Today’s buyers are more educated prior to a first sales conversation due to the amount of information at our fingertips. People prefer to educate themselves through research done on their own time. Once they have found a few companies that have solutions to fit their needs or issues, they then look for reviews of the company online and from within their network. Finally, they will take the next steps of scheduling meetings and will then partner with the best option based on their buying criteria.
Making sure that your company has a fine-tuned content strategy that encompasses the buying lifecycle is imperative in today’s world. You must be visible when a buyer starts evaluating, and in tune with your marketplace to know who a viable potential client could be for your services. Your advertising efforts must show up where they are spending their time (online or in-person). In this article, we will review four types of marketing strategies and how to include branded content within them to ensure your company is getting the right information in front of potential customers at the right time.
What is Branded Content?
Branded content is a strategy that leverages various media formats to bring relevant information to the person consuming it. The content is curated or created with the end users needs in consideration and is meant to educate or entertain them. The key is to grab the attention of the buyer and drive engagement with your brand through content.
In research done by Propeller, the study states that 95% of customers choose solution providers that offer relevant content at every stage of the sales process. Also, over 80% of customers viewed five or more pieces of content from the winning vendor before making a purchase. With content being such an important piece of a buyer’s process, it is vital to have a strategy to make sure that you are sharing relevant information throughout the buying process.
Below are the four marketing strategies and how to include branded content within each one.
- Inbound Marketing
- Integrated Direct Marketing
- Nurture Marketing
- Assignment Selling
Inbound marketing is a strategy to attract people to you. Content is at the core of this strategy. It educates your audience, helps them solve problems, and creates a lead generation funnel that attracts the right decision makers. Your content lures your prospects in, your website converts them to “leads” and opts them into further contact from your company.
Examples of branded content in inbound marketing: (Include your logo and brand colors in all assets wherever you have the opportunity to.)
- Blog posts
- White papers
Integrated Direct Marketing
With this technique, you create a structured, multi-step sales process that integrates outbound marketing (mail, email, social messaging, LinkedIn touchpoints) with sales calls to make your sales efforts more productive. You use direct marketing to capture the attention and interest of targeted prospects (essentially, to warm sales leads). Then marketing is used after the sales call to keep your company top-of-mind, demonstrate your positioning, and build your authority. The key to successful direct marketing is that you have a well-defined list of prospects you are targeting.
Examples of branded content in integrated direct marketing:
- Branded print pieces such as magazines, eBooks, brochures, a handwritten note on letterhead, a business card attached to an article that you physically print out and send via the mail.
- Branded newsletters.
- Thought leadership webinars (sponsored or branded).
- Branded Video (how-to videos, video email outreach, blogs turned to video, branded testimonials).
Nurture marketing is a series of touchpoints with relevant content that is sent based on a lead’s behavior to help guide them to take some form of action. The goal is to deliver educational value while encouraging engagement with your resources. These actions then create a more personalized communication schedule.
Example of how to leverage branded content in nurture marketing:
- Create a branded eBook- When a contact downloads the eBook, it can trigger additional sending of information such as a case study or infographic.
- Conduct a branded or sponsored webinar. Post webinar- deliver another piece of branded content that furthers engagement with your company and brand.
- Once you sell your services, create a branded thank you letter from your company inviting them to share a review of your company.
- Send random branded thank you emails to clients or highlight them in your social marketing efforts.
Assignment selling is a process where you leverage your content strategically prior to a sales meeting. The goal is to have the prospect interact with your content that will further qualify, educate them further about partnering with your company, or even talk about why companies would or would not be a fit for your company. By doing this at the beginning of the sales process, you can resolve potential concerns, answer specific questions, and ensure your prospect is properly prepared for your appointment.
Examples of how to use branded content in assignment selling:
- Provide a branded eBook with an overview of your service offerings and how you partner with your clients.
- Produce a branded video that shows client testimonials on why they partnered with you and what issues you solved for.
- Leverage branded case studies about client success stories.
- Sit down with your sales team and ask them to list out all the reasons why people did not partner with them. Or ask your team to compile a list of the common questions they receive daily. Then create content to address them. You can send out a well-designed and branded long-form blog post from this exercise.
Why Branded Content now?
As we continue to ebb and flow through a time where face-to-face meetings and interactions are limited, you must embrace content and be creative to get in front of the people you are hoping to sell your services to. The great thing about branded content is that it can be leveraged across all types of marketing strategies! The key is to leverage a consistent, multiple media approach as people consume information in different ways and you want to have a presence across all mediums.
If you would like to discuss a branded content strategy further, please feel free to contact us!