When it comes to content, there is definitely a time and a place for infographics. But I don’t think I’m completely alone when I say that sometimes a lengthy scroll through a static image populated with fun/quirky, well-designed (sometimes) icons that’s educating me on anything from cancer awareness numbers to stats around buffalo wing consumption during New Year’s, just doesn’t quite do it anymore. I want something new and fresh to consume as far as content is concerned, and below are a few companies that have recently helped me scratch that itch.

1. Allen Communication

As of a few years ago, quiz taking became all the rage in the content world and is still a very popular, and many times effective, method of content marketing. But many companies create a QZZR of TypeForm account, pump out a few template quizzes, and call that good. A little too predictable if you ask me. Allen Communication recently released an interactive quiz on microlearning, a method of employee and consumer training that is on the rise, to encourage engagement and interaction among users. The quiz is a complete screen takeover that serves up 12 questions and lets you know if your answers were correct or incorrect on the spot. It also has built in social sharing buttons. Sort of a breath of fresh air to see quizzes taken to a new standard.

2. Excedrin

While it’s important and impressive to be able to produce content that provides value to a target market, it is also more impressive to plan for that content to live in multiple formats and be able to promote that content across multiple channels. Excedrin accomplished both objectives with a smaller budget than many of their competitors. The Excedrin stories campaign hones in on the target’s need for specialized headache relief, and comes with a web-based education hub, email templates, video and social media banners.

3. Quiznos

This next one is pretty tasty, pun intended. Not only do I enjoy Quiznos’ sandwiches, it turns out their revamped content marketing strategy is just as good in its own right. Quiznos Toasty.tv channel is an online hub of parody TV shows like House of Thrones (a mix between House of Cards and Game of Thrones) or a show poking fun at Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s apparent bromance on many episodes of The Tonight Show. The goal here really seems to have been to up the relevance of the brand by increasing the chance of it playing a role in social conversations. On that front, Quiznos’ Toasty.tv has most definitely delivered.

4. Sprint

We have all become so accustomed to clean, beautiful, sleek design that when a brand doesn’t come to the table with it, we write them off immediately. I suppose one of the largest reasons Sprint’s piece made my list is because not only does it obviously sport the quality of design I’m describing, but just like Excedrin, Sprint has crafted their idea to live in multiple online arenas. Think slideshares, ebooks, videos and resource centers. Strategic content is beautiful content indeed.

5. Lenovo Think Progress Campaign

One thing you might notice from each of these picks is each company’s refusal to turn to the quick fix or easy way out when it comes to content. Blog posts and infographics have their place, sure, but sometimes you need something bigger. Sometimes you need to create a resource center housing 8 websites in 7 different languages that help users locate all of the content marketing efforts of your brand, and that is exactly what Lenovo produced. Their Think Progress hub has been able to increase the value of the leads they receive by 63%.

6. Mindful by Sodexo

Finally, we arrive at a recent piece produced by Sodexo, one of the world’s largest food-services and facilities-management companies. Sodexo created an entire sub-domain called Mindful. This resource center allows users quick access to healthy dieting tips and plans, but also healthy living information as well. Tools, education, and Mind/Spirit submenus can all be accessed from the main menu, and the site can also be accessed in English or French. Couple all of this with beautiful design and smart UX and you’ve got a very well crafted resource that I know has made me happy and many other users happy as well.

It turns out that great, innovative content is still all around us. Part of what I am trying to get at is that simply making a piece look beautiful is not enough. It is important, of course, but there needs to be strategy baked into the process as well. Maybe well designed infographics or a well written blog post is all some companies need to hit their goals. But I am always ready to salute those companies who take creative execution and strategy to the next level by skipping the easy way out and creating something that will truly delight users.

Featured photo credit: SaaS Marketing Strategies/Seven Atoms via flickr.com

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