basic I’m talking about, where we didn’t just take for granted, oh, specific calls to actions are better. We put that into action and tested that for ourselves. Slide, please.

So then, using some of the basic, very simple, user-friendly tools that are available through Emma email marketing software, we decided to create all these automated workflows. There’s really very little difference between these workflows that you see. This is a screenshot from early in one campaign where we basically assembled our different channels that people were coming in. So they got an email about our spiritual wellness campaign. We ran some paid social on Facebook. Of course, there were organic posts on Facebook, all these different channels we wanted to test. And, again, this was planned in the beginning.

So that’s why, you know, the team is sitting around thinking like, do we really wanna build 10 different workflows? I mean, it’s very simple to do in the software. It’s just time-consuming. And the answer was yes. Because as we look through this, there were surprising lessons about, you know, open rates. And click through rates, for example, I was very interested to see that generally, our organic Facebook posts, when people opted-in for that content through what they saw on Facebook, they engage those emails much much less than the paid advertising we were doing on Facebook.

You know, so it’s just those kind of interesting little lessons that we learn by sitting down in the beginning and thinking, hey, we’re not afraid of like really my new tests. We’re gonna try to learn them in each campaign and apply them to the next.

Now one of Adam’s team members at the conference after the talk came up and was like, you know, doing exactly what good marketers do, and that is go down the rabbit hole, right? So then he’s like, “Well, you know, which one’s the more qualified lead?” And I love that, because, you know, that’s just good marketers, where you sit around and we think about, we get in these little rabbit holes, and next thing you know, we’re coming up with all these different tests. So I would just encourage your team as you’re sitting down to plan your content strategies, don’t neglect the things that you as marketers in the beginning care about that maybe the revenue management team doesn’t necessarily. Slide please, Adam.

So you have a say in what makes the campaign successful. Obviously, the company needs content campaigns to be successful, otherwise, why wouldn’t we just go back to being in the same noisy space that everybody else is and just blasting you with offers?

I mean, that’s not what the consumer wants, obviously, but we have to be able to prove that it’s successful. And we hope to do that through revenue ultimately, but we just have so many more lessons to learn ourselves and optimize our campaigns, for example, what you’ve seen any slides, the general call to action, the specific. Okay, lesson learned. We can move on for now. Our acquisition channels that you saw in the previous slide about through email or paid social or organic. So just take the time, in the beginning, to sit down and think those things through. And then, Adam, slide, please.

I put a little quote that, you know, we’ve all seen in different forms of “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I mean, you get at the end of this webinar, and you’re like, “Oh my God, there’s so much work to do with these content campaigns,” But don’t be afraid of that single step. We were not afraid to put the test of, like, hey, as marketers, we all believe in specific calls to action over general calls to actions. In this one particular sentence about email acquisition, we tested it, we learned a surprising lesson, and we’re applying that for our greater good. So don’t be afraid to start in the details and then build on that over time, but just make sure you’re doing that at the beginning of each campaign.

Adam: Sounds good. Yeah, I surround myself with a bunch of smart asses. That’s why they come up to Josh after the show and try to, well, here’s further, I have more questions. So, anyways. Well, and also, in case anyone is curious, all of these pictures are…So, Josh, as these phenomenal and gorgeous photos from Canyon Ranch and aboard the Canyon Ranch spas on cruise ships and nation and Turkey and so forth, and then I have photos of clients. And Emma wanted to have us fill our presentation with beautiful photography that, hopefully, would keep people engaged and off their inboxes and instead on our actual presentation. So that was that objective here.

So Challenge Five, my last challenge, is distribution. I think this is probably one of the biggest challenges that everybody has, right? Okay, we’ve created this great content. How do we get it out there? How do we get this content to, A, be as evergreen as possible, right? We just invested money and time and research and everything in this content. So how do we get it to be as sticky as possible and have the most longevity? And then, to supplement that, how do we get as many eyeballs, and ideally, as many customers across the finish line as possible, right?

So there’s tools out there that are free. I have a couple screenshots in here for you, BuzzSumo is a tool that we use, for example. It’s a paid tool, about $100 bucks a month. It’s a great tool, because what you’re able to do is you’re able to find influencers. And the first step in getting content shared and distributed is influencer outreach.

And influencer outreach is key because you want people that understand and like your content to share it with like-minded individuals. It’s kind of what I like to say, “It’s the new version of word-to-mouth marketing, right, of word-of-mouth marketing. Word of mouth is you tell somebody about what you’re doing, right? And in this case, that’s exactly what’s happening except for it’s happening over social.

You, the consumer, the person that’s buying from this brand, is the person that’s using the megaphone and saying, “I love Canyon Ranch,” or “I love,” you know, “Shutters on the beach.” And so it is a great way to find people that are influencers and have a bunch of individuals that are like-minded that follow them on their social channel. But Sumo, for that $100 basically lets you see how many shares your particular content has had across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, so forth, and then it also lets you reach out to those individuals.

So, basically, you can type in, let’s say you’re creating content on best mountain biking trails in Los Cabos, like we do for one of our clients, right, or Todos Santos, just north of Cabos. So what we do is we’ll look for people that are wellness, biking, you know, fitness bloggers in Mexico on BuzzSumo. And you just type it into their search box, and it’ll give you all of these, you know, different bloggers and social influencers.

And you’re able to then reach out to them through BuzzSumo or through your email or reach out to them on social media, and you’re able to then get people’s attention. And hopefully, they’ll share it for you for nothing. And if not, they might tell you a nominal amount of money. It might be $50 for a share, $20 for a share. And depending on the level of following that that person has, it very well could be worthwhile to pay them a small amount of money to get that big social share to their audience.

Because the way we like to see content gets shared is, let’s say we do a piece on the top chocolate shops. So if we can reach out to those chocolate shops, and hopefully they’ll share them, right? If your brand shares content that, you know, hey, Both Sean and Cate chocolatier or the two best chocolate shops in Beverly Hills. Then hopefully those two chocolate shops will share it. And we’ve done examples where that have.

So then we’ll reach out to them to get sharing. And that’s the best case scenario, because then, those are also luxury brands, in this case, that relate. And so they hopefully have new luxury following that isn’t necessarily aware of your brand, right? They may or they may not. So if they’re not, then it’s exposing your brand to a whole bunch of additional possible new luxury customers. Best case scenario.

Then you can use BuzzSumo to supplement that. You can go in, and you can actually get people and find people in kind of a higher level of the funnel and hopefully get them to share that content as well. Helps you with SEO, earns you backlinks, gets you social sharing, so many different elements that make it really valuable, right?

Inky Bee is another one that people should note down. Inky Bee is another influencer outreach tool. And then, obviously, Emma, right? Utilizing automation and utilizing basically kind of promotion of content through email. If you have this list, you shouldn’t just be blasting your list with promotion. You should also be delivering them something of value or something they look forward to opening in their inbox. I believe Time does a really nice job. LVMH does a great job. Every time I get through emails, which is not that often, but it’s enough that it makes me excited to get their content, and it’s always beautiful and well done, and I open it every single time.

And so it would be interesting to try to grab some case studies from, you know, your own inbox and your fellow employees’ inboxes to see, you know, what do you open, what do you not open, what works, what doesn’t? From the luxury perspective as well as just, you know, brands as a whole, I think that, you know, is great to kind of figure out how you’re gonna distribute that content. So BuzzSumo, Ink Bee, influencer outreach, what you have to do to get the distribution that you’re looking for, what you have to do to get that additional reach.

Because, you know, you can’t just create this content and hope they come. It’s gonna be you’re gonna put it on your blog, and you’re not gonna get any traffic. You know, and then I’m gonna be presenting it to, you know, an executive or a client, and they’re gonna say, you know, “This piece of content cost us $900 bucks to create or $15,000 to create,” if you had photographers and all these things, “and I only got, you know, 400 visits.” And how many transactions did I get from that? It’s hard to prove, right? So you need to show reach. Because if you get reach, you get traffic, you get additional potential new prospects from this as well as, you know, so many other opportunities. So, all right, Josh.

Joshua: Okay. Well, to wrap up with our last challenge, when Adam and I spoke, you know, we kind of walked through what we felt the elements of our content campaign strategies are built on for his agency that he applies to, you know, his luxury client lists and to Canyon Ranch as well. But we thought we would finalize what kind of a sense of, well, what is modern luxury, particularly for those of you out there that are working for brands in the industry or are aspiring to?

So Canyon Ranch, as it prepared to transition from this 40-year North American company into a global health and wellness brands, has commissioned significant research into what is modern, grounded luxury. And I’m gonna share just a peek of that with you. The health and wellness industry has just become this ubiquitous thing in the last, what, three to five years. There’s all this fitness technology that’s disrupting everything. There’s, you know, different models for clubs. There’s all these products.

In fact, you know, it’s projected to be a multi-trillion-dollar industry, and already, health and wellness companies are outperforming the average of the S&P 500 in 2015. So there’s a lot of dollars in this space. So we wanted to just be sure, well, what is the modern, grounded experience in luxury for consumers.

And what you’re gonna see on this list isn’t gonna surprise you at all. It’s amazing. It’s striking how it perfectly aligns with marketing best practices already if you’re to think about it. So, you know, these were focus groups around the world and, you know, major cities and the right demographics and everything like that that help curate this information.

So the first one is no surprise. Meaningful moments and experiences. If anyone is in the hospitality industry, I’m sure you’re familiar with the research that indicates that a person’s highest enjoyment of their vacation occurs as they’re leaving for it in their moments of anticipation of what their vacation will be. So meaningful moments, impactful experience, that’s exactly what we’ve been talking about with the content marketing on this call. So it’s good to see that come out of this research.

The freedom of the curated best is a nod to the luxury consumer who wants locally-sourced food, an heirloom tomato, a perfectly tailored suit. It’s that curation that, once again, when you blend it into marketing, part of this challenge of meeting expectations for modern, grounded luxury is your marketing has to be carefully curated to align.

So that, again, coming out of the research, getting everything you want and nothing that you don’t. It’s a very noisy world out there. I mean, your phone is never turned off. It’s your alarm in the morning. And you’ll be marketed to on your phone in all the places you wanna be, in social and everything else all the way to the end, and that doesn’t change, obviously. It probably gets louder in the luxury space.

Luxury is now felt more than it is perceived by the modern consumer. So the days of the ostentatious chandeliers and, you know, the huge status symbols and things like, that almost draws ridicule more than it does admiration. So that really fits the narrative that we all know as marketers about visual storytelling since that’s your best way to connect with people emotionally rather than trying to tell them about it.

Exclusivity that is bound by taste. So, to me, I really like this because it means it’s not just your wealth that makes a product luxurious. It’s not something that, okay, we’re just gonna create a handbag and charge $1,000. And, you know, so now we’re a luxury company. So it’s not something that can be bought. Taste is still the driving factor.

And then, finally, the highest quality of materials. So, you know, the luxury consumer is valuing the highest thread count in sheets and the finest materials and their clothing and things like that to really round out what modern, grounded luxury means. So I think you see when you look at this list, this clearly aligns with marketing best practices. And, Adam, if you will be so kind of advances slide for me.

Emma, for us, at Canyon Ranch, has already provided some of those tools that we’re utilized in our marketing to align with things like curating for you and giving you everything you want and nothing that you don’t. And one of the ways we use that is through dynamic content. So back to that spiritual wellness campaign that I was referencing earlier, just simple things, like dynamic content, I don’t hear it that often except from maybe the biggest brands who have teams of people on it. But I know there’s a lot of agencies and small businesses and, you know, marketers like that on this call.

The dynamic content tools that allow you to just, you know, segment your audience properly, which you already know, man, woman, age, location, you know, we’ve dug into our purchase history enough to find out who has purchased his services in a particular area. So if you’ve purchased services in our mind and spirit services or health and healing, maybe it included acupuncture or, you know, healing energy is one of that department’s services available, spiritual wellness, life management, creative arts, all these different things, we’ve curated the list, we use dynamic content in our email marketing so that the images that you receive are curated for you ahead of time.

So if you had a previous service in creative arts at Canyon Ranch today, then you’re gonna get that top left image in your email that has beading in it. If you utilize some life management services while you’re at a Canyon Ranch, the picture of the two women smiling, that’s the image you’re gonna get. So there’s slight copy changes, and that’s why I put a screenshot of the five different paragraphs that went out, and they aligned properly to match more about what was relevant to you in your life.

So rather than, you know, just tying this all together, creating large content campaigns, Adam said in the very first minute, you know, instead of 10 pieces of content, 3 pieces of content, making sure that it’s heavily curated and giving those people exactly what they want, that’s what the dynamic content serves for us, and it’s nice to know that aligns with our modern, grounded luxury research. Adam, if you could advance the slide for me, please.

So that will continue for us, I mean, we will continue to find new ways in every single campaign to continue segmenting those audiences. And again, we use a lot of the tools that are inside Emma for that audience segmentation, which then, the natural result of that is how can we deliver this smaller segment the exact content that they want. And that’s done through our visual images and the type of content they’re receiving.

I’ve seen good examples from Nike about the difference between men and their fitness wear versus women. And it’s just those compelling things I know, for our own experience here at Canyon Ranch, men have different thoughts about weight loss than women do. So we wanna have imagery that’s being delivered to you if you’re a man that, you know, has men in the weight loss imagery versus a female for the different types of thoughts are about weight loss. So utilizing the tools that already exist inside the system is a key way for us to do that. And then if you’ll advance the slide for me one last time, Adam.

So another Henry David Thoreau quote about just listening, right? It takes the truth one to speak and another to hear. I mean, that sounds simple. But what we’ve often found, and I’m sure you as marketers, especially if you work for a corporation, know as well, is that people aren’t often listening to the consumers. They’re trying to get the consumers to buy what the company thinks the consumer wants to buy instead of truly looking at the data and producing content based on, you know, what is the modern, grounded luxury experience for us, what are people telling us through our analytics.

Let’s curate our content campaigns to match, and be good listeners, and that will influence the campaigns and the content that we deliver. So that’s the solution for the Number Six.

Adam: It’s good. Beautiful picture. All righty. Q&A time.

Jamie: Oh my gosh. You guys, that was absolutely fantastic. So many beautiful photos, first of all, and just great information. So thank you so much. I’m gonna hop right into these questions. First one is actually for Adam. And it is, “Adam, what are the best places to look for great content ideas? Since you are an agency, I’m sure you are always finger on the pulse. So what’s your advice?”

Adam: Always on the pulse. So I would say, you know, the main…For us, in luxury, we love “Vanity Fair,” “Departures” to find, like, great, snackable, local content. I really like the “Sunset” magazine. I think they do a really nice job of finding smaller form content. And so always staying on kind of publications that you wanna go to.

And then Twitter. I mean, we really do live on Twitter because we always are looking at what is trending and what’s not trending. And it’s interesting because we’re starting to get a little bit more into Snapchat and figuring out, you know, as a brand, or from a brand perspective, with our clients, like, how are we gonna find stories that resonate with individuals? And so we’re starting to kind of dabble in Snapchat and figure out ways that we can pull content that people are snapping and brands are snapping and kind of jump on the bandwagon and play along with that.

Jamie: It’s funny that you mentioned Snapchat. Because we actually specifically got some questions for both of you. And that’s a common one anytime we have a brand here, especially for you guys I would think. In the luxury space, you know, Snapchat kind of seems like it might not be the best channel or, you know, it’s a challenging channel. So do you both use Snapchat? I mean, obviously, Adam, it sounds like some of your clients do. Josh, does Canyon Ranch ever get into the Snapchat game, or do you have plans to?

Joshua: We don’t currently utilize Snapchat mostly because the demographic does not align with people who are at in their life where they would be ready to, you know, afford a Canyon Ranch estate.

Jamie: Right.

Joshua: Nonetheless, we are looking for agencies like Adam to think this through, find all the ways that applies to luxury. And, you know, we’re all in tech, right? I’m sure everyone on this call is a digital marketer technologist combined. And I just still like not being an early adopter when it comes to something as important as your brand. So spending your time chasing things that really stray from the fundamentals that you’re trying to do. So that’s kind of our philosophy.

Jamie: Sure. And to that end, Josh, got a question specifically for you. And it actually goes back to sort of the content creation, not as much of, you know, the distribution of it, but it’s from Robin, “If you create some particularly great content, what are your thoughts about using it over and over and over again?” And I know that that’s probably something a lot of people wanna know.

Joshua: Yeah, absolutely. You have to, right? I mean, you can’t spend all this time and effort creating something that just withers on the vine and had a short life span. I mean, that’s what the social teams deal with every day, right? It’s just so disposable. It’s gone so quickly. But with really great content, I mean, when you’re framing your content in the creation of it, if you’re filming a video or something, you know, we wanna be filming that video with maybe alternate endings or, you know, “Hey, this is a 2-minute video but we’re also gonna create a 30-second version to make it snackable or usable in different channels.”

If we’re gonna repurpose content, we’re gonna change photos, we’re gonna slightly tweak the copy. But your content, if it’s being effective, should be created in, the term, obviously, kind of overused, is evergreen. So it’s just out there over and over, which is great. But I think a lot of that goes into the planning in the beginning, that we do intend to use this over a long period of time instead of it has a short lifespan and then we’re back on the wagon trying to come up with the next greatest thing.

Jamie: Absolutely. And I know you said snackable again, and that was mentioned multiple times in the presentation. So Alyssa wants to know what would be a good example of, you know, “snackable” content versus empathetic content, and/or can it be both? Can snackable content also be empathetic content? I mean, I think that’s a good way to ask it.

Adam: Sure. I’ll start.

Jamie: Yeah.

Adam: Great question, Alyssa. There’s no question that snackable content can also be empathetic. I mean, it should be, right? But as far as when I say creating content that…do you empathize with the customer, and so the content that you’re delivering kind of understands, or they would understand and also relate to? So I say usually longer form content tends to be something that can kind of be built on and can effectively story tell a little bit better than something shorter and snackable. But at the end of the day, short content should absolutely, you know, be empathetic, because I still need the customer to relate to it. That’s the way I look at it.

Jamie: Absolutely.

Joshua: And, Alyssa, great question. I’ll give you a couple of specific examples related to our weight loss campaigns. So, you know, having people behind it, of course, makes it empathetic. But also understanding relating to your customer. So weight loss, I mean, that’s one of the oldest, probably multi-billion dollar industries in America, right? I mean, it’s always there, weight loss. So some of our campaigns recognize that the best weight loss campaign is the one, like, the best exercise campaign is the one you’re actually going to do, right? How many times have you started the gym resolution? Like, you’re heading to the gym and swimsuit season or New Year’s or whatever? So acknowledging that you don’t just have this academic view of your content.

So if you’re gonna create like three tweaks to your exercise routine, I mean, we’re gonna make that…that’s very snackable, obviously. Or the healthy foodie quiz, like test your quiz about your food knowledge against our experts. Those are all very snackable things, but I feel like they’re also very empathetic because we’re not pretending like our experts, you know, have the superior knowledge that, you know, you cannot have.

I mean, we wanna make sure we’re acknowledging that, hey, this is something that everybody struggles with is keeping consistency and their exercise routine or eating well or things. So I agree with Adam. I think the two can easily be combined. And that’s probably giving you your best shot at content that’s gonna be shared frequently.

Jamie: Exactly. And the snackability of it, I think a lot of it just goes into sort of the format. You know, obviously a webinar is gonna be, you know, you’re gonna buckle in and give a little bit more time to it, whereas, you know, an infographic might be, or a quiz or something of that nature, might be, you know, a little bit easier to digest, if you will. So good question, Alyssa.

So Shelly wants to know how much emphasis would you put on Instagram in your content distribution strategy? So several questions just out different social channels and how and when you use them. So your thoughts.

Adam: So I absolutely also think Instagram should be, you know, a critical element in terms of content distribution. I guess the best way to do it is to create a graphic but nothing too cheesy. So you wanna stay away from putting, like, facts. You want things to look relatively organic in Instagram. Even if it’s a paid promotional item, sponsored post within Instagram. I like to use a picture that’s, you know, really beautiful, which is fairly easy for luxury brands, you know, brands that we work with to do, something that could be just literally a friend’s snap or pic. And, you know, because you don’t want people to just immediately, you know, glaze right over it and pacify.

So that’s sort of the approach that we take, is making sure that the photo fits in. But I would say Instagram is an absolutely critical tool in selling experiences. I think it’s probably been the number one, you know, tool right now from a social perspective in selling experiential marketing. Selling an experience and utilizing it for experiential marketing.

Joshua: Instagram is so hot right now, so hot with their logo change and everything, right? So I would take a more analytical approach to it. It’s funny. I was just talking with our super smart, one of our new digital marketing intern, who’s a junior at the University of Arizona, and, you know, she’s a star on Instagram. And she wants Canyon Ranch to be on Snapchat and all these really cool things. And as we were talking through it, it was like, well, first, you know, we do have to apply our kind of our traditional thinking to it as, like, is our demographic there? You know, two, what is the purpose of the channel, right?

So, I mean, the Facebook, for example, I mean their advertising platform is heavily built out, very mature, whereas, you know, now Facebook has their hooks in the Instagram that is just being developed still. So I think, you know, as a blanket policy, I would absolutely agree with Adam on a more tactical level, you know. It always relates back to, like, what is this actually going to deliver for us? What is the ROI of choosing, you know…? Is it because the logo is on all of our emails on our website, which helps, you know, give the perception that our brand is younger, or, you know.

It’s just all those little technical details about like, what are you actually hoping to accomplish by choosing to emphasize Instagram, for instance, over Facebook, which if you sell a product to 18 through 24 or something, maybe Facebook is not where you wanna be.

Jamie: Yup. What I was gonna say, too, ROI-wise on Instagram, for you, guys, you know, for Canyon Ranch and for your clients, it’s probably pretty high. It’s kind of a no-brainer. You’re lousy with gorgeous images of things. So it’s like, hey, why not fit it there. But, obviously, if you’re a brand that maybe would need to get a huge strategy in place to get a sexy image library, you know, it might be something you wanna really weigh your options there.

Well, we are, actually, we are at a time. Thank you so, so much for joining us, Adam and Josh. I learned a ton. I was actually unable to attend at Marketing United because I was slaving away and in another room. So I am thrilled to get this sort of replay. And thanks to all of you on the line today. Again, we will send a copy of the slides and a recording of this presentation out a little bit later. But thanks again, guys, for all joining us and especially to Adam and Josh for taking the time out of your day. So thanks so much.

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