Reusable genius: one great use for content marketing

mint leaves Mint used content marketing in the development process

US bank Chase has discovered content marketing, according to this piece on Digiday. It has invested in a 10-person newsroom and is splashing out on lots of content.

Recent headlines include ‘Why you should stop comparing your finances to your friends’, ‘Can money buy happiness?’ and ‘The best times of year to buy a car’.

All very good in a pedestrian way, but really it’s a non-story.

To count as a news story, you have to offer something, well… new – Chase has discovered some insider trick to cut through the chaff, for example, or is the first financial brand to use content marketing.

This story doesn’t do that.

All of the big companies are using newsrooms now. They have been for some time. And as for financial brands and banks, if anything it sounds like Chase is a little late to this particular party.

The real originator of content marketing in this space — the one who did it when no one else was — was Mint.

Mint launched as a personal financial-management brand in 2006. It had little marketing budget and fundamentally relied on the platform that it ran on – its own site.

And there’s the problem: how do you get people to come on to your site and view your content if they don’t know it exists? Oh and one other thing… the appplication it was ultimately promoting hadn’t yet been built.

Blog

The company launched MintLife, which was aimed at young people. A personal finance blog, it was built out as an independent element of the site.

Features included articles such as ‘Home budget: affordable and cheap dates’ and ‘How-to guide: paying for college’. Does this chime with the Chase stories above?

This difference then was that no other brand was running anything like it. MintLife became the number one personal-finance blog and gave Mint a ready-made audience when the product was ready.

After three years, Mint sold to Intuit for $170m. By 2013, it had 10m users.

Conclusion

The masterstroke was in not waiting for a product. By this strategy, content could be aimed at building an audience while at the same time allowing Mint to test consumer attitudes as the application was being built.

You can’t always be the first to a lightbulb moment. But the idea of bringing content marketing into the heart of product development is resusable genius.

Reusable genius: one great use for content marketing is part of Content24, the blog for London content marketing agency FirstWord.

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