By Michele Linn published December 7, 2010

Content Marketing in Action: 13 Examples to Get You Inspired

In our ongoing series, we’re helping B2B marketers overcome the challenges highlighted in our recent B2B Content Marketing: 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends. Most recently, our contributors are providing insights and examples to help you make the case for content marketing in your organization.

Contributors have answered the questions:

This week: “Sometimes the best way to understand the power of content marketing is to see it in action. To help someone see the value of this discipline, share an example of a company who is using content marketing effectively. What are they doing, and how do they know it is working?”

Examples are old-fashioned show-and-tell where marketers can see how a content marketing strategy is successfully implemented. Often, the challenge is to move from a set of marketing strategies to flawless execution. Always include a call-to-action in your content to get readers, viewers or listeners to take the next step. Make sure that you’ve optimized your content for the specific medium and ensure that it’s findable on search engines.

Will it blend? is a classic example of content marketing using video to build a brand and sell product. This series started on YouTube and took off with the blending of an iPhone. As a result, Blendtec, the industrial blender manufacturer behind Will It Blend, started a related website. Consistent in look and feel, the videos look like a real experiment while tapping into current popular trends. Here’s an example of Blendtec’s Old Spice spoof that ends with three calls-to-action.

Heidi Cohen (@heidicohen)

I like what Whole Foods is doing with their Whole Story blog.  Providing recipes and other content around the idea of making healthy choices is bringing significant engagement through Facebook (~380,000 likes) and Twitter(1.8 million followers).

Russ Henneberry (@russhenneberry)

Marketo’s Resource library is a pretty impressive example of content marketing. They’re educating a market that’s hungry for information and doing it really well (disclaimer: Velocity has helped in a small way).

At the risk of appearing to be a shameless self-promoter, our own B2B Marketing Manifesto campaign has been really successful for us. And we share the ins and outs of the campaign itself in Project Open Kimono.  We’ve either hit all our stated goals or are well on the way.

– Doug Kessler (@dougkessler)

I think Fit for 50 by Inova Hospital Health System is a fabulous example of content marketing.  The goal was to inform users, regardless of any age, how to get fit in 50 days. They used Darrell Green, a former Washington Redskins, to promote the program. Users had to register, but once inside they could set their own goals and follow the program. Plus, they had support from doctors and others who were participating in the fitness program.  Using blogs, In the News and an interactive playbook, there was a nice balance of user-generated content and campaign content. The other ROI?  Inova Health captured 6,300 email addresses of the participants—a great way to create a relationship that can continue.

– Ahava Leibtag (@ahaval)

My experimental incubator is the content marketing I do for the independent retail shop I own with my husband, George Bowers Grocery. By curating content we’ve built trust that translates into sales. More critically, it allows us to reach people outside our geographic location. So far, our farthest customer pull came from Atlanta, GA (a 10-hour drive). After following us online, when the opportunity came for him to travel this way, he came to visit and, yes, buy.

– Katie McCaskey (@KatieMcCaskey)

During this economic downturn, IT executives were asked to “do more with less” and help the business reduce and eliminate costs wherever possible. Microsoft realized there was a great opportunity to proactivelyhelp these executives identify potential savings opportunities and helptheir customers become “frugalheroes.”

In response, Microsoft created the “Simple to Save” content marketing campaign. It provides the research, advice and personalized analysis tools these executives needed to identify cost-saving IT projects that could deliver tangible IT and business savings with fast payback, and as little up-front investment as possible.

To help engage with these executives and to illuminate the research, recommendations and tools, Microsoft developed a special portal with the centerpiece being an interactive on-line assessment tool. Using the Simple to Save tool, executives could answer a few questions about their organization and opportunities, and obtain personalized project recommendations and quantified potential savings and return on investment (ROI) analysis, all documented in a customized 20+ page report.

The content and tools were used by CIOs and IT executives directly, as well as by Microsoft channel partners and direct enterprise sales reps in interactive client workshops. On average, over 800 personalized Simple to Save assessment reports have been delivered monthly using the interactive analysis tools.

Tom Pisello (@tpisello)

Check out the spectacular variety of content at, a site for making and publishing your own photo books.  They’ve done a beautiful job of making their website valuable to all their different buyer personas.

  • For beginners, they have well-produced video tutorials plus a number of webinar classes to help beginners get started with process and design.
  • For those who want to make books regularly, they have photography classes with experts to help users get great photos for their books.
  • For designers and industry pros, they have a community called BlurbNation offering online and offline events.
  • Those who love the idea but don’t have the time can hire an expert right on the site.
  • Those who wish to create books for charity can do so via their “Blurb for Good” program.

– Lisa Petrilli (@LisaPetrilli)

Incept (a client of mine) is a conversational marketing firm in Canton, Ohio, that in the last six months has started to see the rewards of their content marketing efforts both internally and externally.

On the internal side, they are using a culture-centric Facebook page to distribute content that is related to their brand and services, which is positioned to help educate their internal audience on best practice stories in conversational marketing.  They use video interviews with company leaders and top performers to share tips on how to each of those high performers are getting results.  They also average  five to seven new posts on their company blog.  Those posts are a mix of internal communications and outbound marketing-related posts and are also distributed on the Facebook page.

The Facebook page is open to the public as well.  We’ve seen that Incept’s clients and potential prospects have “liked” the page and follow updates, sometimes even participating in the discussion with their own comments.  Creating this type of transparency and accessibility to what’s going on inside the company has helped to put Incept on the radar as an innovative company with a strong culture.

– Nate Riggs (@nateriggs)

Eloqua has embraced content marketing and is running with it. Earlier this year, the company created a “director of content marketing” position and recruited Joe Chernov to fill the role. Eloqua actively participates in social media, blogs regularly and develops and distributes a range of content – both educational and entertaining – around themes that resonate with prospects and customers.

It is constantly experimenting, such as by offering valuable content without requiring registration in exchange. It openly shares its experiences and results with content marketing, and has determined that content downloads and sharing have led to growing awareness of its brand, better engagement on its site, and higher-quality leads. Working with JESS3, Joe created “The Content Grid,” an infographic intended to articulate what content marketing is and why it matters, and to help distinguish content type from channel. [Full disclosure: I help Eloqua develop content.]

– Stephanie Tilton (@stephanietilton)

My favorite example of effective content marketing comes from a UK company that sells worms… and other organic items called Wiggly Wigglers. Have you heard of them? I met Heather Gorringe, company founder in 2008 and wrote about her in BlogHer Business 2008: Hats Off To Wiggly Wigglers.

I particularly admire that Heather uses a variety of content forms to create community around her products and the lifestyle that she and everyone at Wiggly Wigglers enables. In addition to the weekly Wiggly Podcast which recreates a fully sensory experience reminiscent of old-time radio broadcasts, the Wiggly Blog, a robust content-rich website, and a vibrant Facebook group, you can now watch The Wiggly Cinema.

Success? Wiggly Wigglers is listed as one of the top five best international brand campaigns with Zappos.   Better yet, Wiggly Wigglers has successfully reinvented organic farming.

– CB Whittemore (@cbwhittemore)

One of my favorite companies is Method, which is also a brand that does a tremendous job with content marketing. They not only have a really interactive, interesting website that brings the brand to life, but it serves as a home base for many of their content marketing efforts.  Method really engages their consumers and treats them as part of a community with the shared interest of living a healthy, environmentally-focused lifestyle.

Their People Against Dirty community opens the doors to the entire company, where you can “meet” their employees, hear personal stories and see what goes on behind the scenes at Method, from daily work life to outside charity projects and events. There is also an open invitation for anyone to join People Against Dirty, where you can create a profile and become an involved part of the Method community, sharing stories and ideas. The Method blog, Dirty Little Secret, is also very engaging and allows their community members to offer tips and insights along with their employee experts. Method is great company doing great things, and doing it right.

Debbie Williams (@sproutcontent)

Other posts in this series:

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Vice President of Content at the Content Marketing Institute. She is one of those people who truly loves what she does and who she works with. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn.

Other posts by Michele Linn

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  • Anonymous

    Great examples. I particularly liked the story about Eloqua !