THE MARKETEER 50: BRANDS TO WATCH IN 2012
11. Procter & Gamble's Home Made Simple
While visitors toMan of the Houseare busy learning how to repair drywall,Procter & Gamblefocuses on more traditional aspects of what was once referred to as "homemaking" atHome Made Simple. That translates to lots of great content about food, home organization, crafts, decor, parties, and gardening. As a result, this content marketing effort has received its share of buzz and inspired a series with Paige Davis on the Oprah Network.
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Editorial has played a key role in this smart startup's service since its 2010 debut. Birchbox's "magazine,"The Haute Box, is chock-full of content that stretches beyond the product samples Birchbox members receive each month. Articles onwellnessoffer healthy living tips that suggest but don't require product purchases, and a keen metadata strategy emulates the organization of magazines' front-of-the-book departments into categories likeInsider GuideandBeauty in Action, among others.
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13. Degree Men (Unilever)
Featuring lots of high jumps, extreme sports, breakneck speeds, and Bear Grylls,The Adrenalistis the choice content site forUnilever, maker of the popular Degree brand deodorant. The site positions itself as a place to celebrate living life on the edge, but you won't find many mentions of deodorant. The Adrenalist focuses on Degree's active-male demographic, and offers this audience a place to discover some of the craziest action sports, gadgets, and personalities out there.
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Patagoniawas practicing content marketing well before it became cool, withThe Cleanest Line. The outdoors retailer continues to lead the pack with a stock of athlete contributors, such as renowned surfer Chris Malloy, climber Brittany Griffith, and skier JD Hare. Articles on adventure, design, activism, and culture are tackled as lifestyle journalism, making The Cleanest Line a fantastic example of content marketing done right.
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L'Orealis the largest cosmetics and beauty company in the world, so it's fitting that it owns the domainmakeup.com. The content here is produced by a palette of bloggers, freelancers, and journalists. They aim to help users of all skill levels—from the makeup challenged to talented artists looking for new techniques—with everything from video tutorials to blogged lists.
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GEis part of our lives in one way or another, thanks to its impact on technology, health, and machinery, which also provides the company with more than enough topics to explore in its content marketing efforts. In fact, GE delivers content in three distinct blogs:Ecomagination,Txchnologist, andHealthymagination. Those original concepts are also enhanced with separate social media accounts.
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17. Procter & Gamble's Man of the House
If it's for scrubbing, disinfecting, wiping, washing, or shaving,Procter & Gambleprobably makes it. And while remembering to add some Tide to the washing machine doesn't require content marketing,Man of the Househas a keen sense of what everyday guys (and gals) truly need in order to manage a home. Articles are penned by authors who relay colorful experiences and contribute genuine advice to users. And despite its moniker, Man of House is a valuable resource for women, as well.
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18. Bergdorf Goodman
The New York City-based luxury goods department storeBergdorf Goodmanis serious about its content marketing. TheBergdorf Goodman Blogreads like a magazine focused on fashion and culture in the Big Apple. The fresh content—such as columns from top fashion writers, interviews with famous designers, and historical depictions of the store—easily warrants subscribing to the blog's RSS feed, and BG's Google+ and Pinterest accounts are equally alluring.
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19. Tory Burch
The namesake and CEO of theTory Burchbrand has worked in magazines, and that experience shines through inThe Tory Blog's content marketing. Spotlight On takes a profile-like approach to renowned aesthetes, while The Wish List solicits the stylish set (including novelists like Plum Sykes) to share a few favorite things. Other departments focus on trends, inspiration, and notably well-dressed, high-profile women. Tory On offers a glimpse into the world of the designer via her own creations, as well as childhood memories, what she loves about summer, and other personalized posts. In Tory’s City Guides, the designer dishes on where to go, dine, shop, and stay in the various international cities that house Tory Burch boutiques, from Houston, Texas to Manila, Philippines.
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The marketing automation masters atEloquaare all about doing more with less, and their content marketing efforts reflect a similar ethos, prioritizing quality over quantity. The company'sIt's All About Revenue blogbenefits from the expertise of Eloqua employees, including vice president of content marketingJoe Chernov, an influential voice in the field. This brand is skilled at creating various types of content, but Eloqua'sGrand Guidesand infographic collaborations with JESS3 stand out as some of the best B2B content marketing around.
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21. Whole Foods
With the desire for natural foods only increasing,Whole Foods Marketisn't lacking in fresh ideas for itsblog. And like its merchandise, the popular grocer's content is aimed at supporting healthy lifestyles, offering recipes, podcasts, health news, sustainability tips, and articles about social responsibility. Whole Foods employees bring their specialty knowledge from the company's front lines to its content marketing program, with helpful information on organics, trends, local producers, and more.
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22. Boston Consulting Group
As one of the most prestigious management consulting firms in the world,The Boston Consulting Group's own business experiences make for fantastic content. At the heart of its content marketing efforts isbcg perspectives, which showcases BCG's consulting authority in a variety of industries. And the firm satisfies all kinds of consumer preferences with a solid range of content types—from articles to interactive multimedia.
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Marketing automation heavyweightMarketois also an undeniable leader when it comes to content marketing. The company'sblogs homepagesays it best: "We promise a steady stream of fresh thinking, thought provoking ideas, and engaged commentary." The interface makes finding content easy, and users are rewarded with a wealth of award-winning options in the form of white papers, cheat sheets, "marketing success kits," and much more. With contributions from industry thought leaders likeJon Miller—the company's vice president of marketing—marketers of all stripes would be wise to follow Marketo's content closely.
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The popular women's clothing and home decor retailerAnthropologieforgoes user-generated content onThe Anthropologist, featuring instead original content from professional photographers, filmmakers, and writers. The site sparks imagination and creativity, and focuses on quality over quantity, preventing readers from becoming overwhelmed. Anthropologie also curates content viaTumblrwith a nod to the store's aesthetic.
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If you've ever waded through real estate data, you know how overwhelming it can be, butZillowis here to help. TheZillow blogcounts industry professionals, consultants, and employees among its content marketing creators to help both seasoned and amateur buyers alike. Articles ease users through the emotional aspects of purchasing real estate, but there's plenty of eye candy here for the HGTV-obsessed as well.
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Zapposwas recognized by Abrams Research in 2009 for its uber-effective use of social media, but the online shoe retailer is notable for its content marketing efforts as well. TheZappos blogis updated multiple times a day with a variety of content covering new brands, Zappos highlights, musical suggestions, and peeks behind-the-scenes. Conversation is robust on the company's social networks thanks to the enjoyable reads produced by the Zappos staff.
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You probably knowFiskarsbest for the trusty pair of orange-handled scissors you keep in your utility drawer. And while there are endless uses for those scissors, the brand has savvily tapped into the crafting craze withFiskateers. This content marketing effort is lead by a rotating team of crafting ambassadors who share more project ideas than most of us could shake a glue stick at. Features include a blog, message board, calendar, gallery, project spotlight, Fiskateer of the Week, and more.
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29. Southwest Airlines
As America's largest airline (based on domestic passengers carried),Southwest Airlinesis a big player on the content marketing scene as well. PRWeek awardedNuts About Southwestwith the title of best corporate blog from 2007 to 2010, and the airline boasts massive social networks. The secret to Southwest's success? Humor, executed using various content types, such as video, blogs, and podcasts.
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30. Sun Life Financial
The insurance providerSun Life Financialdevotes its content marketing efforts to helping customers lead more enriched lives withBrighter Life. Content focuses on improving users' quality of life with tips on managing their money, health, working life, family, and retirement.
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Sometimes it takes an enterprise company such asAT&Tto help smaller businesses find their footing. That's the theory behind this phone service giant'sNetwork Exchange Blog. Produced by AT&T "network experts" and occasional outside contributors, content revolves around technology and how it's applied in the business world. It targets an audience interested in staying current on tech trends but that may not want or be able to adopt every new concept.
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Entertaining kids and adults alike,PlayStationhas been establishing its household name as a video-game leader since the mid-1990s. Today, thePlayStation Bloggives loyal gamers insight into the brand's offerings, with seemingly endless product tips, trailers, clips, podcasts, and more from its content marketing stockpile.
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The leading provider of search engine optimization tools,SEOmozhas also emerged as the foremost thought leader on SEO thanks to its stellar content marketing efforts—particularly the brand's widely referencedBeginner's Guide to SEO. Moz's must-readDaily SEO Blogis regularly supplemented with the best user-generated content from theYouMoz Blog, and Whiteboard Fridays often feature video from cofounderRand Fishkin.
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34. Kelly OCG
This Fortune 500 company is perhaps best known for providing temporary-staffing services, butKelly Services' content marketing efforts are showcased viaKellyOCG, the website of the company's outsourcing and consulting arm. Leadership, human resources, work culture, productivity, global economic trends, and other management-related topics are tackled and presented in a broad range of content types, like blog posts, white papers and reports, videos, webcasts, Ebooks, infographics, and more.
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35. Barneys New York
Barneys New Yorkis eponymous with style, andThe Windowputs that reputation in action. Filled with tips, examples, anecdotes, and personal narratives from fashion experts and veterans, Window visitors are guaranteed to experience style and fashion the Barney's way.
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Deloitte Consultinggoes beyond everyday accounting with its environmentally focusedGreen Business Blog. The company proves there's content marketing payoff in taking on controversial topics like climate change and is adept at explaining how sustainable practices save money, improve safety, and increase profits.
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The social media powerhouseRadian6is also a prolific content marketer. The company'sSocial Strategy Blogcovers important issues in the world of social media and is an invaluable source of information on the industry. Contributors position themselves as knowledge experts through additional types of free content, as well, such as white papers, e-Books, videos, and much more.
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Coffee giantStarbuckschannels its content marketing efforts into the websiteCoffeehouse. Home to user-uploaded photos from Instagram, book and music reviews, social discussions, and, well, just about everything else we've come to associate with coffeeshops, Starbucks' team of content managers creates a warm online environment aimed at facilitating buzz-worthy discussions.
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Dell's impressive content marketing efforts shine through theDell Community. Providing a bevy of information about computer products well beyond those the company makes itself, Dell's blogs are must-reads for anyone interested in the latest on technology design, usage, and business. The company's YouTube series"America's Favorite Small Business"is also an excellent example of video content marketing.
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40. Procter & Gamble's Being Girl
Procter & Gambledoes a formidable job reaching out to an adolescent female audience withBeing Girl. Educational and genuine—and from a girl's point of view—the site offers a refuge to explore and discuss important topics like menstruation, relationships, eating disorders, makeup, and many other subjects that tend to weigh on the minds of young women. Videos and forums serve to extend the credibility of this well-executed content marketing effort even further.
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Considering just about every product imaginable can be found onAmazon, it can be easy to forget that the world's largest online retailer began as an online bookstore. Staying noble to the Amazon roots,Omnivoraciousis dedicated to book reviews, interviews with famous authors, "best of" lists, and other human-interest pieces written by staffers as well as outside journalists and authors. Additionally,The Backstoryis pumped full of interviews, recipes, and discussions that allow shoppers to interact with each other as they would in a physical marketplace.
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Targetpublishes more company and product promotion onA Bull's Eye Viewthan most content marketing efforts on our list, but its stylistic approach and celebrity appearances are notable and attention-grabbing. The popular discount retailer also does a nice job of offering valuable takeaways, like recipes from popular chefs such as Giada De Laurentiis and style advice from TV celebs like "Project Runway" judge andMarie Claireeditor Nina Garcia, who also guest-edited an edition of Target's monthlyOn the Dot Tumblrmagazine.
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Named "company of the year" byInc. magazine in 2011,Evernote's product line is built around a full-featured application that helps users manage the dreaded information overload. The company's content marketing efforts include publishing at least three blog posts per week—a mix of user stories, tips for how to use Evernote products, and product updates—and a rich video library with tutorials, demos, and tips. The Marketeer spoke with Andrew Sinkov, the company's vice president of marketing, and editor Kasey Hickey earlier this year fora closer look at Evernote's content program.
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The popular department storeMacy'seffectively employs content marketing via itsmBlog. Beyond requisite fashion coverage, the retailer often puts style in a timely cultural context (as it did recently with Oscar-related blog posts) and keeps content clearly categorized based on user interests and needs, such as beauty and men's fashion.
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45. The Gap
Gapis all about "accessible style," and the content marketing efforts of this clothing and accessories retailer reflect that approach as well.GapMagtakes a note fromThe Sartorialist's popular playbook with its on-the-street photos of everyday people sporting the brand's latest looks, offering plenty of inspiration for users.
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46. At Task
AtTaskspecializes in project management software, but itsblogfocuses on the leadership aspects of management. Posts are penned by a combination of expert bloggers, executive bloggers, and others, providing diverse levels of experience. The brand wisely takes its content marketing beyond blogging with a free project manager toolkit that includes webinars, white papers, and videos.
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Pepsicoexemplifies the true essence of content marketing withPepsico WIN: The PepsiCo Women's Inspiration Network. Showcasing the positive impacts women are making in our globalized world, the ubiquitous brand focuses on telling inspirational stories, often with health and wellness, the environment, and sustainability in mind. Another bonus: loads of video.
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While the renowned online auctioning siteeBayis a household name, users on the selling end of the service can be overwhelmed with the experience of hawking merchandise online. That's wherethe Ink blogcomes in handy. Of eBay's content marketing cache, Ink is where sellers, new and experienced alike, stay up-to-date on the intricacies of e-commerce. The friendly layout and calm pacing ensure readers don't suffer from unnecessary information overload.
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Wegmanshas won kudos as one of the country's best supermarkets, and its content marketing also deserves applause. TheFresh Stories Blogoffers a wealth of recipes, chef interviews, product news, how-to videos, nutrition tips, and more. Founder Danny Wegman is among the blog's contributors, along with the grocer's regional wine manager and marketing employees, who write about everything from beer to preparing gluten-free meals for kids.
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The software corporationSAPputs its best resources—its employees—forward in its content marketing efforts. The company'sblogsare aimed at "making the world run a little better," encouraging SAP staffers to fuel discussion by writing about topics that make them passionate.
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The People Behind the Brands . . .
Adobeproducts are only as creative and capable as the people who use them, which is what fuels the computer software company'sblog—helping users get the most out of those products. The blog is sustained by a variety of authors with different specializations who apply the features of the entire Adobe lineup in unique ways. While the company also offers tutorials to help users get started, its blog provides inspiration and perspective on how its software can be used to impact the world.
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About the author Toby Murdock
Toby Murdock is the publisher of The Content Marketeer and the CEO of Kapost, the leading content marketing software platform.