So you say you want to sell branded content? 3 things we've learned in 3 years
Updated: Mar 3
We've learned a lot in three years.
After working with hundreds of forward-thinking sales leaders and brilliant content creators from media companies, big and small, we can now see a clear path to creating new revenue, engaging new audiences, and helping new advertisers use branded content. Success comes from those who implement structural plans and put people in the right places. Sustainable revenue doesn't come from the best and brightest ideas or the biggest teams, but those companies who set up a solid base for building will grow revenue.
Whether you are a large TV or radio station, small print publisher, or an emerging digital company, there are three elements you need to put into place before you begin or continue to grow revenue with branded content.
Set your ground rules.
Many of the obstacles we see teams run into when building and selling branded content are due to not setting clear ground rules from the beginning. Determining what types of clients you will accept as content marketing partners, what types of content you are willing and able to build, and what platforms and placements you will use at the start of the journey will solve a lot of headaches and potential disagreements down the line.
Check off this big-ticket item first.
When you are setting up your programs, make sure you consider clear disclosure rules and run everything you are planning by legal. Branded content may or not be new for you but we've "always done these things" does not mean we shouldn't re-examine our rules and requirements on sponsored and branded content. We must constantly review if we as an industry are doing enough to remain transparent and relevant to our audiences and truthful about our advertisers.
To get you started, check out our advice and top rules in this post: "Is branded content a dirty word?"
Get your folks trained.
The reality of the intense need for education really hit home when we conducted advertiser focus groups and executive interviews in coordination with Magid. The results clearly stated the need for more education all around, from advertisers to sales teams to audiences.
The sales reps need a more robust understanding of what they are selling, and the advertisers need to understand what they are buying. Your sales executives need tool kits and marketing materials to help with the education process and secure these unique opportunities for advertisers.
When educating your teams or your advertisers, explain the value of a content strategy for clients. Discuss how local media companies like you are uniquely positioned to bring the best storytelling strategies to help grow businesses while engaging your audiences.
We’re also seeing our teams successfully educate their advertisers with video explainers, virtual events and leave-behind documentation to better inform and educate current and future clients. If you need a head start, the Meta Branded Content Team has created an advertiser video education series ready for download to send over in emails or use in presentations.
Worried about building training programs?
One of the biggest requests the Meta Branded Content Project receives from local media organizations is the opportunity for training. Fortunately, a main pillar of our mission is to offer sales support for media teams across the country for FREE. We have several ways for sales and creative teams can learn from our network of experts. Find all our training opportunities in the button below and get involved!
Find your cheerleader.
The most successful teams have an internal cheerleader. This is the individual who believes in the possibilities of what quality branded content campaigns can bring to advertisers and audiences. They are your content marketing evangelists taking hold of your program and pushing and promoting it forward. Your branded content cheerleader will build your programs and products with internal teams and celebrate success all while helping position the possibilities for advertisers.
This passionate person may be from the creative side, sales side or operational side but they have the excitement and vision to lead your project. But remember, without top-level support and buy-in, their efforts will not be effective. Make sure your cheerleader has some muscle to go with the message.
Need a solution to a problem or a new game plan?
The Meta Branded Content Project has ready now resources and provides multiple ways to train your sales teams, newsrooms, and advertisers. Find us and our industry experts who are prepared to help you build your next great idea.
The Meta Branded Content Project is designed through a strategic partnership between the Meta Journalism Project, Local Media Association and the Local Media Consortium to help facilitate additional growth, engagement, and revenue success for more publishers of all shapes and sizes.