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Hunter Hoffmann Head of US Communications Hiscox USA

How can you make Branded Content work for your business?

The ability of traditional advertising to get messages across to target audiences has been steadily diminishing for years.  Not only do DVRs, adblockers and VOD make it easier than ever to avoid ads completely, the messages that do get through are competing for consumer’s ever-decreasing attention spans.  Younger generations are even balking at the whole notion of being “sold to” at all, preferring more of a two way relationship with brands.  All of these factors have helped support the increase in branded content – 90% of B2C marketers are leveraging branded content currently.

More and more businesses are making this a big part of their marketing mix because they’re seeing it work in ways other marketing tactics don’t – 72% of marketers think that branded content is more effective than magazine ads, 69% say its superior to direct mail.  

Audiences are also giving branded content their stamp of approval – 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers customer content, and are more likely to purchase from that company (The Content Council).

Branded content can be a powerful force to build your audience and increase affinity for your brand, but only if you do it the right way.

72% of marketers think that branded content is more effective than magazine ads, 69% say its superior to direct mail.

  Hunter Hoffmann, Head of US Communications, Hiscox USA

What are your goals?

The first step to creating an effective branded content campaign is the same as any other marketing program – who do you want to reach, what do you want them to do and how are you going to measure your success?  Views and brand impressions are a good place to start. Social followers, shares and engagement are worth even more in the long run since you can keep communicating with those fans after they view your content.

Where’s the value?

The guiding principle for all branded content is to provide value to the audience. This should align with your brand’s overall value proposition, but not necessarily with a specific product. Is what you put together informative or entertaining enough for people to take time out of their schedule to read or watch it?  You’re trying to create a positive connection between the brand and your audience and that starts with compelling content.  If all you’re offering them is a sales pitch, people are going to click away instead of sharing your content with their networks.  Even worse, they’ll have a bad impression of your brand – exactly the opposite of your objective.

How does the brand come in?

Good branded content creates a positive association without your brand overwhelming the content itself.  It’s not about tricking the audience – two-thirds of consumers felt deceived upon realizing an article or video was sponsored by a brand – but you need to have the content take the lead.  You want people to consume, and enjoy, your branded content and appreciate that your sponsored it.  Too many brand messages or explicit calls to action and all you’ve got is a long form, and ineffective, ad.

Good branded content is about understanding your audience, giving them the content they’re looking for and creating a lasting positive brand association to support the rest of your marketing efforts.