12 key steps that will make your content marketing program stand out

Make your content marketing program stand out

Really great content grabs attention, delivers value to audiences, and measurably nudges prospective customers on their journey to buying – and remaining a customer.

It’s been years since content strategy was a secret weapon practiced only by marketing innovators, and mainstream marketers are doing a great job of it these days.

As a content marketer and marketing communicator myself, some top-notch examples have grabbed my attention in the past year.

I’d like to highlight twelve best practices illustrated in a few campaigns that you can adapt to your own content marketing program.

Kesha repositions herself as an inspiring feminist singer-songwriter

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A raucous young singer of party anthems in the early 2010s, Kesha eventually became embroiled in a very adult scandal with her former record producer, but she used strategic content to position her next album release as a triumph over it.

In October, 2014, Kesha alleged that her former Sony producer, Dr. Luke, abused her and she should thus be freed from her record contract, but courts ruled in favor of her record label, saying she must continue to work with his label for the duration of her contract.

This spurred public outcry and Kesha fell silent for quite a while.

In planning her comeback after a couple of years, her team employed an innovative strategy of releasing singles weekly via letters from Kesha placed in influential publications to build momentum toward the full album release.

But the weekly missives and releases didn’t just build momentum – they also repositioned Kesha as a now-matured artist and feminist leader.

The bylines (the first of which was placed in the feminist publication Lenny) were personal and inspirational, and positioned Kesha as a singer-songwriter who wants to heal the world through music, instead of simply creating just party music.

I wrote a case study about this brilliant campaign for the influential marketing communications blog Spin Sucks (read it here).

Key takeaways

  • When planning earned media placements, consider each outlet’s brand attributes and pitch your content to targets who are aligned with attributes you want to align your brand with.
  • Highlight the authenticity behind your brand whenever possible – be brave and honest about your brand from the get-go so you don’t have to reposition later.
  • Place more first-person content as you tell your brand story.


Nice content strategy served by cloud CX company Nice

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One winter morning I was surfing YouTube and was served an ad featuring an experiment by the Mythbusters, those guys on TV who use science to test the truth and reality of common myths.

It appeared to be an ad for a customer experience cloud solution, CXOne by a company called Nice, which was surprising to me.

The spot was unexpected and engaging enough to get me to click through to the campaign’s landing page and watch a bunch more of the video series.

It turned out the campaign employs a bit of irony in addition to humor – it’s ironic to use material science experiments to test something as ethereal and conceptual as customer experience and the cloud.

Now, this type of series is not necessarily completely original. We can link the strategy back to the now-iconic “Will it Blend” series by Blendtec.

But it works!

Key takeaways

  • Use paid content to grab eyeballs, then pull viewers to a landing page with more of the same type of content to offer more value.
  • Don’t be afraid to use humor and irony in your content – just use it well.
  • Celebrities involved in your campaigns will always grab attention, even if they are a surprising and unexpected match for the brand.


RuPaul’s podcast finishes first – as do its sponsors

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I recently started listening to RuPaul What’s the Tee? with Michelle Visage, and I instantly became hooked.

RuPaul and Michelle are great friends, and they manage to make listeners feel like part of the conversation as they discuss a wide range of topics from political to personal and interview celebrities.

Not only does this podcast content support the flagship RuPaul brand, but it also adds richness to the RuPaul’s Drag Race universe.

Another huge success ensconced in the main content is the native advertising ordered by sponsors such as Squarespace, Casper, Audible and Wealthfront.

What’s so engaging about these native ads is that Ru and Michelle continue to add value during the host-read sponsored content, telling stories about how they use the products in their lives and almost seamlessly maintaining their familiar, “just between us girls” tone throughout.

The Squarespace segments even include letters written in by people who have taken advantage of the promotions offering discounts on advertisers’ services.

Beyond that, the ads employ the clever tactic of adding a tracking string onto the sponsor’s site address in order for listeners to receive the promotional discounts, so advertisers and the show organizers can track engagement and sales.

Key takeaways

  • Add value in your sponsored content. Be honest with yourself – does your native advertising truly blend?
  • Measure, measure, measure! Track results any way you can.
  • Again, strive for authenticity in your content.

No boring in B2B — Concur top-of-funnel content fuels demand generation

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One of my favorite duties when I was at Concur was serving as the voice for efficiency and integration across channels in PR content creation.

A couple of years ago, the analyst relations team sponsored a report that described a maturity model of travel and expense management solutions – how companies progress from using spreadsheets to using a cloud solution like Concur.

I saw the opportunity to adapt the model into a map where prospective customers could trace their own journey and determine their own level of maturity.

We created a static infographic out of the analyst relations content, placed it in a post in the Newsroom, and promoted it via social, achieving page views and click throughs.

My team’s goal was top-of-funnel awareness, but I saw more opportunity and collaborated with field marketers to turn the static content into an interactive quiz that Concur could use in demand generation campaigns.

The analyst content, static infographic on the Newsroom and interactive quiz were all created from the same core content and succeeded in reaching audiences at multiple stages in the buyer’s journey.

Key takeaways

  • Adapt core content for multiple channels across the buyer’s journey.
  • Increase collaboration between marketing functions to create a more consistent experience for customers on their journey to purchase.
  • Remain curious and creative – something that may seem dry, like analyst content, can come to life and engage new audiences with a little work.

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