Back in the late 90's there were a few brands that saw the internet as an opportunity to create their own information and entertainment destination to better serve their customers and define and promote their brand. At the time I thought they were crazy and I was wrong since they were actually ahead of their time.
Fifteen years later, Content Marketing is growing at break neck speed with no hints of slowing down. Brand marketers are continuing to shift gears and adopt this discipline as a key element of their marketing strategy. Some brands have gone as far as creating entire divisions of the company devoted to content and essentially becoming their own publishers or even buying digital publishers that are in-line with their brand identity.
Here I will share some of the companies that I think really "get it" (unlike I did back in 1998) and are doing a great job of providing their targets audiences with information and entertainment that not only meets their customers needs but provide them with a deeper connection to the brands themselves.
American Express created OPEN Forum to serve the needs of SMBs. They position it as a place to "Exchange Advice. Make Smart Decisions." The provide insights from industry experts, they provide members with a forum to get advice from others and share their own advice. They highlight key topics like Funding, Company Culture, Marketing, Design & Development and PR. And they feature articles and key topics that are trending amongst their members. They have created a vibrant and thriving community.
Johnson & Johnson purchased BabyCenter back in 2001. It was a smart strategic decision for a company with a large division devoted to providing safe and reliable product for moms and children. BabyCenter provides moms with trusted advice from experts around the globe, friendship with other moms, and support that is remarkably right at every stage of their child's development. It is the go-to resource for moms and moms-to-be and a perfect solution to providing J&J customers with the expert advice and insight they crave.
Best Western Hotels relaunched their brand’s redesigned blog YouMustBeTrippin in June of this year. It was first launched in 2008, and features contributors with a wide range of related expertise from business to family travel. It also offers more niche content that showcases the brand’s affinity partnerships with brands like Harley-Davidson®. In addition, they made sure that their content is easy to read on any mobile device since they are seeing more of their customers access their content through mobile.
General Electric has been blogging since 2008 when it launched GE Reports. GE Reports is a daily, award-winning online magazine. The website and its companion Twitter handle feature stories about innovation, science and technology, as well as viewpoints on important issues regarding GE and the world. And they have many others blogs to serve the needs of their various customers segments. Ideas Lab provides thought leaders across industry, government, academia and non-profit communities with the platform to explore how new ideas, innovations and public policies will transform business, industry and the global economy – today, tomorrow and beyond.
IBM also publishes many blogs to serve the various needs of their customers for example, A Smarter Planet is where people discuss topics and points of view related to IBM’s Smarter Planet initiatives. They seek to engage a global audience in thoughtful dialogue around the idea of leveraging smarter technologies to improve the world in which we live. Some other examples are the IBM Impact, Social Business Insights, The IBM Software Community and several more.
Intel publishes the Blogs@Intel. The network of Intel technology blogs feature Intel’s top leaders, researchers and technologists who share their perspectives and invite discussion on the issues they and their customers are facing today. Blogs@intel offer an “inside look” at Intel’s operations and provides opportunities for customers to exchange ideas directly with their employees.
Red Bull has gone as far as creating a stand alone company called Red Bull Media House which it launched in 2007. Red Bull Media House describes themselves as a multi-platform media company with a focus on sports, culture, and lifestyle. And they offer a wide range of premium media products and compelling content across media channels as diverse as TV, mobile, digital, audio, and print, with core media offerings that appeal to a global audience under the Red Bull umbrella. They literally think and act like a media organization.
The North Face publishes a blog called Never Stop Exploring. It's written for "The North Face Athletes" and community. The provide articles on everything from rock climbing and hiking to running and skiing and beyond. They also offer a speaker series from notable icons in their sports field. It's entertaining, interesting and visually appealing. It aligns with the North Face brand and meets the needs of The North Face customer.
Whole Foods launched Dark Rye in 2012. They explore food, art, health and sustainable living. The site features compelling people and content through storytelling with video, photography, recipes and articles. And it tells stories of people crafting a more sustainable, creative and beautiful world. It won Best Group Food Blog at the 2013 by the James Beard Foundation Awards.
Zipcar publishes a fun blog called Ziptopia. It has several sections and the spirit and attitude of the brand. One section called Future Metropolis is about what a smarter city looks like. You can read articles from experts, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders who are doing things differently and making cities better places to live for everyone. It successfully delivers information and entertainment to inform and inspire its customer base.