Why native content can help tell your story
The current marketing landscape has produced many challenges and opportunities. Within brand and product promotion, the one main problem is the diminishing effectiveness of traditional advertising. In today's content-rich marketing environment, marketers have multiple options ways to reach consumers. One tool that many brands are successfully using is authentic storytelling to share their messaging and engage their customers. Smaller brands, however, may find it difficult to employ this method effectively. In many cases, they are limited to both create and distribute their stories due to lack of resources. In these situations, they should consider employing native content with media outlets.
Diminishing Returns of Traditional Advertisements
Consumers have become immune to traditional forms of advertising - especially among younger consumers. A recent study by the American Marketing Association (AMA) acknowledges the shifting landscape in marketing media but argues that these common forms of promotion are still useful. Jayson DeMers, however, challenges this in Forbes by stating that “traditional ad spending and effectiveness are on a seemingly endless downward trajectory.” Generally speaking, regular ads lack sufficient details, often can contain puffery and are quickly forgotten. Despite this, many companies purchase advertisements in magazines and online. In the AMA study, the author concludes “that traditional advertising has an indirect impact on new customer acquisition and brand preference.” This conclusion suggests that there is still a significant ROI with paid ads. Nevertheless, the shifting landscape may have created a point of diminishing returns. The reality is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to track ROI for print advertisements. Although metrics for online advertisements are more accessible and provide real-time information, the ads themselves are becoming increasingly less effective. Online banner and pop-up ads are a clear example of this. With the power of the internet, consumers are researching brands and products – seeking the necessary and relevant information to make a purchasing decision. Brands need to be able to provide that in a way that is accessible, valuable, and memorable.
Traditional advertising is becoming more and more antiquated as marketers find more creative ways to engage their customers.
Power of Authentic Storytelling
Brands that master authentic storytelling are better positioned to meet consumer need. Authentic storytelling is a way to share the value proposition of a brand with its customers while educating about its products. Some examples of stories to share are:
Product design and manufacturing - where and how
People behind the products - your employees
Consumers using the products - highlighting how the product performs
The supply chain - showing the steps and the process towards a finished product
Community engagement - how does the brand support or help others
Social Causes - what causes does the brand champion
The format of storytelling can vary including but not limited to blogs, images, and video. The easiest way to share these stories can be via the company’s website or through social media. The GLP Films website has many great examples of authentic storytelling like the “Give & Take” video series they produced for Lifestraw.
Many brands, however, are limited in reaching broad audiences beyond their current customers. Unless a brand has one million followers on Facebook or hundreds of thousands of email newsletter recipients who can amplify their message, it can be tough to reach new customers. Native Content offers a solution to brands looking to reach large audiences with their content.
Native Content Solution
Traditional as well as online media companies are realizing the challenge discussed above. Although media companies may still offer conventional forms of advertising, they are expanding their value proposition to brands. By leveraging internal creative resources, media outlets can help brands with both content creation and message amplification through many channels. Brands using native content can reach the same target audience as traditional advertisement with more meaningful and memorable content. Brands pay for this content to be created and published, but it is not merely “Pay for Play.”
Example of Native Content & Authentic Storytelling
An illustration of the effective use of native content occurred when I was VP of Marketing for Farm to Feet socks. Partnering with the American Wool Council, Farm to Feet leveraged the creative team at SNEWS to create native content that focused on the wool supply chain in the United States. As a result, we were able to develop several well-written articles that discussed various aspects of the wool industry in America and the critical role it plays in performance apparel. Although the column displayed the label “Sponsored Story” it was not merely a pitch focused on Farm to Feet. An added benefit with this approach is that because the content is online, it can be leveraged for sharing in the future when necessary with no additional costs.
Brands face many challenges in promoting products. A significant problem in today’s web-based economy is that traditional advertising is becoming less effective – especially when consumers are looking beyond advertising and conducting their own research. Brands can combat this by investing in authentic storytelling that shares not only the brand’s unique value proposition but also relevant product information. Amplifying the message in these stories can be accomplished by working with media outlets to create native content instead of conventional ads. Native content is a novel way to provide both new value beyond paid advertisements and evergreen content when applicable. By working creatively with media professionals, marketing teams can pursue brand and product awareness and promotion with an innovative approach that tells their story and educates customers about their brand and products.