branded content

"Branded Content" cartoon
There has never been a better time to take the stage as a brand and share content with our audience. Every night can be open mic night.

Yet the rise of content marketing has created an avalanche of really generic branded content. There is still a far greater emphasis of quantity over quality. Much of it reads the same, as if it could be from any brand, starting with the same formulaic top 10 lists. Worst of all, much of it seems clearly created for the benefit of the brand rather than the audience.

And while our audiences are more accessible than ever before, it is easier than ever for our audiences to tune us right out.

I like this assessment from Sam Slaughter at Contently:

“So if the most clichéd of media pronouncements is in fact true and content is truly king, then nascent and unchecked content marketing risks being labeled the joker, endlessly performing the same knock-knock gags and cat listicles to the general opprobrium of the court while beautifully crafted yet ineffective banner ad campaigns remain the coin of the realm … One of its central problems is that the term “content” is so ill-defined that anyone with a keyword generator and seventh-grade English can claim to be a content creator without challenge.”

Publishing is a privilege. Just because we have a soapbox doesn’t mean there will be an audience to listen to us. Content marketers need to create content worth sharing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and examples on ways to connect with our audiences with useful and unique content.

(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)

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9 Comments

  1. Steve Cole says:

    If you are not adding value you are just adding to the noise –

    This is the way I view “content marketing” I prefer brands who spend time telling their brand story in cool and innovative ways. The brand doesn’t have to have deep pockets to achieve this they just need to understand what their audience wants and come up with nice ways of delivering it.

    Great cartoon, once again, big fan of your work!

  2. Donal says:

    The best content in content marketing, especially B2B, is that which is relevant to your solution space.
    It should lend to an increase of your authority in this space.
    It doesn’t have to be about you.

  3. Beth Lewis says:

    A lot of this is just lazy marketing.

    One of the first things we learn is to step into our customer’s shoes: look at our brand from their perspective and needs; create insightful communications that talk to them to address those needs not at them to address ours.

    Often it’s “here we go again and just one more thing” with program-generated comms that fall short of the mark and do more damage than good.

    Good marketing needs real intelligence not artificial intelligence.

  4. Bonnie Cranmer says:

    Content without value is wasted time for both creator & consumer. Content with context is valuable & generates interest & action. Thanks for your perspective of what could be done much better!

  5. Sacha says:

    Successful content marketing can be achieved through bringing our fears to light or making us laugh. Fear of getting old, fear of not loving yourself(Dove). One of the better ones I have seen make you feel something rather than show you something.

    Big fan of your work!

  6. Charles Cousins says:

    I’m a big fan of Native Instruments marketing. In many ways, they do it exceptionally well. Beyond the typical 50% off sales and regular advertising, their website content often provides useful, tutorial-style tips regarding sound production and mastering. Great content that is geared to enthusiasts and professionals. Their videos often feature DJs talking about their approach. They seemingly just happen to use Native Instruments software and equipment. You could read and watch this content, and buy other software or hardware, but why would you want to? Here is a company that wants to give its customers useful information that they can then take with them to create with.

    And no, I don’t work for them. I just buy their stuff.

  7. Sean says:

    I was going to send a contact mail with this, but since you’re tangent to the subject already, and it’s just a smidge before the cutoff on a Monday, I’ll leave it here-
    http://www.wired.com/2014/08/i-liked-everything-i-saw-on-facebook-for-two-days-heres-what-it-did-to-me/
    Not only is content increasingly branded and increasingly template, but as evidenced, it is terrifyingly self-serving by construction. Is there a way that the marketing machine can break this cycle before the entire audience wises up and leaves?

  8. Connie says:

    Amen, Tom. Amen.

    There are so many sites that fall prey to this issue, and their Facebook feeds are even worse. One of my favorite nail polish companies, Julep, used to do great posts with how-tos and cool information about their products. Now its just post after post of sales and how awesome they are, which means they aren’t very awesome at all.

    What I really find interesting is that the volume of these posts increase, even if they notice people aren’t actually looking at them. I unlike a lot of companies on Facebook because of this issue. Its just not worth it to follow them and see more branded content over and over again.

  9. Aline Mirti Mancinelli says:

    Hello, I think a good way to connect with your audience is to give your customers useful information, like Charles Cousins wrote. But also give them the opportunity to share their true own experience on your communication channels. Let them show pictures or videos about the way they use your products or let them explain with their own words what they like about your services.
    I also agree with Sacha about adding emotion to the content. Your content writers should write from their guts, from the CEO sharing her/his joy (good results, new client), fears or angers (about economy, new laws, difficult decision made…) to your new trainee explaining what surprised her/him when discovering your company from the inside. All this means that you choose to be transparent about your strategy, your choices, your sucesses or failures.
    And finally make sure that your audience likes your content, with a dashboard (audience quality, number of customer interaction, sales increase…), be creative and adapt if necessary.

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