brand journalism

A year of brand journalism with Mooncalf Press

Ken is wearing his party hat for our year anniversary (which was two months ago).
Ken is wearing his party hat for our year anniversary (which was two months ago).

Back at the end of July, we let our one-year anniversary slip past without fanfare, but we’ve been working on some big projects that have limited our time for celebrations.

Between the clients who have hired us to produce monthly content, the small business owners we’ve consulted with and the folks who have read our book on brand journalism for small business, we’ve had the opportunity to help dozens of Athens and Metro Atlanta businesses with their content marketing.

We’ve also seen some amazing results.

As we’ve noted in the past, both Ken and I have operated small businesses and sold products online, and through our previous business ventures, we’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of trial and error when it comes to content marketing.

By pure happenstance, I managed to get a bunch of Englishmen in the United Kingdom reading my historical novels about a cowardly womanizer in the U.S. War Between the States – now that is a success story of digital content marketing!

Through our previous ventures, we’ve tried a lot of different approaches – everything from buying online advertising to marketing through websites, and what we learned through all this trial and error is that when you want to engage an audience and get that audience to make buying decisions, the best way to do it is through authentic and compelling storytelling that connects you to your customers and potential customers.

When we started Mooncalf Press, we drilled deep into our theories, read everything we could get our hands on about content marketing and determined that brand journalism really is the best way to for a business to do its digital content marketing.

About two months into Mooncalf Press, we added a couple of clients and then added a couple more, and we started seeing results for them faster than we expected. As our client list grew and the types of small businesses we served expanded, we saw that our ideas could transfer across industries.

The concept behind what we do is that over a period of time we create a body of content that will improve what happens when people search online for what you do and that by consistently sharing that content through social media we could build relationships between our clients and their customers and potential customers. Through brand journalism, we raise brand awareness and brand loyalty and drive customers to our clients’ doors.

For instance, when we started Mooncalf Press and started building content on our own website, we showed up on the sixth page of a Google search for “brand journalism Athens Georgia.” The first page was dominated by the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Terry College of Business, and we weren’t positive we could ever compete with UGA for search engine hits.

What we decided was that we would strategically build a brand journalism campaign that would improve our ratings in a search without spending any money. We wanted to see what would happen naturally.

Two weeks was all it took. With a couple of strategic blog posts – but no money – we managed to improve our ranking to the third slot on the front page of a Google search. A couple of weeks more, some additional strategic blog posts, and we occupied the top spot in a Google search, and several other links on the front two pages lead back to us.

But it wasn’t just our own Google ranking where we saw success.

Our clients – by engaging customers and potential customers – were literally bringing customers to their doors through the work we were doing. One client, after working with us for just a few months, told us that she has “never had so many new customers” – and this is a client who has been running a successful business for 25 years.

We’ve seen amazing results in terms of engaging audience – simple stories and videos that have had hundreds and in some cases thousands of organic reactions on social media. In numbers that we never expected, we have seen clients get shares and spontaneous testimonials on social media. The fact is, with nearly all of our clients, we’ve absolutely seen our initial theories proved.

Our clients have come to us from different stages in their digital footprint. Some of them didn’t have blog capabilities on their website. Some didn’t have a website or had an outdated website. Some had a couple of social media accounts and some didn’t have any social media accounts.

As a result, the scope of our business has changed from what we initially thought.

Initially we said we would not build websites.

We now build websites for some of our clients.

Initially we said we would deliver content to our clients but they would be responsible for posting the content on their websites.

We now post content for about half of our clients.

Initially we said we would not manage our clients’ social media accounts.

We now manage social media accounts for a large percentage of our clients.

We said we would only work with clients on a monthly basis and not do one-time projects.

We’ve found that some clients need a little content to get started or they don’t have the budget for ongoing work. And so we end up doing a lot of one-time projects (a couple of which have turned into multiple projects or ongoing work), consulting, or projects with a short duration.

Like any business, we’ve had some big successes and a few setbacks. We prefer the successes, but if it helps us to move to bigger successes, we’ll work through the setbacks when they come along.

And now we’re really looking forward to our second year.

As a lot of you know, we wrote a book intended to be a guide to small business owners who want to incorporate brand journalism in their digital marketing (DIY BRAND JOURNALISM), and we’ve been thrilled with the response to the book. If you own a small business or handle the marketing for a small business, you really should get a copy of the book. It’s an excellent resource and shows you how you can implement brand journalism in your marketing strategy.

In our second year, we’ve got another big product launch we’re currently creating. It’s a little early to go into details about it, but we have great expectations for what we’ve got coming up in 2017. Really, this is going to be a massive thing, not just for us but hopefully for a lot of small business owners and marketers.

So if you’re excited for us, feel free to pop open a champagne bottle. We would join you, but we’ve got to get back to work!