5 Unconventional (But Fantastic) Examples of Content Marketing

The secret is out—content marketing is an integral part of SEO.

As more marketers pile on the content marketing bandwagon, it’s increasingly important to make your content stand out from the crowd. Simply writing a blog post, hitting “publish”, and hoping for results won’t cut it. More and more, content marketers need to devise clever, insightful, thoughtful, and compelling ways to craft and distribute their content.

I know you’ve heard this before so instead of me (re)telling you, let me show you five examples of unconventional, fantastic content marketing. May these examples inspire you to greater content marketing heights!

1. Dan Holliday and Monsanto

Lately, Monsanto has been crushed by negative publicity, including a cameo in the viral documentary  Food Inc.

Bad press can set the internet on fire, just like this Quora question:

5 Unconventional Examples Of Content Marketing | SEJ

Image source: Quora

This thread generated some extremely aggressive statements against the Monsanto brand:

“Personally I’d put Monsanto up on the mantelpiece of the worst, most evil corporations in the world, right beside Union Carbide and BP.”

I’ve been a corporate marketing consultant for almost a decade now. The standard response to something like this is a series of press releases/corporate content, mass advertising, etc.

Instead, a Monsanto rep (Dan Holliday) stepped in and crafted an epic, multi-paragraph, well-reasoned defense of Monsanto, that included the following:

5 Unconventional Examples Of Content Marketing | SEJ

Image source: Quora

This manifesto went viral, garnering over 118,000 views and being massively upvoted.

The lesson?

Content marketing doesn’t just revolve around our websites.

Great content marketing is about maximizing your audience and taking advantage of opportunities.

These opportunities are all around us:

  • Discussion forums (Reddit, Inbound, Growth Hackers, etc.)
  • Facebook groups
  • Other blogs

This post I did over at Moz went viral:

5 Unconventional Examples Of Content Marketing | SEJ

Image source: Moz

Sure, I could have created this for my own website, but posting it on Moz gave me access to a baked in audience that set it viral.

As content marketing popularity grows, keep an open mind to where you create your content. Thinking outside the box can have dramatically positive impacts on your efforts.

2. Treehouse and the 32-Hour Work Week

Treehouse is a company that provides low-cost, online trainings for web-based skills (Ruby dev, WordPress, etc).

What makes Treehouse interesting isn’t their service, but their culture: they only have a 32 hour work week.

To spread the word about their company and their work culture, they created this gorgeous video:

The video went viral and Treehouse’s story began popping up everywhere.

5 Unconventional Examples Of Content Marketing | SEJ

Image Source: WEBRIS

The lesson?

Emotional content will market itself.

Treehouse didn’t create a blatant advertisement that said, “Hey, we teach you to get a job!” Instead, they took a somewhat controversial point of view (don’t work 40 hours in a week) and they attached emotion to it (spend more time with your family).

Can you add more emotion or controversy to your content? Not in an artificial, sensational kind of way, but in a true, authentic way. If you can, you’ll find that your content really stands out from the crowd.

3. Fruit of the Loom and “The Tuck Effect”

Plain white t-shirts are designed to be subtle and bland – how can you possibly formulate interesting content around them?!

Fruit of the Loom created an interactive microsite called The Tuck Effect to promote their white t-shirts. On the site, they show a video which claims that men who tuck their shirts in have more income, better relationships, and a happier outlook.

They invite men to take photos of their tucked shirts and tag them with #TheTuckEffect.

5 Unconventional Examples Of Content Marketing | SEJ

Image source: Fruit of the Loom

I actually discovered the website through a thread in a Facebook Group:

5 Unconventional Examples Of Content Marketing | SEJ

Image source: Facebook

The post prompted my response:

5 Unconventional Examples Of Content Marketing | SEJ

Image source: Facebook

If you can take an unconventional approach to a boring subject, you can create a buzz. You can get people to talk about and share content that they never would otherwise. Smart content marketers will look at content from every angle, asking if there is a new or different approach that can be taken.

4. 888 Casino and the “Guide to Blackjack”

When it comes to taking on clients for digital marketing, there are three niches you just don’t touch – one of these is online casinos.

A few weeks ago I saw a guide to Black Jack floating down my Twitter feed. When I clicked it, I couldn’t help but applaud their efforts.

The website responsible, 888 Casino, is attempting to break that stereotype by commissioning industry influencers to write in depth, actionable, custom-designed guides to gambling.

5 Unconventional Examples Of Content Marketing | SEJ

Image source: 888 Casino

This is brilliant content marketing for two reasons:

  1. It provides high value to readers. This guide was written by a blackjack expert. It’s this kind of value that readers are likely to share with others, which in turn will drive up traffic on the site and garner increased exposure for 888 Casino.
  1. Second, this type of content has an evergreen effect. It will always be valuable to readers and will serve as a constant draw to the site. Yes, it probably cost 888 Casino a pretty penny to have this produced, but they were willing to spend the money because of the evergreen value it creates. Evergreen content is also great for generating inbound links which I can only imagine are near impossible for an online casino.

This long-form blogpost over at LCN is another great example of evergreen content marketing. It can be shared repeatedly by LCN and their readers without losing value. This in turn garners more exposure for the company.

5. Drake and “Hotline Bling”

Yes, Drake… the rapper.

You may not think of Drake as a content marketer, but he is. An amazing, brilliant content marketer. I have two examples to back this up:

Example 1:

Earlier this year, Drake released a free mixtape. The album immediately shot to the top of the Billboard 100 list, generating a massive amount of buzz for Drake and causing millions of downloads of his other albums.

A FREE MIXTAPE that shot to #1 – how does that even happen?

Drake understands the market and current state of the industry.

  1. Artists don’t make money on album sales, they make it on tour.
  2. The more people he can reach with his music (aka content), the more tickets he will sell.
  3. People are going to download his music free anyways, so why not just give it away?

Traditional marketers call this “perceived value” – I call it content marketing.

Example 2:  

But Drake didn’t stop there. A few months back he released a music video for his song “Hotline Bling”, in which he danced around in a somewhat bizarre manner.

The video went instantly viral, spinning off hundreds of memes and hundreds of millions of video views causing “Hotline Bling” to shoot to the top of the charts, even though it was released six months earlier.

Some will argue this wasn’t intentional – I’m telling you right now it was. It’s not the first time Drake’s content went viral; the guy knows what he’s doing.

I’m not saying you should try to create a viral video of you dancing. However, I am implying that content marketing takes many forms and you should seriously consider thinking outside the box for your next campaign.

Wrapping it Up

Content is being pumped out at an alarming rate. We are starting to drown in blog posts and Tweets and step-by-step guides. It’s time to think strategically and creatively about content marketing. It’s time to create content that is different, that stands out and engages people on a deep, emotional level.

Image Credits

Featured Image: via author’s company, Webris Design
In-post Photos: Screenshots by Ryan Stewart. Taken January 2016.

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