Ecommerce Success Stories / How to Sell Online

The Secret Behind Di Bruno Bros’ Creative Commerce + Content Strategy –– And Bite Sized Tips You Can Eat Up

Tracey Wallace / 4 min read

Content marketing is an extremely effective way to increase brand awareness and customer loyalty, while turning more site visitors into sales. But not all content marketing is necessarily good, and even less is strategic.

There are some 2 million blog posts published per day. Getting your message heard by your target audience is becoming increasingly more difficult as the internet becomes more and more content rich. But, there are ways to stand out among the crowd, and one legacy Philadelphia brand has figured out their own secret recipe for content strategy success.

Meet Di Bruno Bros, a 75-year-old specialty food retailer. To further increase their brand awareness this year beyond their hometown Philly fans, the creative team over at Di Bruno’s launched a short monthly publication aptly named the Culinary Pioneer.

The ultimate goal of this monthly magazine is simple: “to provide a curated list of must-eats to our shoppers,” says Janeane Tolomeo, marketing and brand manager at Di Bruno Bros. “Both our retail and ecommerce shops are brimming with incredible foods from all over the world. This publication exists to encourage customers to come on a food adventure with us, to tell the story of the producer and to share knowledge and tips like you would get when interacting with our cheesemongers.”

In effect, the Culinary Pioneer serves as a foodie magazine for cheese lovers the world over. Di Bruno Bros. publishes the magazine in both print and digital versions, allowing online readers to easily shop the products mentioned in each issue. This bridging of content strategy and commerce, at least when it comes to how digital audiences consume information, is strategic. The idea being that if the content is good enough, if the product hits an emotional nerve with the end reader, then the same product should be available for immediate purchase –– providing a holistic content-to-commerce experience for the customer.

And Di Bruno Bros. isn’t the only brand attempting to perfect this content and commerce combination. Even legacy magazine brands like those operating under Hearst and Conde Nast are looking to intelligently combine editorial with online shopping experiences to increase both readership loyalty and engagement as well as revenue for individual publications.

Of course, Di Bruno Bros. is no publisher –– at least not at its core. So, to make the Culinary Pioneer as efficient as it is effective, the brand’s marketing team ensured that every bit of effort put into the magazine could function as a generator of ROI for additional marketing initiatives.

“Our content calendar trickles down, in and around everything we do,” says Tolomeo. “First we start with the products, build our Culinary Pioneer, then populate the general campaigns, craft our email strategy, round it out with our blog posts and let it all filter down to social media.”

And though the Culinary Pioneer is yet to be a year old at time of writing –– it launched in January 2015 –– the magazine is already proving to be a smart investment.

“We had a really strong reception at launch and all throughout the winter,” says Tolomeo. “The summer months definitely slowed down and we changed our format around a bit. With traffic increases this fall, the latest printed issue basically flew off the shelves!”

Content, Commerce and Collaboration –– Or How to Produce a Branded Magazine

So, how can your brand work to mimic the success of Di Bruno Bros’ marketing might? To be fair, it isn’t easy –– but the creativity does provide for out-of-the-box thinking and the content created serves as great material to increase SEO, pass out at events and send out to your customers similarly to how you would a catalog. Here’s how the Di Bruno’s team gets a new issue out every single month.

“We plan out the content in advance with our merchandising team, and our creative
director builds the shot list, pulls inspiration and gives direction to our part-time photographer,” says Tolomeo. “The photos they use for this piece are shot in various ways to also use for emails, social media and blogs. A lot of the copywriting is done in advance by our content strategist about specific featured products and their stories, and then we rely heavily on our designer’s copywriting skills to add detail and headlines based on the layout. We currently use Issuu to feature the publication as a flippable PDF with hyperlinks.”

The key to making the above process function properly is communication. Each issue must serve multiple purposes, with the ultimate goal of providing value to the end reader. As you bring on creative freelancers, consultants or even hires, communication and documentation is how you best explain your brand positioning in order to capture the unique essence of your products.

“To really make this work, partner with your design team by sharing your strategic goals, ensuring they fully understand your brand and can work with it consistently,” says Tolomeo. “Challenge them to make beautiful, yet effective content. Then, make the most of all your assets by using them across various touch points, taking into account each channel’s unique context and purpose.”

In all, producing a branded magazine takes planning –– and a lot of collaboration. From the moment you get a new product in, the process begins. How can we best highlight the attributes of this item? How can we communicate the benefits of this item? On which platforms can we promote this item to increase awareness and ultimately drive sales? These are the questions you need to be asking.

But, Di Bruno Bros. has one last secret ingredient key to making their magazine efforts prove successful: passion and a deep understanding of their brand’s niche audience.

“Without a doubt, we love to eat,” says Tolomeo. “And for us, eating these items is fun, but sharing them is better. Content allows us to do that through pairings, recipes, storytelling and offering up quick and delicious bits of info. Opening up minds to the ways you can use truffle salt in just about everything, dreaming up ways to create flavors through pairings you’ve never imagined and hearing about a cheesemaker that literally sings to her cheeses. To us, cheese is more than cheese. It’s all the work that goes into making that cheese. It’s our responsibility to tell that story and make sure it’s an extraordinary food experience.”


Tracey Wallace

Tracey Wallace

Director of Marketing MarkterHire | Former EIC, BigCommerce | Founder, Doris Sleep

Tracey is the Director of Marketing at MarketerHire, the marketplace for fast-growth B2B and DTC brands looking for high-quality, pre-vetted freelance marketing talent. She is also the founder of Doris Sleep and was previously the Head of Marketing at Eterneva, both fast-growth DTC brands marketplaces like MarketerHire aim to help. Before that, she was the Global Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce, where she launched the company’s first online conference (pre-pandemic, nonetheless!), wrote books on How to Sell on Amazon, and worked closely with both ecommerce entrepreneurs and executives at Fortune 1,000 companies to help them scale strategically and profitably. She is a fifth generation Texan, the granddaughter of a depression-era baby turned WWII fighter jet pilot turned self-made millionaire, and wifed up to the truest of heroes, a pediatric trauma nurse, who keeps any of Tracey’s own complaints about business, marketing, or just a seemingly lousy day in perspective.

View all posts by Tracey Wallace
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