Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
"The other guy is doing it" seems like a terrible rationale, except that showing off the shares and attention a competitor is getting for their content can really help prove your point with someone who still doesn't see the value in content marketing. Just be ready for what sometimes comes next - "Do exactly what they're doing" - which is not the way to win at content marketing.

While this is obviously so, this goes for all forms of “marketing” from an integrated perspective. Nevertheless, content marketing, regardless of definitions and terms, can be clearly differentiated in many ways from other marketing tactics and approaches. Even if phenomena and activities such as corporate blogging – and, going back far more in time, storytelling – are older that the term content marketing, they are often mentioned in a content marketing context. This also means that often definitions overlap. Corporate blogging is a good example as it is defined as a content marketing practice but also as social media marketing and inbound marketing. More about the difference between content marketing and inbound marketing here. Finally, as new – mainly digital – evolutions (also driven by consumer adoption), it’s clear that content marketing will continue to evolve, as will media evolutions, as the increasing focus on “converged media” clearly indicates.


With so many channels, platforms, and methods of communicating with audiences, it’s easy to overlook the classic email — but email is very much alive and well. In fact, email drip campaigns are one of the simplest, most effective ways to provide targeted, high-performing content directly to your readers, enhance their experience with your brand, and enable the sales process.


Content marketing is nothing without strategy. You can have the most interesting, thought-provoking piece of content out there, but it’s nothing if it can’t be found by the right people. No matter what stage of your content creation you’re in, whether you’re in pre-planning, development, or finishing up and wondering how to present it to the world, now is the time to start thinking about the best strategy for optimizing and distributing that content to your audience.
A winning strategy succeeds when technology and people work together. Automation and semantics can help to filter, facilitate and uncover hidden treasures, but it is the human touch – thoughtful selection and consideration of content – that will create a truly new and engaging brand experience for audiences to discover, enjoy and share. Kelly Hungerford
Though Chanel was late to join the digital brouhaha in comparison with other luxury brands, it’s one of the few brands that has made the most progress in the recent past. Burberry still holds the coveted top spot for digital customer experience proficiency, as per a report published by Contactlabs earlier this year, but brands like Fendi, Hugo Boss and Chanel have significantly climbed the charts as well.
Similarly, USAA launched “The Money Drill” podcast in 2016 as an experiment to attract younger audience members while delivering financial content in an easy, engaging way. It was worth it; the program was met with almost immediate success, and, nearly two years on, draws 24,000 plays per month. "The Money Drill" also gave USAA's content marketing team a major internal win.

The Chanel website is all about storytelling. It is a content marketing spectacle that takes viewers into the world of Chanel through distinct chapters. The chapter on ‘No.5’ demystifies the most famous fragrance of all time, ‘Coco’ gives viewers a glimpse into Mademoiselle’s world and chapters like ‘The Lion’ or ‘The Jacket’ reveal secrets behind quintessential Chanel staples.
30. Tortuga Backpacks: Power Trip Travel Podcast. In their words: “A weekly podcast at the intersection of travel and entrepreneurship. The show is hosted by Fred Perrotta and Jeremy Michael Cohen, the co-founders of Tortuga Backpacks. Join us for the stories behind your favorite travel gear, products, websites, and apps from their creators… Plus, we’ll share the best ways to travel better, cheaper, and with less hassle.”
Who are the buyer personas and what are their content needs and preferences? This questions looks at the type of information different ‘archetypes’ of buyers seek during their buying journey and maps the customer touchpoints, preferred communication channels, and – to some extent – the content formats, although that’s a question for the content strategy too. Buyer personas haven’t been invented for content marketing. They are used for an overall marketing strategy. But in a content marketing strategy you take a more complete look at them.
EXAMPLE: River Pools and Spas changed its mission from being a pool installer to being “the best teachers in the world about fiberglass pools” — and then started to answer specific customer questions in blog posts. As Marcus Sheridan explained, that decision was “one of the most prosperous days of our lives,” as that was when customers started coming to them. View the case study:

In January 2017, Visit Seattle partnered with Sundance TV to launch "Project Five by Five," which asked five filmmakers to each create a short film about Seattle, inspired by one of the five senses. One video showed how a local farm produces fresh cream and berries for a beloved Seattle ice cream shop. Another reimagined Seattle native Jimi Hendrix's first skydiving trip. The shorts premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and aired on Sundance TV.
By linking keywords in your guest posts to valuable on-site content, such as blog posts that expand on points mentioned in your article, you can capitalize on the exposure and credibility your earned media offers and reel audiences back to your site. Then, if you’ve been practicing our top tips for successful blogging, the linked blog post will contain a CTA to download your latest gated content — and bam! Lead generated.
Content marketing can be delivered through a variety of media, including television and magazines, and take a lot of different forms, including articles, infographics, videos and online games. The strategy may be referred to by several different names, including infomercial, sponsored content or native advertising. Whatever the label, content marketing is often integrated in such a way that it doesn't stand out from other material served by the host.

With so many ways to publish content as a brand, inspiration always helps. That’s why we created this list of our 30 favorite content marketing examples of 2015. Whether it’s an individual campaign, a new podcast, or an overall blog property, these companies demonstrate what it means to be customer-focused in every content creation effort. As you plan content marketing campaigns for 2016, consider emulating the spirit of these brands who already do it well.


Whole Foods does a great job of living those brand principles in its content marketing. Articles about how to save money but still eat healthy or tips to change your diet for the better make Whole Foods’ products and lifestyle more inclusive. On top of that, it uses a lot of proactive language (“I want to learn/do/both” as a search option in its navigation bar) which makes the audience feel like they have an active role in the experience.
Most people start out with blog posts, but if you want to venture out and try producing other content pieces, consider which ones you want to make. For instance, if you've been doing weekly blog posts for the past year, creating an ebook that distills all your blog posts into one ultimate guide would be a one way to offer information in a different format. We'll go over several different types of content you can use further down on the list.
When I was teaching Public Relations courses at our local universities, I introduced students to the use of Managing By Objectives and how to integrate that approach into the development of a written PR strategy. Briefly, it begins with stating the Goal — a measurable goal — with a deadline — and beginning with the infinitive “To..” Then, you ask yourself “How” … how will that be accomplished. The first responses are broad. Each time a “How” question is answered, you become more specific. The first “hows” are the Objectives. Under the Objectives are the tactics. When properly done, you can read the strategy backward by asking the question “Why?” ……….. and if all falls into place correctly, you’ll get an A!
Here’s another example of a brand that does a great job of leveraging different categories of knowledge. First Round, an early-stage VC company, recognized the knowledge among entrepreneurs and leaders that wasn’t being shared -- knowledge that could be highly beneficial to their peers -- and created the First Round Review as a place for it to be shared. It serves, reads the manifesto, to liberate the ideas and expertise that are “trapped in other people's heads.”

Whether in a team or on your own, be realistic about your time. If blogging once a week and sending a newsletter twice a month is the most you can manage, don’t shoot for any more than that. Setting yourself up for failure breaks trust with your audience that expects what you’ve promised. You don’t want burnout here, you want a streamlined process that works for your schedule.
Clay Collins’ hypothesis was correct. Thanks to his content marketing strategy, LeadPages ended up with an extremely high lifetime value to customer acquisition cost ratios. This helped them grow on a massive scale, acquiring 35,000 customers in under three years, hitting over $16 million in revenue in 2015, and in 2016 becoming the #148 fastest growing company in America. LeadPages success makes them one of the great content marketing examples.
Much of Plated's success hinges upon one factor: subscribers, and Morsel has been optimized to drive them. The tips, recipes, and stories feature large, gorgeous images and clear, conversational copy to engage readers. At the bottom of each story, and on Morsel's homepage, are calls to action with discounted offers for first-time Plated subscribers.
In contrast to the other two, a content plan is very tactical. It documents the specifics of how you will execute your strategy, and who on your team will be handling each task. It’s important to understand that you need a content marketing strategy BEFORE you build your content plan. Think of it as a marketing plan that specifically relates to content; thus, it should include details such as the key topic areas you will cover, what content you will create, when and how to share your content, and specific calls to action you will include.
'When it comes to business blogging, there’s no doubt that consistency is important,' says Vaughan. 'Just consider the fact that companies that increase blogging from 3-5X/month to 6-8X/month almost double their leads. That being said, consistency must also be applied to the quality of your content, not just the quantity. If you pay any attention to the increased emphasis Google is placing on quality content, this comes as no surprise. Because marketers must also make a commitment to quality in all the content they create, increasing frequency alone won't get you very far. Quality and quantity must go hand in hand, and this will become even more important in 2013 and beyond.'
Extract knowledge from your subject matter expert. Put together a list of questions for your SME to answer to painlessly extract his or her knowledge. It’s completely OK if your SME isn’t a natural writer; that’s what your content marketing team members are there for. What’s most important is that you communicate his or her expertise, and that’s where this process comes in handy. Your questions should be highly specific to get the right information from your SME’s brain and create unique, high-quality expert content using those insights.
Social media can be a great way to create shareable content. Many brands are doing all they can to get those shares, likes and follows up and no-one has mastered this better than Old Spice. This is a brand that – as lifted from their very own Twitter bio – has “74 years of experience helping guys improve their mansmells with deodorant, body-wash, antiperspirant and fragrances.”

To maximize the visibility into and reporting of ROI, every deliverable must be tracked from conception to creation to conversion. From there, you’re able to assign a specific dollar amount to each line of copy and every strategic decision. In this sense, executives will likely be grading content marketing on granularity: They need more data, more details and more reason to further invest in future campaigns.


This same phenomenon was found in other countries, such as the UK and even in research in smaller countries such as Belgium, in which there was an apparent link with the fact marketers said to be ready to break out of the cycle of short-terminism. As mentioned, content marketing – indeed – is not about short-terminism and thus cannot be defined in a pure campaign perspective if correctly used.
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