Meet A New Friend In Marketing Town
Imagine you enter into a new town called Marketing. As you are new in the town, you would need many things to settle down. You would find salesmen coming to you with direct sales pitches and they may turn you off because they are trying to sell their products to you. But, then you meet someone, who is willing to help you in settling down in the new town, guides you on your needs, doesn't try to sell his products to you and tries to build friendship with you. Whenever you would need a product, this new friend would become your first point of contact. If he has that product, you would prefer to buy from him else would prefer his recommendation rather than buying from unknown salesmen.
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Today, we are living in an era of abundance of advertising channels & sellers but shortage of attention, time & trust. Marketers have started realizing that you are ignoring their messages in advertisements as every marketer is almost talking about similar deals & discounts in different colors and texts. To get your attention, they are looking for ways to first become known to you & gain your trust. Now, let's compare real life scenario with imaginary marketing town — TV ads, unexpected emails, website ads, bill boards, tele callers, social media ads etc. are the salesmen who come to you for direct sales but you don't trust them and branded content is someone like friends and experts whose opinion matters to you and you trust them. Branded Content is the content that doesn't sell the products of brands, but talks about consumer benefits, helps brands to establish their credibility, builds relationships with consumers, and eventually creates opportunities to sell. Brands can share their content in different forms such as text, video, audio etc. and depending on the resources and objectives — create their own platforms, use existing popular platforms or collaborate with media channels. Let's have a look at various ways through which brands reach out to you for sharing their branded content. Create own platforms for content
Brands create separate platforms where people come to consume content such as information, entertainment etc. and notice the association of brand with the content. A few of the examples are as follows:
Coke Studio: Music is loved everywhere in the world and it's a great way to connect with people. Coca Cola, the world's largest beverage company, has an international music property - Coke Studio, which has helped Coca Cola to strengthen its relationship with its consumers. Coke Studio provides a platform to renowned and upcoming artists to team up and create new and exciting fusion music.
McKinsey Quarterly: Business leaders keep on looking for information that could give them competitive edge. McKinsey, considered as the most prestigious management consultancy firm in the world, has a business publication McKinsey Quarterly that covers ideas and insights from the world's leading experts focused on management, leadership and performance. LEGO Movie: You all would have heard about movie Lego - the animated blockbuster film, which broke box office records around the world. The film was part-funded by Danish toy company Lego, which is among the world's largest toy companies. This movie is considered as one of the world's best arts and entertainment projects, which have been funded and created by brands. The film established connection with both parents, who buy toys and children, who play with toys. Existing platformsBrands use existing platforms such as their own website or a platform that provides opportunity to connect with larger audience. A few of the examples are as follows:
Red Bull: Red Bull is the highest-selling energy drink in the world. Its website has a lot of branded content & entertainment on areas such as lifestyle, sports, adventure, music, etc.
Coursera: Coursera is one of the most popular education technology companies that offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). It works with universities to make some of their courses available online and most of the courses offered by Coursera are accessible for free.
The Apprentice: The Apprentice is an American reality game show hosted by Donald Trump. In one of the shows, Pontiac (a car brand by GM) sponsored a task in which the show's teams created a marketing brochure for the car. In the show, the team also presented its work to Pontiac.
Consumers trust media platforms such as newspapers & magazines. By keeping their credibility for editorial content in mind and by defining boundaries for branded content, a few media companies have started initiatives to work with brands on developing creative content for distribution through their platforms. A few of the examples are as follows:
The Economist & General Electric partnership: Lookahead is a content program to demonstrate the innovations of GE in various forms such as articles, infographics, video etc.
CNBC & Philips partnership: Innovation Cities series featured innovations that can improve the way people live and work. Forbes & Oracle partnership: OracleVoice is a content series around innovation in IT.
While creating branded content, marketers have to keep in mind that advertisements could be designed for selling, but branded content should be designed for building credibility. It's about pull strategy, not push strategy.
It takes a long time to build credibility and friendship, but very short time to lose it. People keep friends because they like and trust them, friends help them in their challenges, and inspire them by working for some cause. If friends try to use this bonding to sell then they would lose their credibility. Branded Content requires patience, let your content consumers come to you by themselves and ask for something that you have to sell. LinkedIn Profile: https://in.linkedin.com/in/harshpamnani
(The author, Harsh Pamnani, is former Senior Manager at TiE Mumbai and an alumnus of XLRI, Jamshedpur)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.