Conversations about Creating Compelling Content

Author Archives: M. Sharon Baker

Real-World Content Marketing Success Stories

After reading about Kira Mondrus’ success at SecureWorks on the Content Marketing Institute’s blog, I wasn’t too surprised to learn Ardath Albee is identifying finalists for Content Marketing World’s Marketers of the Year.

Ardath, the top expert in B2B Marketing, is the ideal choice to identify those who are successfully implementing all the steps necessary to content marketing.

The well-written, real-world case studies on the finalists are worth reading, especially if you are trying to figure out how content marketing really works and find success.

Seeing how others have executed is powerful: the nominees give you maps, tips and concrete examples to follow.

Below are the first four nominees.

Do the critical persona work before creating content

When Kira Mondrus joined SecureWorks, she had to start at the beginning, creating personas and journey maps before creating marketing content.    Without the groundwork, it’s not only hard to reach the right prospects, but it’s also hard to nurture them and turn them into customers.

Unfortunately, creating personas, mapping buyer’s journeys and developing a content strategy are steps many companies skip when launching content marketing plans.

This is not a quick fix,” Mondrus says. “Be prepared to invest in the content, to invest the time to do the up-front research and work. Be prepared to wait for your optimizations to take hold, and you’ll see results.

Read about her content marketing journey here.

Flip the switch from product-related content to customer-centered content

I’m constantly surprised at the number of companies that don’t understand that successful content marketing puts the customer at the center. And I was surprised that it took FedEx a while to figure that out.

In the past, the go-to-market team at FedEx would get requests for content centered on a new product or service being launched. Not surprisingly, it didn’t resonate with customers or produce great results.

In this nomination post, you’ll learn how FedEx’s Drew Bailey flipped the content paradigm to one focused on customers, and how he overhauled the company’s email newsletter, one that’s now delivering double-digit revenue increases from subscribers.

How to Create A Successful Brand Publication

Monica Norton of Zendesk, a SaaS company selling customer service tools, created a very successful brand publication called Relate. Her case story tells you how  Relate’s website gets 40,000 monthly visitors, led to an email database  of 10,000, and helps her host in-person events that attract 2,000.

She says two keys to building a successful brand publication are:

  • Finding a topic beyond your brand and what you’re selling, but still related to what your product is about
  • Understanding this is a long-term endeavor

She also shares her top take-aways in this post.

You won’t be able to show results within a quarter,” Norton says. “You’re not growing radishes that will be done in a month. It requires patience.

How to Master Visual Storytelling

 Tech futurist Mark Anderson says that film is the lingua franca of the next generation. Not only are foundations and nonprofits getting into the video and film business but so are B2B firms and retailers.

REI, under managing editor Paolo Mottola, produces dozens every year, including 5-minute how-to videos to 40-minute documentaries.

The company’s short films:

were viewed by millions in 2017.

Mottola’s video strategy is an outgrowth of the company’s content and brand strategies. Those foundational pieces should be in place before even considering video or film content.

And then:

The story needs to be conducive to video,” Mottola says. “You have to be honest and see how visual the subject will be and if motion is the best way to get the story out there.”

Sometimes it will be, but other times long-form journalism, infographics, or a photo series will give the story a better voice, he says.

A lot of REI’s videos are educational, but there is also a steady mix of entertainment and inspiration too. Read the post to learn how REI videos help boost purchases and built stronger brand loyalty.


Congratulations and good luck to Kira, Drew, Monica, Paolo and future nominees.

And thanks for curating such a great list so far Ardath; CMI: thanks for the great content.


Be sure to check the Content Marketing Institute’s blog for additional nominations in the weeks to come.  And, let’s start a conversation: Let me know who you think does a great job at content marketing in the comments below.

photos courtesy of, Anne Baker

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