Content Marketing was the buzz word in 2013, with SEO Specialists and Social Media Managers throwing the word around like it’s a new phenomenon destined to bring great brand awareness and engagement for any brand.
But the truth in the matter is that content marketing has been around for years.
It’s only now it’s been given its official name.
[blockquote style=”quote” align=”right” author=”Bill Gates, 1996″]Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. [/blockquote]
What’s the point of Content Marketing?
The origins of content marketing can be dated back to as early as the 1920’s, where big companies published free magazines to the public for the purpose of entertaining and educating them.
The focus back then was to simply offer a public service, which in turn (whether by fault or not) created an emotional connection between the brand and consumers.
Today, content marketing seems to be about creating content online to achieve set objectives; be it building links or driving traffic to websites.
Content is now being created excessively with a hidden agenda (hence the reason why Matt Cutt’s felt compelled to speak out about guest posting).
And this is where we’re all going wrong.
We need to get back to the basics and focus on how we can help, educate and entertain our target audience.
We need to get back to the basics of content marketing.
The Brand that Helps – Innocent Drinks
Innocent Drinks are the perfect example of a company that embraces content marketing whole-heartedly, tying it in closely with its brand ethos.
The company produces a lot of content and with a tone of voice which is fun and quirky, making it a ‘social’ brand at its very core.
One of the reasons why Innocent Drinks is often named in Top 100 Social Brands (last year it was at number 6) is because of its commitment and focus on charity work, which draws people even closer to the brand.
Innocent’s on-going marketing campaign, ‘Big Knits’ pulled at the heartstrings of the public this winter by highlighting the challenges older people face during the cold weather.
The campaign went viral.
The Brand that Entertains – Pepsi
You may sell a boring product but this doesn’t mean you can’t excel in content marketing.
One blogger recently wrote ‘Content marketing can’t make people love you if there is nothing there to be loved.’
I couldn’t disagree more.
Content marketing is a way to get people passionate about your ‘boring’ brand.
Pepsi is a prime example of this.
What’s so interesting about a fizzy drink?
But with a clever content marketing strategy, they’ve become a much loved brand.
Pepsi’s content marketing strategy is to entertain people, offering as much relevant and interesting content as possible.
Its Pepsi Pulse website is pure genius, publishing ‘the hottest updates from the worlds of music, sports and entertainment, plus the most important world of all – yours’.
The drinks company uses popular culture to publish timely, engaging content, delivering an entertainment service and positioning itself as a cool brand to identify with.
The Brand that Educates – American Express
Talking about ‘boring brands’ leads me onto American Express.
The same applies here, with a typically dull industry being turned into something much more useful.
American Express centres its content marketing strategy around educating people on how to succeed in business and hosts a site (OPEN forum) for business owners to share ideas and provide valuable information.
The site’s primary purpose is to “connect small business owners to information, education, and each other.”
The OPEN forum attracts thousands of monthly visitors, with hundreds of content contributors and at the point of writing this post has over 200,495 followers on Twitter.
By making the brand useful to a specific market, American Express has become indispensable to a huge number of people and has essentially become a brand people want to be associated with.
The concept of this is actually pretty simple, yet so few actually utilise it.
Lessons learnt from Big Brands
So what can we learn from these top brands?
Small businesses can emulate the success of these brands by investing in a well-planned solid content marketing strategy.
It doesn’t matter how small your brand is or whether you sell something dull, find a theme which relates to your business and base your strategy around it, keeping the fundamental rule of creating content to help, educate or entertain.
How do you create a Successful Content Marketing Strategy?
In today’s digital world, it’s imperative to think and act like a journalist, yet achieve the results of a marketer.
You need to understand what kind of content compels your target audience then you need to measure the impact and refine your strategy based on data.
What makes Content Engaging?
Coca-Cola is another brand that can be applauded for their content marketing strategy.
The company recently revealed its checklist in a video for how to ensure every piece of content is high quality and engaging.
The important questions which Coca-Cola considers when publishing are;
– Why should your target market care?
– Is it surprising?
– Is something new revealed?
– Is it appealing globally?
– Is it different to what your competitor’s offering?
It’s a lot harder to gain results from content marketing than its often touted, but it’s definitely possible if you have a detailed strategy in place.
Try and apply this checklist when you’re publishing online and you’ll likely have a very shareable piece of content on your hands.
I hope I’ve given you some food for thought, which may spark off some creative thinking for your content marketing plan.
Which brand do you think has been the most successful with its content marketing online?