Your content is only as valuable as its ability to attract audience members and compel them to engage with your business on an ongoing basis — as subscribers, customers, evangelists, or, ideally, all three. Once you have an addressable audience, your content efforts will help increase sales, gather valuable customer insights, and activate your most ardent followers as brand advocates.
Now that you understand your main audience, place yourself in their shoes. What are they searching for when they need your product or service? Make a list of basic keywords surrounding your brand, as well as any variations (‘New York painters’ and ‘New York painting,’ for example.) You know your niche well, so draw from all possible terms used for what you have to offer. Once you have these keywords, integrate them into your content. There are a few reasons why:
By 2014, Forbes Magazine's website had written about the seven most popular ways companies use content marketing.[16] In it, the columnist points out that by 2013, use of content marketing had jumped across corporations from 60% a year or so before, to 93%[17] as part of their overall marketing strategy. Despite the fact that 70% of organizations are creating more content, only 21% of marketers think they are successful at tracking return on investment.
The new strategy is already seeing strong results. Back then, there were around 10,000 employees in the Adidas LinkedIn community – which happens to be GamePlan A’s most important distribution channel. Today, that number has grown to more than 33,000, along with 673,000 general followers. Most posts link back to the GamePlan A content hub. With hundreds of likes and multiple comments per post, it’s plain to see that Adidas has a highly engaged audience.
Which organizational processes, stumbling blocks, competitor data, management goals, customer insights, business stakeholders, teams, external partners, overall marketing priorities, etc. do I need to know in order to succeed? Before even thinking about content strategy, content inventorization or content production, these crucial questions need to be known.
What is the content about? Does it talk about what you're selling, or is it more educational? Is it about content marketing, social media, conversion rate optimization, landing pages, A/B tests, or something else? Come up with a list of categories that fairly well encapsulates what you've covered through content marketing, and assign each piece a category or two. That'll allow you to come to conclusions like, "Wow, our audience engages nearly twice as much with posts that are about advertising techniques. I guess we know what they're interested in."
While all the ways American Girl connects to its audience are too numerous to cover in this one post, I’m particularly amazed by its print publications. For instance, The Care and Keeping of You is a book all about growing up for girls. It ranks second in its category (and 76th most popular among all books on Amazon.) It’s from a brand selling dolls – but the subject has nothing to do with the dolls.
When you begin to brainstorm and map out ideas for content, ask yourself, “Do I really understand my audience?” If you have any doubts as to how the idea will benefit or be useful to your audience, the answer might be “no” -- and that’s okay. Like everything else, audiences (and people) evolve, so it’s okay to go back to the drawing board in instances like these for a refresh.
What's compelling is that it's not all about the world of finance. Goldman Sachs demonstrates its worldliness by featuring influencers from all walks of life. For instance, "Talks at GS" videos include historian and author Ron Chernow sharing his thoughts about leadership, ballet dancer Misty Copeland speaking about breaking barriers in her art form, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on transforming the company so it's primed to lead the future of technology.
EXAMPLE: Insurance company Liberty Mutual built a content platform – Master This – dedicated to helping people solve home and life challenges – to build skills and worry less, as the brand describes it. While Liberty Mutual’s ultimate purpose is to drive insurance sales, the content focuses not on insurance products but on information the audience will find educational and helpful. It also has expanded access to the educational content by partnering with HowStuffWorks and Amazon’s Alexa to provide educational content through the voice-activated device.

Content marketing focuses on the tactics and execution—the actual creation, curation, and editing of content that's specifically created for the purposes of marketing. This could be anything from blog posts to the confirmation page, and is aimed at building a trusted connection between a company's products or services and the market that might end up purchasing them. It's about creating content that people not only want to consume, but that will also help them through the sales funnel.
Your business case for innovating with content marketing: By communicating your reasons for creating content, the risks involved, and your vision of what success will look like, you are much more likely to gain executive support for your strategy — and to get permission to make a mistake here and there as you figure out what works best for your business.
The content marketing examples above provide some excellent inspiration for the modern marketer that’s eager to do more with their content. Whether you work to personalize your messaging or just want to do something out of the ordinary with your content story, it’s essential that you keep your audience in mind when developing content ideas. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to have fun!
If there’s one thing to takeaway from these incredible examples of content marketing, it’s that you need to stand out from the crowd. That’s the only way that people will share and talk about your content. Don’t worry if you don’t have the time, resource or creativity to do this – there’s plenty of content marketing experts out there to help you. One thing is for sure, the power of content marketing is hard to ignore.

USAA is another example of an insurer that is thinking big, in terms of content. The financial institution has been around for more than 90 years, serving a client base made up primarily of military members, veterans, and their families. It’s a specific audience and one with which USAA knows just how to communicate. But beyond its content hub, USAA Stories, which features family, personal finance, and service-specific topics, as well as newer themes like travel in an effort to attract a broader readership, the company isn’t afraid to explore other forms of content.

Unlike traditional marketing, content marketing has no sales pitch. It does not try to directly advertise or sell a particular brand, product or service. Rather, it aims to capture mindshare with valuable, relevant information that is educational, entertaining and/or emotionally satisfying. In this way, content marketing succeeds in creating interest and awareness of the brand and its offerings.
It can come in long-form (such as blogs, articles, ebooks, and so on), short-form (such as Twitter updates, Facebook updates, images, and so on), or conversational-form (for example, sharing great content via Twitter or participating in an active discussion via blog comments or through an online forum). Susan Gunelius – KeySplash Creative, Inc., author of Content Marketing for Dummies
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