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 71st most popular among all books on Amazon). It’s from a brand selling dolls – but the subject has nothing to do with the dolls.

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.
With almost 1 million views on YouTube, the Millie Dresselhaus video has certainly made its rounds, delighting feminists, science fans, and everyone in between – which is exactly what makes GE’s efforts so special. With hard work, talent, and a stellar strategy, the 125-year-old company’s content has managed to capture a bigger and broader audience while promoting its mission, attracting potential talent, and humanizing the enormous scope of what the company does, from developing new and innovative technologies to engineering the tools and equipment that power our homes and the world.
We’re going to start this list with one of the best content marketing examples from a big brand – Coke. For year’s Coca-Cola has been putting out innovative marketing campaigns that establish an emotional connection with their broad audience. But the particular campaign we are going to look at, which got its start in Australia is 2011, is still going strong today.

It's content that helps people find you. It might even be content that makes people fall in love with you a little. But discovery-level content is not usually the last touch before a big sale. There are many more layers of content that usually finesse that conversion. (More on that when we discuss how content can represent various stages of the funnel in ch. 3.)
The Farmers Insurance Inner Circle is a super customer-friendly resource that it created to empower the audience to become better educated about topics that, for a lot of us, go right over our heads. Farmers Insurance provides people with useful, practical information. It offers a huge variety of articles about things like taking care of your house and your car, how to prevent identity theft, what you need to know if you’re going through a divorce — basically how to deal with anything life throws at you.
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:

Tiffany’s tumblr page manages to capture the essence of the brand in its entirety. Content on the page communicates the emotion behind a Tiffany purchase along with the allure of its rich legacy. Each post is crafted to express the sense of exclusivity that comes with owning a Tiffany trinket. Tiffany & Co. has crafted a place for itself in the modern fairytale. Their content subliminally translates the same message.


“It put content marketing, as a program, on the map for USAA, where it had never been before,” says Mollie Walker, Lead Marketing Manager and Content Strategy Lead, USAA. “Over time, we hope to show that the more we grow our content marketing as a program and discipline, the more we can save on the awareness media that we have to purchase. We’re filling that gap and telling a story in between awareness and buying stages.”
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.

This should come out as a part of identifying your audience (the previous step). Figure out exactly where they go online, and don’t try to spread yourself too thin. Remember, excelling at one or two channels is much better than being only partly present on a bunch of channels. Make your goal be to get this down to no more than a handful of places online.
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

Cisco launched a new router a couple years ago and decided to use it as a case study to measure the ROI of its content marketing and social media strategies. Executives were stunned to discover that their digital campaign allowed them to reach their lead goals for $100,000 less than anticipated. LaSandra Brill, senior manager of global social media at Cisco, said that the company will use these results as the basis for future product launches:
While the goal on social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat is to connect more intimately with your audience, your goal on platforms like Facebook and Twitter is to expand that audience, drive traffic toward your website, and start conversations in your industry. Do some basic market research to discover which platforms your buyers are on, and mold your content to their expectations.
Marketers are now moving toward a more centralized mode of social sharing, putting their investments only in proven platforms they’ve actually found traction on. This correlates to higher line-item ROI and a more consistent experience for social followers. Integrating social distribution directly into the content marketing supply chain amplifies the total reach of your assets and allows you to quickly see how engaging your content is, while receiving real-time feedback from online users.
Prioritize social channels. Focus on the social channels where your audience is most active and engaged. You don’t need to be everywhere all the time; identify where your audience members live, and get your content in front of them on those platforms. For example, Influence & Co. primarily uses Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to connect with our different audiences.
Infographics. These are generally long, vertical graphics that include statistics, charts, graphs, and other information. If you need some examples, here are 197 infographics on the topic of content marketing curated by Michael Schmitz, head of Content Lab at Publicis, Munich. Infographics can be effective in that if one is good it can be passed around social media and posted on websites for years. You can get a professionally designed infographic by hiring a contractor on a site like oDesk or if you want to remove some of the risk you can go with a company like Visua.ly. A decent infographic will usually cost you at least $1,000 to have designed, but can cost several thousand dollars if you are hiring a contractor or agency to include strategy and planning, research, copywriting, and design. There is also the matter of promoting that infographic to bloggers and the media. Or you could set up a board on Pinterest and curate infographics on a topic related to your business. That is also a form of content marketing, and it costs nothing but your time. Hey, it worked for Michael.

Your overall positioning will influence traffic types and patterns, and your traffic patterns will also influence your SEO standing. It’s all a two-way street, and the rules sometimes change over time. To this end, having your SEO on point can be challenging and having an SEO-friendly website can take a while to build (search engines do tend to favor more established businesses).
To adapt the sample plan for content marketing, you could adjust the marketing mix section to focus specifically on existing content, and your methods of distributing and promoting it. In the marketing implementation section, you can focus on the type of content your brand will create, and identify who will create it. That section of the sample is an ideal location for an editorial calendar.

Last year, IKEA also made a foray into the AMSR world with a 25-minute video that showed a woman decorating a dorm room with IKEA products. (AMSR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, is the pleasant, tingling feeling some people get while hearing soothing sounds like whispering – or, in the case of the IKEA video, bed sheets being smoothed.) The video has been viewed more than 1.4 million times on YouTube.
'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.'
It’s important that every piece of content has a Call-to-Action (CTA) that’s direct and brand-focused – otherwise, your content isn’t really likely to generate leads. The cool part about social marketing, however, is that you can get creative with this. Instead of just saying, “Buy this product,” for example, you can offer a free e-book or trial offer to let users have access and decide for themselves whether or not your product or service is valuable.

While the goal on social media sites like Instagram or Snapchat is to connect more intimately with your audience, your goal on platforms like Facebook and Twitter is to expand that audience, drive traffic toward your website, and start conversations in your industry. Do some basic market research to discover which platforms your buyers are on, and mold your content to their expectations.
Prioritize social channels. Focus on the social channels where your audience is most active and engaged. You don’t need to be everywhere all the time; identify where your audience members live, and get your content in front of them on those platforms. For example, Influence & Co. primarily uses Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to connect with our different audiences.
People are asking questions and looking for information via search engines like Google, and you want your business to be at the top of the search results. Answering people’s questions via blog posts, e-books, videos, and other content assets is a key way to make this happen. Of course, showing up is only the first step, but it’s essential if you want to reap the benefits of content marketing.
Last January, Marriott released the 35-minute "Two Bellmen Three," set in Seoul, Korea. The goal of the film: to highlight Marriott's Asian properties and capture a piece of the wedding market. As part of the release, Marriott offered "Two Bellmen"-themed wedding, food, and spa packages at participating hotels. To date, "Two Bellmen Three" has more than 9 million YouTube views.
Ally Bank is a completely online bank that’s made a name for itself through “disruptor” strategies. The bank has a reputation for coming up with creative ways to get people to think long and hard about their money. One example was a game called Ally Big Save, which only worked during the commercials of the NFL big championship game. In the midst of the football game, Ally’s app was downloaded 65,000 times, and more than a million people visited the game’s microsite.

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.
Most of what is done through the advent of content marketing is done in hope that businesses can obtain the reader's contact information. Whether the readers are subscribing to your newsletter, or simply filling out forms to access eBooks or other helpful tools, they are granting you future contact with them by giving you their personal email address.

Industry Forums: Posting content on respected industry forums adds a level of authority and brand reach your company may not have had before. Sites like Business Insider or Forbes are ideal for a more general business management audience, but niche publications that are exclusive to your industry can be even better channels through which to target your core audience.
Whether you’re on a team of b2b marketers or you’re a small business owner, running A/B split tests is crucial if you want to know for certain which headlines, calls-to-action and types of content work best for your readers. Once you know what strategies work best for you, your work becomes that much more effective–and your overall content marketing strategy that much clearer.
"From a marketing standpoint and strategy, it is absolutely a content-first one…We want people to learn and engage through storytelling – and branded content is a big piece of that, both from the original branded content that we are creating, and the ones where we are partnering with publishers to do it in a native format," says Liz Matthews, Senior Vice President of Global Brand and Creative at Dell Technologies.
3. Interviews: While many media companies use interviews as the core of their content offerings, take a page from Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, who specifically extends his on-air interviews to be used as unique web-only content....Consider talking to key people related to the topic. For many businesses, this means your employees, as well as outside experts.
The other way around, several ‘old’ and new principles and processes of content marketing but also of social business, web content management, web design, analytics, publishing and more can be applied to other marketing tactics to make them perform better. Finally, tactics such as search, analytics, social etc. can play a role in detecting content needs and in optimizing content for specific goals/segments and making it available through the channels and touchpoints that matter. The latter part (can) also include service, sales, advertising, social sharing, cross-channel marketing campaigns, custom publishing, etc.
Earned media is any press mention, feature, or article that your company earns in an external outlet. It exposes your brand to new, larger audiences; builds your influence as an industry leader; and offers the third-party validation that your content simply cannot achieve on its own. Examples include guest-contributed content or guest posts, press mentions, and other PR efforts.
In this pursuit, content helps companies equip their customers for success. Content shows buyers optimal uses for companies’ products and services, encouraging customers to see the good more than the bad. With a content strategy focused on customer success, businesses can devote fewer resources to putting out fires and more resources to growing their brands.
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:
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.”
Be sure to talk frankly about the outcomes they should expect from content marketing. Brand building? Check. Helps your social efforts? Check. Increases your audience? Check. But because most content marketing sits up at the awareness stage of the funnel, it's not realistic to expect customers will go en masse from reading one blog post to buying all the things.

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.
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