Lead generation, thought leadership and brand awareness are the three cornerstones of content marketing (Source). A stereotypical success manual for content creation and marketing doesn’t exist. It wholeheartedly depends on the current problem and finding a way to mitigate it.

A report from Content Marketing Institute suggests that 30% of B2B marketers believe their organisation uses content marketing effectively. Here is a chart corroborating the respondents’ statements.

CM Effectiveness

The numbers are disappointing. There is an inherent lack of understanding about what constitutes content, its production specifics and marketing strategies. Experts believe the expensive nature of marketing a piece of content is a deterrent factor.

However, there are various businesses visible online who were able to crack the content marketing code with limited budget and resources.

In this article, I will highlight 9 such small businesses who were able to create successful content marketing campaigns.

#1 American Express OPEN Forum

The OPEN Forum is a resource site for business owners, willing to learn about customer service, technology, leadership and marketing, positioning American Express as a thought leader and true business partner. Below is an example screenshot of trending ideas curated by the credit card company.


American Express rules the small business information ecosystem with creating a resource site as their core marketing strategy, attracting both the existing credit card users and new leads.

#2 Anthropologie

A beautiful UI-based blog which frequently features DIY cocktail recipes that are seasonally relevant. The recipes feature unique ingredients and matches with the overall fashion tone of the Anthropologie blog.


Among millions of other blogs, Anthropologie positions itself as a trendy knowledgeable friend with its unique content proposition, without any play for sales.

#3 JustFly

A travel company selling affordable flight and hotel spaces around the world, JustFly knows its competition in the travel industry. Better discounts often change customer loyalty. Amid the competition, JustFly is capturing the travel space by positioning itself as a platform second to none in issuing low cost air travel tickets.

When the competition is hard, step out of the comfort zone, analyse business growth potential, develop a strong content marketing plan to reach out to the high-flying consumer base with giveaways and digital outreach programs.

#4 Wistia

Wistia publishes short duration educational videos to master the art of video marketing in their Learning Center. Each video is a microcosm of a concept, supplemented with bullet list. The approach is educative and doesn’t require expense of various resources.


A video series is a unique content marketing strategy, which promotes their services plus offers an educative learning space to interested users. Video is their USP and they’re capitalizing on the same.

#5 ADP

A leading business outsourcing services provider, ADP used their human capital management expertise to create valuable white papers. They built a search engine for brands to locate white papers on the same industry. Within the first 3 months of implementation, ADP generated $1 million worth sale opportunities.

Their content marketing strategy is effective due to their ability to predict the money ADP readers can save using their solutions. An overlooked content marketing resource, white papers are a strong lead generation strategy.

ADP certainly doesn’t come under the small business category. Still, I mentioned it here as an example to show how high-budget businesses win with content scalability.

#6 Callaway Golf

YouTube has changed the video marketing landscape. Companies like Callaway Golf create excellent video content resource on golf and upload it on YouTube. The content isn’t exclusive to Callaway customers.


Anyone can view their informative videos and maybe, next time someone considers to buy a golf club, Callaway can become the preferred choice – this is how long term branding works.

#7 Lion Brand Yarns

Another YouTube content marketing success story, Lion Brand Yarns uses educative interactive tone to impart the current and potential customers the knowledge of knitting.

Lion Brands

Lion Brand understands that for people to use their products, people need to learn and enjoy knitting. Through their creative and visually attractive content, the brand proves that good and meaningful content need not be high-budget to be successful.

#8 Arcade Fire

A clever example of crowd sourcing and curation, Arcade Fire invite its fans to submit their photos of the Reflektor tour. In return, a few chosen photos will be shared on the Fire’s Facebook page and website.

A win-win content marketing strategy for the band as it created a lot of crowd sourced content (new photography and engagement) and fans win a spotlight in their favorite band’s online page.

#9 Panera Bread

Content marketing isn’t about written content only; images form a part of the equation too. Panera Bread curates their own and crowdsourced content on their Pinterest channel. They share ‘bread stories’ on their channel and it has gathered massive following over a period of time.


Their business model is to sell homemade Panera products and gift cards. Traction on the Pinterest channel generates leads for them onsite. Panera uses ‘bread stories’ to create a content resource on their channels, a resource which resonates with the readers and hence, their business finds paying customers.


Businesses shouldn’t limit themselves from exploring content marketing verticals because of limited budget. Explore avenues and be creative.

All these 9 businesses fulfill the three cornerstones of content marketing.