Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sponsored Content Is Here to Stay

Do it the right way and you’ll be rewarded in spades. Disrespect the rules and your brand, or firm reputation will be punished.
Whether you call it branded content, brand journalism, advertorial, sponsored editorial or native advertising, sponsored content is gaining more and more adoption as an effective way for marketers to tell your story to an audience that’s increasingly immune to intrusive banner ads, broadcast commercials, sponsored links and social media.
In this form of marketing, an advertiser/sponsor will create, or hire outside writers to create, articles, videos, blog posts or white papers and more that talk about solving a problem that your industry peers face. You can hint at the benefits of your product or service category without specifically touting your brand or company name. In many cases the sponsored content can run alongside or commingled with the regular editorial content.

Sunday’s New York Times addressed this trend
(“Sponsors Now Pay for Online Articles, Not Just Ads”). While geared toward a consumer audience and big media enterprises, the article contained some valuable lessons for those of you in B2B marketing, particularly technology, finance and professional services.

While traditional journalists find this approach a violation of “church and state,” sponsored content is proving to be very effective when executed well and as readers, viewers and followers become increasingly comfortable with this medium.
Here are some reasons why you should consider adding sponsored content to your overall marketing mix:
·         Fill a content hole. Many of the outlets in which you would consider advertising are in need of high value content. Staffs are being cut back at a time when their news cycle is increasing.
·         Expertise. It’s very simple. Follow the money. Many of the top experts in your field work for the best paying companies or firms in your business—they’re  not journalists, analysts or academics who simply follow the business. They’re in the trenches every day, just like their peers.
·         Sharpen your message. Creating sponsored content, or helping your outside contractors create it for you, forces you to really nail down your messaging points and key value proposition. It’s a great exercise.
·         Gain a following. Creating high-value sponsored content consistently for a respected publication or website will keep you on the radar as an industry thought leader.  Twitter followers, Facebook Likes and Pinterest pins are nice, but nothing’s going to bring you client leads like being a “published author” or “frequent commentator” for an industry-leading media outlet.

*** IMPORTANT: When utilizing sponsored content, always keep it above board—the way you would if presenting at an industry conference. If you do, you’ll be perceived as sharing knowledge with your profession, not shilling your product. 
Whatever you do, just don’t insult the reader’s intelligence or disrespect their time. Kindly spend the time to create an accurate headline, subhead and some key bullet points at the top, so your piece can be quickly scanned for future consideration. Don’t waste time with a lengthy abstract

Macro View

As earning season gets under way, the stock markets passed a good early test this week, recovering most of its losses from last week to close midweek at or near their all-time highs. Three other things caught our eye this week. First, wholesalers may have reduced their inventories too much in February the Commerce Department said, suggesting that businesses had underestimated consumer demand.
Second, many analysts are projecting that consumer spending rose at a 3-percent annual rate in Q1/2013, far ahead of the 0.4 percent pace in the first quarter of 2012.

Finally, collector car sales are booming in the luxury market. For the year ahead, as all the major auction houses have sales in Arizona. Statistics from the 2013 Scottsdale/Phoenix sales indicate that the year is shaping up to show strong results:
  • Number of auctions: six over five days
  • Number of lots sold: 2,234
  • Total sales: $223.8 million, up 22% from 2012
  • Average sale price: $100,176, up 18% from 2012
  • Total sales neared the record 2007 levels
  • Knight Frank, a UK based consultancy, published a luxury index in March 2013 which noted that vintage car prices rose 395 percent in ten years leading up to September 2012. That growth outpaced gold coins, fine art and collectible wine. The current ten year return on the S&P 500 is roughly 80 percent.

Writing is easy. Writing well is hard work. Who knew? Take the time to tell your story right, respect your audience’s time and intelligence and the benefits will come back to you in spades.

Tags: Sponsored content, content marketing, car collectors, 2013 Scottsdale/Phoenix sales, Knight Frank luxury car index


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