Content Marketing Is a Multi-Player Game

CMO Spotlight: Amy Weisenbach, Wilson Sporting Goods

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Some games are easier to learn than others, mastered with just a few rounds of practice. Others require much more of a commitment, a higher level of technical skill and tenacity. Tennis is one of these. Content marketing is another. Combine the two and you get someone like Amy Weisenbach, VP-marketing at Wilson Sporting Goods, who forged the first-ever cross-brand content marketing campaign for her company and is still perfecting the technique. Here's her journey to the championship:

The fundamentals

Amy Weisenbach
Amy Weisenbach

Let's start with the basics. Ms. Weisenbach says that the core consumers of the Wilson brand are avid youth athletes, and youth, as we all know, consume an astounding amount of content each day. "If we want to be relevant and top of mind with them," she says, "we have to be in the mix of what they're consuming."

As a brand that touches nearly every popular American sport, Wilson has no shortage of content. "We have a ton of great stories to tell and interesting assets we can leverage -- from our pro athletes and league affiliations to intriguing product development stories from our Wilson Labs, the innovation hub at Wilson." It's also a brand that enjoys membership in the "in" crowd, so to speak. "We're luckily in a category that's important to our consumers' identities and are among the kind of content they want to consume," says Ms. Weisenbach.

No "I" in team

That said, "cool" doesn't have to mean exclusive, at least when it comes to content. While Ms. Weisenbach says that much of the content mix comes from the Wilson voice and brand, she and her team are developing more and more content that looks, feels and is organic, soliciting a larger volume from athletes and fans. "We're experimenting with everything from Wilson Advisory Staff Member takeovers on Snapchat to documentary storytelling to blog-like content to soliciting UGC," she says, emphasizing that test-and-learn is a big part of the process.

#MyWilson

To illustrate, Ms. Weisenbach offers the #MyWilson campaign, a 360-degree and largely social-driven effort which she says was meant to start a conversation among youth athletes about the sports and equipment that they love. The core of the campaign was a video featuring pro athletes like Serena Williams and Dustrin Pedroia alongside amateur athletes, all recalling the highs and lows of their journeys. "We also invited youth athletes to add themselves to the video by sharing a clip tagged #MyWilson," says Ms. Weisenbach. "To incentivize participation, we pledged to donate sports equipment for every clip shared up to $250,000."

The campaign kicked off when the U.S. Open, NFL season, AVP Championship and MLB pennant were all converging -- a relevant week, to say the least. Wilson got the ball rolling for #MyWilson by engaging staff and influencers around the world, who posted their own stories about their Wilson equipment and encouraged other young athletes to do the same. TV, homepage takeovers and additional digital video were also part of the mix.

"The campaign has performed really well to date," says Ms. Weisenbach, citing high video completion rates and social content engagement. Brand lift has also seen a boost, she says, particularly in metrics of "for me" and "is a brand I talk about." "It's been incredibly rewarding to see and hear the stories our youth athletes have to tell," she says, "and how Wilson plays a part in their journeys."

Team building

Aside from a surge in enthusiasm, a well-executed content campaign often sees residual effects for its brand. For Wilson, one benefit was further unification of the brand persona and aesthetics. "Each of our sports has its own culture and a slightly different tone of voice," says Ms. Weisenbach, the differentiation being crucial to communicating authentically with each customer segment. "So as you can imagine, it was challenging to get all of our individual sport marketing teams to coordinate on approach, content and timing" as well as design, she says. "In the end, it was worth the extra time and effort because it helped us take a huge step forward in presenting ourselves to consumers as one brand." Nothing like a coordinated content marketing exercise to get your brand moving in sync.