Looking for inspiration? Here are a handful of very different content marketing examples worth examining. We’ve covered a lot of ground in this column over the past few months, from the importance of relationships to evaluating appropriate channels to measuring your content marketing’s effectiveness. In some of those columns, we’ve looked at examples of great content marketing, but I thought it would be helpful to gather a small collection of samples for inspiration. Here’s are 4 of my favorites. These aren’t necessarily the “greatest of all time,” to borrow a phrase from Muhammad Ali; I’ve chosen them because they represent different ways to be memorable and because I hope they’ll inspire great ideas for you to use in your own content marketing.

Get People Involved
I just read this week that Hasbro has launched a campaign asking people to save their favorite Monopoly piece. Between now and February 5, 2013 you are invited to vote for the token you most want Monopoly keep. Voting takes place on the Monopoly Facebook page. As the article says, the least voted-for token “goes directly – and permanently – to jail.”

Talk about great content marketing. The campaign itself creates excitement, gets fans involved and rekindles nostalgia for the game in people who probably haven’t thought about Monopoly in a decade or more.

Even better, they’ve taken steps to capitalize on the excitement, releasing a limited edition of the game that includes all the current pieces and all the new candidates to replace the losing piece. You get a vote to save your favorite piece and a vote for your favorite candidate to replace the losing piece from five possibilities: toy robot, helicopter, cat, guitar or diamond ring.

(By the way, I came across this on Flipboard – a great tool for any content marketer or news junkie – and have to admit that this is the first time I’ve read an article in USAToday while sitting anywhere but a hotel coffee shop.)

Hasbro’s approach is worth looking to for inspiration if you’re a B2C brand with an emotional connection to your audience. (Even if that connection is somewhat dormant.) The social media aspect is worth examining for B2B audiences, too, though Facebook is probably not the channel for most B2B marketers.

Make ‘Em Laugh
I doubt there’s ever been a better way to waste time than the internet. But that doesn’t mean humor is always going to make for effective marketing. Beneath the yuks, there has to be a strong message if humor is going to further your content marketing goals. One fantastic example, and a real granddaddy of content marketing greatness, is the Blendtec video series, “Will It Blend?”

It’s not just enormously enjoyable to watch a “scientist” destroy cell phones, iPads, or Justin Bieber CDs. It also makes it plainly obvious that the Blendtec is one powerful blender. Will this work for you? Well, video is tough to beat as a delivery mechanism. People love watching video, and the search engines reward it in SEO terms.

The bigger question, though, is can you compete? No one cares whether your budget is a fraction of Blendtec’s – they just want to be entertained. If you don’t have the creativity or skills in-house and can’t afford to hire pros who do, you don’t really stand a chance. Dollar Shave Club is another firm with great a video. But unless you have a CEO who is really comfortable on camera, don’t try this at home.

Perfect Timing
Is there any better time for a welcome distraction than when you kid has scraped her knee? Band-Aids to the rescue.
1.Apply Muppets Band-Aid to the scraped knee.
2.Fire up the app on your smartphone
3.Sigh in relief as the video plays and the crying stops

Here again we have video, but we also have a really wonderful tie between a product that doesn’t generally grab many people emotionally and a product that does.

The take-away here: seek out connections like this – whether for content marketing or for your philanthropic giving – and you’ll be more likely to rise above the noise. The use of really cool tech toys, like the augmented reality used here, can also help spread the message.

Remain Relevant
If you’ve spent any time thinking about content marketing, you’ve probably heard of The Furrow from John Deere. Frequently cited as the original content marketing vehicle, it’s a publication that John Deere has made available to customers since before the turn of the century. (The turn from the 19th to the 20th …)

It’s a great example of sticking to your knitting – knowing your audience, knowing their interests, and recognizing how addressing their needs provides you with the opportunity to present your products without a hard sell. Yes, The Furrow is available online now, but it has stuck to its formula of serving an audience it knows well with information Deere knows they want.

The lesson here is to not dive into what’s hot just because it’s hot – choosing a channel should be one of the last decisions you make. First you have to you determine who you’re trying to reach, what they’re interested in, and how you can fill a need for them. A channel or channels should present itself pretty naturally once you’ve answered those questions.

I’d love to hear your favorite content marketing examples – and why they work for you.

 

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