Marketers With Courage To Innovate Using Content


John Ellett, Contributor

February 27, 2014

Content marketing is a hot topic in many companies today. But few have been as successful at tapping into their internal subject marketer experts and their customers as these three examples. Cleveland Clinic, GoPro and SanDisk have created the internal and virtual organizational capabilities to generate meaningful and engaging content that customers find and are willing to share. Whether it is trusted medical information, inspiring photography or action videos, these marketers have tapped into customer insights that grounded their content approach.

Paul Matsen, CMO, Cleveland Clinic

The Cleveland Clinic is one of a handful of national hospitals that people travel to from all over the country for treatment. “Our challenge has been, with a limited budget, how do you build yourself to be a widely recognized and trusted national brand? We built an integrated Web approach and supported that with fantastic social and content marketing.”

For Matsen, courage means consistently being the voice of the customer. “It’s using that platform, using that voice, to take some intelligent risks to build the brand.”

His advice for other marketers who desire to build a content-based program:

  1. Collaboration. We’re facilitators for the enterprise in the digital and social space. But we don’t own it. We’re there to help the creation of content.
  2. Find the digital natives in your organization. We found physicians, nurses and scientists who wanted to contribute, and we worked with them on how to create it and package it.
  3. Keep testing. We had several failures. But now we’ve hit on a strategy that really works and it’s never static.

Kevin Platshon, Digital Marketing Manager, GoPro

Billed as the world’s most versatile camera, GoPro has enabled its active and socially connected customers to share their moments of inspiration. “We classify ourselves as a viral hardware company. Every time a piece of content is shared it’s inspiring someone, even if we don’t show the product at all.”

To Platshon, courage means taking risks and having the confidence to articulate your thoughts and put yourself out there for criticism. “There’s courage and then there’s ‘affective courage,’ which is inspiring others, both more senior and more junior, to take risks with the same poise and thoughtfulness.”

His advice for marketers wanting to activate customer generated content:

  1. Don’t take your customers for granted. They should be a source of ideas, a source of thought, a relationship that starts with listening and shouldn’t end at all, but maintains meaningfully.
  2. Truly listen to your customers. Customers offer a ton of product innovation.
  3. Empower your internal resources to execute, to build the brand. Execution is so important.

Carol Kurimsky, VP Corporate Marketing, SanDisk

While SanDisk is a leader in the flash memory card market and a favorite of digital photographers, Kurimsky wanted to engage with the company’s customers in more meaningful ways. She launched the Telling Life’s Stories From Memory campaign using digital paid, owned and earned media to the delight of her retail partners.

To Kurimsky, courage is the willingness to go out and explore what hasn’t been completely defined. “To go out and continuously look for new ways to do things better and to use the newest latest tools that are out there, rather than being content to just rely on the tried and true.”

Her advice for embracing digital at the core of a marketing plan:

  1. Just jump in the water and swim.  You have to be willing to step out there and try it.
  2. Metrics, metrics, metrics. Watch the metrics and then figure out from there what’s working and what’s not.
  3. Be nimble and be ready to change your approach if you’re not getting what you want.

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