Imagine creating content so compelling that your audience becomes dependent on it. Maybe it’s a part of their daily routine—a visit to Adobe’s CMO.com, for instance, to find out the latest on marketing technology. Or maybe you visit when you need something, like Mayo Clinic’s detailed descriptions of diseases and disorders.
A content marketing program that your audience depends on is the gold standard. You may in fact already be dependent on content that you didn’t realize was part of someone’s marketing program.
Some of the world’s best content marketing flies way under the radar. It’s so valuable that even though you associate it with a brand, you may not even realize you’re doing so. The ROI on this kind of content marketing can be astounding.
Here are five unique examples of prolific content marketing programs that are so valuable to their audiences you’d barely consider them marketing.
Since 1888, National Geographic magazine has been the go-to resource for adventurers, travelers, geologists, teachers—practically anyone with the slightest interest in sociology, history, or science.
National Geographic is such a powerful brand, in fact, that it has spawned spin-off magazines, books, and even a television network. Many of us think of the NatGeo brand as its own entity.
In reality, everything associated with National Geographic is an incredibly successful example of content marketing for the National Geographic Society, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world. The organization funds all kinds of exploration, education, and research through the donations of its benefactors.
Ever had the opportunity to eat at a Michelin star restaurant? They’re on every foodie’s to-do list in every city in the world. That’s because Michelin star ratings are reserved for a select few establishments with the highest standards in the food industry.
These ratings are part of Michelin Guides, a series of annual hotel and restaurant guidebooks that started publication in 1900. These guides have become so influential that they can make a huge impact on the success of a hospitality company.
And yes, Michelin Guides are the product of the tire maker. It started as a resource for motorists and bloomed into an all-out travel guide, helping establish the Michelin brand as an influential voice in travel.
Copyblogger is widely considered one of the more influential writing and content marketing blogs on the web. You’ve probably visited once or twice. You may even be a subscriber to daily emails.
If you are, you’ve probably noticed that Copyblogger is more than just a blog—it’s a comprehensive educational resource for marketers. It’s also a company that produces great tools for WordPress sites, services like Synthesis, Studiopress, Scribe, and Premise.
Did you watch Felix Baumgartner drop from outer space to the earth below? Ever seen footage or attended a Flugtag event? Most of us realize that Red Bull is an energy drink manufacturer, but we’ve become so used to the organization’s publishing presence for extreme sports that it’s hard to separate the two.
Red Bull operates a media conglomerate dedicated to extreme sports and edgy music. As a publisher, the company runs channels like Red Bull TV in addition to creating its own events. Visit the Red Bull page and you’ll find a publication dedicated to sports and music instead of a homepage focused on selling beverages.
Red Bull approaches its marketing as a publisher first and a drink manufacturer second. It maintains one of the most compelling (and arguably one of the most successful) examples of content marketing the world has ever seen.
Pokémon (and other cartoons)
Pokémon began as a Game Boy video game, eventually spiralling into a gigantic media franchise. One of the centerpieces of today’s Pokémon culture is its anime cartoon show.
Sure, Pokémon makes money from advertising during the show. But the real purpose behind the cartoon (and other cartoons that have come after an initial product for kids) is to drive sales for the video game, toys, playing cards, and other branded products.
You could argue that the purpose behind all children’s cartoons, in fact, is to drive merchandising, making it a sweeping example of the power that content marketing wields for B2C brands. After all, content marketing is about creating useful or entertaining content that drives business goals. Selling merchandise is the business goal behind lots of franchises targeting children.
What other unconventional examples of content marketing can you find? Share your ideas with us in the comments.