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How to Plan Your Content Marketing Strategy Beyond the Blog

Content marketing has been leaving its mark on the web – and is showing no signs of slowing down. These days, companies from Fortune 500 corporations to small mom-and-pop shops are launching creative, fun and engaging pieces designed to get people clicking…and talking.

Unfortunately, most content marketing puts its emphasis on the content, rather than the marketing. Few sites dare to venture beyond the safe and comfortable walls of their blog. In this series, we’ll look at using entertainment, community, education and practicality to do just that.

In the first part of this two part series, we’ll learn about the different styles of content marketing starting with entertainment.

The truth is, if you can make the customer laugh, you can make them buy. Laughter naturally reduces our “no selling” guard and makes us more open and responsive to what’s being said. Great marketers know that injecting a little humor is the secret sauce of sales, and content marketing with a focus on entertainment takes that to a whole new level.

Make the Boring Interesting with Viral Videos

Public transportation is, at its best, pretty mundane. It’s one of those things we think we just have to deal with. So when Metro Trains in Melbourne, Australia created Dumb Ways to Die, it caught on and not only got its message across, but made people smile along the way.

dumb ways to die

Metro Trains in Australia got its point across with cute, terrifying animations

A few of the dumb ways to die – beyond walking out in front of a train or falling from the platform?

  • Hiding in a dryer
  • Eating 2 week old unrefrigerated food
  • Sticking a fork in a toaster

Between its dark humor, there’s an underlying message that ‘hey, jumping out into an oncoming train is dumb. Right up there with selling your kidneys on the internet.’

How to Do It

You can’t exactly set out to “create a viral video”, as plenty of attempts have ended up backfiring and making the company look clueless. But you can create a fun, interactive cartoon that shares its message in a way that gets noticed, and gets a few laughs. Tools like MotionArtist, GoAnimate and PowToon let you create a variety of animated graphics without any technical know-how, so even if you can’t draw, you can still get creative.

A Little Friendly Competition

A competition between fans is a great way to encourage interaction and get people talking about and sharing your brand. Back during the Winter Olympics, Coca-Cola decided to create its own variation, called Coke Games.

It encouraged customers to film and upload videos of themselves participating in the games, which included events like Speed Sipping, Coke Curling and Bottle Cap Hockey. Participants would share their videos on Coke’s Facebook wall, and be entered to win one of several prizes.

coca cola facebook post example

A few examples from the Coke Games

How to Do It

While you may not have a brand reach as big as Coca-Cola, you can still leverage events big and small to promote yourself. Is there a local event or festival you could sponsor while getting your name out to your customers in a way that encourages them to have fun and be creative? If you’re in the U.S., Fairs and Festivals has a state-by-state listing of local celebrations. Get out your notebook and start brainstorming ideas. You never know what you might come up with!

Branded Video

I know what you’re thinking…*YAWN* Who wants to watch a branded video? But what if I asked if you’d like to see a dog balancing on top of a guy in a gorilla suit… would that get your attention? That’s certainly the hope of the folks over at MailChimp, where their mascot, Maddie, likes to stand precariously on different things.

And although it doesn’t shout “EMAIL MARKETING!” directly, it does get people laughing and checking out MailChimp for more balancing acts featuring Maddie, which can then lead them to wondering, “are my newsletters this balanced?”

How to Do It

Grab a camera, cell phone or tablet and start filming. These days, you don’t have to be a professional videographer to craft a compelling video. Vine works great for 6 seconds of video or less, and video kings YouTube and Vimeo are impossible to ignore. And it’s only going to get bigger. According to a 2011 white paper by YuMe, TV usage is on the decline, while online video keeps growing exponentially:

online video and television usage change

The old fashioned top-down broadcasting medium is fast on its way out in favor of online video

Hitting the Sweet Spot with Gamification

Gamification involves bringing typical game development solutions to marketing challenges. Things like “Level badges” and rewards are one example of gamification, but those are only scratching the surface.

One example of this is The GE Show, a combination How-It’s-Made/Game that incorporates fun and learning in a way that gets people talking. The interactive games teach you about the technology behind them, and everything that’s involved in making daily life and commerce happen:

example of gamification

The GE Show’s interactive video game about rail systems

There are all kinds of gamification sub-niches, including education, commerce, social good, and much more. By including an element of play within a story, these types of games get us interacting and bring out the inner child that was once fascinated by trains and other systems.

How To Do It

Although there’s no easy, inexpensive way to add an element of gamification to your own business strategy, the gamification wiki at Badgeville has everything you need to know, including books, presentations and resources on how to get it done. From there, you can also read case studies by gamification experts and see what’s happening when the brands you love essentially “level up” their marketing plans through games.

What’s Next?

In the next part of this two part series, we’ll take a look at the more serious aspects of content marketing beyond the blog, including inspiration, practicality and education. Although it’s not as fun on the surface as games or funny viral videos, you can only market yourself so much by making people laugh. Some people need more meaty, real-life information in order to make an informed decision, and the next article will show you how you can use a variety of content marketing systems to make that happen.

Share Your Thoughts!

What do you think about these innovative content marketing strategies? Have you found yourself playing a branded video or interacting with an online game through a well-known company? Share your thoughts and ideas below in the comments!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

  1. Ryan Biddulph May 08, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Sherice,

    A simple bit of humor makes the difference. I post funny travel pics to my blog and social accounts each day. Helps folks lighten up, and boosts sales because people seek out folks who make them feel good. That’s the secret. Make people feel good, and you’ll have zero problems trying to grow business. Laugh. Share your personality. Be creative. Prosper.



  2. Well hello Sherice, when you mentioned gamification that got my inventive juices flowing from creating levels for number of blog commentators to awarding a prize to the first person who shares your content using this weeks lucky social network – you could monitor this via Google Alerts.

    As you point out by taking the time to stand back from cold hard numbers and think about making the whole experience fun then great ideas can flow.


  3. Sandeep Sharma May 09, 2014 at 4:54 am

    This could give us the motivation to promote our business through content marketing and i will be waiting for the next part.

  4. Looking to the big brands can be inspiration at times. They do have some great ideas from time to time. Plus, you can see if they fluff their concept, and if it’s a success you can learn from there.

  5. Johnnie J. Gunter May 09, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I am also can see what linking to big brands are really helping. Monitor your ranking, try to add one or two links to Wikipedia and you will see how your ranking increasing slowly.

  6. I think the biggest obstacle for most people has been that it is not budget friendly to produce great videos. Most small businesses don’t have 4-7K sitting around for a video. I like the examples you gave above for a cost effecting approach.

    • Maciej, great point. I always tell people to start off small and scale as your budgets increase. You’ll learn it’s the most effective approach for growing and learning along the way :)

  7. This is very good. Video snippets are great on vine and other video sites, but can be very daunting. Gamification on the other hand is very achievable. A good resource is for those that want a more structured method.

  8. thanks so much. am a huge fan of yours…
    plz do you give out ebooks here..

  9. Hey, thanks for this post, Sherice!

    We’ve been pushing ourselves to focus more on content lately and are firm believers in the fact that it can – in the long-term – translate to successful conversions, so we’re always looking for insights and ideas like this. Many of our clients are e-Commerce, so we’re pretty heavily invested in the hopes that a solid content strategy will help them grow their businesses online.

    Thanks again for your suggestions – we’ll be taking these into account the next time we’re looking into content strategy :)


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