As you already know, content marketing is a widely used and effective tactic for businesses of many sizes in many industries. We come into contact with it every day, and sometimes—with how good companies are these days at producing content—we may not even know it. Honing your strategy and creating content that truly speaks to your audience can help you join those ranks and take your messaging to the next level.
You likely engage in some form of content creation already, but if your content isn’t genuinely speaking to your audience to engage them, solve their problems, or even just make them laugh, it’s not as effective as it could be. If you’re a small business owner or marketer looking to strengthen your content marketing plan with learnings from successful brands, this guide is for you.
Today we’ll share some examples of effective content marketing by successful brands then distill those examples into actionable insights that you as a small-business owner can use to level up your own content marketing.
Before we do that, though, let’s cover some of the aspects that can really set your content apart from the rest.
Good content is content that engages your specific audience and provides meaningful value. This can be accomplished through educating, informing, or even entertaining your customers with great content that not only tells a story but also drives towards your business’ goals.
Whether you’re sharing information about a special interest subject, showing off cool products, or seeking to connect with people on an emotional level, it’s important to consider the wants and needs of your customers instead of just putting content out there for the sake of it.
Keeping the guiding principles below in mind as you create content will insure you stick closer to the former and avoid the latter.
With these aspects in mind, let’s dive into some examples of brands that really nail it with their content marketing strategies to see what they are doing and how you can apply their principles to your small business.
We’ll focus on four of the main types of content marketing in the examples below. If you’d like more info on the various types, visit our article on the 7 Types of Content Marketing and How You Can Take Advantage.
NerdWallet is a personal finance company founded in 2009 that provides financial services and personal finance guidance through its website and app. They’ve built a repository of blog content covering a wide variety of subjects, and—if you search online for a personal finance topic—you’re likely to find one of their posts.
Their blogging strategy is so strong due to the volume of valuable content they produce, the depth and breadth of their subject matter, and the user-friendliness of their site. Content is broken up into larger categories which allow users to explore many smaller pieces of content around bigger topics in one place.
Another key component to NerdWallet’s blogging success is the special interest nature of their subject matter. Personal finance is a topic that has a wealth of information to be shared which lends itself well to blogging.
If the nature of your business is much more specific or you focus on selling a product or service that’s fairly cut and dried, you may want to consider other forms of content marketing before embarking on the process of creating a blog. Remember to always play to your strengths.
How can I apply NerdWallet’s success to my small business?
You may not become the one-stop shop for your business’s area overnight, but you can still apply learnings from blogs like NerdWallet to optimize and strengthen your content strategy. Start by first identifying if what your business does lends itself well to blogging. Professional services, financial services, home renovation, etc. are all good candidates for a comprehensive blog.
From there make a list of all the basic topics you can think of that would make for a good blog post. If you can come up with 15-20 after a brainstorm, you’ve got a solid foundation for starting to create content that you can post to your website and share on social media.
Furthermore, if you create high quality content on helpful subjects, you can continue slotting it into your content calendar as evergreen content i.e. relevant content that's able to be shared again and again to continue building brand awareness amongst potential customers.
Outdoor Voices is a fitness and lifestyle brand headquartered in Austin, TX that specializes in functional athleisure apparel and accessories. Their strong approach to email marketing features new products, seasonal offerings, periodic loyalty rewards for existing customers, and invitations to local events held or sponsored by the company.
OV’s consistent brand voice and deep knowledge of their target audience is a major key to the success of their email marketing.
In fact, not only does Outdoor Voices send emails based on customer actions, they also allow customers to personalize the messages they’ll receive by selecting things like the style of apparel they’re interested in, the activities they do, and even their color preferences.
There’s something to be said for brand emails that don’t feel like marketing emails which are difficult to nail but very rewarding if done correctly.
Their branding is minimal and elegant with a focus on sleek product photography so their emails rarely feel like marketing material (even when they are). They really know their customers, and everything from their color palette and font choice to their messaging is geared toward their specific target audience.
How can I apply Outdoor Voice’s success to my small business?
Outdoor Voices’ email marketing success is all about establishing a consistent brand voice. OV is confident in their products and their messaging, and they are aiming it at the right people. Find what content ideas really speak to your potential customers and lean into it. One great example of relevant content is the pickleball event shown above.
They identified the sport as something their customers may be interested in and found a way to connect their online marketing with an in-person event. While it’s just one example, starting to think about these things with a multi-channel approach geared towards your most loyal customers will only yield success.
Latitude 64 is a Swedish disc golf manufacturer who have built a reputation for having an excellent YouTube channel with helpful, informative, and entertaining videos centered around learning the sport (and marketing their products).
The biggest factor to their success has been providing foundational content of their social media manager learning to play disc golf from scratch which also happens to feature information about their various offerings.
Aside from being a resource for customers of the brand, the playlist has attracted people interested in learning about the sport that may not be aware of Latitude 64, connecting their brand with helpful video content that can be seamlessly shared even outside the context of their own marketing efforts.
The power of this type of video content is multifaceted. For starters, the brand markets a line of “easy-to-use” discs, so content aimed at beginners is already poised to perform well. From there—and going back to what we were saying earlier about content providing value—Latitude 64’s videos aren’t just informative, they’re also entertaining.
The videos’ host is likable and represents someone who would likely get a lot out of their videos. This adds an extra layer of personalization to the content, since the subject of the videos is someone the ideal viewer can easily relate to.
How can I apply Latitude 64’s success to my small business?
Latitude 64’s content is successful because it is informative, entertaining, and relatable. The only resources they need to produce this type of valuable content aside from a recording device and video editor are their own products and their host.
Make videos about using your products or services, find someone on your team that enjoys being on camera, and most importantly have some fun with it! That type of authenticity and energy will come across in your content.
If you’re interested in creating video content, start small with these ideas in mind. If you don’t have personnel dedicated to production, consider taking advantage of video editing software designed for ease of use to get started.
Once you’ve produced and posted some videos, repurpose the content wherever you can to see what resonates with your customers. You may find certain videos perform well when shared on your social media or that a certain type of visual content is particularly effective in engaging your audience.
Content marketing can be a fruitful endeavor regardless of the type of small business you run or the content format you want to pursue.
If you tell an authentic, engaging story to your target audience, create great content with your most loyal customers in mind, and map everything you do back to your business goals, you’ll continue to build awareness, trust, and authority in your brand with customers new and old.
We’ve discussed some key examples in the blogging, email, and video marketing spaces, but these principles can be applied to any type of content marketing to great success.
If you want to learn more about the different ways to approach quality content marketing or get more tips on how to improve your own content production, check out the resources below to get started:
1. An example of a successful blog structure from NerdWallet, NerdWallet
2. An invitation to a local event from Austin lifestyle brand Outdoor Voices, Outdoor Voices
3. An example of product promo email, Outdoor Voices
4. Example of Latitude64’s YouTube channel, YouTube
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