When you were in high school, you would never dream of working on a paper for hours and then submitting it anonymously, letting all your effort go unrecognized. So why are so many brands taking that approach when it comes to content marketing?
There’s a misconception among some marketers that content marketing is some sort of virtuous, selfless act that is done solely to help consumers. It’s not. It’s nice, of course, to provide great content for your audience and to assist them in meeting whatever goals they’ve set, but ultimately marketing is marketing. You are working to build your brand, and you need to take credit for everything you have done to achieve that goal.
Here’s the argument for attaching your brand name proudly to your content marketing efforts. You’ll be surprised how well customers will respond.
Your Hard Work on Display
Consumers like brands that do a good job. This is proven again and again in surveys and studies. People are willing to pay a little more for a great product, and they’re willing to trust companies who go the extra mile in all their ventures, whether it’s production values or blog posts.
On the flip side, people tend to distrust companies that are secretive or try to hide things. If you’re doing something in order to make a sale, why bother to be dishonest about it? Just because a white paper is designed to herd people to your website doesn’t mean it’s not a great piece of research.
You want to put your hard work on display. Let potential customers know that you are smart and you are proud of it. Don’t treat your content as though it’s objectively editorial, because it’s not. It’s what was once referred to as advertorial, designed to sell and make a point. That doesn’t mean it’s not good content. Advertorials are terrific at selling, but you have to clearly state your association with the content push people in the direction you want them to go in.
Taking Full Credit
There are actually examples of bad content marketing where the company has been so stealthy about its involvement that you’d never realize it’s sponsored. For example, an organic grocer could produce a beautiful infographic about why buying organic is good for the environment. But if the grocer only includes its name at the very bottom in tiny letters, it’s not going to receive the benefits of any pass-along traffic the blog generates or goodwill from people who admire the content.
A better strategy would be to take credit upfront for the content, but don’t push people’s faces in it. For instance, Vigilant Compliance LLC, a compliance consulting company, has a link to a presentation on its website about business continuity risk alerts. It has packaged that presentation as a standalone piece, but anyone who downloads it will see very clearly at the top that it’s the brainchild of Vigilant Compliance. Because of that, they’ll understand who to attribute for the valuable insights in the PowerPoint.
Some businesses have the opportunity to use their own work as a thrilling case study in their content marketing. Empire CAT used their renewable energy project to create an elementary school in Phoenix, AZ that is completely environmentally sustainable. Because the brand backed this effort with clearly branded content, The Green Schoolhouse Series is now a nationwide initiative that provides new environmentally sustainable buildings to low-income schools.
Let Your Work Stand on Its Merits
Ultimately content marketing is judged not on who produced it but on how good it is. That’s what makes memes, videos and infographics go viral. Even if one of them is clearly tied to a company, people will still embrace it if it teaches them something or makes them laugh.
Consider the “hardest job in the world” campaign by the Boston-based ad agency Mullen. It generated millions of views and seemed to be shared on every Facebook page in America in a matter of days, but Mullen was entirely straightforward about its purpose: To promote its brand and showcase the agency’s creativity. Job well done, and everyone knows it. That’s content marketing that works.