What’s the most valuable content of all?

Sonja Jefferson

The most valuable marketing contentWhat’s the most valuable piece of content you’ve ever created? We asked ten of our content heroes from companies big and small for their top pick. We asked what’s worked best for them, and got them to define the value it’s brought to their businesses. Here’s what they had to say. It’s a fascinating list with some clear lessons and great ideas to take away for your own content.

David Meerman Scott: New Rules ebook and SlideShare

David Meerman Scott“Two things for me. Firstly, the New Rules of PR ebook (downloaded over a million times) directly led to a book deal with Wiley for The New Rules of Marketing and PR, my international bestseller now in its 4th edition with more than 300,000 copies sold in English and available in over 25 languages from Bulgarian to Vietnamese.The most valuable marketing content

And secondly The New Rules of Selling [SlideShare], which explained the ideas behind my newest book – The New Rules of Sales and Service. It’s been shared more than 1,800 times on LinkedIn, and racked up some 500 Facebook likes and 700 Tweets. It’s the fastest sharing of any of my content in more than a decade of publishing free stuff on the web. The SlideShare spread my work way beyond my own network to reach many people who have never been exposed to my ideas.”

David’s tip for you: “Put your best work out there for free.”

> David Meerman Scott is author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR and recently released The New Rules of Sales and Service.

Bryony Thomas: content that wasn’t created as marketing

“Interestingly, though unsurprisingly to me as I often think the material you create for real commercial purposes becomes your most powerful content, my most valuable piece of content was not prepared as marketing content.

It was a presentation for a half-year review meeting to justify marketing spending in a time when a new Commercial Director had been appointed to cut costs – by up to 50% as rumour had it. I called a review meeting to pre-empt the marketing budget being in the bee-line. It was at this meeting, in 2008, that I first presented the marketing plan and budget visually charted against the buying decision to show where the money was being spent in terms of influence on sales results. It completely transformed the way the senior team in the company engaged with me, and safeguarded the budget. This later became a popular blog post on my website – 6 Steps to a Strategic Review of your Marketing Budget, then Chapter 9 in my book. You might say it changed the course of my career entirely.”

“The material you create for real commercial purposes often becomes your most powerful content.”

> Bryony Thomas is author of Watertight Marketing.

Joe Pulizzi: our annual research

“If I had to pick, I’d say our annual research has made the most impact. It’s gotten us coverage that we could have never received otherwise.  It’s helped position us as the go-to resource for content marketing. Here’s the link: ‘Content Marketing Institute – Content Marketing Budgets, Benchmarks and Trends.’

Back in the day, it was the Top 42 Content Marketing Bloggers List we developed.”

A reminder from Joe: “It’s never just one thing…it’s the consistency of what we do that makes it all happen.”

> Joe Pulizzi is founder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of Epic Content Marketing.

Richard Fray: The HSBC Expat Explorer Survey

“Our most valuable piece of content is our Expat Explorer Survey – one of the world’s largest surveys of expats – which asks our target audience what it is like to move, live and work abroad. This provides us with an incredibly rich amount of data and insights, which we have been able to repurpose endlessly in our content. The insights have been used to generate global press coverage, interactive data visualisations, videos, infographics, curated forums and country guides, populate our social media feeds and train our employees.

With the survey data, we are able to infuse our content with the voices and views of our customer base and target audience. This vastly increases the breadth of content we can create, as well as its depth and authenticity. Our content has enabled over half a million users in 200 countries to compare which countries are the best places to live, and to get advice on everything from finding accommodation to fitting in to a new culture. The feedback from customers and our social media community has been fantastic, with expats sharing our content widely and telling us that this is content they cannot get elsewhere – and that it changes the way they think about us as an organisation.”

“Our content has enabled over half a million users in 200 countries to compare which countries are the best places to live.”

> Richard Fray is Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager for HSBC’s Expat Division, and worthy winner of a Valuable Content Award.

Doug Kessler: The Crap! SlideShare

“As far as our own agency promotion, our home-run content was the SlideShare called, ‘Crap: Why The Single Biggest Threat to Content Marketing is Content Marketing’. It seemed to hit the market at just the right time and resonated with fellow marketers worried about the same things. To date it’s been viewed over 650,000 times and it still out-performs our more recent SlideShares every week. A lot of the views have come from embeds in other blogs (including things like Hubspot and Marketing Profs), which is always gratifying.

The piece helped put us on the map, generated significant business opportunities and created all those lovely ‘ripples’ that no one measures, like speaking invitations, interviews and meeting lots of people we admire.

Crap also gave a spike to all our other content as readers came back for more from Velocity. For instance, ‘Three Poisonous Metaphors in B2B Marketing‘,  a piece that had earned 6,000 views before Crap went live now has over 35,000 – with zero promotion.”

“The piece helped put us on the map and created all those lovely ‘ripples’ that no one measures.”

> Doug Kessler is creative director & co-founder of Velocity, B2B marketing agency to the stars. You can read more on Velocity’s supremely confident approach to content marketing here.

Henneke Duistermaat: a book that makes a difference

 

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8 Comments

  1. Great question and impressive answers (thanks for including us!).

    And your analysis at the end is spot on.

    Another one might be the unpredictability of what will become your MVC (Most Valuable Content). I certainly didn’t anticipate ours. And I sometimes wrongly anticipate a winner.

  2. Hello Doug. The pleasure is all ours – fascinating to hear your experience.
    Unpredictability – that’s definitely one for the list. Anyone else out there been surprised at what content has had success (and what’s not)?

  3. Powerful analysis and a blueprint for how content marketing should be considered.
    I agree it is unlikely that great valuable content will spring up, miraculously, mushroom-like overnight.
    Like a Premier League Manager, who has gained experience in the lower leagues before getting a top job you have to win respect to be fully appreciated and considered.
    Even David Meerman Scott’s epiphany and success with Slideshare was grounded in the great content, worldwide speaking and best-selling book he has contributed over many years.
    If I may use a rugby analogy you need to put in the “hard yards” before you are able to unleash your best attacking options/best and most valuable content.
    You may then be more likely to be remembered for scoring great tries/great content than the countless scrummaging and the hard yards that preceded them.
    Succinctly, my 4 P’s for Content Marketing: Pragmatism, Perseverance, Patience and Passion.

  4. Hi Paul. Thank you. It’s a long term game isn’t it? That’s often a hard sell to a client or board looking for quick results but it’s reality – this stuff takes work, time and care. I very much like your 4 P’s for content marketing. How about a guest post here on VC where you explore those in more depth. I’d be fascinated. Email me if you’re up for that. Sonja

  5. “Valuable content is proof of your passion and expertise.”

    I whole heartedly agree with that take away, and if you demonstrate those qualities in your content it helps add authenticity to what you’re saying and people will engage with that.

  6. Sharon Tanton

    Thanks Emily – authenticity is so important for engagement isn’t it? We like to get a sense of the person behind the content, and we love content that sweeps us along in the wake of its enthusiasm – whatever the subject that counts for a lot.

  7. Really nice article Sonja and Sharon! This is really potent!

    Collating information from other experts in your niche is a really good to create a killer blog article.

    Then if you condense and thread all their insights together you get something that´s 10x more powerful than what you started with.

  8. Thanks Alex – very good of you to say so. Hope all is good with you.