A few weeks ago, I wrote a post summarizing a few content marketing predictions from thought leaders Joe Pulizzi, Jay Baer, and Ann Handley. During their roundtable discussion with Pardot’s own Mathew Sweezey, the three content experts shared some of their favorite B2C and B2B content examples from the past year (and a few that are even older!). Naturally, as a content marketer myself, I couldn’t resist writing about them.
If you’re looking for some ideas to inspire your content this year, the following examples are a great place to start — and they’ve been endorsed by some of the biggest names in the content industry! While many of these come from B2C companies, Joe Pulizzi notes that there are still lessons B2B marketers can learn from them: namely, that this year we’ll see a continuing shift from branded content to “content brand.” If you read my last article, you may remember that “content brand” refers to content created around the audience, rather than around the brand. If you didn’t read it, well, now you know!
Let’s take a look at a few of these pieces of content below.
Qualcomm’s Spark Platform
Qualcomm is a B2B company that aims to educate and improve the world through mobile technology breakthroughs. Their Spark Platform, or their “newsroom,” is one method used to carry out that education, and has been a critical audience engagement tool for the company. As you can see in the screenshot below, the site functions as a content hub filled with articles and videos. The goal of the site? To “spark” conversations by acting more like a publisher than a marketer — a valuable lesson for the B2B marketers out there who are trying to reach a less and less receptive audience.
Chango’s The Programmatic Mind
This is one of my personal favorites, from a programmatic advertising company called Chango. Chango’s The Programmatic Mind is a digital magazine targeted toward CMOs living in an increasingly digital world. The website portion of this campaign teases the full, downloadable editorial piece by displaying excerpts from some of the top articles, while the magazine itself is available for download at the bottom of the page. Personally, I love the design of this piece and the nod to our roots in print advertising (once mainstream, and now back with a “retro” vibe). The lesson here? Don’t be afraid to try something a little different to break through the noise. The payoff can be huge.
John Deere’s The Furrow Magazine
Joe Pulizzi considers The Furrow to be the shining example of content marketing success. The kicker is that John Deere’s magazine, targeted toward farmers and ranchers, was first published in 1895 with the goal of educating farmers about new technologies and business ownership, rather than selling them on John Deere products. This focus on educating rather than selling was a revolutionary idea at the time, which is why The Furrow is considered by many to be the first example of content marketing as we know it today.
The magazine, now available in both print and digital formats, has been published in 12 languages in more than 40 countries, reinforcing the value of focusing on education over “branded content,” which you may recognize as the foundation of modern-day content marketing.
Airbnb’s Pineapple Magazine
If you haven’t quite caught on yet, print publications have been seeing a revival over the past year. Airbnb swept in during the tail end of 2014 with their own print magazine, called Pineapple. The publication, currently available only in print (but with a digital launch coming soon), features “honest” stories and photographs collected from people in communities around the world. It is “a crossroads of travel and anthropology,” focused more on education and inspiration than on Airbnb itself (sensing a theme, yet?).
Chipotle’s Scarecrow Video & “Cultivating Thought” Campaign
Traditionally, Chipotle’s content focuses on changing the way people think about fast food. In late 2013, Chipotle launched their Scarecrow campaign, which included a short animated video (below) and an accompanying iOS game. The video, which now has almost 14 million views, promotes their anti-factory message by displaying a bleak future where factory farming dominates the food landscape. The ad and game were touted by many as a bold and innovative example of content success, while a few were more skeptical of the message. Either way, the campaign went viral and sparked conversation after conversation, a majority of them positive.
More recently, Chipotle made another bold move by asking ten notable writers to create original stories to print on the cups and packaging they use in their franchise locations, called their “Cultivating Thought” campaign. I myself recently read a story by Toni Morrison on my cup while enjoying a steak burrito bowl. While certainly unconventional for an establishment like Chipotle, this campaign has been a great way to extend their mission to engage customers with innovative ideas and cultural issues.
What other inspiring content ideas have you seen over the past year? What do you think about the examples above? Let us know in the comments, and check out the full webinar recording to hear more about what Joe Pulizzi, Jay Baer, and Ann Handley have to say about the 2015 content landscape.