I watched a rerun of Food Network’s Chopped last night and realized I was actually watching a content marketing campaign in action.

For those of you who don’t know, Chopped is a cooking competition that requires chefs to make an appetizer, entrée and dessert using four key ingredients for each dish. Three master chefs critique the plates and send a chef home after each round until there is only one standing.

There are tears, triumphs and the occasional cut finger or kitchen fire. It is reality competition television at its finest.

Chopped leverages three key content marketing elements
Usually the baskets are compiled by the Chopped team, but last night’s show was a Viewer’s Choice episode. Pinterest fans chose the appetizer ingredients, Facebook fans chose the entrée ingredients and Twitter fans chose the dessert ingredients. During the show, they posted real-time about each round.

This is an excellent example of using social media to raise awareness, engagement and conversion, the three key elements to any content marketing strategy. Chopped raised awareness through a social media campaign in which it encouraged engagement by asking viewers to participate in picking basket items. The show also attempted to increase conversion rates, which, for them, means increasing viewers, by enticing first-time viewers to watch the show on a regular basis.

How Can You Apply This Strategy to Your Business?
So, what can you learn from Chopped (aside from the fact that the viewers who voted for kale as an ingredient in the dessert round have some serious problems)? A comprehensive content marketing campaign needs to raise awareness, either of a particular product, event or service or the company as a whole, encourage engagement and increase conversion rates. These are universal principles, but every business will apply them to their content marketing strategy differently.

If you run a successful restaurant in a small town, your marketing strategy might look like this:
• Awareness – Inform more people about your Wednesday night specials
• Engagement – Encourage patrons to write online reviews or post about their favorite dishes on social media pages
• Conversion – Increase Wednesday night sales by 10 percent over the course of six weeks

Obviously, the strategy of your campaign will vary depending on your industry and campaign goals. When planning your campaign, make sure to take all outlets into account: blogs, social media, your company website, media outlets, email, etc. The more channels you distribute your content to, the higher the chances of new customers finding your company.

You can also try to give your target market some power. If you run a boutique, consider letting customers choose between deals, like 40 percent off one item or $25 off a $75 purchase. You can also offer a discount if customers follow your social media pages. These are examples of simple ideas you can implement in your content marketing strategy that will yield big results.