Once you’ve selected your thought leaders, it’s time to create a process for extracting their expert knowledge. Remember, your SMEs are busy people, and the last thing they probably want to do is interrupt their everyday workflow to ideate, write, edit, and publish an article. Make the process as simple for them as possible by following these steps:
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:
If you’re a small local retailer in bathroom equiment, you may limit yourself to making sure you can answer the questions of your customers and keep them loyal or make them buy more or have more people buy from you (word-of-mouth indeed). But, then again, maybe that local retailer wants to grow and decides to use content for it, which is perfectly possible (no boring or small businesses when it boils down to the possibilities of creating relevant content).
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 company continues to impress with its content hub, Out of the Blue, which publishes a mix of corporate- and consumer-interest articles that cover travel inspiration as well as inside achievements and affairs. Like the fact that in December, JetBlue released a limited edition board game called Get Packing! – two rounds of 200, actually, since the first sold out so quickly – along with a string of amusing promo clips poking fun at awkward holiday moments that might make you want to leave town. A certificate for a free round-trip ticket – one in every box – could help with that (not to mention build some serious JetBlue loyalty).
That’s why it’s exciting to see a brand like Farmers Insurance offer a modern and engaging content hub, plus consistently creative and engaging video – like a recent effort from last Halloween. Starring J.K. Simmons as Professor Nathaniel Burke (Farmers’ brand mascot since 2010), and spinning off from the success of an earlier campaign – Hall of Claims, which pokes fun how wide-ranging and far-fetched these reports can be – "The Stranger Claims" series takes on the same theme, complete with a nod to the hit Netflix show "Stranger Things."
You also need to “translate” captured content into content that’s appreciated by your audiences. And, last but not least, you need a way to manage the content you have and unlock it by making the link between content management and information management on one hand (typically not the role of marketing) and your content marketing team on the other.
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.
My husband was in this camp until he told me about a newsletter that covers trends affecting financial markets. He looks forward to receiving it each day. He explained that the newsletters didn’t have anything to do with the funds the broker was selling, but the information was solid and valuable – and it was useful research for the investments he makes.
Recently I was extremely low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this.. With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – q1ub
Let me quote the people of Arketi Group: “Today’s prospects are much more in control of the information flow, relying on trusted online resources and solution providers’ websites far more often than sales reps to identify solutions, evaluate options and develop short lists for further consideration. The role of today’s BtoB marketers in this new environment is to offer the right content, matched to the individual prospect’s level of interest”. That’s using customized content for lead nurturing, in function of your customer’s offline and digital footprints and where he is in the buying cycle.
In addition, video is big for Lowe's. Beyond the popular how-to content on Lowe's YouTube channel, the company has invested in more complex, entertaining storytelling. Take, for instance, the video series "The Weekender," which is in its third season – the first season pulled in more than 3 million views. The 15- to 20-minute episodes feature DIY expert Monica Mangin who helps homeowners transform a problem area. Guests are young and hip, and episode pages highlight the projects and products featured on the show.
What existing budgets can we tap into to better achieve the goals using content in areas where return is below expectations (and what are these areas, of course)? An example: you may have an overall budget for your website but maybe it’s better to invest in more relevant content for your buyer personas instead and putting that design makeover on hold this year. Or maybe your organization invests a bit too much in generating traffic and leads but conversions stay behind. You can turn down the volume a bit and invest more in conversion optimization and lead nurturing, using content.
21. Airbnb: The Local List. Airbnb goes a step above just offering great content on top places to eat, hang out, and amuse oneself in faroff destinations. Airbnb offers these lists as PDF downloads — perfect for downloading pre-traveling, as you don’t know what the wifi situation will be. These PDFs are a great reminder to think beyond the blog post or web page.
I use a combination of personal branding, consistent social audience building, and support in creating authentic and ongoing thought leadership content. I’ve done it for myself. I’ve done it for the companies I’ve worked for. I’ve helped activate hundreds, even thousands of thought leaders to tell better stories. I’ve done it for numerous clients. And I can do it for you.
“Content is the emotional and informational bridge between commerce and consumer. Building that bridge requires more than a budget, editorial calendar, and vision. It requires people who care, who love content, and what it can do for people. Not just what it can do for revenue, but rather how it helps people live their lives.” – Jay Baer, Convince & Convert
5. GE: A leader in B2B content. GE is truly a content-focused company. It publishes content in almost every format imaginable, with a variety of content properties with unique focuses. One great example is GE’s online magazine The Txchnologist. According to Kapost, the mag offers “an optimistic, but not utopian, take on the future and humanity’s ability to tackle the great challenges of our era.”
The app allows users to check the local toilets around their local area to see if they are clean or not. The idea behind this is that if they are clean, people can feel free to sit, but if they aren’t clean, then they may want to squat. This silly app was the perfect way to connect with customers about a real problem they face that is relevant for the brand to address.
He elaborates, “What’s the thing where when you read the first few search results you say, ‘This is great, but I wish they…’. If you have great answers to that, don’t ask ‘how do we make something as good as this?’ but say ‘how do we make something 10X better than any of these?” That’s the bar that’s been set because it’s so competitive to try to rank for terms today.”
As the U.K.’s largest tech company, Sage specializes in financial software that enables small and medium business owners to run their companies on laptops or mobile devices. Sage's mission is to help these organizations and entrepreneurs flourish in the face of harsh statistics – like the fact that half of all new businesses fail within their first two and a half years, according to Sage’s EVP of Digital Marketing Neil Morgan.
You know what? 87% of B2B marketers practice content marketing to produce more qualified leads. And 78% of marketers are preparing to spend more money on content marketing. But according to my experience, the consistently producing quality content brings more traffic to a website. It also improves engagement with targeted audiences. Not least but using images in post increase audience engagement up to 30% more than plain text.
The definition of content marketing further depends on your viewpoint and background. A B2B marketer, looking to generate and nurture leads, for instance, might look differently at it than a brand marketer, looking to cause a shift of brand perception, or a search engine optimization practitioner, trying to increase organic ranking of content in search engines. However, the rules of good content marketing and essential strategies and principles are very much alike in most cases.