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This is a guest post by Sherice Jacob from iElectrify

Sometimes the best content marketing ideas are the ones that come from using everyday websites and platforms. And the good news is that these methods can be duplicated across nearly any topic or niche.

All you have to ask are two important questions: “Who am I targeting with this marketing?” and “How can I get them interested and engaged with this content?” Even large corporations from American Express to Adobe, have gone back to basics.

Here’s what they’re doing, and what you can learn from them:

American Express Connects with Small and Medium Business Owners through OPEN Forum

OPEN Forum is American Express’ initiative to connect business owners with collaborative tools and advice. Topics include social media, branding, marketing tips, office productivity and much more. Well known marketers, including author Guy Kawasaki and Ann Handley from MarketingProfs make regular appearances and offer guidance.

Notice there’s no mention of credit cards in the mix.

The Genius Strategy

American Express can sit quietly in the background, reaping all the benefits of goodwill associated with bringing people together with mentors and business tools. The forum has also expanded to include a Tumblr page with quotes and news that matters to business owners. It has also launched its own initiatives including Connectodex, which helps entrepreneurs create more professional profiles for lead generation and networking. This article explains how OPEN Forum has grown from 425,000 page views to over 15 million in a year.

The Take-Away

If there’s a lot of discussion, unanswered questions or people coming together on your topic, why not create a forum to act as a central hub for it? Along the same lines, you could start a community newsletter that brings together the top posters, threads and comments, and actively look for guides, resources and other tools that will make things easier for your participants.

Adobe Leverages Content Curation through CMO.com

Adobe’s CMO.com curates content from all around the web – things that have been especially selected to help Chief Marketing Officers navigate the changing advertising world. Adobe selects content from over 150 top news sites and organizations, as well as creating their own.

It also doesn’t pitch its software programs or web-based solutions to the audience.

In fact, the only ads you’ll find are invitations to take important surveys, whose results can appear in joint Adobe white papers, articles, or the Adobe Digital Index.

The Genius Strategy

Adobe benefits from content marketing through CMO.com in several ways:

  • It reaches crucial decision-makers with the news they need in a way that’s easy to navigate and read.
  • It encourages content consumption without putting up roadblocks or forced registration.
  • It promotes personalized news via registration (which can be done by connecting a LinkedIn account).
  • It establishes itself as a media thought leader by providing tools and resources that make CMOs’ jobs easier. It’s a natural connection.

The Take-Away

Curating content can be time consuming, but for already-busy people, remember that you’re doing them a huge service by separating the wheat from the chaff and giving them exactly what they need to know to do their jobs better. Use resources including AllTop and Topsy to help you get a handle on trending content in your industry, and then use a curation tool like Paper.li or Trap.it to store your ideas.

In other words, become the go-to news and content source for your industry and niche. This will position you as an authority and help people discover your products.

Nightmares Fear Factory Uses Flickr to Terrify Its Viewers

Nightmares Fear Factory is a haunted house walkthrough in Niagara Falls, Canada. What separates it from the ordinary scare-fests is its mystery. Its Flickr page shows photos of guests being scared out of their wits – but by what?

Nobody knows unless they go in.

That, of course, is part of the fun. Even the FAQ on the official website is quiet about whether or not guests are grabbed, separated from their group or otherwise caused to jump out of their skin.

The Genius Strategy

Social Proof. Nightmares Fear Factory is showing pictures of people using their "product" and demonstrating that it works, and works well. 

The Take-Away

Not every business can do a suspenseful Flickr account, but you can find innovative ways to use both it and Pinterest to inspire and share ideas -- show customers using your product, finding unique “hacks” to make life easier with your product, or spotlight the people behind the offer and why they’re so passionate about it.

The Traveler IQ Challenge Game from TravelPod

So how smart is your travel IQ? Think you could pinpoint a capitol city on a map with just your mouse cursor? That’s the premise behind the Traveler IQ challenge, where you can choose a region to test your knowledge or do an Amazing-Race style speed test. With each answer, you earn points – with a specific number being needed to advance.

The Genius Strategy

This simple flash game can be addictive – and it reinforces TravelPod (which lets travellers create blogs) very well. The rules are simple enough for anyone to follow. You can also choose a badge to show off your Travel IQ or even embed the game in your own website.

In other words, TravelPod has created a piece of free 'attraction strategy' content that get people to their site and makes them want to share with their friends. 

The Take-Away

Flash games are relatively inexpensive to make -- and quiz-based games are always fun. Depending on your topic, you could test your readers with trivia, personality quizzes, or other fun content. The important thing is that their results can be shared via social networks and that they can also embed the game in their own sites - further enhancing and distributing your brand.

CoreStreet’s PIVMAN Comic Saves the Day

The PIVMAN is a handheld government ID verification system that works without the need for a network connection. That makes it incredibly valuable for first responders on the scene of disasters or other catastrophes who need to get people to safely – quickly.

Realizing this, the company created PIVMAN, a Spider-man-style super hero who uses his PIVMAN handheld to help save the day.

The Genius Strategy

According to its creator, the PIVMAN generated twice as many high-quality leads as other marketing methods. The first 500 copies of the comic were distributed within days, with 10,000 more printed to keep up with demand. Considering that the PIVMAN device retails for $24,500, it’s not an impulse buy. However, the comic explained how the device worked better than a stale, old sales presentation. As a result of this ingenuity, CoreStreet, the company that makes the product, was awarded part of a security contract with the city of Los Angeles.

Who knew a simple comic could do so much?

The Take-Away

Turn that boring, stale sales pitch into something more interesting! Everything from medicine to cereal has been sold in comic form - why not your product? Or, you could create an infographic or short video. The key is to shake up your content format and find interesting ways to show how your product works and how people can benefit from it.

What are some of the more innovative content marketing ideas you’ve seen on the web? Share them below in the comments!


About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps website owners improve conversion rates through user-friendly design, copywriting and website optimization. To learn more, visit iElectrify.com and download your free website conversion checklist and web copy tune-up.