Contently Case Story: Capital One’s New Mag Gives Entrepreneurs a Spark

Great brand publishing doesn’t happen overnight—it’s a process that has a beginning, middle, and end. Contently Case Stories is a series highlighting some of Contently’s most successful clients, and telling the stories of how we worked together to produce great content and great business results.

Capital One is on a mission to “ignite your inner entrepreneur.” And the fuse comes in the form of branded content.

Since last summer, Capital One’s Spark Business IQ site has been producing rich and functional business content for small-business owners across the U.S., while also promoting a range of Capital One financial products and services expressly designed for small businesses. The content hub is split into three sections: Ignite, Improve, and Inspire. Articles, white papers, listicles, and checklists on such subjects as cash flow, mobile payments, and achieving a career–life balance all work in tandem to inform and energize Capital One’s target audience.

Brands of all kinds are upping their investments in utility editorial content that adds tangible value to their customer’s lives—and B2B is a particularly hot space. Long-running destinations like American Express OPEN Forum (a Contently client), and IQ by Intel have proven that customers will happily engage with quality branded content. Spark Business IQ is a relatively new entrant into the space, but with the help of Contently it has been able to rapidly scale up an editorial team and is now putting out upwards of 25 stories a month. These include blog posts, videos, infographics, and more.

Spark doesn’t rely on a single source for its content, though. Features are written by a combination of internal staff members and finance journalists provided by Contently, with the overall goal being to produce a publication that demystifies complicated financial issues and helps Capital One customers navigate the complexities of owning and operating a small business. The company is using Contently’s analytics tools to measure everything from reader attention time to which social channels are driving the most traffic.

One example of the high-quality storytelling Spark is pulling off is “The Resilience Series,” launched in January to celebrate the strength and perseverance of select small-business owners while encouraging others in need of guidance. The five-part multimedia storytelling series combines articles with three original videos spotlighting businesses in New Orleans, Detroit, and New York.

Among the entrepreneurs featured is Frank Carfaro, president and creative director of Desiron. In one video, the New York-based furniture maker discusses how he survived the “tough” post-9/11 business climate and the importance of being open to change. Capital One’s storytelling prowess is evident not only in its selection of businesses to feature—the New Orleans and Detroit installments are compelling in the context of Hurricane Katrina and Detroit’s dismal economy—but in the ability of the videos to present valuable insights into the unique small-business experience.

The Resilience Series comes on the heels of “I Am Small Business Proud,” a content marketing effort that saw filmmakers Trisha Dalton and John Sears travel across the country to showcase “the true fabric of America’s economy—small businesses.” They met with some 200 businesses and interviewed owners about their challenges and successes. Because the filmmakers are small-business owners themselves—Dalton and Sears both own media production companies that cater to small businesses in need of promotional videos and commercials—their trip also afforded Capital One a secondary opportunity to showcase its financial products, including the amount the pair spent using their Spark credit card and the rewards they earned by doing so.

The videos were made available on YouTube and the Spark Business social accounts, which includeTwitter, Instagram, and Facebook. A campaign-specific Tumblr page was used to share behind-the-scenes anecdotes and photographs of the journey, and all of it was tied together with the #SmallBizProud hashtag.

To further assist small-business owners, Capital One Spark Business maintains a Forbes BrandVoice page that it updates with branded content. Here too, the brand shares business stories that epitomize the tenacity of American entrepreneurs.

(Full disclosure: Forbes BrandVoice is also a Contently client.)

Across the board, Spark Business IQ articles and videos are a nice balance of thought leadership and branding. Stories are actionable and inspiring, even as they serve the underlying goal of generating interest in Capital One’s financial services. By promoting customer successes and saluting the high standards that business owners aspire to maintain, Capital One comes off as a devout small-business defender. And there’s nothing small about that.

Image by Spasenoski

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