For some reasons, the idea of content marketing is mostly associated with small brands, due to their common inability to access traditional, more costly marketing methods.

Being a startup ourselves, the moment we started working on our marketing strategy, people began to advise us on “going with content, exclusively”. Being an online marketing business, it goes without saying that we were primarily considering it for promotion.

However, once we started to dig deeper, we realized that writing blog posts has long surpassed the status of “low-cost” inbound marketing strategy for the low-budget companies. It is nor low cost nor destined exclusively for beginners.

Who uses it anyway?

In a study done by Marketo, it was emphasized that 95% of the 1416 enterprise marketers surveyed use even intend on expanding their content marketing budgets in the years to come. Marketing tactics used are various and revolve mainly around email and social media marketing.

You may wonder why brands that can (and do) spend hundreds of thousands on various paid advertising tactics (among which AdWords are the most popular) even bother to blog. However, H&M, General Electric, Colgate and Kraft altogether do it; even Coca Cola does it. After so many decades of creative inspiring ads.

Here’s why these brands are so keen on it:

1. No story, no glory.

Storytelling makes the world go round. People have been starving for stories (oral and then written) since the dawn of times. Anecdotes, fables and even gossip have kept the world spinning: they triggered wars, famine and eventually disappearance of empires. Paid advertising, as we know it, may be a practice naturalized by the Mad Men gents, but it’s been around for far longer than blockbuster shows.

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2. Less is more.

Stories, in the form of TV, radio spots or newspaper ads have been skillfully transforming us into consumeristic entities for the past century. Not much has changed, though. The rise of the internet has only made people less attentive to tv and newspaper ads. However, the gratuity of information found on the internet makes this form of publicity extremely accessible to all brands, big and small. Which, eventually, makes all of them compete for consumers’ attention.

And in the cluttered world of online marketed content, money hasn’t always got a say. It’s all in the catchiness of the phrase, in the creativity of the narrative, and, ultimately, in the eye of the beholder/consumer. But big brands couldn’t have missed bringing all the internet hype to fruition.

3. The client is king and so is content

Blog posts, stories, newsletters are a discrete, indirect ramification of the mother brand. And they all have one one significant trait in common: building rapport with the customer. With a customer who’s fed up with cold sales emails, with display ads and with the overwhelming constant pressure of buying. Blogs create stories that help the customer enter a new world, of the product in disguise.

Free do-it-yourself gourmet recipes from Jamie Oliver help you feel like the new Julia Child, fashion advice from Dolce & Gabbana makes you praise the day you stopped buying Vogue and Philips teaches you how simplicity in life can actually bring more sense to living it.

Of course, by reading Oliver’s mobile app recipes you will find an even more compelling urge to buy his books. And reading the D&G online magazine will certainly make you sign up for all discount designer outlet newsletters. But that’s only optional. Which, in the end, makes you feel like a king.

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4. Communication is the cornerstone of all relationships.

Another method that big brands resort to is cultivating the sense of community. By bringing people closer and more attached to a greater ideal, big companies nurture brand loyalty and even love. Which makes for incredible copy.

And Coca Cola seems to know this best.

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5. Return on investment is waaaay bigger

Remember how we were saying that you, the customer, are king? That you can opt out of all eventual commercial schemes whenever you feel like it? Well, at the same time, the moment you have a personalized relationship with a product, you become more prone to acquiring it. Hence, the bigger return on investment for the product owner.

Content budgets may be lower than traditional advertising ones, but effects are considerably more significant. Writing the story, creating rapport and then, finally, getting the prospective customer to the point where owning the product just feels natural – these are the main steps in the process. They take time on both sides: yours, to understand which content is worth reading and theirs, to understand what type of content to send your way. But once the two coordinates are settled, the process is smooth and long-lasting.

Content marketing for business is almost never about the brand

And big brands know this best, as they almost always decide to create successful stories around the most diverse topics. In the end, it’s all about corporate responsibility, about building rapport and about establishing brand notoriety. Here are some of the examples we enjoyed most:

Marriott

The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about Marriott is sophistication and utmost luxury. However, the famous brand decided to render their content practical. The RNavigator Platform helps tourists find their way around restaurants, coffee shops and pubs in the most important cities of the world.

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Red Bull

Red Bull makes a pledge out of covering sports and extreme sports in any way possible. Starting with Baumgartner’s legendary dive and continuing with a plethora of skiers, surfers and rally drivers, Red Bull is undoubtedly the best at covering and endorsing the most diverse events around the globe.

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Avon

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is one of the numerous attempts at raising responsibility among women of all ages worldwide. Women get directly involved by raising funds among friends and coworkers and by actually participating in the walks.

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