The surprising marketing lessons from Super Mario Run

Earlier this year, Nintendo had a comeback with the smash hit Pokemon Go developed by Niantic. Riding high expectations, the company known for consoles and console-based games has recently released its debut smartphone game. Reactions from the market towards Super Mario Run haven’t been as favourable.

Let’s look at some of Nintendo’s moves and the game itself. What are the good and bad things marketers can learn from?



Nostalgia marketing is an effective tool in a marketer’s arsenal, especially for millennials. Hence, good storytelling would bring out the nostalgic value even more. Super Mario Run already has that value having around for 30 years or so.

The question is: has the game story delivered?  

Source: Nintendo
Source: Nintendo

World Tour – one of the game’s three play modes – seems to capture the idea of storytelling. Instead of having just a single storyline, there are 6 worlds (or themes), each with 4 courses (or episodes). 

While there have been complaints about Super Mario Run being an oversimplified game, the lesson for marketers is: immerse your fans with creative storytelling. 


Influencer marketing

Nintendo went with a pricing strategy that entails an upfront cost rather than a “freemium” like other popular games (e.g. Candy Crush, Clash Royale).

The relatively high price tag makes “reviews by the hard-core fans of the Super Mario series … important, as they will be behind the general opinion on the game that should take shape fairly soon after its release.”

With a lacklustre rating of 2.5 stars on the Apple App Store, Nintendo needs to work fast to combat bad word of mouth

They might already have the right message – that their pricing strategy helps parents avoid accidental in-app purchases by kids. But as marketers would understand, without the right influencer outreach program, the message can get lost amid the noise.

What about a PR campaign? Japan’s Prime Minister dressed up as Mario during the 2016 Olympic closing ceremony as a preview of Tokyo 2020 event. When the negative tide is strong, marketers can look to the bright side and bring out more positive-toned content.  


One platform at a time

The decision to partner up with Apple, making Super Mario Run only available on iOS for now means Nintendo can:

  • Leverage Apple’s fandom and reach
  • Focus on one platform/channel first to test the waters

Apple also launched Mario stickers for iMessage alongside the game’s release, which sounds like co-branded content in the marketing world. 



In the game’s Kingdom Builder mode, players can collect coins to buy buildings and decorations. Although the range is not as big as in Pokemon Go, this potentially can increase game engagement and retention. 

Similarly, marketers have been trying to personalise user experience, or let users feel they own the experience through things like user-generated content. 


Online communities

In the Toad Rally mode, the game gets a social flavour. Gamers can play with friends and other people from around the world. 

As marketers, if you can create a platform that facilitate user interactions, connect people towards a common goal, brand affinity would be strengthened. 

Follow Linh on twitter @LinhContent

Brand Storytelling holiday special: Brian Smith – UGG

On a special edition of the Brand Storytelling podcast, we talk to the founder of UGG, Brian Smith about how he built the billion-dollar company and what makes a brand name. 

Rakhal also discusses the role of Christmas in the marketing calendar and how marketers have to find that balance between storytelling, building a business and engaging through effective marketing.

Subscribe on: iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | iHeartRadio or an RSS feed of your choice! 

Download the episode here

In this episode: 

  • The Story of Ugg
  • What’s in a name – when branding is everything
  • Telling your brand story to build loyalty and engagement


Brian Smith – Speaker

How he turned UGG into a successful company

Book: The Birth of a Brand

Essential Apps for content marketers

“Mobile is eating the world.” Within time on mobile, people are spending as much as 90% on apps. We know the trend as content marketers and publishers. But are we making the most out of our time on mobile?

Here is a list of mobile apps that helps us stay on top of things even when we’re not in the office. 


Capturing ideas

Ever felt rushing with amazing ideas in the shower, on a bus, or anywhere but your desk? Often, those ideas go to waste if not written down. Evernote was born to solve that very problem. 

Source: Every

Whether it’s an idea for a blog post, a list of new sites to try for content syndication, you can jot your thoughts down before you forget them. You can take notes in other formats such as photos and audio too.


Consuming content

Medium has become increasingly popular as a place to read interesting thoughts and ideas from people around world. The beautifully designed app makes it easy to consume thought provoking content on the go. 



Content marketers can unearth insights not found anywhere else, join the conversation, and even publish their own story straight from the app.


Staying organised

As a content marketer, you deal with a lot of text documents. Imagine sitting on a plane to a conference, you want to make use of the idle time by working on a Word doc opened from a mail attachment.

Enter Google Docs, a mobile app that lets you work on documents without an Internet connection.  Moreover, it syncs onto your Google Drive, a place that stores other content formats like slides, forms, and spreadsheets. 


Trello – a popular project management tool – is particularly helpful for things like content creation.

  • Customisable boards (e.g. ideas, in progress, editing, published): useful for content workflow management
  • Customisable labels: useful for content topic classification 



Canva started out as a web app and now they’ve released apps for iPhone and iPad. People are drawn to visuals and snackable content. Hence, this is an incredibly useful tool for marketers to create visual content worth sharing on social media.

Example of use cases: editing photos you capture while attending an event, create a visually appealing image of a quote you’ve just heard someone say. 


Social media

Managing social content is made simpler with Buffer. Their app makes it even simpler to add interesting content to the queue as you see it elsewhere (e.g. on Medium), or create on the go (e.g. using Canva). 

If you’re a busy marketer who has to manage multiple accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, this could be a life saver. A paid plan allows multiple team roles, as well as the ability to add content from integrated RSS feed to your queues.


Email campaign

Any marketer would have heard of MailChimp. Their mobile app lets you:

  • Add new subscribers: you can ask new people you meet on the go
  • Send a new campaign: once someone approves of the campaign you created on desktop
  • Track stats/reports: if your boss asks you at lunch 



Heard of BoredPanda? A BuzzFeed kind of hub for entertaining, possibly viral content. Browsing through their app, you might stumble on creative ideas, compilations etc. but most of all, blow off some steam after a hard day at work.

Follow Linh on Twitter @LinhContent

Test 3.0

The title of your podcast in iTunes is set by your Collection Title Format. 

If the Blog Page you’re using for your podcast has your site’s name in it, your site’s title may display twice in iTunes. For example, the default Collection Title Format is “Collection Title – Site Name.” So, if your Blog Page’s title (set in Page Settings) is “ABC Site Podcast,” and your Site Title is “ABC Site,” your podcast’s title might appear as “ABC Site Podcast – ABC Site.”

To prevent this from happening, we recommend renaming the Blog Page (use a name without your site’s title in it) or changing the Custom Title Format.

Test 2.0

The title of your podcast in iTunes is set by your Collection Title Format. 

If the Blog Page you’re using for your podcast has your site’s name in it, your site’s title may display twice in iTunes. For example, the default Collection Title Format is “Collection Title – Site Name.” So, if your Blog Page’s title (set in Page Settings) is “ABC Site Podcast,” and your Site Title is “ABC Site,” your podcast’s title might appear as “ABC Site Podcast – ABC Site.”

To prevent this from happening, we recommend renaming the Blog Page (use a name without your site’s title in it) or changing the Custom Title Format.


(0.0) A test

Go to the page settings of the first page in your home page index. In the Description box, type your call to action text and add a hyperlink to it (see screenshot) Save the changes and it should appear as a call to action button.

The purpose of brand storytelling

On the Brand Storytelling podcast, we are joined professional brand storyteller, Park Howell. Park is the host of the popular podcast, Business of Story and is the founder of Park&Co, a marketing and advertising agency. 

We discuss with the purpose of brand storytelling and why it is essential for all brands, agencies and organisations (big and small) to tell their story efficiently and effectively. We also talk about the techniques brands can use to establish their credibility as a storyteller to set themselves apart from the competition. 

Subscribe on: iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | iHeartRadio or an RSS feed of your choice! 

Download the episode here

In this episode: 

  • Tools and tips for cutting through the noise to get your message heard. 
  • The importance of storytelling in 2017 and beyond. 
  • How your brand can inject storytelling into its messages immediately. 


Brand Storytelling is not about what you make, but what you make happen

The business of story podcast


Why brand storytelling should be the foundation of a growth strategy 

How hot startups build their brands with content marketing

When it comes to content marketing, or anything marketing, large corporations have the upper hand over cash-strapped start-ups. However, the smaller players have fewer short-term constraints and bureaucratic layers. How do they play these to their advantage?

Let’s look at how the top start-ups of 2015/2016 approach content marketing to elevate their brands.



This is one of Australia’s hottest start-ups who disrupted the mattress industry with a unique foam technology, a four-hour shipping turnaround and a mission to help save koalas.

The Great Australian Sleep Report – the equivalent of a whitepaper/ebook in the B2B world – lays out the pain points Koala set out to solve perfectly.



Their Counting Koalas blog revolves around themes that their prospects and customers are interested in: Bedroom, entertainment, food, hacks, health, sleep.

A notable example is the monthly Netflix guide, which ties in with their brand voice – casual, fun, modern, sometimes tongue-in-cheek.



This competitor of the Dollar Shave Club is determined to disrupt the men shaving industry, acquiring a million customers in two years. Their successful launch was the work of social media, email and influencer marketing.

To keep the momentum rolling and save on expensive advertising, Harry’s regularly publishes content in their magazine-style blog called Five O’Clock.

With a clear editorial mission, their content aims to help readers get ready every day and live a well-groomed life.

Below is a screenshot from their monthly curated music playlist, which links to their Spotify account. This works in several ways:

  • People may stumble upon Harry’s when listening to music on a third-party site.

  • Their millennial audience associates the brand with the music they like and thus, form a favourable impression.

  • People find value in the content, keep coming back for more, which may help their user retention.




The largest start-up in wealth management wants to be the “self-driving car for your money.” Nonetheless, they have a dedicated resources section filled with helpful investment advice, interactive tools for both novices and more advanced users.

In addition to those top funnel content pieces, original research embedded in their whitepapers serves as mid/bottom funnel content.


Source: Betterment
Source: Betterment


Running alongside is a newsletter with a clear value proposition of helping readers “lead a smarter financial life.”

Determined to avoid the usual perception of financial institutions as non-transparent, the start-up has stories about their growth, strategy, culture as well as technical details behind their engineering. Notice how they inject a human-focused tone into their content?



Groove is a helpdesk software targeted at small businesses who need help with customer support. They are one of those software as a service (SaaS) businesses that go big on content marketing, just like Buffer, Slack, HubSpot to name a few.

The stories about Groove’s journey to $500k in monthly revenue help portray them as a genuine, relatable figure to their target customers. Moreover, their blog also contains actionable tips on customer service, weekly Q&A, interviews with famous founders & CEOs.

Groove’s content marketing machine works hard to build brand awareness and engagement. Look at the stats for some of their guest blog posts below.




What do these start-ups have in common? They work relentlessly to produce engaging content, experiment with innovative formats and leverage influencers as much as they can.

Follow Linh on Twitter: @LinhContent

6 infographics to get the creative juices flowing

How good are infographics? Colourful, not text heavy yet still able to educate and inform the reader of the chosen topic.

They are an attractive alternative for brands looking to add a spicy new flavour to their content mix. With attention spans are dipping and scientists now believing we have a shorter span than that of a goldfish, you have one shot to impress your audience or risk losing them to a shinier new object. 

So this is how the pros do it. Pop culture, simplistic designs and topics interesting enough to make you click-n-share with friends and co-workers. 


1. Battle of the Bonds – Kisses, Cocktails, Kills, Cars & Cash

James Bond has been a mainstay franchise since Sean Connery made the character his own with Dr. No in 1962. It has since seen many takes on the character with Daniel Craig arguably throwing his hat in the ring as the best and most profitable James Bond of all time.  

Or was he? This brilliant illustration will make Bond experts of all of us all with everything from booze consumed per movie to the most profitable flick of the bunch.


Source: Gb show plates
Source: Gb show plates


2. Distance to Mars

Mars actually comes in second in the plants closest to Earth rankings with the number 1 spot going to venus. But that is beside the point as we gauge just how far away we are from our future second home.

This might not happen for some time but for those wondering how much Netflix you can fit in on the trip there (probably all of it), Distance to Mars is a simple and entertaining explanation of how Earth’s best friend lives a long way away. 


Source: Distance to Mars
Source: Distance to Mars


3. Study: Fonts & Colors

Here’s an idea. A breakdown of the major brands not by profits or market share (snore) but by the colors used in their logo’s, most popular fonts and the structure of the logo itself. 

Amazingly, Coke, Google, Twitter and Nike spent a combined $50 on creating their logo’s. But what emotions do we associate with each?

Source: Visually
Source: Visually


4. Redefining Action Hero

Is Bill Gates the caped crusader? As hard as we might wish, he more than likely isn’t, at least not in the physical, squashing baddies to a pulp sense. From a monetary and philanthropy angle, though, he and Bruce Wayne could be one in the same.

As this infographic demonstrates, Bill has no problem saving the world from the clutches of disease and coaxing other wealthy, like-minded individuals to don capes to fight for a good cause.


Source: Geeks are sexy
Source: Geeks are sexy


5. The History of Advertising on YouTube

Remember that clip where Charlie bit his brother’s finger? Chances are you do, your friends do, your parents who thought their phone was the TV remote might even as well. And so did the companies looking to engage an audience that had bolted for the new channel.

From registering the domain name in 2005 to surpassing 2 billion views by 2010, the click-for-lols manufacturer has given marketers the keys to all the grumpy cat videos they can get their mitts on. 


Source: Mashable
Source: Mashable


6. Around the World in 80 days

What would be your method of transport to scale the globe? By rocket or canoe? This design takes this into consideration as it breaks down 80 methods for doing a lap of the world.

From a combine harvester and hovercraft to a stretch limousine or tandem bike, it outlines time, speed and length of the trip. You haven’t seen the world unless you have done it in a Three-Wheel Robin Reliant.


Source: Visually
Source: Visually

Remember, it’s important to venture away from the stock standard statistics and instead focus on a space no one is occupying. Take on a topic that will surprise and engage your audience. 

Content Marketing in Australia 2016

On the Brand Storytelling podcast, we are joined by the CEO of the Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) CEO, Jodie Sangster. Jodie recently collaborated with Joe Pullizi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, on the Content Marketing in Australia 2016 report.

“Compared with last year, for-profit Australian marketers reported higher levels of effectiveness this year with the content marketing tactics, social media platforms, and paid methods of content distribution/promotion they use. Even so, many are particularly challenged with producing engaging content; accordingly, a high percentage cite it as their top priority for internal content creators over the next year.” – Content Marketing in Australia 2016: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.

The ADMA is a go-to source for marketers seeking insights and resources on data-driven marketing across all channels and platforms in today’s marketing industry.

Subscribe on: iTunes | Stitcher | TuneIn | iHeartRadio or an RSS feed of your choice! 

Download the episode here 

In this episode:

The state of the content marketing in 2016.

– The trends we can expect to see in 2017 and beyond. 

– The platforms and channels publishers should be using to maximise the reach of their content.


Australian Content Marketing: 2016 in Review

The Top 7 Content Marketing trends dominating 2016

Latest in content marketing: Brands make their own podcasts

38 Mind-Blowing Stats about User Generated Content