Did you know that 380 million mobile devices across the world use ad-blockers?

That means your brand needs to engage audiences outside of traditional advertising. You can do this through articles, videos, podcasts, and even live events, as long as they achieve one thing:

They must make your audience FEEL something.

Branded content is focused on creative and entertainment value, serving a greater purpose than traditional advertising, points out Strategic & Creative Marketing. The company goes on to explain branded content this way:

“It’s content like this that engages consumers and makes them view your brand with higher regard. They don’t just see you as selling a product but more trying to relate to their lifestyle and interests.”

Medium backs this up by stating, “A brand has nothing to do with a product. That comes later. The feeling is most important.”

Disney excels at making people feel. The brand knows how to make you feel safe. They make you feel like a kid again. They make you feel like all your dreams will come true in one of their theme parks, which are an escape from the harsh realities of the real world.

So how can your brand tweak the heartstrings of your audience and make them feel something so powerful they can’t help buying from you? Read on the for the answer!

The 3 Key Elements Your Branded Content Needs

Remember Michael Jordan’s “Just Do It” Nike ads?

When Jordan came out with his branded shoes, kids bought them in droves because they wanted to “be like Mike”. Having a pair of the basketball superstar’s shoes made them feel like they could jump, run, and dunk better.

This feeling is what branded content and entertainment is all about, and Medium gives you the 3 key elements to achieve it:

1. Understand how you want people to feel and then align it with your brand. 

Dove, for example, created one of the most successful branded content campaigns to date with it’s “Real Beauty Sketches.” Through customer research, the brand discovered that only 4% of women polled would describe themselves as “beautiful”. The Dove team thought they could do something to change this disappointing statistic, so they created an idea and value around their brand that “beauty is for everyone.”

The campaign went viral, with over 50 million people viewing the branded videos during the first 12 days of release. To date, Dove has had almost 180 million views — views that are intentional and targeted.

2. Develop a story around that feeling.

Your story needs to incorporate elements of humanity such as love, death, and time. These three components drive every action and emotion of the human animal.

Next, create a story filled with tension. As they often tell authors, “you need to SHOW, don’t TELL.” So, instead of “this happened, then that happened, and this is the way she felt”, you’ve got to make it more like, “the bomb is ticking, with just seconds left…8, 7, 6. Mary has only a few moments to decide between the blue and white wire, but she’s blind. She’ll have to rely on the Force if she’s going to survive!”

The second example really tugs at your humanity and makes you FEEL the difficult challenge Mary is faced with. When your audience can feel your message, you’ll be able to make a crucial connection with them.

3. Lastly, insert your product, service or brand name into the story.

A great example of how to do this effectively is demonstrated in an 8-minute Carhart video ad. The video is a brief biographic piece on the actor, Jason Momoa, and his journey to being a father. The ad features gorgeous scenery, playful children, and (of course) Jason’s Carhart pants.

And guess what? The video doesn’t mention the Carhart brand until the last minute or so of the entire 8-minute ad!

The video is done in such a way that it doesn’t seem like advertising. Instead, it tells a beautiful and heartfelt story about how a Hollywood star can also be a great father. It engages audiences more than a traditional advert ever could by tapping into human emotions while punctuating the experience with a relevant message.

Conclusion

Branded content is more effective at engaging consumers, helping them feel a deeper connection to your company. It goes way beyond selling a product and focuses instead on relating to your customers’ interests and lifestyles.

“Branded content is becoming one of the most important ways to get in touch with consumers organically.”

Source: Strategic & Creative Marketing

If you’re not taking advantage of branded content, it’s not too late to get started. Make this the year you connect with your customers in a more authentic way by using the 3 tips above.

When people believe they share values with your company, they will stay loyal…and your revenues will be the better for it!

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and the eBook The Small retailer's Ultimate Guide to Increasing In-Store Sales. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.

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