By Michele Linn published December 2, 2011

Must-See: Best Content Marketing Examples From 2011

Looking for the best examples of content marketing? Well, look no further. Here, 20 of our bloggers share their favorite examples from 2011. What have you seen that you love? Let us know in the comments!

I love Hunch.com’s series of mini-graphics (e.g., http://blog.hunch.com/?p=55704). They have taken one of the elements that has made infographics so popular — that is, they are easily digestible — to an entirely new level. In many ways, Hunch.com has done to the infographic what Twitter did to blogs: Reduced the content to only the essential point. They made data visualization light, fun and accessible. It also doesn’t hurt that each ties into one of the company’s key messages, which is we know more about you than you know about yourself.- Joe Chernov (@jchernov)


Unfortunately, this company was acquired, but when I purchased a VoIP virtual phone system from Protus (My 1 Voice), I received 25 emails over the next 25 business days – each day giving me a new piece of content about the tool. I loved it. I ignored most. I acted on a couple, and I valued the bite-sized education. I used the tool a lot more, which made me far more likely to renew the service.  And I shared my experience with anyone looking for a good phone system to use.- Darryl Praill (@ohpinion8ted)


Whole Foods. I was shopping there one week before Thanksgiving, and I picked up a booklet about preparing the bird, unusual stuffings, why free-range tastes better, etc.. The content was fun, totally useful (it was my companion on Thanksgiving Day when I estimated cooking times), and perfectly tied to their offerings. And of course, that awesome stuffing recipe requires some ingredients I’ll find most easily at Whole Foods.- Clare McDermott (@soloportfolio)


I like to highlight the small companies that are using low-cost Internet methods of content marketing.

  • One great example is the Urban Martial Arts blog run by a small martial arts dojo in Brooklyn New York.  This dojo is using their blog to highlight the character building activities and recreation enjoyed by their students, especially their child students.
  • Another is Arch City Homes, a small real estate company in St. Louis that uses their blog to help possible clients make better decisions about where to move in the St. Louis area.

- Russ Henneberry (@RussHenneberry)


AtTask is an example of a B2B company that is doing some really cool things with content marketing.  It publishes a regular corporate blog, podcasts, enewsletters, and TalkingWork.com, a content site featuring industry experts on the subject of project management.  Since focusing on content marketing, AtTask has received more inbound requests for its expertise and syndications of its content.  (Disclaimer: AtTask is a portfolio company of OpenView)- Amanda Maksymiw (@amandamaks)


I loved the way Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire. There was something very modest about it that made it all the more exciting next to Apple’s iPads and fit in very well with Amazon’s low-key, yet everywhere brand.- Ahava Leibtag (@ahaval)


I’m partial to the work I did with University of Louisville Hospital (client, obviously). They wanted to put a more human face and voice to their brand and extend their awareness online. We developed a blog focused on telling stories about the patients, doctors, nurses and staff rich with video interviews and personal stories that moved the needle on conversational market share versus their competitors and helped humanize their brand. The blog is at http://stories.uoflhealthcare.org.- Jason Falls (@JasonFalls)


The GE Show is an excellent, lively content site packed with videos, interactive demos, games and lots of thought leadership.  Topics include things like Future Flight and Visions of Health. I don’t know who did it, but it’s a fantastic example of how good content marketing can be when the budget is no object!- Doug Kessler (@dougkessler)


The show American Pickers is a great example. This show didn’t just come out this year, but it just hit me that this is an awesome example of content marketing.  The show was pitched by Mike Wolfe to many different networks for years because he realized the content that he could create just from doing his business. History Channel happened to be the network that finally decided to run with his idea.  The result?  That show has brought in additional income for Mike, Frank, Danielle, and The History Channel.  It has elevated his whole industry of “picking” and it has increased Mike and Frank’s business.  (Guess who people are now going to call when they have stuff they want to sell?  The most famous pickers in the U.S. Mike & Frank!)- Scott Aughtmon (@rampbusinesses)


I’m partial to this (I’m an Openview advisor), but I absolutely love what Openview Venture Partners did with Openview Labs.  If there is a better resource for technology entrepreneurs, I’m not sure where it is.Also, LEGO continues to improve its LEGO Club magazine product.  2011 included more cartoon stories of the LEGO bricks in action, better integration of customer photos, AND some awesome in-store programs at the LEGO store outlets and their new Master Builder Academy.  I’m incredibly disappointed with LEGO’s decision to kill LEGO Universe, but they still show they are leading they way in consumer content marketing.- Joe Pulizzi (@juntajoe)


The Social Network Decision Tree is my favorite example. I love infographics because I think they’re really valuable content pieces for the more “visual” learners out there (like me). A recent infographic by Column Five for Guy Kawasaki is not only informative and fun, but a great example of what Column Five has to offer their clients which, in my opinion, kills two birds with one stone. Plus, it’s funny, and who doesn’t want a little humor in their content marketing pieces?- Anna Ritchie (@apritchie)


This year I would have to say it is the Orabrush video marketing campaign. The company has been around for a while.  In fact, about 10 years ago they were out pitching dozens of dentists and retailers, and even tried a $50,000 TV infomercial.  But they were not getting any traction for their tongue cleaner. They then decided to spend about $500 on a funny “Bad Breath Test” video that promoted the tongue cleaner on YouTube. Soon after that they leveraged the popularity of the iPhone and a gullible audience to create another hit video: Test Your Breath With an iPhone – Bad Breath Detector.Since then, they have been producing video after video on a well optimized YouTube channel. As of this writing, their YouTube channel has received over 39 million views and has over 165,000 subscribers.  Orabrush also has more than 295,000 fans on Facebook page and over 4,000 followers on Twitter. The company has since signed agreements with major drugstore chains to stock the product on their shelves. A very successful content marketing campaign. To celebrate the success of their original Bad Breath Test video, they recently created this: Smell Your Own Breath – Adorable Kids Enjoy!- Arnie Kuenn (@ArnieK)


My favorite project for 2011 is the Careers and Industry Guide at AMMA miningoilandgasjobs.com. The Australia resources industry is experiencing a massive skills shortage. AMMA, the Australian Mines and Metals Association, had the idea to develop a jobs board to help industry employers find the skills they needed. They’ve used a classic content marketing strategy to attract jobseekers – both locally and overseas. The Careers and Industry Guide contains over 700 high-quality, original articles and fact sheets on all aspects of living and working in the industry. It’s completely free of charge and has no advertising. A comprehensive social media campaign has been developed to support the content and drive prospective jobs seekers to the site including a daily blog post, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn activity. The guide is updated daily; not only the blog but new articles are added every day. Again, they’re all developed specifically for the site by experienced, professional writers and are loaded with great information on:

  • Mining
  • Oil, Gas and Energy
  • Alternative Energy
  • Living and Working in Australia (including a lot of migration information)
  • Career Resources and Advice
  • Training and Development

Full disclosure: I’m the Director of Site Content (CCO) at AMMA miningoilandgasjobs.com. I call this project the XXX Project because it’s been exciting, exhilarating and exhausting.

- Sarah Mitchell  (@globalcopywrite)


I really feel great awe for probably one of the most complex content marketing projects around, Financial Advice by NLB, the biggest Slovenian bank. The bank wanted to break the mold of cold, distant financial institutions and get closer to its customers and prospects. To do this, the bank launched Financial Advice, a new content marketing project that uses a mix of digital media and live customer engagement to reposition itself  in the market and to elevate financial literacy in the country.In addition to a new web portal, a print magazine an iPad app, video animations and a monthly newspaper, NLB has opened a new branch in the nation’s capital, Ljubljana, called NLB Bankarna (translation: bank + cafe). There, customers can get personal finance advice, pick up free coffee, read educational materials, including new brochures, and stay for daily presentations on personal finance. I simply love it. Banks in the region do not assist their clients. They get in contact with them only when trying to sell them something or if one doesn’t pay his/her dues regularly. NLB’s  project is trying to change this. And I salute the bank for it.DISCLAIMER:I was involved in the project as editor of their magazine’s first issue.- Nenad Senic (@NenadSenic)


I particularly love data that tells a story. FastCompany does a beautiful job via its “Infographic of the Day” showcasing data while telling a story. Here’s a recent example that features interactive maps created by Trulia and featured on the Trulia blog. [Trulia, by the way, is another example of a company that has radically reinvented a category - real estate - by making data meaningful for home buyers through content.]  From FastCoDesign: Infographic Of The Day: How Men And Women Differ When Making Big Sales [i.e., real estate]. Note how the FastCompany article provides context and meaning so the reader can’t help but want to explore the interactive charts… and share it with others. Do  you think the data reflects how you buy real estate?- CB Whittemore (@cbwhittemore)


My favorite example of content marketing in 2011 was the explosion of content marketing in the fashion and beauty sector. Content marketing had traditionally been the realm of B2B firms where “thought leadership” was more easily demonstrated in specific, sophisticated B2B verticals. But in 2011 numerous fashion and beauty brands including L’Oreal, Target, JC Penney, Mr. Porter, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Gilt Groupe and BirchBox have showed us how content marketing can succeed for consumer products as well. Rather than speaking to customers’ needs and issues, these brands are creating world-class content about customers’ aspirations and interests in fashion and beauty and are driving sales growth as a result. Cheers to these brands for pioneering new territory in content marketing.- Toby Murdock (@tobymurdock)


In 2011, Outbrain (my company) has seen large consumer brands taking huge leaps with its content marketing initiatives and adopting publisher DNA in the way they think about content from a value-add perspective rather than simply a self promotion advertising tool. Here are some of the best examples we’ve worked with this year:

  • GE, primarily known as a consumer electronics brand, has really stepped up content marketing efforts by introducing sites like Ecomagination and Txchnologist to familiarize consumers with different aspects of its business by discussing science, innovation and embracing great challenges that will better our future
  • Unilever jumped into the content game with The Adrenalist, which provides great content for adrenaline and adventure junkies, tied to promote their Degree Men deodorant. The RedBull website is another great example of a great content site targeted to extreme sports lovers is , which features sports and entertainment content as well as a coverage hub for their numerous events, concerts and races across the country.
  • P&G’s Man Of The House is the male response to the numerous “mommy” publications out there, providing great men’s lifestyle content for the dads among us.
  • Liberty Mutual’s The Responsibility Project is a great example of a brand associating themselves with a cause to put “good” content out there that is not only high quality, but also promotes responsible thinking, preparation and doing the right thing.
  • General Mills’ Tablespoon.com is a wonderful site filled with recipes, cooking advice and food inspiration. It looks great, feels right. and it even tastes good!

Gilad de Vries (@giladdevries)


Nightmares Fear Factory, a haunted house in Niagara Falls, Canada, catches terrified customers on camera and publishes the photos on their hilarious Flickr photostreamI recently wrote about this brilliant marketing move. The campaign got huge publicity and certainly makes anyone looking at these pictures want to head up to Canada and find out what was so scary. Simple and brilliant, this is definitely one of my favorite content marketing examples from 2011.- Tracy Gold (@tracycgold)


What was once a custom-published magazine in print only, Endless Vacation (from RCI, a client of Story) moved beyond the boundaries of glossy paper and into the iPad. The application allows readers to delve deeper with interactive articles, photo galleries, alternate covers (just shake it!), panoramas and more. RCI, the largest timeshare vacation network in the world, has embraced the future of content marketing and focused on creating the great content that its readers want, helping the brand own the travel category.- Jon Thomas (@Story_Jon)


Redbull’s movie and website for Art of the Flight is an outstanding example of a brand understanding its audience and enabling a movie that speaks to the consumer mindset and brand ideals. The site is also very well built in HTML5 and has a great UX on a tablet or phone.- James Gross (@James_Gross)


Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Content Development Director of the Content Marketing Institute and a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B Marketing.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • http://www.ebookwritingmastery.com Liam @ How to Write and eBook

    I agree that the way Kindle Fire was introduced was masterful. Amazon are doing a lot to change the way we interact with content, especially the traditional book market. It is the way of the future.

  • http://twitter.com/dougkessler dougkessler

    Great round-up.  Joe Chernov — thanks for turning me on to Hunch.

  • Sophie Callies

    Thanks everyone for such great content. This is really inspiring. On my side, I’d like to share the great content made by Dassault Systemes, with this Collborative Tribe video which generated thousands of leads http://thecollaborativetribe.3ds.com/. A great B2B example. They have done also interesting Quiz on Facebook

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Thanks for sharing, Sophie!

  • Anonymous

    Michele, I love hearing about great examples of content marketing! Thanks for making this list possible and including me.

    Best,
    CB

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      My pleasure. I love hearing all of these great ideas, too. 

  • Di Shepherd

    Thank you for such great examples of content marketing!  My absolute fav would have to be the kids doing the bad breath infomercial for OraBrush!  Many great ideas to think over.  -Di

  • http://twitter.com/SoFunYog_Wayne SoFun Yogurt

    Comment removed

  • http://twitter.com/jculpjr Jim Culp

    Along with the positives of American Pickers, there are some negatives as well.  The publicity the show draws to “picking” increases the level of competition for Mike and Frank as others see the show and decide that they can/will take up the trade as well.  The show also reveals their strategy with sellers, so future sellers will know what they do and how they do it and be able to better counter-act their negotiating tactics.  Finally the show elevates pricing of collectibles across the board which reduces the margins for Mike and Frank as well as others that take up the profession.  It’s a great show, but with every positive, there is usually a corresponding negative.

  • Steven H

    The artof flight website is cool but it seems to lack the point of communication.

    I wonder how many people are disdracted by the motion of the background, rather than actually looking at the content.

    Sorry, but this is just design maturbation in my eyes.

    Regards
    Steve

  • http://www.landlordwebsolutions.com/ Carissa

    Personally I LOVE the Old Spice MANta Clause content marketing campaign.  The company produced 36 humourous videos with Isaiah Mustafa (the man every man wishes they smelt like) giving away gifts throughout the world.  Check it out on their YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/OldSpice/featured.

    Cheers

  • http://www.theuniuni.com/ Payton_vege

    Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!