Content marketing is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing and distributing content for a targeted audience online. It is successfully used by a business in order to attract attention, which then generates a higher level of sales, or increase online sales, expand customer base, increase brand awareness, improve credibility and engage an online community of users. Today, traditional marketing is getting less and less efficient, so the idea and assumptions of good content marketing may be crucial for those who want to gain success and turn themselves into highly prospering entrepreneurs.
Content marketing needs to be focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience, ultimately driving profitable consumer action. What is incredibly important regarding content marketing, however, is that it has to be valuable and this is the part that has to be learned by heart by anyone who wants to base their campaign on content marketing. Highlighting the importance of the word “valuable” changes the definition of content marketing from one that could describe almost any form of advertising or marketing. Here, the value is incredibly important, because content marketing’s goal is to provide as much value for as large a part of your target audience as possible.
What Differs Content Marketing from Traditional Marketing?
As I’ve mentioned before, traditional marketing is getting less and less effective, so understanding the differences between these two marketing approaches may get you one step closer to success. To understand the differences and the importance of content marketing to your business, it is important to follow the four steps of buying cycle.
Step 1 – Awareness – before awareness, a customer may have a need, but they are not aware there is a solution to achieve satisfaction.
Step 2 – Research – once a consumer knows there is a desirable solution, they will perform research to educate themselves, helping them to find a solution that will fit their needs.
Step 3 – Consideration – the consumer starts comparing different products from different sellers to make sure they’re getting a high-quality product at a fair price.
Step 4 – Buy – Finally, the customer makes their decision.
When it comes to content marketing, the most important are the first two steps of the buying process – raising awareness of solutions and educating consumers about a product they may have never considered before. While traditional marketing focuses on consideration and deciding on what to choose, content marketing does something more – it makes people get involved, know the product better and ultimately desire to possess it – that’s how content marketing works. The trick is to create valuable content that touches people’s minds, not only during the exposure of the TV ad, but also in their everyday life.
Content Marketing in Practice
Although the term ‘content marketing’ was first used in 1996 by John F. Oppedhal, who led a roundtable for journalists at the American Society of Newspapers Editors, the history of content marketing goes back to the XIX century. 1895 is the year when John Deere launched the Furrow, a magazine providing information on how to become more profitable farmer. It is still in circulation, reaching 1.5 million readers in 40 different countries. It’s a good example of a ‘how-to magazine’, offering great and desirable content which continues to broaden its range of users all over the world. What needs to be highlighted is the fact that, here, the only thing which caused such big traction and a high number of readers was brilliant content, nothing more.
Today, many leading brands on the market successfully follow the rules of content marketing. It helps them to gain traction, convince potential customers to want the product and get them involved emotionally.
Below, there are some examples of the best content marketing campaigns from all over the world. Another rule of effective content marketing is to observe and learn how the biggest fish in the pond create their campaigns and what tricks they use because, if they succeed, it may be worth spending some time to learn from the best.
The Most Original Content Marketing Campaigns
Samsung – Selfie Worth More than Oscar
Everyone saw this picture, but maybe not all know that it was worth 20 million dollars – that’s the money designated by Samsung for the selfie of the biggest Hollywood stars, such as Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and the host of the 86th Academy Awards ceremony – Ellen DeGeneres. But how did it all happen? Samsung was the official sponsor of the ceremony in 2014 and, according to The Wall Street Journal, ABC suggested Ellen DeGeneres to take a photo with the brightest stars at the ceremony, using a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. During the breaks, Ellen was also taught by the actors on how to use the mobile and, after that, she took a photo which eclipsed the whole ceremony itself. The photo on Twitter was retweeted by more than 3 million people in just a few hours!
Of course, it is an example of a well-known product placement, but Samsung went one step further, as the content they’ve promoted went viral and gained higher traction than any other product before. What made it so successful? Of course the presence of well-known and admired people helped to make it go viral. It wasn’t an ordinary photo, either. It was a selfie, released at a time when everyone was overwhelmed by the idea of selfie – it was just the best time to use what people like and desire to create the best advertising content. So, as can you see regarding content marketing, it is incredibly important to understand what people like and what may attract their attention.
The selfie was a great choice, it went viral and even though maybe not all of us remember who were the winners of Oscars 2014 – everyone remembers the selfie. The photo was expensive, that’s true. Samsung paid a lot of money but, while it was certainly worth it, it doesn’t have to be like that.
Dumb Ways to Die – Not so Dumb Campaign
An inspiration for this content marketing campaign was a risky behavior of the youth at the metro station in Melbourne. Warning and cautions communicated in a traditional way that didn’t hold young people back. They were still behaving perilously in the metro station’s area. A lack of positive effects from previous campaigns made Melbourne’s council promote safe behavior through social media.
That is why the ‘Dumb Ways to Die Campaign’ was created. The short video, accompanied with nice music in the background and a bit of humor, shows its viewers diverse way to die. The video went worldwide and, after a while, creators designed games, gadgets and t-shirts with the characters from the video. The Dumb Ways to Die song was covered numerous times and the original video was viewed by 30 million people after just one month. Those who saw the footage were touched by the cause so strongly that it was present in newspapers, TV programs and schools all over the world. What is the most important, in this case, is that it found its way to the youth, which was sharing the campaign and stopping their risky behavior in the metro station area.
It’s a very famous example of content marketing. This case shows how to use well-designed content via social life and how to make decent use of it.
Snickers – The Beating Player
From the Italy-Uruguay game in 2014 most of the football lovers remember not the score, but the beating player Luis Suarez who attacked Giorgio Chiellini, Italy’s representation player. People around the world heard the news promptly and Snickers decided to create a marketing advantage from this situation. They’ve published an ad on their social media channels – mostly on Facebook and Twitter – with the slogan “More satisfying than Italian”. Furthermore, it was tagged with the most popular hashtags – #worldcup and #luissuarrez.
The ad shortly gained more than 46,000 retweets and 4,000 shares on Facebook. During these first few days, Snicker’s visibility in social media increased by more than 130%. Using a football pitch accident was a success. It is one of the best examples of real-time marketing – Snickers responded to the situation quickly and it was worth it. Luis Suarez is a very good, short tempered football player, but what is also important is the fact that he has millions of fans all over the world – the Snickers brand decided to use this and connect them with their product, bringing them closer. The result was gigantic.
Effective content marketing demands its designers to be up to date and know what’s going on. A great sense of timing and skillful product presentation will guarantee a successful real-time content marketing campaign.
Bon Appetite Magazine – Tasty Podcasts
Bon Appetite is an American food and entertaining magazine with a long publishing history. The first issue was released in 1956 and, since then, it is published monthly. In 2014, the publishing company decided to take a step which provided a breath of fresh air. In this year, Bon Appetite launched a podcast called the “Bon Appetite Foodcast”. The series is hosted by editor Adam Rapport and has featured notable guests such as Ina Garten, Gordon Ramsey, Mark Bittman and many other people who have something cool to say about food.
Of course, not every company needs a podcast but, if you can schedule great and well-known guests and figure out the tech specs, this can be meaningfully channeled to engage with storytellers in the long term. It is also a good idea to keep a listener more involved than a regular reader. Podcasts last 35 minutes – much longer than Bon Appetite’s readers would be probably engaged with a single article on their site.
Good content makes people more involved and engaged – people will stick with a podcast much longer than they would linger on a web page and they will subscribe to receive this content directly on their smartphones every week. That’s how it works for Bon Appetite’s Foodcast. People are interested in topics and they like the guests invited to the program, so they want to be up to date with the newest podcasts available. Over time, the range of the people involved broadens.
Coca-Cola – Share a Coke
The 2015 summer campaign was one of the best marketing campaigns in Coca Cola’s history. During this season, the iconic logo was replaced on 2-ounces bottles with 250 of the country’s most popular names. Everyone had a chance to have a personalized bottle of coke with his or her name printed on it, and all of these consumers were encouraged to share those bottles with friends and family on social media.
During this campaign, customers were prompted to participate and create online media content. This case shows how to make people feel at ease and happy with starting their own social media conversation, instead of making them aware that they are promoting the Coca-Cola Company. The brand connected with consumers on personal level and – while was mainly aimed at millennials, a group of consumers who place a high value on self-expression, personal storytelling and being visible on social media – the Share a Coke campaign gave people the ability to do it all.
Share a Coke is great, call to action phrase. This slogan prompts consumers to buy a coke, to share their stories online and create valuable content for the brand.
Denny’s – A Pleasant Chat with a Pancake
Denny’s is a full-service pancake house, coffee shop restaurant chain opened in 1953. It operates over 1,600 restaurants in the US, Canada, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Philippines and more. The restaurant is well known for always being open, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert around the clock. It is a restaurant with a sixty-year tradition, but it is still excellent at advertising and designing the best marketing campaigns.
Both the funny Tumblr account and the articles on Denny’s blog make ensure this brand is still up to date. Though the content is sometimes downright weird, it creates a positive outcome and people constantly like the brand no matter what. In August 2016, the company went one step further when it launched a live Q&A with Denny’s pancake. It gained an incredible level of traction, with 11 thousand viewers who were happily asking questions and listening to the pancake’s answers. No one imagined that an interview and the possibility to talk with an anthropomorphic pancake would gain such enormous attention and interest from the audience.
People love the pancake from the video, which transfers to affection for the company. That’s a little odd, but it works – when enough people respond to something odd, it becomes ingenious.
Honey Maid – Commercial that Celebrates Families
Honey Maid are whole grain biscuits that have been around for a long time. In 2014, two years after the brand was relaunched, Honey Maid debuted with its “This is Wholesome Campaign”. Campaign creators depicted a diverse collection of American families (same-sex couples, blended and biracial families). This is a case where a very mainstream brand looked for broad appeal in a very important matter.
Often when a brand like this – widely known and with a long tradition – decides to do such things, people get interested and start spreading the message further. Of course, the topic might seem controversial and it made some people comment on the campaign in a very negative way. Honey Maid created another video in response to these haters, in which they created big “love” writing made of their negative comments and letters.
Historically, the brand’s always been used in recipes, but then the company has gone from that, to the brand people want and choose to use – all because of the message they’re sending out to the world. Recipients of the campaign saw real American families and, probably, they had something in common with them and that’s why the word was authentic and ready to be followed and spread out wider.
As you see, there are many different ways to create original content marketing not only for big companies but also for startups all around the world. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a podcast, a little ad, or even a video – the crucial thing is that it is good and well-planned content. Once you’ve created a brilliant content it may be easier to look for investors and gain a success via means of crowdfunding.
Image Credits: SNICKERS CC0, Bon Appétit CC BY-SA 3.0, Denny´s, Wikimedia Commons CC0