Content Marketing and Storytelling

Part of a content marketing strategy involves Hub content, the stuff of regular updates and broadcasting the brand experience. It keeps your audience coming back, engages them and creates genuine interest.

Likes and shares on social channels are great but it is the engagement which reciprocates business.

Our latest storytelling piece is in a vlog type of format to make it more personal.

We pedalled down to the waterfront to vlog the first appearance of #JAXyvr, a public art installation by Alex Beim of Tangible Interaction, the current artist in residence for our friends and clients at HCMA Architecture and design.

To get the full story on this installation, I talked to Mark Busse, now with his new title, Director of TILT Curiosity Labs.


BC Housing | Event Photography

As a Vancouver based company we are always eager to hear news of bold movement in solving our housing crisis. It was our pleasure to be present at Premier John Horgan’s public announcement of the provincial role in working with the United Church to build 414 affordable units.

While we were there it was interesting to speak with church board members. They talked about their feelings on the role of fostering community with the land and assets of the church, even as church membership is in decline. They were also proud of their decision to move forward with this venture, since a church group is usually risk adverse.

The immediate future of affordable housing development will be in more unlikely partnerships like this, to be sure. The win-win scenario here is for land owners, like the church, to leverage their prime real estate, take care of its facilities and provide a benefit to the community. Thanks to BC Housing for having us there to document this amazing announcement.

BC Housing Announcement

BCAMA Promotional Videos

Our friends at the BCAMA are promoting their Vision Conference for 2018 and we are on-hand to help with a couple video assets to get out the word to vendors and attendees. Have you got your tickets yet?

Last year we captured the energy of the event as it unfolded for this promotional video, intended to communicate the value of connections for vendors.

We also patched together this distillation of the talk intended by Rory Sutherland.

If you see us at the conference (we are the one’s with the cameras), come say hi!

Acting On Vancouver’s Housing Crisis | Civic Engagement Video

Lately I have felt compelled to solve larger problems with my volunteer efforts.

It is the reason I made the hard decision to step away from my post at CreativeMornings/Vancouver. The sense of community at #CMVan was amazing but it was being eroded by greater forces.

Looking around my community, industry and city, I saw a lot of hardship and anxiety. Some of the most basic requirements were not being met within our hierarchy of needs.

The safety of our homes, health, families and communities are under threat today by a housing crisis, that has been either ignored by those too overwhelmed to cope, or cheered on by those who profit by it.

This is simply unacceptable.

To educate myself and advocate for those around me, I created the following video story on civic engagement. And below is my address to Vancouver City Council, in support of bold movement of their recent housing strategy.



Good morning Council Members and thank you for hearing me today.

My name is Trevor Jansen and I am an entrepreneur as a creative professional. I tell visual stories and consult on brand strategy with multi-million and billion dollar companies here in Vancouver. I was a volunteer for five and a half years with Creative Mornings, the popular monthly speaker series. I have performed in 2 of Vancouver’s International Burlesque Festivals. And my company is a silver sponsor for the BC chapter of the American Marketing Association.

I am active in Vancouver’s communities and industries and I have realized how much both are under threat because of the housing crisis that has run unchecked for too long. I have stepped forward today because I have a stake in how our city grows and develops.

My communities and industry have already seen an exodus of talent –  people tell me they are making a purely financial decision to leave the city. They are beleaguered by trying to pay their rent. They can no longer define success by “not drowning”. Or something has changed in their lives, like having children and they see no future here for themselves nor their children.

The idea that if you can’t afford to live here, then you should just move is not only callus, but also incredibly short-sighted. When these people move away, they are not coming back. And with them they take all their contributions to our social fabric.

For example, my friends Syx and Taryn Langmann. He was a photography school instructor, entrepreneur and artist. She was a nursing administrator at Saint Paul’s. They both were strong proponents of volunteerism here in Vancouver and led by example. When Taryn became pregnant, they tried to work it out in a small basement apartment. When they decided to have another child, they didn’t see a way forward in Vancouver both as parents and community leaders. They left and we are all lesser for it.

From a business perspective, that photography school no longer exists. From a community perspective, the events they spearheaded are gone. This is just one example of the hollowing out of our city, which is already underway.

The story of the Langmann family is eerily similar to my own in so far as I am just one life-change from being priced out of my shabby apartment. In fact, that shabby apartment is the only reason I am able to remain in Vancouver.

I moved into a creaky, old building 11 years ago. The rent was reasonable because the floorboards were splintering, the radiator in the living room didn’t work and  the landlords were generally absent. In the winters, when a cold wind blows I can feel the heat being ripped from the building. In the summer, every door is flung open in hopes of catching a breeze. Because of skyrocketing rents and strong rent protection laws, I dare not move out of this old building. In a very real way, I am stuck there. Affordable housing was the only reason I was able to build my business and it continues to be.

Just this year our absent landlords got back from whatever vacation they were on this time and had caught the notion that this dilapidating building should fetch them current market rental rates. They confidently announced that everyone in the building would get evicted within a year. There was to be a rolling edit starting with some of the oldest tenants in the building. They seemed quite proud of this idea. When the young family on the first floor expressed concern, the landlords assured them they would be evicted last. How generous.

It turns out they had no real plans for renovations. Just a coat of paint and a 150% rent increase. Thankfully their first 2 renoviction attempts were shut down in arbitration. But now they have resorted to being as unpleasant as possible. There is a lot everyone in the building will put up with before ever contacting them with a health, safety or security concern.

On the top floor is my neighbor Bill, he a confirmed bachelor is in his 70s and still serves tables at the race track. He loves to talk about documentaries and the book he is reading right now. If he were evicted, he would have nowhere to go. On the first floor is Deb, a retired animator with fiery red hair to match her personality. She volunteers for all sorts of community events and gets by on her pension. She has no idea what she would do if she had to go.

Both of them have been living in the building since the 80’s, back when Mount Pleasant wasn’t so pleasant and our building was notorious for pushers and prostitutes. They are a part of our community’s history and cultural memory. I genuinely fear for their well-being, if the landlords manage to push them out.

If I get pushed out, I will probably land on my feet. But it won’t be in Vancouver. It is just not viable here if THIS council allows the housing crisis to continue on its current trajectory.

I love this city. I have contributed to this city. I don’t want to see Vancouver hollowed out by casino capitalism or become a resort town for the ultra wealthy.

Affordable housing is infrastructure like roads and water supply. That is why I stand before you today in support of the bold Vancouver Housing Strategy and ask that you implement it with equal stride. I encourage you to reject those who wish to protect the status quo and profit by it.

Thank you.


On Bullshit

The word “authentic” is so used up and trite that my eyes nearly roll out of my head when I hear or say it. And the opposite of authentic isn’t inauthentic. That seems to carry even less meaning and certainly doesn’t capture the reaction of an audience when they perceive it.

It’s bullshit.

Bullshit isn’t exactly lying and that is why so many advertisers and PR communicators feel they can get away with it. On the axis of Truthiness to Falsity, bullshit falls short of lying. It can feel true because it is concerned with conveying a certain impression rather than intending to deceive.

An easy example of awesome, unrepentant bullshit is Kanye West and we love/hate him for it. His music is simply amazing. But god-like? Even if his assertions are tongue-in-cheek, they clearly are intended to make us feel a certain way about him.

His entire brand, like many entertainment brands, is pure facade. We know almost nothing about the eccentric musician, which is fine because he is selling music that moves our hips and taps our toes. No one is buying “authenticity” from Kanye West.

Here is where the mistake is made in marketing and communications. In trying to connect with an emotion to trigger action, brands often make grandiose claims and associations that are not in line with their lived values or the benefit of their product or service. Unless yours is a Rock Star brand, that’s bullshit and you will pay the consequences for it.

Lying awakens a sense of violation and is a personal affront. When caught in a lie, the internet lights up with indignation and the court of public opinion can be devastating.

Recently Volkswagen was caught in a lie about the environmental impact of their supposedly low-emissions diesel engines, which triggered public outrage, regulatory investigations in multiple countries and a drop in their stock.

Clearly the consequences of outright falsehoods outweigh those of fakery and bluffing.

Unfortunately the consequences of bullshit are poor deterrents for many communicators, who continue to throw things at the wall to see what sticks. Calling this practice “iterative” is bullshit because it implies strategy.

When we perceive bullshit, we collectively tend to shrug it off with annoyance. It’s just more phoney fronting on the web that quickly disappears down our social feeds.

The inclination of an audience to turn away in irritation should be enough to stop the professional production of bullshit. However, the industries of marketing, social media and PR continue with platitudes and superlatives while recycling someone else’s marginally relevant content.

This is why we offer clients a Storytelling Blueprint that aligns the custom content we create with their values and ideal customers. We seek to integrate a content strategy with the greater marketing plan. We associate with the genuine emotions in your brand.

We cut out the bullshit.

Short-form Video | The Retainer Model

Making Video Content Affordable

One in the hand is better than two in the bush, right? That is rightfully the mentality around video production these days. If there isn’t an ongoing relationship then each and every video produced will be priced like it is the last – get paid and get out.

Unfortunately, a piecemeal approach to mar/comms is usually the culprit behind clients asking for quotes like, “How much is this video? How much is that video? Can you give me options?” They part with their budget like the expense wasn’t planned, which is actually a warning bell for the success of a video. When generated outside of a strategy, a video is too often just a shiny object that gets left by the wayside. The marketing team doesn’t know what to do with it and it has little context within the greater brand experience.

But what if we could commit to a long-term strategy, as laid out in a communications or marketing plan? What if we knew what notes we wanted to hit within our content creation over the next six months and had a fixed budget attached?

It changes the conversation!

Trust Your Content Producer

Now we are talking about strategy and storytelling, nurtured over time, brand building or building a call to action. With these conversations comes trust with the brand voice as the content is created. The great hurdle is no longer over budget. The key issue is trust.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say we agreed to 10 short-form videos over 10 months for $10,000. Now it is clear how much time and resources can be thrown into each piece. With a little guidance and a lot of trust, we can square the triangle of “Good, Fast & Cheap” by adding “Short.”

My friends, short-form video is within reach if it is planned and the creator is trusted. Want to hear more? Reach out and let’s continue this conversation.

Video Production Outcomes Over Output

Stand out to your prospects! Video content is king! Turn views into sales!

If you believe that, then you can spin up and publish video content very quickly. There is a ton of tools out there to source, manage, optimize and track your videos. Just sit back and watch the data-qualified leads roll in. So it’s a no-brainer, right?


All these service providers have left out the most critical element to your business video strategy — You.

Before thinking about pulling the trigger on a video production, it is imperative to be clear about the message behind the video. I don’t mean, “What is your call to action?” or “Does this speak to your customer avatar?” Again, that kind of thinking leaves you out of the equation.

Know Your Brand Story

Video is a tool and without the proper guidance so many companies allow the tool to determine its own function. A hammer can both drive and pull up nails but you would never let the hammer decide. With almost no checks on the purpose of a video, it is no wonder there are so many online without an audience.

Too many client assume that the video producers are clever enough to figure out the company’s brand and message. By virtue of creating something visually compelling with a little guidance from the client, the video producers can claim victory because of another assumption – the client has done the work of self-examination and deeply understand their own purpose and values.

Both assumptions often lead to expensive experiments in tactics with no overarching, strategic value. Without addressing these assumptions, video becomes a misadventure for many companies. It also sours the relationship with the video producers because somehow it is their fault for not doing the internal work that the client wasn’t invested in doing themselves.

Have An Intended Outcome

When you truly understand the value of your organization and your brand promise, your videos can become laser focused. I have worked on videos with budgets in the tens of thousands, with the intention that they will be watched only twice.  However, with the right audience, those videos have returned hundreds of thousands on their investment. That is the power of having intention behind a video.

I have also worked on lower budget productions that speak directly to a tribe, community or industry with amazing results; high engagement, comments, feedback and sharing. These videos have achieved their intended outcome of contributing towards and shaping culture.

Think Beyond Production

Lastly, you have to think about how a video strategy dovetails into the rest of your marketing strategy. Failure to do so leads to your visual content languishing in some uninspired sub-menu marked “Video” on your website. This is where videos go to die. If you are secretly admitting there is a video sub-menu on your website right now, you seriously need to reconsider your relationship with video. Poorly branded Youtube channels are also criminally negligent.

There absolutely must be a plan in place to get your content out to the world. That can be a platform on which you already have an audience, email list, landing page or you can straight up buy your way onto your customer’s Facebook feed. Either way, that is going to take up time and resources that need to be accounted for.

Video Production Is Not A Checkbox

Put simply, if you treat this powerful communication tool like a checkbox on your marketing “to-do” list then you are setting a course for failure, disappointment and a sour relationship with video.

Story Funnel

Part testimonial, part call-to-action, we worked with Funnel Story to craft this landing page tool. Through our consultative process we helped the company creator, Amir Nasr, to prioritize the businesses he wanted featured in order to represent the brand as global and applicable to many kinds of entrepreneurs.

We gathered some business leaders in Vancouver, Canada and others in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the on-camera testimonials were concisely shot in one day by different teams. The extra footage was generously donated by Funnel Story clients. This is how we planned in advance to keep production costs lean.

The result is a sales tool that speaks globally and resonates personally for internet entrepreneurs who want to clarify their messaging and scale their online businesses.

Video Profiles for the VSO

Bringing Warmth And Personality With Video

It was an honour to be part of this project, produced by The Notice Group, to capture video profiles for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The goal was to give a close and personal look at some of the orchestra’s notable musicians, hear their thoughts on performing and other interests as well.

Video Thought Leadership

The Business of Creativity with Jordan Eshpeter

Our second informational interview on better practices and perspectives for the creative class is with Jordan Eshpeter, Head of Growth + Engagement at Invoke.

Differentiation and Business Development with video

Video is now a common and effective way for businesses to highlight their expertise and build their reputations. So what does a video look like in the toolkit of a B2B expert?

Building out your visibility as an expert with video needn’t be very expensive because it ultimately depends on the quality of what you are uniquely qualified to educate potential clients about.