Epic Content (And Results) That Didn’t Break The Bank
You don't need tons of money to do content marketing well. Columnist Brian Patterson shares some real-world examples of small-budget content marketing that garnered big-budget results.
I’m not going to preach the value of content. We all know its power and read content-themed articles, tweets, and emails all day, every day. If there were a “content” drinking game, and you had to take a shot every time you heard the word, we’d all be hammered by 9:10 a.m.
While content’s value is well understood, the requirements for creating great content may be misguided. We see the Red Bull Stratos jump and the Dollar Shave Club launch video and think, “Man, we could never afford to do content like that,” or “Great content takes a lot of time and money.” But for every successful million-dollar content campaign, there are many smaller successful campaigns that were very cheap — or in some cases, free.
Do you have a content budget that rhymes with “hero”? If so, don’t despair. I want to encourage you to create great content by breaking down some examples of epic content done on the cheap.
We’ll look at the methodology and tactics behind each piece to uncover a concept that is reusable for other types of businesses. Sure, it might take some creativity, “borrowing” of internal resources and a little moxie, but great content can be done with the resources you have right now. Let’s do this.
America Loves Pickup Trucks
America Loves Pickup Trucks is a great piece built by the team at EveryCarListed.com, a car listing aggregator that captures thousands of consumer car leads each day. This internal lead data is incredibly valuable in aggregate, as it allows them to see which cars are in high demand across different areas.
The demand data is compelling, but to really turn it into something shareable, we worked with the EveryCarListed.com team to organize this data by state and placed it on a map with other visuals. We then wrote a blog post that tied it all together into a single narrative.
The final step was to find a compelling title. Using TitleTester.com, we found that the pickup truck line really resonated, so we went with that. We then planned out a Reddit campaign and were able to get it to the front page, which led to a tremendous number of visits (and exposure from other high-quality publications).
Replicable Tactics: Use proprietary internal data to reveal something not known before, build a compelling story out of the data, use charts and visuals and be very strategic with social media promotion.
Results: 503K page views, hit the front page of Reddit and great links, including Ars Technica and BoingBoing.
Save Dat Money
Note: The following video is NSFW-ish.
David Burd, aka Lil’ Dicky, is a rapper for the internet age. Burd is funny, edgy and the opposite of what most picture upon hearing the word “rapper.” Burd embraces his differences, which means that while other rappers’ lyrics revolve around fancy cars and jewelry, his center on leftover pizza and buying the store brand versions of household products (really).
These differences are showcased in Burd’s viral music video, “Save Dat Money.” In it, Burd is shown hustling to create an epic video on a shoestring budget. He knocks on mansion doors asking if he can film, he barters promotion with a Lamborghini dealership, boat owner and restaurant, and he uses shots from a friend who is filming his own rap video.
The video and the behind-the-scenes footage are woven together into a fun journey with payoffs built in throughout. You see Burd asking for access, getting turned down and eventually getting what he wanted. It’s part music video and part reality TV. He then doubled down on this by releasing another video, a documentary on the making of “Save Dat Money,” which had its own success.
Burd being an amazing marketer is less surprising when you learn that he used to work for the Martin Agency — one of the best creative agencies and the geniuses behind many of the Geico commercials.
Replicable Tactics: Hustle for what you need, fake it ’til you make it, barter your existing services to benefit you both without costing anything, and use your connections (strategically) to help you get things you couldn’t on your own.
Results: 21M views on the music video, 700K views on the documentary, 33K new subscriptions to his YouTube channel, 122K social shares and national attention that led to the song being played in regular rotation on terrestrial radio.
Free Moving Services For Victims Of Abuse
It can be hard to build great links for a local service company, but that hasn’t stopped the moving guys at Meathead Movers. Their latest round of high-quality links can be attributed to their generosity with their local community: they will help relocate women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.
This moving company has partnered with several local organizations that help people in these situations, and their latest partnership led to some great press pickup. Doing good can make a real difference in people’s lives, and it has a nice side benefit of helping marketing and SEO efforts, as well.
Replicable Tactics: Offer your resources for free to those in need, partner with a great charity to help you navigate the issue, and reach out to journalists (with the charity) telling them about the free service you are now offering the community.
Results: Great links from sites that typically wouldn’t have a reason to link to a moving company, such as Yahoo, The Telegraph, BuzzFeed, People Magazine and Refinery29.
The Yelp Calculator
We do a lot of consulting with companies and franchises looking to improve the Yelp profiles of their various locations. As part of this consulting, we are always running calculations to determine how many reviews are needed to move up their star rating (e.g., it would take two 5-star reviews to move this location from a 3-star to a 3.5-star rating).
The calculations are complex because of the rounding in Yelp’s algorithm, but we were able to reverse-engineer the algorithm. We then rebuilt it for ourselves in a spreadsheet so that we could quickly run different scenarios for clients. It was incredibly useful, and we had clients asking us for the sheet so that they could tinker with it themselves.
We knew we were onto something, so we had our developer (when he had spare time) build a simple calculator as an interactive web tool for others to use. Then, we sat on it. It is incredibly useful, but it isn’t a particularly sexy thing to promote, so we decided to bide our time until we could tie it to the right story.
And then a dentist killed a lion and outraged the internet.
We had a eureka moment when we saw the Dentist’s Yelp profile being filled with negative 1-star reviews. We wrote up a fun, quick article featuring the calculator and detailing how many 5-star reviews it would take to turn his profile around. We then pitched it to reporters via a short email. Vice called and wrote a story on the Yelp calculator.
Replicable Tactics: Polish a tool you use internally and be flexible with launch dates to allow you to tie it into the right news story at the right time.
Results: A great link on Vice, thousands of visits and more than 4,000 social shares of the tool and associated coverage.
Great content doesn’t have to be expensive. If you have a huge budget, awesome (we’d be glad to help you spend it), but having no budget just isn’t a valid excuse for not creating good content. I hope that these examples provide a bit of inspiration in your quest to create great content (take another shot!).
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.