The “Me Meter” helps you and your brand avoid the 5 revisions of “non-promotional brand content.”
"We don't want anything that sounds too promotional, or advertorial-ly."
I hear this all of the time. Brands want to sound more like articles, less like ads, yet “sound” is subjective.
Finding the sweet spot between journalistic integrity and traditional promotional advertising is always a dance. We humbly offer, for your consideration, The Me Meter.
The Brief: "We don't want the content to be about us, or even really mention us."
Aha. Good. This is how most projects start, creators aim towards the Mecca of branded content by combining true journalism with a limited (and clear) advertorial agenda. This request is often accompanied by "We want to be the Red Bull of XYZ industry."
Enter the 5 revisions of “non-promotional brand content”...
Revision 1: "I like that this is fresh and intriguing, but some of the stuff you're writing about isn't a solution that we provide."
The first big edit is a narrowing of vision. That is, the initial request to be big, broad, and unbiased veers towards the land of ads. Indeed, we say, “Of course,” yet what we’d rather say is, "For the record, Red Bull writes about plenty of things they don't produce."
Revision 2: "OK, I liked this. But I socialized it, and the consensus is that we need to insert our brand."
What this really means is “My boss isn’t comfortable.” Don’t worry; we were prepared for this from the first round of edits. As content creators, we are almost always prepared. Inserting a brand needs only our creativity. And we make sure to comfort our clients by saying supportive words like, “Great idea. After all, this is brand content, right?” Or, “Red Bull writes about Red Bull, yes, their festivals, competitions are part of their branded content mix.”
Revision 3: "Hmmm, I thought it would be obvious that we can't mention our competition. In case it wasn't, we can't."
No, in the brief, this was not clearly stated, but it’s loud and clear now. We apologize, “Sorry, we should have asked this up front during ideation.” In reality, we’re thinking, “Something wicked this way comes!"
Revision 4: "We just got some awesome customer stories, we should include those right?"
Revision 5: "Where's our logo?!"
This is somewhat of an exaggeration of course (only slightly). In reality, a similar course happens too often. The good news is that it’s (almost) completely avoidable. Having solid, clear communication up front helps. But that solid, clear communication can’t just be limited to a creative brief. Instead, content creation requires a conversation on how closely each piece of content should align with business goals. Ask questions like:
- What’s the positive business result that you want this content to contribute towards?
- E.g. being the publication of record in our industry, making our customers or prospects lives easier, demonstrating innovative thinking, awareness of brand, familiarity of services, sales, product adoption.
- Can we discuss solutions that fall outside of your offering?
- Is it OK to mention/ acknowledge other companies? Competitors?
- Do we plan to feature sample stories, interviews with customers, case stories, customer testimonials?
- How many times is too many times to see your company name?
To help you along in that discussion, we’ve created the “Me Meter.” Learn it, use it! It just might save you a revision or two. At minimum, we hope we’ve made you smile.
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