Different Stories – Different Glories: 18 Non Monetary Ways Content Marketing Benefits Your Business

You already know that a successful content marketing initiative has many business benefits besides the obvious goal of eventually increasing revenue.

But how do you explain those ethereal achievements to internal decision makers fixated on hard numbers? And what examples exist to prove content can actually realize those benefits?

As usual, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s a telling list of 18 non-monetary business goals that content brands — when done correctly — can achieve for your team.

1. Content Marketing To Collect Data

Look no further than Under Armour’s acquisition of mobile apps MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness to see this business benefit in action. The apps themselves are a unique content marketing outlet for the athletic apparel brand, sure. But just imagine over 200 million users divulging information like fitness goals, caloric intake, apparel tastes, nutrition details, workout preferences, and sleep habits…  all while engaging with your content.

Stitchfix customizes looks just for you – and uses Pinterest to display the look.

How does that value translate? Consider the “participation marketing” of StitchFix. A private stylist asks customers a few zillion questions to outfit them in goodies that make a them feel like royalty. So is theirs a product, a service, or something entirely unexpected, like a data science operation? When preparing to file for an IPO, the data set collected was among the brand’s most valuable assets.

2. Content Marketing To Earn Permission to Continue Conversing

An email address isn’t data. It’s access. It’s permission. Approval to engage again. “Did you enjoy what you just read?” asks a demure Jonathan Fields at the bottom of every thought-provoking article he publishes. Clearly, a reader would not have reached the bottom if not for enjoyable content. In other words, the answer is always yes. “Cool,” he answers the unspoken. “Then get more.” Followed by an email subscription box.

The University of Alberta uses a similar tactic. “You seem interested in UAlberta News,” readers are prompted after lingering. The University’s digital analyst Jason Buzzell explains that from the day they began collecting email addresses, content took on a new role: to generate more inbox access.

If anyone on your team calls your email list “data,” gently remind them: data are details. Email addresses are permission.

3. Content Marketing To Support Industry Professionals

L’Oreal’s unbranded Fab Beauty site embodies what founder Eugene Schueller said about there being two kinds of advertising: “publicité d’attaque, designed to raise interest, and publicité de rendement, designed to maximize sales.” No successful business promotes their own industry and later regrets the investment.

A B2B Content Marketing Platform from L’Oreal

4. Content Marketing To Bring People Together

Can content marketing build relationships among family and friends? Instead of strengthening your own relationship with prospects, consider creating something that enhances your audience’s third-party tribal interactions. Tablespoon from General Mills attains this goal by  explaining things like how to involve kids in cooking, why romance really does start in the kitchen, and  which crowd-sourced recipes rate highest. Save your readers or viewers the stress of feeling unprepared at home or in their communities, and you will have achieved something so special no software can (or should) measure it.

5. Content Marketing To Inform A Niche Audience

Quick, what’s the first online resource that comes to mind when you want to know about recent mergers and acquisitions in the technology world? If TechCrunch’s interactive CrunchBase came to mind, consider yourself exhibit “A” of proof that a content brand can successfully inform a savvy niche segment.

6. Content Marketing To Prevent Trouble or Tragedy

Nationwide’s Makesafehappen.com exploded onto the scene with the infamous 2015 commercial that received such a backlash it should have toppled the content brand. Thankfully though, the bad entrance didn’t spook stakeholders into shutting down the platform. In fact, the content destination now has an award-winning mobile app that helps parents prevent scenario-specific mishaps that could inadvertently put a child in danger.

Nationwide’s content marketing publication.

If injury prevention is a little too heavy for your messaging strategy, consider other common frustrations your content brand could assuage. For example, the torturous homework hour. You see, not long ago, Hershey’s decided to make nice with the loving mothers notoriously known for banning sugary foods at home in the interest of youngsters’ dental health. How? By hiring children’s author Jerry Pallota to create and publish a series of math books that feature – you guessed it – Hershey’s candy. Now, kids gladly weigh, measure, sort, and count without the generations-old “but math is hard” struggle.

7. Content Marketing To Empower Or Liberate Someone

Changethecycle.com is the frank, older-sister-style conversation about women’s reproductive pains (and joys) that “goes there.” It’s powered by Hologic, Inc., a healthcare and diagnostics company. Through this content brand, women that have never spoken up about what could otherwise be an embarrassing or isolating situation are finally finding a voice.

Change The Cycle – A Content Marketing Platform

8. Content Marketing To Entertain

Office Depot’s “Elf Yourself” toy is completely senseless right? Totally stupid. Base.

But hey, if you’re stuck at work…

And your favorite cube mate made his own version that you could totally one-up…

It would only take a quick minute.

Why not make one that features the whole team? You could create a few Elf Yourself videos for the kids, while you’re at it. There’s still a minute on your lunch break, and everyone would love your customized touches…

As you play around with the interactive game, you’ll realize Office Depot’s silly content marketing move is pretty fun, after all.

Depending on whose face you use.

9. Content Marketing To Educate The Masses

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report is a revered once-a-year in-depth release of research that educates KPCB’s peers, clients, competitors, and commentators in every industry. It serves both a narrow, insider audience, but it also educates the rest of the world. Regularly. Usually, strategic content can only achieve one or the other.

10. Content Marketing To Motivate or Inspire

Airbnbmag (Pineapple’s replacement) is a revenue-generating content platform that proves the brand’s biggest competitor is not hotels, but the temptation to stay home. The print publication’s goal is not to convince readers to choose one lodging option over another, but simply to get out of the house and away from the same old routine.

11. Content Marketing To Empower Employees To Join

Chili’s has a long-standing tradition of proudly claiming to be the best place to work. But in a world where every company boasts the same, the restaurant had to get creative to stand out. Leaders asked employees to share on social whenever they experienced an especially inspiring moment at work, using hashtag #todayschilis. Had the brand not already established their strategic story, the ask wouldn’t have made sense.

12. Content Marketing To Nurture a Community

Well-moderated Q&A forums are one of the best content marketing plays. An emotional memory is lodged when a human shares personal observations, experiences, stories, and advice with another human. Take, for example, Pottermore’s Wizarding World book club from J.K. Rowling. “Read, discuss, and delve deeper into the Harry Potter stories with anyone, anywhere,” the site claims. As though the Pottermore site itself weren’t enough.

Another brand-sponsored haven is the Houzz-owned GardenWeb.com, where participants can (and do) ask one another the types of questions no corporate brainstorming meeting could possibly cook up. The safe place is perfect soil for trust to grow.

13. Content Marketing To Plug the Bottom of the Funnel

Not long ago, pediatric healthcare practitioners began offering current patients a “warm phone line” staffed by nurses capable of fielding basic infant care questions from new parents. The offering helped lower costs by weeding out unnecessary doctors’ visits and reducing patient churn.

Today, nonprofit health insurance provider HBF takes the concept a step further to achieve the same customer retention goal. The medium? Direct Advice for Dads, or “DAD.” It’s a proactive example of man-to-man straight talk that covers questions guys don’t even know they should be asking. And at the sweetest, hardest, most confusing time of life. In other words, just in time.

14. Content Marketing To Experiment

Yes, there is a time and a place for public experimentation. Experimental content creation can be just as successful as the predictable, strategic stuff – as long as it’s designated exploratory work. In 2007, the New York Times and Stanford University together started an online education  curriculum called the Knowledge Network. A few years later, the program was shuttered.

But in the beginning of 2015, the New York Times announced the courses would be offered again. Today, the School of the New York Times is among the most in demand educational institutions.

15. Content Marketing To Inspire Kids To Pursue The Industry

When Minecraft was ripe for acquisition, why would a brand like Microsoft take note? Here was what appeared to be a bunch of idle youngsters addicted to building imaginary worlds with basic object-oriented coding.

Could Microsoft have had a long-term mindset? Could Minecraft be the beginning of many epic engineering careers? It would be a smart, far sighted move, the kind Lockheed Martin had in mind when crafting the field trip to Mars VR experience for grade schoolers interested in space travel.

Inspiring kids is one more way to support your industry as a whole, and smart content marketing can do exactly that.

16. Content Marketing To Inspire Loyal Audiences To Fiercely Defend “Their” Brands

In 2001, BMW produced The Hire, an 8-part short film series starring Clive Owen. The episodes were released four years before YouTube, and in no time, earned a cult following.

When in 2016 a bulletproof BMW was involved in a heroic act that saved dozens of people, brand loyalists celebrated. Overheard: “I’m a BMW guy, I couldn’t let that just go.” There are many reasons an audience will rise up to defend a brand. Topping the list is a relationship built on trust.

17. Content Marketing Audiences Can Send You Relevant “Story Ideas”  

In 1922, just before Procter & Gamble ventured into episodic radio dramas (which would eventually morph into daytime TV’s celebrated “soap operas”), the brand created a long-running serial story for placement in the major newspapers.The format? An entertaining comic strip. The story’s characters represented none other than the brand’s target audience – and conveniently, the publications’ readers. The protagonists’ favorite soap? Ivory, of course. Within the narrative’s first six months, the soap’s sales increased an eye-popping 25%.

Perhaps best of all, though, was the response generated by the storified marketing. In a remarkable display of what we today may thoughtlessly label “engagement,” reader involvement went beyond attention. It even went beyond addressability. Readers took time out of their day to write to the brand their creative plot ideas. They invested their own creative energy into the content, a reciprocal gift that these days is often underestimated.

18. Content Marketing Can Change The World

It’s a rare marketer indeed who marches in to the boss’s office and asks for a sizable content marketing budget for the purpose of changing the world. In fact, that conversation has probably never happened. But some content brands have taken on a life of their own and eventually, over time, indeed changed the world. So don’t ever rule it out as one enormous possibility.

Take, for example, the humble little 1883 publication affectionately titled the Customer’s Afternoon Letter. The daily two-pager, written and distributed by a high school dropout for the purpose of marketing his small B2B stock advisory startup, eventually incorporated two inventions of the company’s co-founder: an accurate measurement index of the country’s real time average stock market activity, and the analytical theory that still bears his name. Of course, we’re referring to none other than Charles Dow, whose tiny content marketing play became the Wall Street Journal in 1889 and went on to change the world. Mere revenue, however impressive, may still underestimate the power of content marketing done right.

So. How will you use these examples as you build a case for an audience-first content destination?

Because yes, good content marketing can (and often will) move the revenue needle. But don’t forget the many other business benefits a generous, thoughtful content experience can achieve.

Bethany Johnson
Marketing Consultant at BethanyJohnson.com
Bethany Johnson is a multiple award-winning content marketing writer and speaker. Her work empowers marketers to ditch interrupt advertising in favor of original content that converts passive readers into active followers. Thriving brands like Tom's of Maine, MasterCard, ADP, Fidelity and Philips currently rely on Bethany's fresh style to connect with audiences. As a consultant, she combines change management principles with her insider knowledge of freelancing to show traditional marketing teams how to flourish in today's wild gig economy. For more, visit bethanyjohnson.com.
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Author: Bethany Johnson
Bethany Johnson is a multiple award-winning content marketing writer and speaker. Her work empowers marketers to ditch interrupt advertising in favor of original content that converts passive readers into active followers. Thriving brands like Tom's of Maine, MasterCard, ADP, Fidelity and Philips currently rely on Bethany's fresh style to connect with audiences. As a consultant, she combines change management principles with her insider knowledge of freelancing to show traditional marketing teams how to flourish in today's wild gig economy. For more, visit bethanyjohnson.com.