Like style guidelines, a content marketing strategy should be comprehensive and also concise. You want to cover likely eventualities and explain the basis of the strategy, but you also want to help prevent a new strategist or writer from spending the entirety of his or her first month reading it (and ensure they can actually remember the gist of it by the end).
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.
Depending on the size of your operation, you could be looking at creating a one-sheet that reminds all your writers which part of your brand name to capitalize, that you use the Oxford comma, and that the tone of all content should be conversational. Or, these guides could be a major undertaking that identifies how multiple brands are referred to and trademarked, advanced copy editing guidelines (including how and when proprietary terms should be used), and a range of voice guidelines for all potential types of communication from customer service interactions to blog posts and press releases.
Some of the brands covered here are newcomers to the market, while others are household names that have been around for more than a century. However, they all have one thing in common: they recognize the value of creating great content to engage their audience and generate new leads. Get inspired by their examples and use their success to fuel your own content marketing efforts.
This isn’t hard to do, but it does take some creativity. If you are selling anything related to cooking; run recipe awards, video tutorial contests or give away free items to people who post great videos using your product. If you are in the service business, create incentives for customers to give you video testimonials, reviews or product demonstrations.
EXAMPLE: TD Ameritrade produces its print and digital magazine thinkMoney for active customers – those who can make trades as often as hundreds of times in a day. In its early days, TDA put the program under review to determine whether it was worth continuing to spend money on the magazine. The leaders persevered and, after approximately two years, received confirmation of its value: Subscribers and readers of the magazine traded five times more than non-subscribers. Simply put, those who subscribed to this magazine became better customers for TD Ameritrade.
So what is content marketing, then? Well, it's pretty simple. Content marketing is the use of that content—any of it—to help meet a marketing goal for your organization. That could be acquisition of potential customers, retention of existing ones, making more people aware of your brand or your products, or really anything else. We'll go into many of the most popular and effective ways of doing all of these things throughout the rest of this guide.
From city guides and travel trend pieces to personal essays and interviews, Away has a lot of stories to tell. So many, in fact, that last year the brand unveiled a quarterly print publication of Here, featuring Rashida Jones on the debut cover, alongside high-quality content by and for travelers. There’s also "Airplane Mode," the brand’s podcast, which shares tales of travel, journeys, and lives lived on the road by all kinds of adventurers.
But why would NextView want to create an entirely separate blog that isn’t even on its website? Well, it’s an exercise in creating off-site content: the material you own but doesn’t live on your website. When executed correctly, it can give publishers a huge boost in discoverability, variety, and quality, especially when making use of a highly popular platform like Medium.
Of particular note is Coca Cola’s new content strategy, called “Content 2020,” which the Content Marketing Institute praised for its originality. Coca Cola has publicly stated that it’s committed to using content to boost its brand as much as possible. Jonathan Mildenhall, VP Global Advertising Strategy and Creative Excellence, believes content is instrumental in boosting the company’s brand:
For one thing, without content, SEOs would have nothing to optimize for search engines. The metadata they add to posts is an attempt to help robots like Google and Facebook wrap their digital heads around the complexities of the content they're indexing. Every link earned by every marketer points to a piece of content, and the keywords that people type into search engines are an attempt to find—yep—content.
On Instagram, Taco Bell posts original illustrations and photos commissioned for the brand. On YouTube, Taco Bell has a number of fan-inspired series, like "For Here or To Go," which shows how to take menu items to the next level through creative ordering in-store or easy cooking hacks at home. On Twitter, Taco Bell often retweets or responds to fans' posts. In addition, Taco Bell uses Twitter to drive people to its presence on other platforms, like Snapchat. (Speaking of Snapchat, you may remember that on Cinco de Mayo 2016, Taco Bell released a filter that turned users' faces into giant tacos. It was viewed more than 224 million times that day – and no, that's not a typo!)
Content marketing is different than traditional product marketing efforts like sales collateral and other product-specific info. Content marketing includes things like educational articles, e-books, videos, entertainment, and webinars that answer specific questions people have and provide them with something they can’t get somewhere else. It’s the best way to turn your product, no matter how common, into something that is not like everyone else’s.
24. Hansens: Surfer’s guides to everything. San Diego surf shop Hansens seeks to inform surfers of every ability. Check out this infographic guide to buying the right wetsuit and blog post about making sure your wetsuit fits properly. Hansens understands that surf gear is a big purchase for the average consumer, so equipping him or her with adequate knowledge is the first step toward conversion.