Start-ups or Upstarts? How to Use Content To Build A Brand
posted by Stuart Cumming ~ 30/03/15
Category: Marketing

Here are two examples of stores whose strategies, and use of rich content, we just love - because selling needs to be more than just product and price.

One is seemingly a content driven site with a store attached. 

The other is a well planned, well positioned "outdoorsy" online store that has a small bricks and mortar presence. And it uses catalog(ue)s plus a good dose of content to promote its wares.

The Bitter Southerner 

A warning about

Before you click through to this site, be prepared to allocate more than a few minutes glancing around. As the creators themselves might suggest, pour yourself a glass of good sippin' whisky, find a comfy chair, and be prepared to indulge in content that will bring a smile to your face, a tear to your eye and have you dropping "y'all" into your conversations - just as natural as can be.

I want in. What can I buy?

Before long you'll be heading to their General Store to buy something, anything,  because you just want to be part of whatever it is Bitter Southerner is all about.

Bitter Southerner (or BS, as they refer to themselves) to all intents and purposes is a very hip, very authentic voice. Yet beautifully contrived.

Quality content attracts quality products.

The site was to showcase everything hip, stylish and quality that had its origins south of the Mason Dixon Line.
Its creator, Chuck Reece, has a background as a communications executive at Coca-Cola and some other marketing companies. He's teamed up with a creative director, a social media "guru" and an online insights and analytics specialist. Their strategy was of the "If you build it, they will come" variety. The site was to showcase everything hip, stylish and quality that had its origins south of the Mason Dixon Line.


The founders knew that if they created an audience with quality content, they would attract advertisers of quality products. This what "Thought Leader" can mean.

According to Content Marketing Insider, "Within months of Bitter Southerner's launch, major ad agencies were approaching its team for counsel, suggesting that what they were creating could be the "Vice" of the South" -  (we think they meant "Voice" but who knows?). 

Guideboat Co.

A fashion store that sells boats or a boat store that sells fashion?

First let's establish what a "guideboat" is. Although these boats resemble canoes, they are not. They're built in the same manner as a skiff and rowed rather than paddled. The original design was created by fishing and hunting guides in the Adirondack Mountains (North of New York) who had to carry their boats between the many lakes in the region. 

At www.guideboat .com you can buy a specially created replica guideboat (with American Cherrywood trim and brass fittings) along with alpaca sweaters, Blundstone Boots from Tasmania and other handy, must-haves like a "Guide to Urban Moonshining".

Guideboat Company has one store in a lumberyard in Mill Valley California.

His partner of choice this time around is YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.
Eclectic or just plain crazy? Crazy like a fox. Look behind the scenes and you will find two names who are quite used to success.

Stephen Gordon was founder of Restoration Hardware - famous for it's 3,000 page, 17 pound catalog . He then partnered (as CEO) with Robert Redford (yes, that Robert Redford) to market merchandise under the Sundance banner.


His partner of choice this time around is YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley. Heavy!

Once a catalog man, always a catalog man.
Just a year after opening their "signature" store, Guideboat put out it's first catalogue. Once a catalog man, always a catalog man! 

They originally thought 100,000 should be enough but decided to up this to 500,000.

Then all hell broke loose. 

Direct-to-consumer sales were 50 percent more than Gordon's expectations, which left staffers "scrambling for inventory," he said. "The seven-person corporate office was caught off guard by the number of shoppers who phoned to place orders, find out product and brand information and share stories about guideboats and the Adirondacks. So much so that eight recruits were needed to run a call center" according to the article that appeared on the Women's Wear Daily website.

They only ship within the US - and, if you want a boat, that's limited to the "lower 48". But if you have a friend State-side, subscribe for the catalogue. I'm having difficulty not ordering something as I'm sure it has the same quality ethos as Best Made which we covered early last year.

Two examples of great content strategy and execution. Yes, it costs to do it properly - but as these sites prove, the end results are worth it.


"Content-Marketing Savvy on View in 'Bitter Southerner'" MediaPost Content Marketing Insider (Max Robins)

"Guideboat Co. Wants To Create A Bigger Wave" Woman's Wear Daily (Rosemary Feitelberg)

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