2 parts Science and 2 parts Art: Content Marketing done right for B2B

General Electric, better known as GE, a company that operates in healthcare, aviation and myriad other segments, is a large conglomerate with high levels of profitability. In fact, it placed #13 on the Fortune 500 list of American companies by revenue. But we all know that.

But do you know what it took for them to achieve this great feat? The answer is a well thought-out marketing strategy.

General Electric did not just attempt content marketing — they embraced it. Of course, their content regularly goes viral on Reddit and other platforms, and their online magazine, GE Reports, is breathtaking and filled to the brim with fascinating information. The company has expanded its segments, and this makes it a repository of the latest developments in R&D.

However, one of their most interesting campaigns is one that took place in 2012 and 2013 — the GE Healthcare Life Sciences Cell Imaging Competition.

Basically, this was a competition held worldwide for all users of GE’s electron microscopes — users had to submit images of the microscopic level of life they found using GE’s microscopes. And winners were treated to a fancy New York styled dinner.

The buzz around competition in the pharma community was immense. Platforms around the world were excited because it was a worldwide competition, and the sheer thrill of being able to participate in a competition like this was exhilarating for scientists. Imagine how much conversation that generated around GE’s products!

Imagine scientists who used GE’s electron microscopes, talking to scientists who used other microscopes — don’t you think that would have sparked some interest and investigation into GE’s products?

And the competition worked really well: the scientists who used GE’s equipment delivered breathtaking images of cells from all imaginable fields — cancer research, obesity research, and even stem cells. General Electric was able to create a montage of user-generated B2B content which was authentic and powerful.

At the end of the wonderful dinner and evening in New York, GE took their clients to Times Square, where — surprise! — they showcased the beautiful images scientists had captured.

As you can imagine, this was so overwhelming, that it ended up reducing many clients to tears. As Mark Schaefer wrote,

“This was a lovely story of the common becoming uncommon, the trenches becoming the mountain, the mundane becoming glorious, for just one amazing moment.”

Instead of focusing on the features of the microscope, GE focused on the big picture. The fact that scientists were using their microscopes everyday for life-changing research was so fascinating. It moved the focus away from themselves, and onto the work that was possible with their product, to create a convincing piece of B2B marketing that resonated a powerful message.

There is a key takeaway from this content marketing strategy: don’t consider your industry “boring.”

Before watching this campaign, you wouldn’t have even imagined one interesting fact to talk about with electron microscopes. But isn’t this a great way of telling a story, without actually trying to sell your product?

Whether your industry is finance or insurance, don’t let it be an excuse for creating boring content. Shift your focus to different aspects of your product and see how you can create a narrative out of it. What happens when you let the customers become a part of the story?

Try new channels, get feedback, and focus on the big picture possibilities. After all, content marketing is not magic, but an equal mix of research and creativity!