by Rob Campbell on February 16, 2015
Today, Monday Feb 16th 2015, two days after Valentine’s Day, I’ll share with readers an organic storytelling campaign that I executed on behalf of Toughroof flat roof repair contractor in Toronto. Here’s a full account of the Valentine’s Day Black Roses Story, detailing its many components. Just to be clear, I told this story on behalf of a local flat roofing company that wants to be ranked higher in search for a dozen or more roof ‘repair’ related search terms. Along the way some other sponsors got involved and the story took on some different relevancies.
The story starts twenty years ago. Inspired by a young woman named Nanika Albrecht (forgive me if that’s not the correct spelling of Nan’s last name), she was the first person I know to ever make black roses, and so I dedicate this artful marketing campaign to you Nanika, the artist. It was she who discovered the rose treatment when she was going through her tar dipping phase. Her first black roses were a beautiful discovery, and Nanika made them even more spectacular by drying and pruning them before and after the dip. In time, she had a profitable hobby, side business selling them in dance clubs. She would acquire dry roses, dip them in coal tar, and vend them in vampire bars for $5 each on Friday and Saturday nights, all across the city. It was the summer of 1995, and Nanika was living at 370 Sorauren Ave. She got her tar from Coal King which was a roofing supply business at 371, right across the street. She would heat up the tar in an old pot on a hot plate, and one by one dip the crispy dried flowers in the bubbling brew to make perfect shiny black rose statues. So twenty years later, I set about recreating her process as the basis for a storytelling exercise to help a commercial roofing company rank higher in Google. I hoped to emulate her success just before Valentine’s Day 2015.
The story is simply that I bought roses, dried them out, and then visited Toughroof and dipped the roses in roofing tar. In that one sentence I have essentially told the whole story, but yet for the purposes of making valuable incoming links to a roofing company, I retold that same tale many different ways, in many different formats, all across the web.
First I made a photo gallery on Flickr showing roses dipped in roofing tar, and other images relating to the adventure of making and photographing shiny black roses coated in petroleum bitumen. Then I posted a YouTube video showing Dave from ToughRoof dipping roses in flat roofing tar.
On my FuelGhoul blog on Typepad I outlined the difference between petroleum bitumen and coal tar and gave a lot of insight into how ToughRoof goes about surfacing new and existing flat roofs in Toronto. I displayed lots of photos of Dave manning the propane powered tar boilers, heating up the solid blocks of petroleum bitumen into a bubbling black oily broth. And I captured the moment of the dipping and sizzling..
How I made Black Roses with Roofing Tar was another telling of the story, published on Medium which is a very respectable Twitter friendly platform. I reinforced the validity of this media with an artful discussion forum post that would become the backbone of the campaign, on SmartCanucks; How I Made Black Roses for Valentines Day with Flat Roofing Tar is in the Home and Garden Canada section of the site, which is not very popular posting area, and so I expect the thread to have a long shelf life at the top of the pile. It has already accrued over 500 readers, and will continue to funnel curious clickers to the client(s) for months, and years to come.
The flagship article that was designed to launch the black rose blitz was handcrafted for Eligible Magazine – Black Roses for Valentine’s Day, but it was held back in the queue until just a few days before the holiday weekend. As such, I was unable to link into it from other pieces. But when it finally did launch it had great energy, and I was able to run a mini social media promotion around the content, to which the staff at Eligible Magazine, @EligibleZine joined, tweeting it out every day alongside my @roberrific username.
The long copy Eligible Magazine article was sorely missed in the content deployment because it contained lots of juicy story hooks. One such interesting fact is that the oldest visual reference to a ‘black rose’ is in ancient Tarot cards, where it’s displayed on Death’s banner. I wanted to use that interesting tidbit in my other stories, but I had of course given that text and these pictures to Gary editor exclusively and so now I must content myself to simply repeat it here in the wrap up. Death is the thirteenth Tarot Card.
Matthew Robert White enters the story next. He contacted me to try and prepare roses for his custom Pop-Up Retail Store event that he ran on Sat Feb 14th in the entertainment district of Toronto. I don’t have a lot of information on what happened that night or how successful his sales were, but I do think my media helped raise attention for his entrepreneurship. I published this piece on Digital Journal in support of our cause(s). Click the picture below to read the article.
A few days after the Toughroof video was published, Bill Korenowsky of Royal Basement Waterproofing called me and arranged for me to do another video shoot in his basement. This time instead of using tar or petroleum, he wanted to try coating roses in a rubber cement waterproofing compound. While I watched and recorded video using my GoPro camera, Bill attempted the same rose dipping procedure using in Bakor Aqua-Bloc® 770-06 which is a one component elastomeric waterproofing compound designed to replace conventional hot mop treatments. You can watch the video of Bill Waterproofing Roses in his basement on YouTube.
The compound was too cold, and the exercise didn’t really take. Under normal circumstances this stuff is like jello and it’s applied with a trowel, in a single application, which cures to form a heavy impervious membrane over concrete. But the stuff was too cold, and the rose dipping process really didn’t work out so well, as you can see in the video.
Despite the name, the Royal Waterproofing treatment is difficult to apply to red roses, and dipping them whole upside down in a bucket as we did with other rose treatments earlier, didn’t really work. In fact it was an abject failure, but of course the exercise does illustrate how well the other systems work.
The waterproofed roses that Bill Korenowsky made with Aqua-Bloc rubber membrane in his basement aged nicely. His dried roses seem to get better with age.
I like this image here which shows one on top of tar roses which are really just so much blobs of bitumen.
Above is a picture of the red waterproofing rubber coated roses on top of the bitumen dipped roses.
In conclusion, Toughroof ranks much higher in search for all ‘flat roof repair’ keyword targets, and is still climbing because of the memetic transfer of importance from articles, blogs and discussion forum posts to the client homepage – the website really has become more important to society. Everything I did from building the BlackRoses memes on Imgur, Tumblr, and Instagram to my posts on Homesteading Today have helped add a new dimension to this company and build a 21st century business myth on multiple platforms that will intrigue curious readers for years to come. Post by Robert Campbell on Feb 16th, 2014.