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Does Corporate Story Telling Works

“Journey” is just one in a long line of ambitious corporate storytelling ventures that did not pan out.

Another example is Newell Brands‘ Sharpie pen division. Beginning in 2009, Sharpie hosted one of the most beloved and creative content sites in the world. They pioneered user-generated content, featuring entertaining customer stories that ranged from home decorating to high fashion … all with Sharpie pens. Yes, this company found a way to create an excited and engaged community dedicated to pens!

The Sharpie blog has not been updated since 2013. The amazing content team was disbanded and the social media accounts were mothballed about the same time.

I reached out to the company for comment but they would not respond to my request. One former team member told me “I weep when I think about the lost Sharpie opportunity. I weep when I think about the fans — we were so connected to them.”

Sharpie had done everything right with an epic content marketing program … and then abruptly ended years of value they had built in storytelling and passionate fans. What’s going on here?

One of the most celebrated content marketing case studies in history starred Fiskars scissors. The awesome Brains On Fire Agency created a global community scrapbookers for the Fiskars brand, driven by a user-generated blog, case studies, and craft projects.

The company was able to cite a dramatic increase in awareness, audience, brand loyalty, and sales due to the energetic content site. If there was ever an iconic content marketing case study, this was it … and yet, remarkably the whole thing has been dismantled, piece by piece.

There’s a tendency in our field to market to marketers. We gush enthusiastically for content, for social media, for brand publishing, for the community, for squishy stuff like “engagement.” Maybe we’re even afraid not to play along and gush.

Unless you really are a publisher, your business isn’t about publishing content. It’s about your business.

Nobody really wants to come to your website anymore unless you’re an eCommerce titan … and even then, people are probably flicking around on their smart devices getting the best deal with only a dim recognition of the site they’re on, let alone your “story.”

The world has changed a lot in the past two years. If you’re still doing the same content marketing you did 24 months ago, you need to look up and see the new world.