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Alistair Norman

Written by:

Alistair Norman

Oct 24, 2017

How a fearless content marketing strategy paid off for Under Armour, IBM, and GE


There are some truly inspirational brands out there in the world of content marketing. These companies are leading the pack when it comes to innovation, creativity, quality and, crucially, results.

There are many examples of fearless content marketing spanning both B2B and B2C organisations. Venerable technology companies like GE are reinventing themselves for a new digital era, while fast-growing new consumer brands like Under Armour are threatening their more established rivals with their content marketing strategy.

Here’s a look at 5 of these inspirational content marketing brands, how they’re doing it, and what you can learn from them.

Under Armour: Expert Community-Building

Young and rapidly growing sportswear brand Under Armour has built a fitness community of 165 million users, by cleverly pursuing a strategy of acquiring different fitness apps and technology platforms. These include MapMyFitness and MyFitnessPal.

The company itself is valued at around $4 billion and projects to be worth $10 billion by 2020. Community building is a crucial part of its content marketing strategy. According to Sid Jatia, Under Armour’s VP of direct-to-consumer and omnichannel digital, the company regards its communities as a channel for content and for eCommerce:

“The focus is on linking engagement with commerce so that when users reach fitness goals the brand can notify them of purchase opportunities to aid their progress.”

What you can learn from them

Invest time and resources into building your own communities, and nurture them with useful content to reap the rewards of engagement and conversion.Blog-image-insert-01.jpg

IBM: Hyper-Personalised Content

IBM’s THINK Marketing online content hub is lightyears ahead of the game with a highly personalised approach driven by their cognitive computing system, affectionately named Watson.

Whenever a user lands on the website, the technology analyses the content they consume, as well as their overall way of engaging with the site. Using this data, the site is configured to suit that individual user and serves up personalised content.

As the company’s chief digital officer Bob Lord explains:

“THINK Marketing looks a lot like a regular publishing site, but topics are rendered virtually. It’s almost limitless how the hub can configure around a particular buyer type.”

What you can learn from them

Even without a super high-tech solution, putting lots of thought into personalising content for different buyer personas will bring better engagement and conversion rates.

Taco Bell: Becoming a Broadcaster

Taco Tales’ is the American fast food company’s highly original YouTube campaign featuring a series of comical, entertaining short films that just happen to feature for example, a Taco Bell employee. Inspired by internet urban myths and stories that surface on platforms like Reddit and Twitter, the videos perfectly position the brand as fun, creative and in-tune with its young target demographic.

According to Ryan Rimsnider, Taco Bell's senior manager of social strategy:

“[We] saw the opportunity to start contributing like a fan or YouTube creator would. We're really charged with how do we continue to really bring the brand to life over time. We don't need more awareness of the Taco Bell brand, we just want people to fall more in love with us.”

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM THEM

Explore engaging new ways of telling your brand story through content that will entertain and chime with your customer base.Blog-image-insert-02.jpg

ALS Association: Amazing Virality

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Of course you do. It was all over everyone’s Facebook feeds back in 2014 and raised donations of $115 million dollars to the ALS Association during an 8-week period. It was a truly global and viral phenomenon. People across the world rose enthusiastically to the simple challenge of pouring ice cold water over themselves, sharing the video and challenging others in turn to do the same.

What began organically in a small American town quickly picked up pace, with whole cities like Boston and New York taking part in mass drenchings, and celebrities from Bill Gates to Homer Simpson getting in on the action. The explosion of awareness for the previously obscure disease was a marketer’s dream.

What you can learn from them

Harness the power of your community to create content! While global virality is hard to plan for, simple challenges or competitions are a great way to spread awareness and engage your customers.

GE: The Brand as A Media Company

General Electric is a sprawling science and technology giant with 125 years of heritage and worldwide presence, and over 300,000 employees. Not exactly a nimble startup. And yet this well established corporation is among the most exciting creators of content marketing, regularly cited in online roundups and honour rolls.

It all started in 2008, with the launch of GE Reports. The new blog was created to showcase GE’s technical research and innovation — it’s now headed up by journalist Tomas Kellner and can now be considered a fully fledged online magazine covering all the latest developments in the industry.

Then in 2015, GE broke the mould again by launching a fictional sci-fi podcast, creatively positioning themselves as technological forward thinkers with an engaging story of a cryptography team investigating alien activity. The podcast reached number one on iTunes and had 3 million downloads.

What you can learn from them

Don’t be limited to the traditional ‘bread and butter’ types of content. Formats like live video and podcast are increasingly popular with users and can be produced cost-effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Under Armour shows that community building is highly effective and creates a fertile environment for both content distribution and conversion.
  • Personalisation is increasingly vital, and IBM’s example shows how technology can be used to deliver the right experience for each user.
  • Like Taco Bell, content marketers should be looking out for ways to entertain and engage their customers through light-hearted content that resonates.
  • The ALS Association proved that huge success can be achieved by leveraging user-generated content and a simple challenge or call to action.
  • Be inspired by GE’s approach and think of your brand as a media company - experiment with video and audio formats to create and deliver original content.

Isn’t it time your content marketing went fearless? Read our latest Report with B2B Marketing Dare to be different: The state of B2B content marketing differentiation in 2017

Topics: Content Marketing Differentiation

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The state of B2B content marketing differentiation in 2017