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Talking Content Marketing – With David Beebe


Talking Content Marketing makes a stop at Marriott International and welcomes David Beebe, vice president creative and content marketing, global marketing.

Marriott is now taking the stance as a media company and driving a story driven narrative for the business. A true example of owning their media.

I wanted to find out a bit more, lets sit down with David and understand their approach.

What was the decision for Marriott to create it’s own content studio?

The decision was based on the fact that the way consumers and brands engage with each other has been completely flipped on its head.

In an ever changing media landscape where consumers now choose when, where, and how they interact with a brand, we had to find new ways to engage with and win the hearts, minds, and wallets of next generation travellers.

The numbers don’t lie: consumers no longer interact with traditional marketing that interrupts their lives – things like television spots, banners ads, etc.

If the creative and content in those formats ads no value to the consumer at the right time, right place, and in the right context, then they ignore it.

Content marketing on the other hand adds value to the consumer by entertaining and/or informing them. It helps solves problems. It’s not self-promotional. We add value first, build a relationship, and then ask for the sale.

Our strategy is to stop interrupting what consumers are interested in and become what they are interested in through new forms of content marketing. The Marriott Content Studio is a global team of creatives and strategists that develop entertaining and informative content in all formats for all screens across our portfolio of 19 brands.


How challenging was it for board level to buy into a content driven approach?

It wasn’t challenging in the typical way people would expect.

Marriott has a long history of innovation. The company started as a root beer stand in 1927, evolved one of the largest restaurant chains, was the first company to put food on airlines, and then eventually opening up their first hotel. Trying new things and innovation is just part of the culture.

As I said before, everyone realizes the shift in marketing and how consumers are in charge now. The challenge that most brands face is figuring out how they transform. Our leadership is supportive, Karin Timpone, our Global Marketing Officer, comes from media background as well, so she’s led a lot of the change and laid the path for my team and our brands to move forward.


How powerful is it for a business to control their own media?

Technology enables brands to have a one-to-one relationship with their customers without all the traditional middle men.

I don’t understand why brands keep “renting” audiences rather than building their own media platforms. Everyone is a media company today, even all of us as individuals. Think about it: we all post content everyday on various social channels, we choose what to post when and where based on the audience, we build followers who engage, and it makes an emotional connection.

We don’t do it as individuals, but brands can do the same thing by taking it one step further and monetizing that audience. You still need other publishers as partners, but brands should be building owned platforms across all channels and collaborating in every way possible.


Do you think it is important for brands to entertain and not just inform in order to build audience?

You have to do both, and more!

Brands need to develop a content ecosystem and strategy with content that serves multiple purposes.

Some content might focus purely on brand awareness, engagement, or shifting perception. Some might focus on driving revenue. From there, you’ll develop content that purely entertains like our short films (which also drive revenue for us), but may purely inform (like Marriott Traveler), which also drives revenue. It’s a mix and you have to have all types of content on every channel. Go to where your customers are with content that adds value to their life first.


How important is it for brands to add value outside of what they do?

It’s the most important part of content marketing.

If you content doesn’t add value to the viewer, then it’s useless.

Brands first need to figure out the space they want to own.

That space for us is travel, but just not the hospitality portion. We want to own the entire travel journey, and everything you do before, during, and after it so we’re developing content, technology, and platforms that help enable those experiences, capture the stories, and share them.

The space you own has to be authentic to your business, but we just don’t sell hotel rooms. It’s an experiential brand and we’re programming all around it with the things people do and experience travelling.


If I took you to your favourite restaurant for an afternoon lunch with three other people (alive or dead), who would they be?

Peter Jennings

Henry Ford

Albert Einstein

Huge thanks to David for sharing his insights on the validation for businesses to take ownership of the spaces that are theirs, rather than relentlessly borrowing from someone else.

To find out more from David:

David on Twitter: click here

David on LinkedIn: click here

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