Content as product
It’s a common thought that creating branded content is all about mashing prospective customers down the funnel as quickly as possible. Never mind nurturing your leads, it’s all about the bottom line.
To some extent, that’s true, but only in that branded content exists to make customers from your readers. But an article that begins as something genuinely helpful then suddenly attempts the hard sell isn’t going to be attractive to many readers.
Content should be a product in itself. Media publishers don’t yammer on about themselves all the time - The Atlantic doesn’t create articles about how great The Atlantic is. Great content marketing digs into a customer’s lifestyle - it empathises, educates and empowers. Much of the time, brands do this badly. A reader can smell insincerity from a mile off and it’s going to send them running for the hills (or at least to make a snarky comment on Twitter).
Think of content as an extension of your product. Whatever you offer is likely designed to solve some kind of problem. If you sell umbrellas, you’re solving the problem of people being soaked. Your content should help reinforce your brand as a solution to that problem and issues related to that problem. As an umbrella seller, you’re going to be talking about the weather, getting out and about, design, history, human stories featuring umbrellas and more. You don’t just manufacture and sell umbrellas anymore - you ARE umbrellas and prospective customers will buy into your brand if you can show them that.
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