The best and most straightforward place to start when it comes to creating a good piece of content marketing or “branded content” is to put yourself in consumers’ shoes. Think of the last piece of branded content you saw, and ask yourself what made it stand out?
Ask also whether it fitted in with a broader brand narrative? For example, if you took any logos out of the ad, would you still be able to recognize the brand?
Three Ways to Make Content Marketing Stand Out
Too many brands contribute to the enormous amount of branded content in the market by seeing it as a way to plug a product or push a one-time message. The content that is most memorable and compelling is far more likely to be part of a carefully planned campaign that supports the brand’s long-term strategy.
As the vast majority of B2C firms now produce branded content (around 90% according to CEB data), it will pay to get the following steps right (see chart 1 for a framework).
Know what you’re aiming for: Stop creating branded content that doesn’t advance a brand’s core goals. Marketing teams should invest time at the start of the process to prioritize the brand’s goals and find areas where content will enrich a consumer’s relationship with your brand.
And they must always be careful to not be distracted by ‘shiny object syndrome’ – just because a channel is new, doesn’t mean that it’s right for your consumers (see how Shake Shack does this).
Start with what your consumers want: Do you know what your consumers want from your content? Do they want to be taught how x product from y brand can make their lives better? Are they desperate to feel “connected” to your brand? (The answer to this is almost certainly a resounding “no”).
First, understand what value your brand shares with the majority of your consumers (see “Myth #2” in this piece for more on that). For example, for Google the shared value is a desire to get the most relevant information as quickly as possible. Google wants this and so do its billions of users.
Work backwards from your brand’s shared value to find new ways to inform and communicate with consumers. This will produce much better branded content.
Stand out from the crowd: The brand’s shared value is critical here. Put this at the center of your content and you will find it much easier to differentiate your brand and cut through the noise. And that’s in the face of competition from the hundreds of commercial messages consumers see every day. Messages that teach consumers about a shared value are much more likely to land a punch than those which simply extol the virtues of a product.
Brands that do content well (such as Dove, Chipotle, and Nature Valley) make their messages about far more than moisturizer, fast food, or granola bars. They create high quality content on topics that people are interested in (even, in some cases, passionate about) and want to discuss with their friends. This makes the marketing efforts memorable and makes for plenty of of “earned media” time.
Chart 1: Framework for producing marketing content Source: CEB analysis
Click chart to expand