When content marketing started becoming increasingly popular, it was believed by some that content marketing would be a passing fad, among others given the huge increase of content created. Early observers and practitioners called this the ‘content marketing backlash‘. Another term – that expressed this sentiment, was introduced later and was contested by Joe Pulizzi – was ‘content shock‘.
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.
That top-of-funnel position doesn't mean it's impossible to demonstrate the value of content. It just means you need to build a more complex model to understand and show how content really contributes to your conversions. These models can provide a good estimate of the value of your content, but they are, at best, an estimate, so keep that in mind before you tell the boss that if you can get the funds for one blog post it'll bring in exactly $1200 worth of leads.
If you are considering influencer marketing, you can take a note from GE. Find the right influencers for your market or industry, and make sure that they have a following that can benefit your brand. Then, consider what you can offer these influencers in return for their help with your campaign. It may be free products, money, or sometimes just exposure to an even wider audience.
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.
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.

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.
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.
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.”

James tells stories for a living. Sometimes they are true. Always they are crafted to help brands delight, educate and funny-bone-tickle their audiences into coming back for more. He’s super passionate (read: obsessive) about ecommerce content marketing. James is dedicated to teaching ecommerce brands how to create their own repeat-customer-generating media empire. Keep an eye out for his online ramblings - you can expect a generous helping of lightbulb moments and cheeky guffaws.

If you’re ready to jump into content production and want to start writing right away, I understand. But at some point, you’ll need to define why you create content and what you’re trying to achieve with it. The decisions you make in this chapter will give you a strong foundation for your content marketing plan — and make you stand out as a content publishing guru.
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."
That’s what Raise the Bar does, by compiling a “daily digest of timely, must-read posts on sales, marketing and growth engineering.” And, that was the intent all along. In a 2016 blog post announcing the launch of the newsletter, Mattermark’s Co-founder and CEO, Danielle Morrill, wrote, “We’re turning our focus toward sifting through the mountains of content out there around sales, marketing, and growth to help the community of DOERS who grow companies.”
Some parts of your strategy should stay consistent even as your content marketing program grows and evolves — namely, your mission and business goals. In fact, these two things are so key that you may want to put them on a Post-it note so you can keep them in view whenever you are working on your content. (For example, at CMI, we use them as part of our acceptance criteria for every editorial content submission we receive.)
And from the looks of Here, Away’s impeccably cool, new digital magazine, it's not kidding around. A curated selection of hip photography and the occasional illustration invites readers to explore everything the site has to offer, with striking typographical choices drawing attention directly to the headlines (each appearing in a distinct yet complementary font).
It may be that the real struggle you face with your client or boss is that they're afraid their industry isn't sexy enough for content marketing. It's not true—anything is interesting if it's framed well and shown to the right people. Your challenge here is to find that perfect angle to pitch to show them just how interesting content marketing for boring industries can be.
“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.”

Since then, Marriott has delivered on that goal, with many of its brands releasing bespoke films dedicated to further their reputations and drive revenue. The 2015 short film, "French Kiss," for example, drove more than $500,000 in Marriott bookings in less than 60 days. Renaissance Hotels has released two seasons of "The Navigator’s Table with Andrew Zimmern," which highlights the chef meeting with tastemakers in different cities. Courtyard by Marriott showcases its status as the official hotel for the NFL through a video series that has racked up more than 1 million YouTube views.
We don’t consider marketing campaigns, even if multi-channel and customer-centric, with lots of content as content marketing either as 1) they have existed forever and are not an indication of content marketing maturity and 2) content marketing is an ongoing effort. An example of why this makes sense: we often notice that brands winning content marketing awards for campaigns have websites – their predominant online presence – that don’t even respect the basics of offering the relevant content potential and existing customers in the broadest sense HAVE to be able to find. Again, this doesn’t mean that good marketing campaigns aren’t characterized by the right content, among others.

In 2016, the company launched GamePlan A, a digital magazine uniquely developed to build company culture and attract and retain employees. “Designed for those who believe in the power of sport, GamePlan A is here to make work life better, more inspiring, and fun, be it at Adidas or anywhere else,” reads the site. It’s “a mindset – and a platform…tackling work life with an athlete’s heart.”
The Beehive, Bumble’s blog, puts out a variety of strong, timely content fit for its broadening audience. To celebrate the new year, for instance, it launched a series called "You, First", which features stories about well-being and self-care. It’s these kinds of ideas that permeate Bumble's social channels as well, with original and carefully curated content sharing the spotlight on each platform – like captivating graphics and witticisms on Instagram for its more than 455,000 followers.
Imagine that, for reasons entirely outside of your control, there was a media and industry blackout of your work. Imagine that, due to some controversy or sudden change in public tastes, you were suddenly persona non grata. Imagine if no publisher, no crowdfunding platform, no retailer, no distributors, and no investors would touch what you’ve made.”
Want to get inspired, or get a better understanding of what killer content marketing looks like? We’ve compiled 75 of our favorite content efforts into our latest e-book, Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples. Updating one of our most popular e-books of all time, this year’s collection illustrates best practices for a wider range of tactics and formats – from fresh takes on content marketing mainstays like blogs and microsites to next-gen innovations that capitalize on the latest digital media technologies and trends.
Since then, Marriott has delivered on that goal, with many of its brands releasing bespoke films dedicated to further their reputations and drive revenue. The 2015 short film, "French Kiss," for example, drove more than $500,000 in Marriott bookings in less than 60 days. Renaissance Hotels has released two seasons of "The Navigator’s Table with Andrew Zimmern," which highlights the chef meeting with tastemakers in different cities. Courtyard by Marriott showcases its status as the official hotel for the NFL through a video series that has racked up more than 1 million YouTube views.
Yet, not everyone is ready to sign up for Plated on the first visit, and the company takes that into account. A newsletter subscription button allows people to sign up by simply entering their email addresses. Or, they can become one of Plated's 279,000 Facebook followers, 99,200 Instagram followers, or 21,000 Twitter followers. To engage its community – and show how easy it is to create Plated meals – Plated often reposts images from users who have cooked Plated meals and shared them with the hashtag #platedpics. In addition, Plated shares the five best photos of the week on Morsel, in an ongoing blog series.
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.
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