A generation ago, getting straight As and 800s on the SATs could assure a student a spot at an Ivy League university.

Today, judging from my vantage point of having completed dozens of alumnae interviews for my Ivy League alma mater, those credentials are barely enough to get you to the starting gate. To win the golden ticket, you’ll need to lard on additional uber-impressive accomplishments. Winning a national debate championship. Dancing at a prestigious NYC dance conservatory. Having a parent who’s a movie star. In recent years, these are the strategies that I’ve seen win people their spots at the nation’s top schools.

The same is true of content marketing. Producing a white paper along with a few articles, case studies and blog posts is simply no longer enough to make an impression with admissions officers—namely, your potential customers. You need to not only up the quality of your core content, but also lard on the bells and whistles.

I recently spoke with several marketers who gave me tips for how they’re bringing content to the Ivy League level. Regardless of content type, it should meet one or more of the following criteria:


The content should teach the reader something. Greg White, Director of Product Marketing at Commvault, practices this method of improving content. “We’ve changed from the traditional types of content to more advisory white papers. We’ll do things like “The Top 10 Things You Need to Think about X Topic. We also create more thought- leadership content.”


Many marketers are concerned with creating engaging content. But what does this concept really mean? For Stacey Sayer, Global Manager, Social Media Marketing at Level 3, engaging content is content that invites an implicit or explicit response. For example, it could be controversial or it could ask for direct feedback.


Even in B2B marketing, Sayer suggests that marketers not be afraid to go for an emotional response. For example, Sayer says, “Try making people laugh. The worst thing is apathy. If people shrug their shoulders or yawn then it’s time to rethink your content.”


Create content specifically for each of your audiences. Sayer recommends, for example, that you, “have short form content for Twitter that only people on Twitter will see. Make the audience on each platform feel it was worth their time to hit the Like or Follow button by giving them access to something that they wouldn’t get anywhere else. Make them feel like they’re part of an exclusive club.”


When dealing with any medium, but particularly social media, it’s increasingly important for content to be visual. Think infographics, photos, podcasts, videos, SlideShares, and interactive experiences. Promote them over social media. Sayer said, “The Internet is primarily a visual medium. My analytics tell me that if something is pretty to look at, it performs really well.”